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Sandsair Pier

A Category B Listed Building in Shetland South, Shetland Islands

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Coordinates

Latitude: 60.0068 / 60°0'24"N

Longitude: -1.2205 / 1°13'13"W

OS Eastings: 443571

OS Northings: 1124920

OS Grid: HU435249

Mapcode National: GBR R2B9.3FB

Mapcode Global: XHD3Y.JQ6Z

Entry Name: Sandsair Pier

Listing Date: 21 August 2003

Category: B

Source: Historic Scotland

Source ID: 396930

Historic Scotland Designation Reference: LB49410

Building Class: Cultural

Location: Dunrossness

County: Shetland Islands

Electoral Ward: Shetland South

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Description

David and Thomas Stevenson, designed 1853, erected 1855. Ramped rubble slipway lying N-S into Wick of Sandsayre Bay, Leebotten. Squared and snecked deck, circa 18 feet in width, with vertically laid masonry on retaining walls. Iron bar ties to ramp and fixed iron mooring/ securing rings at intervals.

Statement of Interest

An unusually long and well-constructed slipway built for the local herring fishermen at Leebotten to a design by D & T Stevenson, engineers to the Northern Lighthouse Board. David and Thomas were the sons of Robert Stevenson, lighthouse engineer, and Thomas was the father of the writer, Robert Louis.

The harbour was built at the insistence of John Bruce who lived at neighbouring Sand Lodge whose grounds reach the coastal area. Many of his tenents were fishermen and had faced difficulties in securing their boats and off-loading the herring cargo. Before 1855, the fishermen erected rough casueways of stone during the fishing season but theses were invariably damaged during the winter and regardless, offered little protection for the boats. In 1852, after a 10-year recession in the Shetland fishing trade, the local fishermen arranged a contract with James Methuen, a fish merchant in Leith, and it became apparent that this increase of trade necessitated the building of a permanent pier. Because of the recession, and the fact that it was only possible to fish for three months in the summer, the fishermen were not able to make any financial contribution to the pier but offered the labour and the stone to build it. John Bruce was not able to raise much additional capital either but he liaised with the Board of Fisheries to obtain permission to build the pier and with tenacity, managed to persuade them to contribute substantially to the cost, an unprecedented achievement.

Work to create a pier began in 1852 but the difficult conditions prevented any success. Consequently, the Board of Fisheries appointed the Stevensons to make plans for the pier. In August 1853, the Stevensons submitted plans for a slipway akin to that provided for the Board at Rockfield, near Portmahomack. Owing ot the lack of funds they considered a slipway to be more viable than a pier with a parapet for sheltering the boats. Mr Thomas Hope was appointed as the Master of Works and the slipway was completed in May 1855 at a cost of #600.

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