Introduction / The Island
Farming and fishing were the main occupations on the island. In the early days when the population was larger with possibly a number of households at each croft, the censuses tend to indicate one man as the farmer while another would be a fisherman and others were farmer / fishermen. The type of fishing changed over the years. All the houses would have had a boat. Rent had to be paid to the factor who came twice a year.
Social activities mostly had to come from within the island itself, be it in the form of visiting neighbours, the bairns’ Christmas party at the school or First Footing at the New Year. As the only public building, the school was used for a gathering. As everywhere else, there was courting among the younger generation.
The County librarian used to send out boxes of books to read. Weekly papers were also received via Eday in latter years.
Houses were in varying state of repair at varying times and in the later end had large flagstone roofs. These were lit by wick lamps and subsequently tilley lamps. Food was to a large extent grown on the island although groceries might be obtained from Eday once a week when the shop van came to Shoeha in Guith. The alternative was to walk all the way to the Eday Coop.
The coming of the Second World War brought rationing and a number of incidents with planes coming down.