Douglas Sinclair looking out over the Lerwick Lodberries

Historical photos

Many Dutch boats harboured in Lerwick

Many Dutch boats harboured in Lerwick

Dutch fishing fleet in Lerwick

Dutch fishing fleet in Lerwick

Bressay Sound, 1906

A brief history of Lerwick

As early as 1614 the Dutch were alleged to "frolic it on the land". In 1615, due to lawlessness, it was declared, by the court in Scalloway (the capital at that time), that the trading booths erected on the shore at Bressay Sound be demolished.

Bressay Sound was an attractive rendezvous for the Dutch fishing fleet prior to the start of the herring fishing season on the 24th June or Johnsmas, the Feast of St John. It is recorded that in 1733 in "Busshaven" (Bressay Sound) at the height of the season there was up to 2,200 vessels at anchor in the harbour, and the town of Lerwick was born.

In 1781, during the American War of Independence, Bressay Sound became a rendezvous for the Greenland Whaling Fleet, and to protect them from French privateers, the fort (originally constructed to defend the town during the Dutch wars) was repaired and named Fort Charlotte after the reigning queen.

In 1818 Lerwick was created into "a free and independent Burgh of Barony" and Lerwick Town Council was created. In 1833 the first Commissioners of Police were elected.

During the 1880's larger piers were built and goods and passengers could then be landed instead of being brought ashore by flit boat. The small jetties disappeared under rubble and the Esplanade as we know it today was formed.