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

By Features Reporter

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Fishing boats side by side in Scrabster harbour in the early 1950s, viewed from Holborn Head, before construction of the middle pier (photographer not known).
Fishing boats side by side in Scrabster harbour in the early 1950s, viewed from Holborn Head, before construction of the middle pier (photographer not known).

North Sea cruiser mystery

From the Groat of March 14, 1924

An obsolete cruiser which was being towed to Belfast for "breaking up purposes" had gone missing.

The Sutlej was being towed by the tugs Plover and Joffre. The Plover had put into Wick for bunker coals and taken on board about 50 tons, while the two other vessels sat 20 miles south-east of the port.

It appeared that the Joffre had lost sight of the Sutlej which had drifted in a southerly direction and was subsequently spotted by the Aberdeen trawler Craigendarroch approximately 60 miles south-east of Peterhead.

The trawler had offered assistance but the eight men on board had no steam to weigh anchor.

After leaving food supplies with the Sutlej the Aberdeen trawler left the vicinity.

The latest news was that the two tugs were in Peterhead, "having evidently failed to locate their derelict charge".

Meanwhile, it was reported that there had been no decline in farmworkers' wages following the March Fair at Olrig. There was a large attendance of farmers and servants at what was regarded as the "principal feeing market of the year" and a number of engagements were fixed.

Wages were pretty much the same as the year before, with married men receiving £36 to £40 per annum, single men getting £30 to £40 and women being paid £26 to £28.

Also in farming news, it was reported that George Clyne, Noss, was to "disperse his noted Clydesdale stud at Perth".

Two new factories for Caithness

From the Groat of March 15, 1974

Two advance factories were to be built in the county by the Highlands and Islands Development Board.

The premises, each amounting to about 8000 square feet, were to be sited at Wick Airport Industrial Estate and the Ormlie Lodge site in Thurso.

Sir Andrew Gilchrist, chairman of HIDB, said the decision to site the factories in Caithness had been reinforced by the move by CBI Constructors Ltd (formerly Chicago Bridge) to build its oil fabrication yard in Ireland rather than at Dunnet Bay, which had "created a new and urgent situation of concern to the local authorities and the board".

He said that many men from Caithness had found work with platform builders in the Moray Firth area with the intention of returning to work at Dunnet. He said these men could be permanently lost to the county.

It was hoped that the advance factories would attract industry to the area.

Elsewhere, Margaret Swanson, a 14-year-old pupil at Wick High School, had been judged the winner of the North of Scotland regional final of the Uk Schools Fish Cookery Competition.

She was due to attend the final in London where she would have the chance of winning a weekend for four in Copenhagen and the Henry Williamson Billingsgate Trophy.

Her winning dish was called Sweyn's Supper.

Herbal potion proving a real turn-on

From the Groat of March 19, 1999

A natural aphrodisiac being touted as the female Viagra was being supplied from the village base of Caithness herbalist Brian Lamb.

He and his two staff had been working flat out to meet bulk orders for the extract of a traditional root vegetable from Peru.

The herbal potion had proved such a winner that the premises at Quarryside, Murkle, had to be extended to keep up with demand.

The liquid extract was said to be of benefit in boosting the libido of both sexes but was of particular value to women.

Harvested 13,000 feet up the central Andes, maca was considered so potent that the Incas confined its use to their royal family. According to Mr Lamb, the elixir fully unlocked the potential of what the Incas called their superfood.

Apart from increasing sexual stamina and fecundity, its uses included for hormone replacement therapy and the easing of premenstrual tension.

While many outlets produced maca in powdered form, Mr Lamb was the only one known to make it into a liquid.

He had developed a special technique to extract the active ingredient, but explained he had not sought to patent it. "You cannot patent something that God has made," he said.

The latest rush order for 5000 bottles was destined for despatch to outlets throughout the country.

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