Tuesday 27 December 2016

Boring Headlines Of The Weeek! (In our best Harry Hill voices.)

Oh that post Christmas, but pre-New Year slump readers! How to fill it? With these scintillating headlines from our local newspapers of course!

Saturday 24 December 2016

Orkney Archive Advent Calendar - Merry Christmas!

Orcadian - 20th December 1962

Orkney Library & Archive will open again at 9.15am on Wednesday the 4th of January 2017.

Friday 23 December 2016

Orkney Archive Advent Calendar - A Christmas Farewell

Today we thought we'd  bring you the disembodied, yet Christmassy head of our social media brother, @OrkneyLibrary on his last ever day of working here.


...but then we decided to give him some bodies after all...


Stewart's shift ends at 1pm today (slacker), and so, as he turns in his date stamp, hangs up his key and helps himself from the library till one last time, let us all open the nearest window, crank up the volume and serenade him with this Buck's Fizz classic. Perhaps Storm Barbara will quieten long enough for him to hear it as he stands in the car park, a tear in his eye and that Mavis Riley book he went on about in his arms.

 So long, farewell, auf wiedersehen (pet), good by-ee.

Adieu Stew!

Thursday 22 December 2016

Orkney Archive Advent Calendar - A Hearty Christmas Wish

We do enjoy some hearty good wishes here at the archive. This card was sent to Andrew Slater from Mary Ann and has no date on it.

Wednesday 21 December 2016

Orkney Archive Advent Calendar - An Orcadian Christmas Carol

Another treasure from the Ernest Walker Marwick collection. Listen to the Tenston Carol, a Christmas song in Orcadian dialect HERE

The song, recorded in 1966, is sung by Alison Sabiston with words by her mother L.M. Sabiston and music by A. MacLeod. The piano is played by Mrs MacLeod.

Orkney Archive Reference: D31/TR/95/5


Tuesday 20 December 2016

The Great Escape

In October 2012, Stewart Bain, organised the Crime-writing festival Orcrime, and the Archive staff duly supported this event with an exhibition of crime in Orkney. We hinted here about the adventures of Caleb Isbister, but never told you lovely followers the whole story. Some of the library staff very sportingly agreed to pose for our "Jackie" style photo story. So as we say a fond farewell to Stewart, our great twitterer (who is himself escaping at the end of this week - to a new job), we can hold him forever in our memories pretending to be the dastardly criminal, Caleb Isbister.

In 1807, Caleb Isbister was a very naughty boy...
Would you trust this man?

Caleb, originally from Firth & Stenness, owned a straw-plaiting factory in Caithness and employed Lille Manson to be his manager. Unfortunately he failed to pay her any wages...

"Caleb Isbister, formerly residing at Forster's buildings, London, and lately in Kirkwall stands indebted to the Pursuer - Lille Manson in the sum of one hundred and forty five pounds fifteen shillings and one penny stirling" 

Ah'm no listenin'       Whar's me money?

Caleb was arrested and imprisoned while the Kirkwall magistrates tried to recover his debts from the sale of his possessions.


"Caleb was incarcerated within the tollbooth of the Burgh of Kirkwall...The magistrates of the said Burgh of Kirkwall disobeying or neglecting the warrant for incarceration or detention, either by themselves or others in their employ allowed such improper latitude and liberty to the said Caleb Isbister as was altogether unwarrantable and at last they permitted him upon the 23rd or 24th day of August last either through connivance or culpable negligence or remissness to leave the prison."

Ah'm aff

In other words, they let him escape...

"Caleb Isbister, who broke the Tollbooth of this place in August last and effected his escape thereupon, had been apprehended in London, from whence he was conveyed to Edinburgh."
[The cost of retrieving Caleb from London to Edinburgh was £200 - present day value of £6,792.]

Gotcha! You've cost us £200!

The magistrates of Edinburgh then demanded the magistrates of Kirkwall to pay the costs incurred. Kirkwall disagreed. But in court...

"The libel concludes against the defenders [the magistrates of Kirkwall] personally, for payment of several large sums alleged to have been due the pursuers by Caleb Isbister late prisoner in the Tollbooth of Kirkwall."

The Grumpy Magistrates
So the magistrates were forced to pay up. "And the council hereby authorise and empower Provost Traill to draw from Sir William Forbes and Company the sum of Two Hundred pounds Sterling to be applied in payment of Mr Anderson's debursements and in defraying the other expenses"

We have no more records of Caleb Isbister after 1807, but since he could have lived afterwards in Kirkwall, Edinburgh or London, he may turn up in another Archives' records. We know that his parents were Thomas Isbister and Ursula Robertson and that he was christened on 28th Aug 1761. He had four siblings, all younger: a brother Thomas, ch. 9th Sep 1764; a sister Christian, ch. 1770; a brother Robert, ch. 17th May 1772 and another brother John, ch. 9th Jan 1776. The family lived in Firth & Stenness parish.

References used: K7/2/42 - Kirkwall Town Council Minute; SC11/5/1807/84 - Sheriff Court Summons Money Owed to Lille Manson; SC11/5/1807/86 - Sheriff Court Precept of Poinds and Arrestment.

Archiver, Dusty and The Fonds wish Stewart all the best in his new job! We will miss you!

