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


By Features Reporter

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BBC Antiques Roadshow expert Rupert Maas evaluating a William Etty painting that was brought to the Castle of Mey for a programme that was broadcast in 2008.
BBC Antiques Roadshow expert Rupert Maas evaluating a William Etty painting that was brought to the Castle of Mey for a programme that was broadcast in 2008.

Water required at Bilbster School

From the Groat of August 4, 1922

Something needed to be done in connection with the Bilbster School water supply, members of Wick School Management Committee heard.

Mr G Miller suggested that the best plan would be to employ Mr Flett, Tannach, who had been engaged by the county council as water diviner, to locate water of good quality and to have a well sunk.

Mr Miller explained that Mr Flett would have to go over new ground as, while there was plenty of water near the school, the quality was bad.

He said: "We know where we could get good water a considerable distance away from the school, but that will cost hundreds of pounds to connect with the school. Out best plan in the meantime is to get Mr Flett on the job of locating good water."

Elsewhere, a comment made by Mr J T Mackay at a previous meeting of the Caithness Education Authority, that poor children risked being punished by teachers because their parents could not afford to buy books and stationery, was the subject of comment in the Scottish Educational Journal.

It stated that Mr Mackay "should examine more carefully the ideas that occur to him. Had he done so in this case it might have occurred to him that teachers are at least as likely to be reasonably humane as he is".

Dornoch Firth bridge plans

From the Groat of August 4, 1972

The Scottish Development Department had agreed that Sutherland County Council should produce on its own a wide background study regarding the desirability of bridging the Dornoch Firth at Meikle Ferry.

The object was to substantially reduce the travelling distance between east Sutherland and the developing Easter Ross area across the water.

The agreement was a step forward in the plans. Previously the department had refused to give such permission as the government had decided the proposed Dornoch bridge "should take its place in the queue after the improvement of the A9 trunk road from Perth to Invergordon. Now the council hope that, once the study has been prepared, the government will be persuaded to give the plan much higher priority."

Elsewhere it was reported that, with the increase to five-and-a-half pence in the retail price of milk, which had come into force the previous Sunday, the North of Scotland Milk Marketing Board had decided that it was the end of the line for its half-pint milk bottle.

The smallest container it now offered milk in was the one-pint bottle.

However, Wick's other retail organisation, the Westerseat dairy farm, was to continue with the half-pint bottle, the price of which had increased to 3p.

Museums plea amid fears of cuts

From the Groat of August 8, 1997

Caithness councillors were pressing for the appointment of a museums curator.

They felt it was vital to the development of the service and wanted to see the county's archaeological potential exploited as well as preventing existing finds from being syphoned south.

Members of the area cultural and leisure services committee wanted Highland Council to restore funding to their budget so that the job, which had been axed the year before, could be reintroduced.

Committee chairman Falconer Waters said he felt strongly about the retention of artefacts in Caithness "and had no wish to see 'plastic bagfuls of our heritage' being transported to museums in the south when they could be on display locally".

Other councillors agreed with John Green that the cuts in the museum service should never have been made and that Caithness was entitled to a curator, the same as other areas.

Fellow member Jim Oag maintained that the county had great archaeological potential but had not been able to enjoy some of the artefacts discovered as they were not in the keeping of Caithness.

He added: "We have so much to offer the public and the tourist industry. We must get a better share of the cash for this service – this must be addressed."


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