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


By Features Reporter

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John Coghill, Peter Gunn, Alice Farquhar, Isa Swanson, Rosie Bella Bremner and Jimmy Roloff of Staxigoe Players taking to the stage in 1934.
John Coghill, Peter Gunn, Alice Farquhar, Isa Swanson, Rosie Bella Bremner and Jimmy Roloff of Staxigoe Players taking to the stage in 1934.

'The Kid' in town

From the Groat of June 23, 1922

The principal attraction at Aubrey's Pavilion in Wick was "Charlie Chaplin's greatest production, The Kid".

Special performances were put on but even then cinema-goers had to be turned away, it was reported.

"The doings of the inimitable Charlie and his lively assistant Jackie Coogan, who is the world's greatest child actor, kept the crowded audiences in convulsions.

"Wick audiences have seen many of Chaplin's productions, but The Kid is undoubtedly his masterpiece."

Elsewhere, representatives from the Australian and Canadian governments were to visit the north to interview intending emigrants.

Mr Murphy, the Australian representative, was to visit Wick and Thurso, and "if he approves of his applicants he is empowered to grant them specially reduced fares, and work is guaranteed".

Canadian representative Mr Taylor was to visit Wick, but his business in the north was "mainly for the purpose of getting women emigrants for domestic duties".

Meanwhile, in Latheron, the funeral was held of Corporal Donald Macdonald, of the US Army, the son of Mr D Macdonald, Lower Achow, who had perished in the war in 1918.

The US government policy was to give the deceased servicemen's relatives the option of the place of burial, hence the interment in Caithness.

It was noted that all the burials of US servicemen in France had been meticulously recorded so that remains could be removed later if desired.

Sea pageant success at Lybster

From the Groat of June 23, 1972

Despite the less-than-perfect weather, Lybster Gala's new venture, a sea pageant, drew the crowds to the village harbour.

Brighter conditions would have attracted spectators from all parts of the county to enjoy the ambitious event, with the problem facing the Lybster Community Association in future being how to accommodate these larger crowds.

The central figure in the pageant was King Neptune, who arrived by sea on board the Silver Cloud II. His arrival was signalled by a rocket and greeted with a fanfare of trumpets by a quartet from Thurso Boys' Brigade.

King Neptune's consort was 19-year-old Barbara Lancaster, who was crowned queen.

The harbour ceremony was followed by a barbecue, a pie-eating contest and a fastest yard-of-ale drinking competition.

Elsewhere, Caithness County Council had reached an agreement with an experienced operator to run the Dunnet Bay caravan park and holiday recreation pavilion.

The council had decided against attempting to operate the centre itself and had instead leased it to Mr and Mrs Daniel Rafferty, who operated a centre at a busy Argyll caravan park.

Councillors agreed not to impose any conditions as regards the sale of alcohol and indicated that they would not oppose the application for a table licence, should that be made to the licensing court.

Keyhole surgery at Wick hospital

From the Groat of June 27, 1997

Keyhole surgery had been successfully introduced at Caithness General Hospital.

Gall-bladder patients were being routinely operated on using the high-tech method which dramatically reduced recovery times.

The move had been hailed by local NHS managers as a major step forward in their efforts to treat more patients near their home.

Previously many people in the far north requiring the operation had been referred to Raigmore in Inverness.

Caithness and Sutherland NHS Trust believed the new development could lead to other operations being performed by the use of a laparoscope – an optical probe which projected images of internal organs onto a screen.

It was hoped to treat far more than the previous 30 or so patients who had had their gall bladders removed at Caithness General.

Elsewhere, the local enterprise company was criticised for not renewing a scheme to encourage community groups to clean local beaches.

Thurso community councillor Ron Henderson said the scheme had been successful in tidying up beaches during the tourist season and he hit out at Caithness and Sutherland Enterprise (CASE) for not making funds available to continue the venture.

He compared the lack of funding with the £7.5m which CASE had risked in a troubled woollen mill in Brora.


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