The Boom Years

By 1800 Scalloway was in slow decline, Lerwick having taken over as the commercial power base of the islands.

However the growth of the Faroe cod fishery from 1850 and the haddock fishery from around 1881, lifted Scalloway to unprecedented levels of prosperity. The herring fishery also expanded from 1880, peaking in 1905.

Boat building has taken place in Scalloway since man first settled around the village’s sheltered shores.  By 1853 the craft was increasing in Shetland, using boats in kit form imported from Norway.  As boat building skills improved the import of kits ceased by 1860. The start of the cod fishery around 1810 had given impetus to boat building in Shetland, the raw timber being imported.  The first record of boat building in Scalloway was in 1870 by Hay & Co.  Scalloway boat builders responded to the changing needs of the cod, whitefish and herring fisheries throughout the 19th century, and the boat builders at Hay & Co. became renowned throughout Shetland.  By the end of  World War I Hay & Co.’s once vibrant boat building business was greatly reduced, ceasing in 1929.

The needs of a larger population were also met.  A variety of shops appeared in the village – baker, cobbler, dressmaker, optician, flesher (butcher), blacksmith, weaver, cycle repairer, jeweller, grocer, tailor, bookseller and chemist, for example. Scalloway was bustling with activity – a vibrant, confident and prosperous village.

The village attracted further investment, and the west side fishing industry centred on Scalloway.  The village was bustling with boats, shops and people at work.  By 1883 the village had a hotel, post office and numerous piers, warehouses and fish drying

facilities.  Also the population had nearly doubled.

By 1914 the three fisheries had all but collapsed, and Scalloway’s period of prosperity and growth was over.

This remarkable time in Scalloway’s history, due to the cod, the haddock and the herring, has left a lasting mark on the village.

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