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

By Features Reporter

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Thurso Pipe Band marching through New York during the city's Tartan Week celebrations in April 2004. The picture was taken by Graham Spence. There were 45 pipe bands in the parade.
Thurso Pipe Band marching through New York during the city's Tartan Week celebrations in April 2004. The picture was taken by Graham Spence. There were 45 pipe bands in the parade.

New social club for Wick

From the Groat of April 21, 1922

A new social club was to be created in Wick to replace the one which was due to close on Whitsunday.

The club in Bridge Street, which had been running since 1913, was to be discontinued but some of its older members had come together to form a new group to meet in larger premises.

The new club was to be at 34 Union Street which had previously housed the Inland Revenue offices.

Expected to open in June, the club would "for comfort, companionship and recreative pleasure rival the best in the north".

The largest of the four rooms was to house a billiards table, while the others would accommodate a reading and writing room and space for other indoor games.

It was stated that "social clubs are invaluable institutions to the young men of a town such as Wick".

Such places, which were unlicensed, provided indoor games such as billiards, chess and draughts as well as access to the "best and brightest journals and periodicals", and allowed discussion of current events from numerous standpoints, all "for the betterment and education of the young as well as for the convenience of business men".

The young men organising the club were "to be congratulated on their enterprise and no doubt the undertaking will meet with the success it richly deserves".

New thoroughfare named

From the Groat of April 21, 1972

A new spur road which would link west High Street with the riverside area of the Wick town centre redevelopment was to be named Whitechapel Road.

Members of the Wick Town Council's administration committee agreed the name by eight votes to five.

Provost W G Mowat had proposed that the street be named Lindsay Road in honour of town clerk Alex Lindsay who had "done so much, over and above his duties, to speed on the redevelopment scheme".

The motion was seconded but Bailie James A R Kay thought that it was such a short road it did not seem worthy of Mr Lindsay's efforts.

The area at one time had been known as Whitechapel and it was considered by many that as the redevelopment would result in the clearance of old properties, and the names of the streets on which they sat, it seemed "a pity to lose an opportunity of preserving one of those old historic names".

Dean of Guild George Gunn commented that the Whitechapel area had got its name "from the time of the Jack the Ripper murders in Whitechapel, London".

The area in Wick began at the rear of the Bridge Street Church of Scotland and contained the former Old Wick Free Church which was now part of the premises of Macrae and Dick Ltd.

Boost for Pulteney Distillery

From the Groat of April 25, 1997

A £100,000 investment in Pulteney Distillery and a dramatic improvement in whisky production levels was to help secure the long-term stability of the plant.

Manager Don Raitt had also revealed that Airdrie-based Inver House, which had taken over the company less than two years previously, was to launch a newly designed bottle of Old Pulteney to be available locally and for export at the end of May.

Almost £100,000 was to be spent on a new steam boiler at the Huddart Street premises.

The boiler, described as being "the heart of the distillery", heated the stills and the water and was used for sterilisation purposes. And it was hoped that the installation of the new 18-ton replacement could be carried out by local contractors.

The development came as whisky production at the plant had gone up by almost 50 per cent, an increase due to improved sales and a cut of 26p in whisky duty.

But Mr Raitt also considered that the Wick operation had benefited from the takeover by Inver House from previous owner Allied Distillers.

He added that the new newly designed bottle would herald "the first time since the early 1930s that the owners had bottled their own whisky". Previously the task had been done by a company in Elgin.

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