Shetland Ports and Harbours

New lease of life for vintage port

Vital work to help new business pour into Shetland has been completed at Scalloway harbour.

The designated fishing port, situated on the west side of Shetland, is part of a vibrant, bustling community.

The project of improvements, which cost in the region of £3 million have included introducing new buoyage to make the approach to harbour easier; dredging the main channel into the harbour down to 8.7 metres; and increasing the under keel clearance.

Scalloway (translates as bay with the large house) was the ancient capital of Shetland, but has since been replaced by Lerwick. It is also home to the North Atlantic Fisheries College where there is ongoing research into renewable energy.

Harbour master roger Moore says they anticipate that the refurbishment will attract significant new business: “Scalloway already has a lot going for it and we know that these modernisations will attract oil and gas standby vessels, renewable energy business, and revenue from the adventure cruise ship industry.

“From a navigational point of view it’s a very attractive port. It is safe, sheltered, ISPS compliant, has a good log history, and, overlooked by the castle ruin, it holds many secrets.”

“A radio operator on the Titanic came from Scalloway, and the port was used to transport spies and supplies to and from Norway during the Second World War. It’s a thriving fishing port steeped in fascinating history.” After Norway was invaded in 1940, more than 300 vessels left Norwegian shores packed with refugees, the majority
of which headed for Shetland.

Whilst these fishing vessels could escape from Norway there was also scope for them to return. A wartime resistance movement was born taking wireless operators, armaments and combatants into Nazi occupied Norway. It became known as the Shetland Bus. From 1942 onwards it operated out of Scalloway where there was good communication, asocial life for the Bus men, and a purpose-built slipway for vessel repair.

Roger continued: “There is a wealth of history in this area and we’re thrilled to be able to say that the port is always busy. We get very positive feedback on the service offered by the port and its staff. Vessels come here now for more routine reasons than those of bygone days. This might include crew changes, taking on fresh supplies, to refuel or just to rest before continuing with a journey. For some it might be their last chance to stop before they reach Canada! Whatever reason they want to come here they’re always very welcome.

“This is a much needed, long-term investment that will ensure that Scalloway, and Shetland as a whole, is a desirable place to be that has facilities to match. It’s taken almost a year for the work to conclude and now we will begin to see a big difference.”

The port itself employs three full-time staff but is part of a bustling harbour that is home to a number of different industries including warehousing, craneage, ice-making, ship agencies, ship repair ,hotels, shops, diving companies and taxi services.

Scalloway has leisure facilities (including swimming pool) and anew museum. Shetland as a whole has a population of approximately 22,000 with Scalloway’s figures resting at just over 800 in the last available census. Sailing is a popular activity in Shetland and there is a number of marinas situated around the islands, including Scalloway, which have facilities for visiting yachts.

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