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Quarff Hill


Njugle
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Any of you wise old sages know what the purpose and age of the two concrete buildings on the highest hill above quarff was/is. An immediate assumption would be wartime, but their appearance would suggest that they are newer than that. There have been transmitter masts next to them, and both of them, unusually, are built up on concrete 'stilts' so that there is about 4feet of clearance under each mass concrete floor. Hell of a piece of work! Hell of a place to get to!

 

Anybody?

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I'd heard of the steps , but haven't seen any evidence of them. The hill is outstandingly steep on all sides, bar the north one, which offers a very long round-about route to access the top. The view from the top is quite astonishing though. Worth the effort.

 

Thanks for the info thus far, keep it coming!

 

Anybody ken the workings of the transmitters, was this just a local "wireless" link via telephone and transmitter, or were they connecting further afield?

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From some stealth harrassment I've gleaned that they were built by the GPO in preperation between the wars. Germany if ever in the future were to dredge up the connector cable that then ran between Sandwick and mainland Scotland the station was to be used as a means of communication. Of course the Second World War did then ensue not long after.

 

I believe there was a direct power link laid by hand too from the Lerwick power station?

 

Of course this is all second hand after a telephone conversation .. so if anyone could elaborate and or fill in the blanks I for one would be very interested!

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Far north of the buildings there is the faint signs of an old cutting through the bogs, leading toward the Scord at Scalloway, so perhaps there is something in that. I've also just realised that any communications through these masts would probably have been in morse code, not telephone as i previously proposed :oops:

 

[edit] On further reflection there have been one or two small asbestos roofed sheds on the slopes above Uradale, where the remains of two obsolete 500 gallon tanks can still be seen, so perhaps there was a generator of some description on the hill at Uradale, as close as any vehicle of the era could have made it to these buildings (not very close!)

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Not sure what book the page was photocopied from but here's what it says

 

"Radio telephone links were established with Skerries in 1934, and with Papa Stour and Foula in 1937, while an ultra short wave radio station, supplied with electricity from Lerwick, is to be erected in 1938 at Scraefield, Quarff, by the G.P.O to furnish trunk telephone communication with the mainland of Great Britain."

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Does anyone know why these buildings were built on legs? Also, there's no track up the hill, so who on earth carried all those bricks and slates up there?

 

I was my understanding that a local man in Quarff drove a small tractor along the road pulling a sled up the side of the hill with the supplies attached to it. A pulley system was used in the process.

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It is always amazing to consider the manpower and horsepower that must have been involved in so many of these projects, in times before all the modern machinery and equipment that is at our disposal today.

 

I spent a considerable part of my career moving large objects in and out of remote locations that are beyond the scope or comprehension of most people! Even today the logistics of many of these projects are immensely complex, not just the equipment, but also maintaining the flow of supplies, fuel and food to keep the entire project moving seamlessly. We often take for granted that what might have taken a large team months to accomplish 50 or 100 years ago, is now completed in a matter of days by a couple of guys and readily available machinery. Just consider how long it took to get to Lerwick from any outlying area in Shetland only 25 years ago.

 

But for all that, people are incredibly versatile in getting these projects done, efficiently, with the available tools. Many of the best minds and most practical problem solvers are the people from more remote locations who can accomplish virtually anything, with just about nothing, because if they can't get it done, it simply won't get done at all!

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But for all that, people are incredibly versatile in getting these projects done, efficiently, with the available tools. Many of the best minds and most practical problem solvers are the people from more remote locations who can accomplish virtually anything, with just about nothing, because if they can't get it done, it simply won't get done at all!

 

Never a truer word spoken. Reminds me of the wires/cable and pulley(s) system some of Levenwick had at one time for getting their peats home, down the steep face of the hill. I'm not sure or the exact location of the run, but it's my understanding it was somewhere close to the last houses at the north end, on the upper side of the main road.

 

It was before my time, and those who saw it in action and from whom I learned of it are long gone, but it's my understanding an anchor with the pulley(s) was embedded in the top of the hill and an endless cable pulled the empty sledge(s) up using the load one going down to power it. I don't know if the trick was to have enough sledges going up at any one time to regulate the speed of the downward one, or whether they made do with what they had, lashed the peats on well and prayed everything held together whatever speed it attained. But, I would imagine it took a bit of trial and error initially to get it all working smoothly.

 

Anyone wanting to move anything up and down in that same area now wouldn't give a second thought to trying to, as most of it is too steep to get a safe foothold on, a crawler tractor hauling itself up/letting itself down on a winch or a helicopter are probably the only machinery capable of making the trip. Yet, folk in time past found a way when they had to.

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In concurrence with trouts proposal, there is a, now capsized, concrete plinth/tower thing on the shoulder of the steep bit of hill facing south, whichg i had assumed must be part of a pulley system. I marvelled at that as soon as i saw it, before that i had imagined a large fleet of shetland ponies was the only option, given the steepness and sheer quantity of concrete and blocks involved.

 

I wonder too about the stilts, i hae a pic or two i can post if anybody wants. On the underside of one there is the remains of a fitting with the remnant eye of a piece of relatively heavy cable attached, which made me wonder if the transmitter equipment required some serious earthing perhaps? Other than that i'm stumped, as having been up thereabouts in winter also, there really isn't much snow on top of the hill, to enter another possibilty. It would prevent the buildings causing drifts around themselves though?

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In concurrence with trouts proposal, there is a, now capsized, concrete plinth/tower thing on the shoulder of the steep bit of hill facing south, whichg i had assumed must be part of a pulley system. I marvelled at that as soon as i saw it, before that i had imagined a large fleet of shetland ponies was the only option, given the steepness and sheer quantity of concrete and blocks involved.

 

Damn, i was up there this afternoon and didn't notice that. The buildings are really hard to get into now as the wooden steps are all but gone and i cracked my knee climbing in :) . If anyone is heading up that way i suggest taking a short ladder or something.

 

As for the peat carrying pulley systems the museum site has photographs of some in action here http://photos.shetland-museum.org.uk/shetlands/app?service=external/SearchResults&sp=L0:pulley

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It was before my time, and those who saw it in action and from whom I learned of it are long gone,

 

Boy - du's makkin me feel I should be six feet under....

I can remember watching the peats come down on the pulley I'm certain. My mothers family come from Levenwick, so I spent many summer holidays platchin along the beach. I'll try to remember to ask about the pulley system next time I see some of them.

 

I suppose we could run a poll to see how many of you accurately guess which decade I'm in :twisted: :lol:

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