The North Ness is the name given to the north headland of the town of Lerwick, from the Malakoff Ltd. shipyard site around to it's, less well defined, western border near Hay's Dock.
Over recent years the area has seen major re-development, with old buildings being cleared to make way for developments such as the North Ness Business Park, which includes the restored, Category B listed, Gutters Hut, now an office building.
The area on the west side of the North Ness has been cleared and should soon become the home of the new Cinema and Music Venue.
On the east shore of the North Ness is the BP Fuels depot which, following the explosion of a fuel depot at Buncefield in England in 2005, many people are now calling for to be moved away from the town centre.
With the arrival of World War II on the 3rd of September 1939, the North Ness, and the surrounding area, became the support centre for many aspects of the war effort.
During the early 20th century the North Ness was the home of several Herring Stations, with piers to land the catch, coopers yards making barrels, and a mass of workers, many of them migrant, gutting, packing and curing the herring.
Already, by the 17th of September, the Admiralty had set up offices in the Fish Market's offices, and on November 19th, the North Ness area was taken over by the British Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force. Bases were established for MTB's, submarines and flying boats.
The first serious air attack on Lerwick Harbour occurred in that area on November 22nd, when 6 German "Heinkel" bombers bombed the harbour and set a flying-boat that was moored there, on fire.
When Germany attacked Norway on the 9th of April 1940, the war came closer to Shetland, refugees began to arrive on fishing boats, and accommodation for them was arranged in the gutter's huts at James Sutherland's herring factory at the north end of Browns Road, before they were sent to London.
Submarines became a common sight, the 9th submarine flotilla had their main base in Dundee, but almost all submarines called at Lerwick to top up their supplies before they went on missions along the Norwegian coast.
In 1942, the Norwegian 30th MTB Flotilla, (later 54th Flotilla), established a base, a mechanical workshop at Malakoffs and a floating dock in Bressay Sound.
On Nov. 22nd. 1943, there was an explosion on board the British MTB 686, moored at the Anglo-Scottish Quay. The vessel caught fire and it spread to the Norwegian MTB 626, moored alongside. Eight men lost their lives. A Memorial Plaque was put up by the Shetland-Norwegian Friendship Society and the Coastal Forces Veterans' Association and was unveiled the 17th of May 2000.
A 65 year old mystery was recently solved thanks to Shetlopedia.
Richard Clarke, grandson of Lyndhurst Rufus Clarke who was one of the victims of the MTB accident, detailed above, has contributed a page where he tells of the families relief at eventually discovering where and how his his grandfather died.
The whole story can be read by following this link: MTB 686 - Clarke's Story