The North Company Building
This building was built by John M. Aitken for the North of Scotland, Orkney & Shetland Steam Navigation Company, (better known as the "North Company"), around 1900.
It is located on the Esplanade, north of Harrison Square, and south of Greig's Closs.
The exterior of the building has not changed much up through the years, except that the window far right on the photo from 2004 formerly was a broad door. In the days of horses and carts the north doorway led to the stables. Later it was used for occasional overnight lairage of cattle coming and going on the boats. It was also used by the last resident manager, Leonard Mainland, as a garage. The managers, or agents as they were called, lived in the flat above the office, entering by the door to the left of the office door.
The "North Company's" plaque is still above the main door. It commemorates the steamer "Sovereign", a paddle steamer which set up a regular service to Shetland in 1836. (Not by the "North Company").
The building was sold when the ships became ro-ro and berthing moved to Holmsgarth, in 1977. The first occupant of the old offices was then "Unification", a firm selling paint, wallpaper, tiles, etc and doing kitchen designs.
Two years later,in 1979 John Leask & Son, a travel agency, bought it and moved into the building.