Monday 19 December 2016

Orkney Archive Advent Calendar - Christmas Treat

A group of children who were given a short flight around Orkney as part of a Gardens Ltd. Christmas party, paid for by a Christmas Club savings scheme in Garden's shop.

Archive Reference: L3455-1

Sunday 18 December 2016

Orkney Archive Advent Calendar - Heat Charity

John Balfour to his sister, Margaret Balfour, September 1792:

' It occurs to me that a small supply of coals about Christmas to the poor on my lands would be a well applied charity.'

Orkney Archive reference D2/19/13

Saturday 17 December 2016

Orkney Archive Advent Calendar - Austerity Christmas

In these straitened times, why not buy microscopic gifts for your loved ones and then put them in walnuts?

Taken from The Orcadian dated 13th December 1962.

Friday 16 December 2016

Orkney Archive Advent Calendar - Eyes On The Pies

If you have not yet baked your Christmas cake, Pudding or Mince Pies (tsk, tsk) then you could follow the recipes donated to the King Street Church sale of work in 1938.

As always in recipe books from yore, there are some slightly stomach churning contributions. Sheep kidney soup or 'meat shape' anyone?

Thursday 15 December 2016

Orkney Archive Advent Calendar - The Sound of Orkney

We have a wonderful Sound Archive containing music, radio programmes, stories, songs and many, many Orcadians reminiscing about their lives.

Listen to Bella Cromarty of North Ronaldsay speaking about Christmas when she was a youngster HERE

Orkney Sound Archive 137 - Bella Cromarty

Wednesday 14 December 2016

Orkney Archive Advent Calender - Christmas Spice

Look at this advert for all sorts of delicious sounding festive foods we found in an early year of The Orcadian... Figs, Citrus fruits, Jordan and Valencia almonds, Cloves, Nutmeg, Cassia buds and, most exotic and enticing of all; macaroni and tapioca...

Fancy goods were available too! Propriety alone prevents us from asking how on earth 'sperm candles' were produced. We would Google it but the Library & Archive firewall would probably explode.

Tuesday 13 December 2016

Orkney Archive Advent Calendar - Christmas On - Duty

Christmas Day 1943 at RAF Skeabrae. The band played throughout the meal.

Images taken from the Gregor Lamb collection.

Monday 12 December 2016

Orkney Archive Advent Calendar - A Christmas Wish from Wishart

Today's archive is this beautiful print taken from Stromness artist Sylvia Wishart's papers.

Orkney Archive Reference: D134/1/3/3

Sunday 11 December 2016

Orkney Archive Advent Calendar: Orkney Poet

Ernest Walker Marwick was a prolific writer, historian, folklorist and generally a Very Good Thing as far as Orkney Archive are concerned. We hold over 70 boxes of his writings, research and collections of folklore and use them CONSTANTLY.

He wrote poems too.

Orkney Archive Reference D31/41/4/3

Saturday 10 December 2016

Orkney Archive Advent Calendar - Shining Star

Seasoned readers may remember this image from our Christmas Card in 2010. It is taken from the December 1910 edition of  'The Star' magazine which contains many hand-written and delightfully illustrated Christmas stories. See below for more examples:

Mary Robertson Sinclair papers: Orkney Archive Reference D30/2/10

Friday 9 December 2016

Orkney Archive Advent Calendar - Ba' Humbug Again To You!

As a follow up to yesterday's mention of the Holm ba' - here are two snowy images from what was clearly a very cold winter in 1923.

Stromness Ba', Christmas Day, 1923

Kirkwall Ba' on the same day.

Thursday 8 December 2016

Orkney Archive Advent Calendar - Ba' Humbug!

The account book shown above belonged to Patrick Graeme of Graemshall and the entry for 26th December 1781 reads: ' By given for a prize to be played for at the football on Christmas Day'.

This presumably refers to the Holm ba' game which no is no longer played. John Robertson's book Uppies and Doonies describes it thus:

'The sides were the East and West ends of the village and the throw-up took place at the Post Office, the Youth's ba' starting at noon and the men's ba' two hours later. The goals were St Mary's loch at the West End and the old Grain Store at the East end... that there should be a water goal is in the true tradition of the game.

The contests were rough and punishing, and one of my informants who had been present nearly sixty years before, said "they tore the very claes aff yer back".'

Orkney Archive reference: D5/11/7 (this is a closed collection but applications, in writing, can be made via the archives department for consideration of the owners of the collection..)

Wednesday 7 December 2016

Orkney Archive Advent Calendar - Teacher's Pets

Christmas cards sent to Mrs Mary Borwick by her pupils around the turn of the last century.

Orkney Archive reference: D133/4/1/1&2

Tuesday 6 December 2016

Orkney Archive Advent Calendar - When In Rome...

A Christmas Card sent from Orcadian poet Edwin Muir and his wife, Willa, 1949. The image on the front is of St Peter's from the Pincian Gardens in Rome, Italy.

Monday 5 December 2016

Orkney Archive Advent Calendar - A Hundred Year Old Greeting

A festive greeting from Holm battery, one hundred Christmases ago.

Orkney Archive reference: D1/88/3/3

Sunday 4 December 2016

Orkney Archive Advent Calendar - Boats & Booze

Today's Advent archive is an 1805 account taken from the Balfour & Trenabie Collection for three transactions: kelp, a boat of peats and 'brewing Christmas ale for servants and cooking dinners for people.'

Orkney Archive Reference: D2/19/5