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Digitisation Project

Exhibitions  (continued...)

group in the courtyard at Brough Lodge, early 20th century, with Sir Arthur Nicolson seated front centreA group in the courtyard at Brough Lodge, early 20th century, with Sir Arthur Nicolson seated front centre.

Brough Lodge and the Nicolson family - the Brough Lodge Collection
This is an extensive exhibition which reflects the large proportion of FMT's overall collection which came from Brough Lodge. FMT works in partnership with Brough Lodge Trust over the collection: FMT owns and cares for the collection and Brough Lodge Trust is in the process of acquiring the house and grounds with a view to renovation. See Brough Lodge Trust's Website for more details, http://www.fetlar.com/brough/.

Brough Lodge was the main laird's house on the island, built around 1820 by Arthur Nicolson (later Sir Arthur) who was the infamous protagonist of the Clearances in the island. Most of the information in the exhibition, however, refers to the subsequent family, cousins of the original Sir Arthur who inherited after his death and came to Fetlar from Australia to manage the estate.

The memorabilia and artefacts from the house are supplemented by a remarkable film which has survived showing the family at Brough in the 1930s. FMT has transferred the film to video and edited it into a documentary of around 20 minutes, which can be seen at the Interpretive Centre and is very popular with visitors. Another feature of interest is the extensive diaries of Lady Annie Nicolson from around 1902 to the mid 1930s when she died. Some of these can be seen in transcript form at the Interpretive Centre and there are plans to publish an annotated version.

Items of particular interest in this collection are:

  • World War 1 Naval Officers' uniforms (in storage)
  • A small Wimshurst Machine and accessories (Victorian instrument for creating static elecricity)
  • A collection of World War 1 naval telescopes, and the lens from a mid 19th century astronomical telescope which was kept in a folly-type tower close to the house
  • A collection of china and glass/crystal
  • A collection of books dating back to the late 18th and early 19th centuries.
  • A collection of Victorian/Edwardian and 1940s sheet music
  • A gramophone record collection dating back to the turn of the 20th century
  • A collection of watercolours of local scenes made by the Nicolson family
  • Memorabilia from HMS Caroline and HMS Resolution (World War 1) including albums of photographs of the surrender of the German fleet and its sinking at Scapa Flow, 1918-19
  • Parts and fragments of a stained glass window which could be as early as the 1820s (this would be early for surviving stained glass in Shetland)

Leagarth House, built in 1901Leagarth House, built in 1901.

Leagarth House, Sir William Watson Cheyne and Antiseptic Surgery
This is an extensive national interpretive exhibition with a number of original artefacts relating to the Fetlar man who became assistant and successor to Lord Lister in the pioneering development of antiseptic surgery in the Victorian and Edwardian eras. His devotion to Lister's theories and his own work ensured that antiseptics became a fundamental part of modern medicine.

He returned to Leagarth House in Fetlar on his retirement in 1920. He had built the beautiful Edwardian mansion at Leagarth in 1901 and eventually added an large glass verandah and the most extensive formal gardens in Shetland. As the gardens no longer exist, the photographic record on display at Fetlar Interpretive Centre is a particularly interesting experience.

For more details about this exhibition, information resource and educational services/publications, see the special Website on Sir William Watson Cheyne and Antiseptic Surgery www.watsoncheyne.shetland.co.uk/

Fetlar families
An interesting exhibition for anyone with family connections in Fetlar is a photographic record of those family names which have died out on the island within the last few decades. Some of these family names, such as Laurenson, Williamson and Anderson, were familiar family names for centuries in Fetlar, and their disappearance is testimony to changing times and a much reduced population. This exhibition can be used in conjunction with our genealogical database to put the faces on the photographs into an overall perspective.

Shells and geology
We have a small collection of local seashells on display, and in the future we intend to expand our geological collection, as Fetlar's geology, similar to that of Unst, is unique within Shetland. Geologists will be familiar with Fetlar's unique Funzie (pronounced Finnie) conglomerate.

© Fetlar Interpretive Centre
Beach of Houbie
Fetlar, Shetland, ZE2 9DJ
Tel: 01957 733206 email: info@fetlar.com