Lerwick Junior Up Helly Aa
The origins of the Lerwick Junior Up Helly Aa festival date back to the early tar barreling days of the late 1800's. Even then the festival was quite common and was also called the "Peerie Boys Up Helly Aa". These early activities were usually organised by parents in particular localities such as the Sletts, Hillhead, Burgess Street, etc.
The four pictures below, from Shetland Museum and Archives, shows Burgess Street Up Helly Aa 1939.
The Modern Festival
The current Lerwick Junior Up Helly Aa event began in 1956 as a formal festival supported by the Lerwick Schools (initially) and subsequently the Lerwick Up Helly Aa
Those initially involved were the headmaster of the (then) Lerwick Central School ex-Jarl George W. Blance, (Jarl 1950), and the navigation teacher, and subsequent Jarl, Thomas Moncrieff. Their objectives were to maintain and increase interest in Up Helly Aa, prepare the young guizers for entry into the senior festival, and teach traditional Shetland boatbuilding.
That first year (1956), junior Jarl John Halcrow, (chosen by popular vote), led a procession of 50 junior guizers in his galley Odin, which was built as a school project supervised by Thomas Moncrieff. The galley burning took place in the King George's playpark, an innovation adopted by the senior festival in subsequent years.
The Junior Jarl is still chosen by popular vote today, although the Junior Galley is kept each year and a 'secondary' (although superficially similar) galley is burnt instead. The Junior Up Helly Aa now also have their own Galley Shed at Gremista in Lerwick near the Shetland Times printers.
On Up Helly Aa day the Junior galley is on view at the Anderson High School car park from around 9:30am to 11:00am before the Junior Jarl and his squad, along with the galley and the Lerwick Pipe Band, march north along Commercial Street to the foot of Harbour Street starting from the old Post Office at approximately 11:15am (weather permitting), then proceeding to the Sound Primary School. The galley is also on view at the Isesburgh Community Centre until around 3:00pm.
For the evening procession and burning of the galley the Junior Jarl Squad are joined by up to 20 squads of Junior Guizers, all mustering on the Lower Hillhead at 5:15pm, with the light-up of torches signalled by a Maroon at 5:30pm. The years senior Lerwick Jarl's Squad also visit the muster of the Junior squads. The torchlit Guizers then move off along the Lower Hillhead, down the Town Hall Brae into King Erik Street for a turning movement before entering the North Playing Field. After all the Guizers have circled the inside of the north field the last rites of the galley take place in the centre of the park.
The following Monday the Junior squads and their friends all meet for "The Feast, the Dance, the Song" at the Anderson High School. The Senior Jarl and some of his squad also visit.
Lerwick Junior Jarls by year
Haakon the Good
Junior Jarl Squad Shields
From its establishment in 1956 through to 1965 the shields carried by the Junior Jarl's Squad were, like their suits, re-used senior Jarl's Squad suits from previous festivals, as shown in this photo from 1958.
From 1965, when organiser Thomas Moncrieff was senior Jarl, the junior Jarl's Squad used the same shield design each year, namely the 1965 senior Jarl's squad design. This continued until 1979. Examples of the squad shields are on display at the Sound and Bell's Brae Primary Schools.