MV Shapinsay naming

Every year Shapinsay Heritage Centre and Craft Shop holds an exhibition with a different theme about Shapinsay’s past. In 2018 this featured photos showing some of the significant changes within living memory which have shaped our island. This includes the coming of the Ro-Ro ferry with snaps of the naming ceremony. Other progress such as mains electricity and mains water changed life on Shapinsay for the better.

Mains electricity didn’t arrive in Shapinsay until 1965 when it was installed by the North of Scotland Hydro-Electric Board (referred to ever since as ‘the Hydro’). Before this tilly lamps were used inside the home and generators powered the lights outside. It was very noisy in the evenings with all the generators running, lights were left on because it cost very little to run the generators. When mains electricity was installed into the properties, Shapinsay suddenly became quieter and darker outside as people realised the cost of electricity so turned their outside lights off.

Exhibition organiser Edith Tait said the Heritage Centre display gave the background to services which we take for granted today and would be of special interest to newcomers to Shapinsay who may not be aware that these are only more recent developments in our history as she explains here:-

Previous exhibitions have looked at crafting or making things in times past on the island which many times was functional or out of necessity rather than as a hobby. Today our Craft Shop is stocked with items made in leisure time for pleasure and to sell to visitors and local folk as gifts.

Craft Shop web

Other topics have included looking at weddings in by-gone days on Shapinsay.


The most recent big development on the island was the arrival and erection of our community wind turbine Whirly in 2011, which generates funds which are used to benefit the island through Shapinsay Development Trust. This includes the provision of an out of hours boat service for the island and an electric car and driver which island residents can be make use of as well as small grants (SWAP) for which island residents and community groups can apply for activities, equipment, events and the like.

iPad Whirly 2 close

Turbine arrival 1

Island resident Eileen Phillips was there on the day the turbine parts arrived:-

Turbine arrival 2 village