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Cuppaster , Isle of Yell, Shetland Isles, United Kingdom

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Linked to the Past by Tradition

Just like most other towns in Great Britain , Lerwick has a cracking museum. Not dusty with glass cases, and really quite a modern looking building at first sight; the lines echo those of some of the older nearby merchants warehouses

One of the interesting services it offers is the chance to view the Shetland Photo Archive Library ~ an extensive collection reflecting the social, natural , textile, boating , fishing , crofting , trade and commercial history of the islands .. amongst other things !

By the way ....  have you heard of the Shetland Black potato variety? We alway hope for a love heart when we cut !


So , the title of this blog entry - linked to the past by tradition. Artisan bakers & confectioners today continue to create food as we know and love it. Of course, they can still be innovative, having their own take on a recipe or maybe by creating something completely different.

We eat with our hearts as well as our eyes ~ memories often come flooding back don't they of past times with some tastes and flavours. My own childhood was lucky enough to include visits to our favourite shop in the town, Soothills Bakery in Fareham, Hampshire. It was certainly a treat when a Saturday included a trip there !

A busy bakery with queues out of the door in the 60's & 70's and every decade up to now. I'm glad to say they STILL bake the best Lardy Cake IN THE WORLD and business is still booming . Of course, our visit to Hampshire this coming February to Tracy & Nigels wedding will have to include a visit to Soothills up the road from Portsmouth. Can't wait ... for the wedding of course!


I thought I would show you a little bit of Shetlands bakery history . By the look of some of these folk, the work was even harder then than now ...

Baker Lowrie Brown  working at T.M. Adie & Sons' bakery in Voe. LAte 1950's but no sign of electric scales anywhere. This Adie family is related to the well know BBC journalist Kate Adie  

The famous 'Blacks Queue' outside Black & Sons bakery, Commercial Road,Lerwick during rationing which lasted well into the 1950's

Charlies Bakery Van  ~ Austin, 1968. Whilst there were town bakeries aplenty, some outlying rural areas were served by  maybe only one bakery that sent a van around the area to deliver. This van isn't from Yell that I know of, but many older folk I've spoken to here clearly remember the Yell Bread Van, a lifeline at a time when  fewer had access to quick easy transport to the shop. Peggy Hughson (who was acutally born in our crofthouse 80+ years ago) also remembers the little racks of sweeties just inside the back door!
Now this is a really old picture, we reckon Victorian period and is another Lerwick bakery. The young lad on the right has a bread basket in his hand ~ clearly the days before plastic "white-boards" arrived. I'm hoping that the baker 3rd from left has his thick tweed jacket and waistcoat on for the camera as I can't imagine how hot it would have been working in them! 
This , for me, is one of the most touching photographs I found. It's a picture from the 1890's of Andrew Mouat who lived in Walls, he was a well known local character. One of his jobs was to transport bread from the Walls Bakery to the Bridge of Walls shop ... a very short journey. The bread was carried on his back in a big tea chest, secured with a rope - he was paid 6d for his job. 
So renowned was Andrew, that he featured on a postcard with the title  "Captain o' the peerie trips"  ~ (Captain of the short trips)
So , Our Steve is just another in the long line of bakers in Shetland, although sadly you can now count the remaining bakeries on 1 hand.
Hope you enjoyed the old pics. We're all part of history in our own ways aren't we?
S, S & D xxxx
ps .... missing the sheep? hows this for a pair of handlebar horns?!

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