The Gloup Disaster

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Gloup Memorial, erected in 1981, 100 years after the disaster.
Gloup memorial plaque
This view shows were the boats should come in....
Landing place in Gloup Voe
The sheltered inner part of Gloup Voe

A statue of a woman looking out to sea with a child held in her arms.
On 20th July 1881 this depicted the scene all along the coast at Gloup, and other coastal communities in Shetland. Women waited, and hoped that their husbands and children would return. But sadly many did not.

The Gloup Disaster was perhaps the beginning of the end for the Haaf Fishing. This could have been the point where it was realised that going so far to sea in relatively small boats, was just too big a risk, and cost in terms of lives lost.

The day of 20th July 1881, started as what is referred to as a "day atween wadders", there had been strong winds for days and the boats had been kept ashore, but the morning of the 20th dawned clear with light winds, and although there was still a heavy sea running, the men were keen to get to sea. Their departure was delayed for the funeral of Jeemie Henry, skipper of the sixareen "Elizabeth", who had died of "Bool Cramp", the name given then to acute apendicitis.
Going over 40 miles to the fishing grounds, using simple landmarks for navigation, the boats had no idea of what was to happen. The crews were happy that the bad weather was over. If only they could have had the benefit of modern forecasts.
A fast moving depression which had formed to the west near Iceland rushed in with Hurricane force winds. The crews were taken by surprise, and made every effort to reach shore, but for some crews that was impossible.
Some of the boats which made shore were to report seeing boats overturned, and with no sign of life, there was nothing they could do, they had to consider the survival of their own crew.
The heroism of the skippers who managed to reach shore in that storm should never be forgotten.


The following men lost their lives in this disaster when their boats foundered.
Only the bodies of seven men were found, 36 of the men were from Gloup.
The 58 drowned haaf fishermen left behind 34 widows and 85 orphans.


Boats and Crew Boats and Crew
From Gloup:

Ann Jessie (sixareen)
Alexander Henry, Sandwick, skipper
Thomas Henry, Sandwick
William Williamson, Gutcher
Thomas Henry, Houlland
Arthur Moar, Mursetter
Robert Williamson, Colvister

Undaunted (sixareen)
William Spence, Dalsetter, skipper
Laurence Williamson, Colvister
Alexander Tulloch Danielson, Kirkhoull
George Moar, Stonganess
Thomas Sandison Tulloch, Houlland

Eliza (sixareen)
Alexander Robertson, Stonganess, skipper
Alexander Moar, Stonganess
Basil Anderson, Houll
James W. Spence, Toft
Alexander Moar, Breckon

Excelsior (sixareen)
Andrew Anderson, Gutcher, skipper
Alexander Moar, Gutcher
Peter J. Williamson, Midbrake
Thomas Hay, Burrabrake
Andrew Dishington Moar, Huefield
Thomas Bain, Midbrake

Sixareen (name unknown)
Laurence Danielson, Houlland, skipper
Laurence Williamson, Westafirth
Basil Hay, Mursetter
James Nicholson, Sellafirth
William J. Williamson, Gloup
David Moar, Gutcher

Sixareen (name unknown)
William Henry, Gossaburgh, skipper
Peter Williamson, Neepoback
James Jamieson, Guddon
Basil Gardner, Queyon
James Sinclair, Muckle House, Cullivoe
Andrew Nisbeth, Sandwick
From Fethaland:

Sixareen (name unknown)
Isaac Gifford, Mossbank, skipper
John Blance, Mossbank
Robert Williamson, Innhouse
James Robertson, Firth
Alexander Beattie, Firth
John Nicolson, Swinster
Gilbert Couper, Firth

From Ronas Voe:

Eel (sixareen)
Andrew Copland, Ollaberry, skipper
John Tulloch, Ollaberry
Magnus Sandison, Ollaberry
Laurence Inkster, Ollaberry
Thomas Anderson, Queyfirth
Gedion Anderson, Queyfirth

From Haroldswick:

Sixareen (name unknown)
James Thomson, Haroldswick, skipper
Magnus Thomson, Haroldswick
David Johnson, Haroldswick
James Jamieson, Haroldswick
William Anderson, Haroldswick
Laurence Priest, Haroldswick

From Havera:

Small boat (name unknown)
Walter Jamieson, Havera
Walter Jamieson Jr., Havera
James Smith, Havera

Following the disaster a fund was set up to relieve the hardship of the widows and families..

The following is a copy of the appeal:


'Relief Fund' --
By the sudden and disastrous Gale of the 20th July, 1881,
The Crews of 10 Shetland Fishing Boats, numbering Fifty-eight Men, lost their lives, leaving about 200 persons, who were dependent upon their exertions for their support, in a state of destitution.
To provide for the necessities of these persons, and also, if possible, to raise a Fund, from which immediate assistance may be afforded in similar circumstances in the future, subscriptions are earnestly solicited.
Owing to the peculiar dangers to which Shetland Fishermen are exposed, such calamities are, though fortunately not to the same extent, of annual and ordinary occurrence throughout the Shetland Islands.

Convenor of the Committee--Sheriff Rampini Treasurer--Alexander Mitchell, Union Bank of Scotland, Lerwick, Secretary--J. Scott Smith, Sheriff-Clerk

The appeal raised £16,000, from all sources, equivalent in 2007 value at approx £1.2 million.

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