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


By Staff Reporter

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A five-piece band.. but they were known as the Rhythm Four and were popular locally in the 1960s. On stage at the Station Hotel, Wick, were (from left) Sandy Green, Danny Cormack, Johnny Curran, Chris Duncan and Stevie Bremner.
A five-piece band.. but they were known as the Rhythm Four and were popular locally in the 1960s. On stage at the Station Hotel, Wick, were (from left) Sandy Green, Danny Cormack, Johnny Curran, Chris Duncan and Stevie Bremner.

Stricken crew rescued by Scarfskerry rocket company

From the Groat of January 7, 1921

The SS Kentucky, of Copenhagen, had been carrying goods and mails on a voyage from Copenhagen to Boston, USA, when it ran ashore at Skirza Head, Freswick.

At the time the sea was too rough for reaching the vessel with a boat, and it increased during the night. But about midnight the rocket apparatus crew from Scarfskerry, along with the divisional officer of coastguards from Dunnet Head, arrived on the scene.

"The rocket line was fired aboard and the hawser made fast and, about four o'clock, the last man was brought safely ashore."

On New Year's Day a salvage tug with a diver on board arrived and it was hoped that the Kentucky, which was described as a "fine steamer", could be refloated.

And the stricken vessel had become something of an attraction. It was reported that "a large number of visitors from places as far distant as Wick have visited the scene of the occurrence".

Meanwhile the New Year procession, which had fallen into abeyance in Wick because of the war, was reinstated with the aim of supporting the town's war memorial fund.

The event included civic leaders and trades representatives, along with fancy-dress collectors, and was followed by a benefit dance.

RNLI service honoured

From the Groat of January 8, 1971

The RNLI's Gold Badge had been awarded to two Thurso stalwarts.

Former provost John Sinclair, Lord-Lieutenant of Caithness, and Gertie Blyth, of Couper Terrace, were honoured for their respective records of service to the institution.

Mr Sinclair had been chairman of the Thurso (Scrabster) station branch for 21 years, while Mrs Blyth had served for 15 years in the Thurso Ladies Lifeboat Guild. The awards were due to be presented in London in April.

Elsewhere the "tuck shop" scheme at Wick High School had started operation.

Apart from supplying pupils at morning and lunch intervals – cash and carry being the strict rule – the shop was intended to give a measure of business training to those who took turns staffing it.

The establishment was situated in a shed in the school grounds and it was hoped that it would make a profit to benefit school funds.

Also at Wick High, an advert for a person to undertake temporary crossing patrol duties near the school had failed to attract any applicants.

There had been an increase in traffic at West Banks owing to road diversions as part of the town's sewer-laying scheme.

Business as usual after takeover

From the Groat of January 12, 1996

The new boss of a bus firm which operated in Caithness said there would be no changes in staffing levels or services following a multimillion-pound takeover by a Glasgow-based coach company.

Alan Wilson, the acting chief executive of Scottish Citylink, which had bought Highland Country Buses Ltd, said he did not anticipate "any major changes".

He explained it would be business as usual, although the company would be looking to develop the service and possibly provide investment for new vehicles in the longer term.

The general manager of Highland Country Buses, Freda Rapson, who was to remain in post, described the takeover as "a very positive acquisition", adding: "We are part of a strong company which is committed to a high standard of services and it should augur well for the future."

Meanwhile, Thurso teenager Steven Mowat was on the crest of a wave after winning a training berth at a sailing centre 800 miles away on the south coast of England.

The youngster had dreamed of becoming a sailing instructor since leaving Thurso High the year before, but his ambition took a knock when he discovered the cost of gaining the qualification was beyond his means.

He contacted his local careers office and was delighted when they found him a place on a six-month work experience scheme in Poole in Dorset.


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