Friday, 26 November 2010

Rebuild of the Airmen’s’ Accommodation 1981 to 1994

During the years 1981 to 1994 there was a phased rebuild of practically the whole of the Domestic Site with the Guardroom, Power House and “Ice Cap area” being the only major parts being left intact. The old mid-50’s buildings had done well but were very far past their sell-by dates. The standard of accommodation had long been surpassed on other Units.

The “new-build” led to a far more comfortable way of life for most servicemen. There were even new quarters at Nordabrake and Taftens, plus an all weather soccer pitch. One of the sensible ideas was a centralised catering/kitchen area with the messes radiating off a central hub. The earlier phases were to include the single accommodation for other ranks and new Mess’s for the Officers & SNCOs. It is difficult to reconstruct the chronology of the reconstruction without access to official documents so I have had to give the subject a fairly broad-brush treatment.

Some pictures of the demolition of the old buildings and the erection of new ones appeared in an earlier section of the blog:-

In this section there will be pictures of the new build as it affected the normal serviceman. I hope to do a further section or sections on the other parts of the site -  Nordabrake, Taftens , Officers’ and Sergeants‘ Messes, Sick Quarters etc later. (Left click on picture to enlarge).

Whilst a great deal of effort went into the exterior of the buildings, the interiors were not forgotten. Those who had been used to the old billet blocks noticed a vast improvement.

The first phase of the development was completed by the summer of 1983 and was officially opened by AVM Ken Hayr, AOC 11 Gp. An article about the event from the Press & Journal newspaper is below:

The attempt at planting a second "Unst Forest" mentioned in the Article was a dismal failure. A picture of some of the saplings in 1983 is below, followed by a photo of the same area taken in 2010.


Monday, 22 November 2010

Visit of Gp Capt Mike Shields – 1993/1995

I apologise about having few details regarding this Visit. It took place whilst Sqn Ldr Kevin Hahn was the CO and therefore occurred in the period Sep 93 to Sep 95. I recognise Gp Capt Mike Shields and the venue – the Viking Club. I have the names of 2 of the recipients of the awards – Sgts Day and Dodds but regrettably I don’t know which is which and I’m afraid the name of the Corporal is also unknown.

From the certificate being awarded to one of the Sgts I can just make out the words “British Forces Cyprus” and from the “colour” of the medal ribbons in the black and white photos it appears that the other Sgt and the Corporal are being awarded Long Service and Good Conduct Medals. If anyone can offer more information I will update this section at a later date.

The first 3 photos show the recipient of the British Forces Cyprus Commendation? (Left click on photos to enlarge).

The next 2 photos show the award of LS&GCMs:

The last 2 are group photos:

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Rebuild of SHE 1993 to 1995

As shown in a previous section:-
the Dorran prefabricated quarters at SHE which were opened in 1967 had become very dilapidated by 1993.  MOD ordered a new build which, in service terms, happened fairly quickly, particularly as the build had to be phased to ensure that some accommodation was available for married personnel and their families during the construction programme.  However, from personal experience I know that watch workers must have found trying to sleep on a building site terribly frustrating.  The contract to design the houses was awarded to a firm of Architects based in Lerwick in the hope that local knowledge would provide structure which could withstand the climate better than their predecessors.
The demolition of the old quarters and the new build took place in 1994 and 1995. The first of 3 phases, 16 airmen’s quarters were completed and occupied by Feb 95 and the second phase, with 14 more airmen’s quarters was completed in May of that year, with the third phase later in 95. Although the Inter Island RoRo Ferries were available, much of the material required for the build was brought to Baltasound by the MV Shetland Trader and stockpiled. Had that not been the case the services on Yell and Blue Mell Sounds would have been severely disrupted.

Before any new build could take place space would have to be made – the old buildings had to be demolished and a work camp set up.

Some attention was also paid to the interiors of the Quarters:-
Eventually the site began to look like a proper Quarters patch again:-

After that work could go ahead at full steam

Links to more sections about Setters Hill Estate; 


Sunday, 14 November 2010

Arrival of Equipment on Unst 1955 Part 3

Two sections about the arrival of radar equipment at Baltasound have already been published:-

I’m grateful to George Bett (again) for supplying the photos of another landing which also took place in 1955. The Landing Craft involved was the ADC 1204, which sailed from Cairnryan and called into Lerwick en route to Unst. Cairnryan, near to Stranraer, became a very important military port during WWII  and immediately after the war it was used to help in the disposal of unused ammunition and explosives. This material was loaded onto vessels like the ADC1204, taken out to deep water in the Irish Sea and dumped. Although this sort of operation would not be allowed in the modern world different standards applied at the time. Cairnyan is now in use by P&O Irish Ferries.

George also remembers that on one of the sailings some equipment was transhipped to the craft at sea from the Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA) Robert Dundas. The main cargo on this run appears to be generators – Unst was without mains electricity until sometime after the camp power station became operational.

The first photo shows the ADC 1204 en route – I’m sure everyone on board was grateful for the sea state.
The next 2 photos show the  ADC 1204 at Lerwick. Those of you who are familiar with current Lerwick may be surprised to see how few houses are visible to the north of the town in the second of these pictures.
The next 2 pictures are of equipment being landed at the slip at Baltasound.
The last shot is of the empty ADC 1204 lying alongside the pier at Baltasound – the old pier buildings and Springfield Hotel can be seen in the background. The slip used for landing the equipment is near the centre of the picture.