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Skippiegeo, Brims
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Skippiegeo, Brims

Skippiegeo, Brims c1927

Helen/Ellen Nicholson (née Wilson), Affrigate and later Mucklehouse, Jim, Walter, Freddie, Walterina and John Ross, Crockness. Helen/Ellen was Walterina's mother and my great grandmother and about six feet tall according to my granny.
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Picture added on 26 November 2011 at 12:20
Great photo again Jane the spars and sails can be seen up on the couple backs.
We visited the sail shed on the east side o Stroma this fine building had been put up by the then Laird o Stroma and each boats name or number was on the beams and this shed is still in good order showing what great care was given to the tenants on that fine island.

I doot such consideration was not afforded to the tenants o Brims though.
Added by John Budge on 26 November 2011
Would it no be nice tae see this owld shed rebuilt, I dont ever mind it standing like this although wae didna go up aboot Brims very much. yae see wae were "Sooth Siders" they might hive set aboot hiz!! eh Fred.
Note the owld thowl pins in the Yole.
Great photo Jane you may well get an honorary doctorate o Waas one day!!.
It is my intention to make a sign at the east end o the ayre with the owld name of "Vagaland" will I need planning permission dis thoo think!!.
Was your Nicholson ancesters of "Nor Wast" extraction Jane as I beleve some o the Rackwick Nicholsons indeed were? Even in this owld photo the strong cheek bone of your Great Granny can be seen also your gran would seem tae hive the same nice look aboot her.
Added by John Budge on 26 November 2011
Aye John, Brims was dangerous ground at that time. I wonder if the boat house was at Skippie Geo, or at The Haven?
Added by Fred Johnston on 03 December 2011
My local knowledge is limited and there is nothing written on the photo but comparing with picture #26101 and others we have where my father did add a location, I'm fairly sure this is Skippiegeo rather than the Haven but open to correction.
Added by Jane Harris on 03 February 2012
No Jane, I think you are correct with Skeepie Geo.
Added by Fred Johnston on 19 February 2012
Do you know anything about the drowning incident that took place at the North Bay side of the Ayre. I do not know the year, but remember people in Brims speaking about it. There were three men involved, I think at least one, perhaps two were Nicholsons and the other, if my memory serves me right was Tom Gunn.
They had left Stromness in a three sailed yole and after calling at Gramesay on the way home, disaster struck a few hundred yards from their destination. The yole capsized just off the Ayre, but the mast snagged the bottom, preventing them from drifting ashore. At daybreak, one of the women of the Bu who was milking heard the cries and raised the alarm. Unfortunately, two of the men had drowned, leaving Tom Gunn (I think) as the sole survivor.

Added by Fred Johnston on 12 March 2012
Yes Fred, I heard the story told when I was a bairn and yes the man to survive was Tom Gunn, said to be a very hardy man. In the morning when found he had stood I believe on the thowl pin of the yole (the boat must have been on her side) for a number of hours and it was said his sea boot had split and the wood of the thowl was into his foot.
Don't remember any names of the men who drowned but it was my thought they had been ashore tae the Inn at the North Ness prior to sailing up the North Bay.
That was as told to us at home by John Cromarty another native of Brims and a fellow Lifeboat man with Tom Gunn.
I believe the yole was some way off the shore below Garson .
Added by John Budge on 14 March 2012
Yes John, I was pretty sure that Tom Gunn was the survivor and I think the two that were lost were Nicholsons. I remember old Tom, when he and his family lived in the thatched house above Manclett. The population of Brims at that time was about 85.

John, have you heard the story of the three boys who were climbing at the back of the Berry, when one of them fell and landed on a ledge?. The other two who were too scared to go for help ( Which was miles away anyway),tied their scarves together and got hold of him. Unfortunately the knot gave way and he fell 400 feet to his death. I think that the victim was a Chalmers boy ( Could have been a brother of Jean Chalmers)and one of the others was Ralph Taylor( I think).
Added by Fred Johnston on 16 March 2012
I have a faint memory of reading about the drowning in North Bay but know nothing more. I don't think these were 'our' Nicholsons, but may be wrong. I'm sure my father would have known more. If anyone has an approximate date, it would not be too hard to research.
Added by Jane Harris on 19 March 2012
Think its a long time ago, I'm 72 and have no memory of it happening.....Might the Tom Gunn be the one I remember working at Lyness mid 60's..... I have a feeling its another Tom Gunn tho'...
Added by Jimmy Hamilton on 20 March 2012
No Jimmy, the Tom Gunn in question, was the Tom that worked at Lyness's father. I think we are talking about a date sometime in the 1890's.
Added by Fred Johnston on 20 March 2012
Over eight years later, thanks to the British Newspaper Archive, I've found the details of the drowning. The late Fred Johnston was spot on with the names, two Nicolsons from Brims, James and Charles, with Tom Gunn, and the date, 12 January 1890. They had left Stromness mid-afternoon on Saturday 11 January and called by Graemsay where "a brother of one of the Nicolsons' resides", leaving there about 9pm. They were about 20 yards from the shore at the Ayre of Brims when, according to Tom Gunn, "they were in the act of staying the boat when a squall from the west caught the sail and she went down at once by the stern in eight feet of water". He held on at the bow which remained above water, probably because the ballast had shifted in the accident. He could see "the brothers Nicolson" struggle at the stern and then go down. That implies they were brothers but the earlier part of the article doesn't; later on in the article, it says they were from Hurliness. Tom Gunn held on until 8am when William Sutherland (or his daughter, two versions in the article) the Bu, heard his cries and Wm Sutherland and others rescued him. There is more detail in the article including a brief note that suggests another boat from Stromness to Longhope may have gone missing that weekend.
The two Nicolsons, with their parents William and Elizabeth, both born in Walls like their sons, were at Fea in the 1881 census. The parents were in Hurliness in the 1891 census.
Added by Jane Harris on 21 August 2020
Sorry meant to add the article I found was in the Orkney Herald, 15 January 1890, p 5, entitled Sad boat accident at Longhope.
Added by Jane Harris on 21 August 2020
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