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

By Staff Reporter

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A display area in the premises of G D Robertson, draper, 20 Bridge Street, Wick. The shop was later taken over by William G Mowat, Wick’s former provost.
A display area in the premises of G D Robertson, draper, 20 Bridge Street, Wick. The shop was later taken over by William G Mowat, Wick’s former provost.

Cemetery greenhouse divides council

From the Groat of May 5, 1922

The future of the greenhouse at Thurso cemetery divided opinion at the town's parish council, to which the matter had been referred after the operating committee had also failed to come to a consensus.

The parish council chairman took the view that the greenhouse should remain.

He said he was "strongly in favour" of repairing the greenhouse which was situated at the edge of the cemetery and was encouraging the sexton, who was "keeping the cemetery in fine order", to take an interest in the cultivation of flowers.

He said the burial ground rate had "all along been very low, and, notwithstanding the high taxation, he felt satisfied that the ratepayers would would prefer to bear the expense of repairing the house than to depart from the high standard they always maintained in connection with the burial ground".

However, Mr Lindsay moved that the house be scrapped as it served "no useful purpose".

He said the expense of the upkeep was greatly in excess of the cost of the plants and "at the present time when every economy should be practised on every hand, he thought that to go to needless expense of this kind was simply throwing away the ratepayers' money".

Youth club fundraising campaign

From the Groat of May 5, 1972

A new youth centre was to be provided for the young people of Wick and area at a cost of £40,000, 25 per cent of which was to be raised locally and in which the youth club and its committee of management would play a leading role.

The campaign to raise funds was officially launched by local MP Robert Maclennan at a public meeting in the Assembly Rooms.

The site of the proposed youth centre was in Lower Dunbar Street. Provost William G Mowat, chairman of the management committee, who expressed disappointment at the poor turnout to the launch, explained that the project had attracted grant support.

Mr Maclennan said that knowing the generosity of the people of Wick he felt assured of success.

In Castletown, meanwhile, a management committee had been formed to develop the old schoolhouse into a youth centre for the village.

The scheme had been granted £1400 and there was already £450 in the youth club kitty, but more funds needed to be raised.

Elsewhere, a landmark in Louisburgh Street, Wick, for more than a century, the Old Temperance Hall, which had housed public events and was later used as a steam laundry, had been demolished.

Council power struggle

From the Groat of May 9, 1997

A power struggle was looming within Highland Council as areas such as Caithness sought a greater say in their own affairs.

Councillors in outlying areas wanted to see more powers, particularly financial, devolved to the eight area committees that made up the authority.

All charges and departmental budgets were set at "core" meetings of all councillors in Inverness.

The move to standardise the financial structure of the eight former district councils had left previous low-spending areas such as Caithness facing the biggest increases in service charges such as the council tax, burial fees and taxi licensing.

The provost of Caithness, John Young, pressed the claims of Caithness for more autonomy at a meeting between the eight area chairmen and the council's convener, Peter Peacock.

And while Mr Peacock and his colleagues in Inverness were expected to come up with proposals to give area committees more flexibility to adjust departmental spending priorities locally, he was unlikely to recommend the award of global budgets for area committees to be allocated between departments as they saw fit.

Mr Young said that Caithness District Council had been prudent and so had kept the council tax low, but its citizens were now suffering the highest increases to pay the bill left by other councils which had gone on a spending spree in their final year.

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