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Havera Book Launched

Published: 12 April 2013

Havera: the story of an island ZoomThe latest title from Shetland Heritage Publications was launched today at Shetland Museum and Archives.

Havera: the story of an island, recounts the history of the small island of South Havera, and the people who lived there before it was finally abandoned in 1923 after originally being settled in the 1770's.

The text for the book has been written by Laughton Johnston, with poetry by Christine De Luca and photographs by Mark Sinclair which complement the historic images of life on the island. Pauleen Wiseman has penned some original scores which are included in the book, and will also be played on the accompanying DVD due to be launched later in the year.

The original inhabitants of Havera were there for the fishing, with the island supporting around 50 people from 5 families at its peak in 1850. The book tells the story of these people, and how the community of Havera was unique, with the people making a good living from the rich soil and their exceptional fishing abilities. There are many stories of life on the island including the inevitable shipwreck, the women sailing to nearby Scalloway to sell their knitwear and lace and collect supplies, and also how the children of
the township were tethered to a post to prevent them falling over the banks while at play.

Boats were a very important part of life on Havera and it is said that most families had two boats – a summer haaf boat and a winter boat for haddock. Only one of these boats, The Ann, built in 1871 and owned by the Williamson family, survived.

Jack and Robbie work on the Ann Jack and Robbie work on the AnnZoomThe Williamsons used the Ann for all manner of other tasks, such as flitting the cow to the bull, before she ended her days near Bridge End, slowly falling apart. In 1999 Dr Ian Tait saved the surviving parts of the Ann for future restoration, in light of the boat's remarkable age and rarity.

Now she has been restored, by expert boat builders Jack Duncan and Robbie Tait. Everything original has been saved, and some parts have had new wood spliced in. The biggest challenge was the iron rudder fittings, which were made under Erik Erasmuson's direction. Every detail is right, from rawhide grommets to her original colour, and The Ann is the second oldest Shetland boat now in existence.

It is perhaps good fortune, or fate, that the completed restoration of The Ann has coincided with the publication of the story of her original home. The boat will be on display in the foyer at Shetland Museum and Archives as part of the book launch, and will remain on show until the 29th April. There will also be a display of items from Havera including the gold ring gifted to one of the island's women from the captain of the shipwrecked Norwegian barque lovise in 1903; and a range of other items such as tea services,
textiles, a resting chair and a pocket watch, kindly loaned by Havera families.

The restored Ann The restored AnnZoomThere will be a display of Mark Sinclair's photography in the upper foyer, accompanied by the sounds of Pauleen's original music for the book. This will also be in place until 29th April.

A second launch event is planned for the book, in Edinburgh, in May. The Scottish Poetry Library in Crichton's Close will host the event at 6.30pm where the book will be on sale, Mark's photos will be on display, and Christine De Luca will be in attendance to read some of her poetry.

The hardback book is available to purchase now from Shetland Museum and Archives, and online at www.shetlandheritageshop.com, priced £25.00.