The Beginning – Alex Warwick – from the St Kilda Mail Archives 1977

2017 marks the 40th anniversary of the St Kilda Mail – the first edition told the story of how it all began, written by the President of the Club in 1977, Alex Warwick…

“In June 1958 George and Irene Waterston led the first of the Trust’s volunteer working parties to St Kilda. For two weeks their party of twelve worked in the village street collecting articles of interest and general tidying up the village area. In their spare time they explored Hirta, the main island, taking particular interest in the birds.

I followed them with a similar party and stayed on for another week to help lead the Joint Schools Expedition with whom, in the previous summer I had been marooned for ten days on the Monarch Isles in an abortive attempt to visit St Kilda.

The enthusiasm generated by these groups was most encouraging. Several members felt a need to communicate their experiences and articles and photographs appeared in the local newspapers and journals across the country. We met as groups in the leaders’ houses, a joint meeting followed at Trust Headquarters and we decided to hold a public meeting. I booked the Overseas House and we attracted a capacity audience. Seton Gordon was chairman, our speakers were Morton Boyd, Tom Weir and Bob Hillcoat. George Waterston and I added group reports.

Ever since, the demand for places on the work parties has been more than we could accommodate and even when, in the early 1960s, because of the rapid deterioration of the mortar built village houses we increased the number of annual parties from two to an average of six, we could not take everyone who applied. Over fifteen hundred people from UK, Europe and America have taken part, many friendships formed and a number of marriages arranged!

We have been very lucky. There would have been much less to go to St Kilda for if the Trust had not dug its tows in over the question of whether or not the War Department should be allowed to demolish the street which was originally programmed by the WD as the site of the road to the Radar Station on Mullach More. Trips would have been much more hazardous, if not impossible, had not the Army been in residence to supply communications, medical service, Council and its wardens. Group leaders have not spared themselves in making their expeditions successful. The chartered boat crews with whom we sailed have entered the spirit of the activity and HQ staff work has been absolutely first class.”

 

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