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Kirkwall from an old postcard
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Kirkwall from an old postcard

Date and photographer unknown. The white lettering is reminscent of Tom Kent, but the new Kirkwall Power Station at the edge of a big Peedie Sea suggests the fifties, when the power station was being built (no oil tanks behind it yet. The gasworks have gone, the old power behind the Town Hall has gone, the extension where Lerwick Engineering and Support Training are has not been built up at J&W Tait's premises on the Back Road, The old mart and the house next to it has made way for the new library, the Peedie Sea has been filled in a lot...

Apart from the buildings of Broad Street, much has changed.
Picture added on 08 July 2005
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Kirkwall Town Hall
The Gasworks are still in place. Follow the lane that links the Town Hall to Junction Road. About three quarters of the way down the lane - look to the right and you will see the (2) tanks in which the gas was stored. Go to the tall chimney which stands behind the building that housed the actual "retorts" Retorts was the name that was given to the large "oven" like fires that the stokers had to empty and fill every hour or so. If one looks slightly right of the smaller of the two tanks - one will see an arched doorway. This is the coal shed. It was in this coal shed that massive barrows were filled with coal and taken into the main building where the retorts were housed. My father: George Borwick - nicknamed "Todo" worked at the Gasworks as a stoker and if my memory serves me right - earned about £5 - £8 per week. Another person who used to work there was a man called Tom Gourlay. I know of only one other person who worked there - but for the moment his name escapes me. This man also had a part time job. He worked as a "chucker out" at the dance hall on Junction Road. I used to go down to the Gasworks on a regular basis and help my father - who after emptying the retort would wheel the barrow outside. Once that was done - I'd throw buckets of water on to the barrow's contents - end result: Cinders which the Gasworks in these days sold in abundance. Reference the stokers who's name I can't recall: For some strange reason the name "Wylie" keeps popping into my mind.
Added by Edward Borwick on 17 March 2008
I would like to amend the previous entry of "Wylie" - insert "Mears Jock" I'm almost certain that the man's name was Jock Mears.
Added by Edward Borwick on 18 March 2008
Jock Mears used to take our money at the door in the Cosmo and our half bottles ha ha
Added by Ken Foulis on 21 January 2012
I seem to remember that John Windwick used to work in the gas works.
Sandy will probably put me right.
Jock Mears would usually let you in with the haffie if you gave him a drink out of it.
Added by Price Sinclair on 22 January 2012
Peter, it is a long time since you posted this picture and, believe it or not,this is my first glimpse of it!! However, the buildings to the right of J&W Tait's on the Back Road are what were known as the "Stables" and belonged to the late John T. Flett. The lane to the right of those buildings was the entry to the old Police Station to which was attached the 'Police House' which, when I was but a boy, was inhabited by Inspector James Cormack and his wife who was an aunt of the late Gerald Moodie. The Mart buildings started thereafter!
Added by Lex F. Craigie on 23 January 2012
Yes Price, my uncle John worked in the gas works before he became custodian of St Magnus Cathedral. He escaped the inferno and worked for God. Jock Mears was indeed the "chucker oot" at the Cosmo, along with big John Dook. Hid wis a brave lad that took them on. Jock was big, with hands like soup plates. You didna need a clout fae him.
Added by Sandy on 23 January 2012
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