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Looking Back – news from the John O'Groat Journal of yesteryear


By Features Reporter

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Thurso Youth Club U11s received new strips ahead of a trip to Blackpool’s annual football tournament in April 2009. Also in the picture are sponsor Alan Cameron and coaches Leslie Mackay and Paul Reid.
Thurso Youth Club U11s received new strips ahead of a trip to Blackpool’s annual football tournament in April 2009. Also in the picture are sponsor Alan Cameron and coaches Leslie Mackay and Paul Reid.

Minister's poor rates protest

From the Groat of March 31, 1922

Thurso Parish Council resolved to continue to charge a local minister poor rates despite his protests that he should not have to pay.

The Rev G R Maclennan had written to the Board of Health for support but the parish council was not swayed by his efforts.

Chairman David Coghill told the meeting: "I am sure we have no desire to score off Mr Maclennan. The question was raised by himself and, apparently, from his communication to the press, he thinks he has now scored off us.

"But the public to whom he appeals are, so far as we can see, almost unanimously of opinion that parish ministers should pay their poor rates like other people."

Mr Coghill stressed that the parish council was a statutory body "and issues its demand notes for assessments under statutory powers".

He suggested that, if the minister found himself financially unable to meet the rates, he could apply for relief.

Elsewhere, the Groat intimated that in the next issue it would print a sketch of Wick war memorial as it would appear when erected.

The paper was also to open a Shilling Fund to help with the memorial expenses as "the amount in the treasurer's hands is considerably short of the total sum required for the completion of the work".

New pavilion at Dunnet Bay

From the Groat of March 31, 1972

Built at a cost of £24,000, of which 75 per cent had been borne by the Countryside Commission, a public pavilion had been erected by Caithness County Council at Dunnet Bay for the use of visitors to the area's extensive sands.

The two-storey structure was intended to be a social and recreational hub, primarily during the May to September holiday season, but available also for the staging of functions in winter.

The centre was near to the council's caravan site and car park, and the site warden and pavilion caretaker was to be given the opportunity to operate a ground-floor shop rent free. It was hoped that a caterer would become interested in conducting an upstairs refreshment service.

Elsewhere, a plan to add an extension to the front of the Queen's Hotel to serve as a public bar had been turned down by Wick Burgh Licensing Court.

The owner, since taking over the hotel, had started serving evening meals and wished to have the new bar so that the existing one could cater for residents and those eating in the hotel.

However, the plan was opposed as the extension would materially alter the character of the former manse.

Villagers' speed limit victory

From the Groat of April 4, 1997

A year-long campaign to reduce the speed of cars travelling through Reiss to 40mph had been victorious.

A full meeting of Highland Council in Inverness overturned the decision of the area committee to cut the speed limit from 60mph to 50mph. Local councillor John Green had successfully urged a majority of his colleagues to back the pleas of the local community and adopt the 40mph limit instead.

An amendment by fellow Caithness councillor John Young to ratify the area committee's decision was defeated by 39 votes to 12.

Campaigners revealed that they had sent letters to all 72 members of Highland Council asking for their support.

Meanwhile, a body to represent the interests of people who lived and worked in the historically important Lower Pulteneytown area of Wick looked set to be established. A meeting was being called by the Royal Burgh of Wick Community Council to consider the formation of the Lower Pulteneytown Association.

Wick project officer Helen Nicolson said there was "a revival of interest in Lower Pulteneytown and people who live and work there should have their say in any renewal process", and that such a group would provide a "useful vehicle for local consultation".


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