Recount is the second project in an on-going series of work about Shetland’s role in the Cold War by Burra-based artists Roxane Permar and Susan Timmins.  The project focussed on the Royal Observer Corps, known as the ROC, bunkers which were in use from 1960 to 1991. There were approximately 1500 of these bunkers throughout the UK, four of which were located in Shetland, in Lerwick, Voe, Walls and Sumburgh. The volunteers were trained to monitor radiation in the event of a nuclear attack from the Soviet Union.

 

Four public events during October 2013 brought former ROC Observers together with members of the general public:

 

12th October      Dunrossness Public Hall

7 - 9.00 pm             

 

13th October      Walls Public Hall

2 - 4 pm              

 

19 October         Voe Public Hall 

2 - 4 pm                 

 

20 October         Shetland Museum and Archives, Lerwick 

1.30 - 3.30 pm      

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Acknowledgements

 

We would like to thank all those ROC Volunteers who shared so  generously their recollections and knowledge. In addition to those whose voices you hear in these recordings, we are also grateful to Colin Ganson and Margaret Fraser for giving their time to meet us. Photographs in the slide show were loaned by Gladys Leask, Margaret Fraser, Kathleen Balfour, Donald Robertson, Gwen Jamieson and others were taken by Susan Timmins and Roxane Permar. We are grateful to The Cabin Museum for permitting us to reproduce images  from the Andy Robertson Collection; Cecil Hughson for permission to use photographs he has taken and The Shetland Times for allowing reproduction of newspaper clippings from the 1960s and 1970s.

 

While the insight and memories of Shetland's ROC Volunteers have brought this project to life, it has involved many more people who have helped in numerous ways.  Frank Hunter, Martin Thompson, Chris and Louise Robertson and Henry Anderton have kindly permitted access to the Bunker sites. We are wholly indebted to Eric Stewart and Sandra Johnson in the Shetland College Textile Facilitation Unit for their expertise, patience and commitment to produce the knitted bunker covers to our design. Davy Inkster has made the working models as well as provided invaluable assistance with installation at the bunker sites.

 

We wish to thank John Hunter who has made it possible to create the Focus Display in the Shetland Museum and to the staff of the Shetland Archives for allowing us to present the interview recordings to the public in their space. We are indebted to Anne Gallacher and the team for Luminate at Age Scotland whose initial belief in this project has made our idea a reality.  

 

This project was supported by a Working Up 5 Craftmaker Award: Shetland Arts in partnership with Creative Scotland and Shetland Islands Council.  

 

We apologise if we have given incorrect information or left out names. Anyone who wishes to contribute more information or meet for an interview should contact the artists, Roxane Permar and Susan Timmins, by email: coldwarprojects@gmail.com

 

 

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THE VOLUNTEERS IN THE RECORDINGS  

 

1. Joining the ROC
Peter Blance

Gwen Jamieson

Kathleen Balfour
Frank Hay

 

2 The Uniform
Gwen Jamieson

Graeme Georgeson & Robbie Arthur

 

3 The Posts
Peter Blance 

Graeme Georgeson 

Peter Blance

Frank Hay

Donald Robertson

Kathleen Balfour

Christina Vaughan 

Graeme Georgeson & Robbie Arthur

Donald Robertson &

Geordie Leslie

Kathleen Balfour

Gladys Leask

 

4 Training
Gwen Jamieson

Peter Blance

Gladys Leask

Robbie Arthur &

Graeme Georgeson

Kathleen Balfour

Geordie Leslie

 

5 Exercises
Peter Blance

Donald Robertson &

Geordie Leslie

Gladys Leask

Kathleen Balfour
Gwen Jamieson

Kathleen Balfour

Gwen Jamieson

 

6 The Rations
Kathleen Balfour

Robbie Arthur &

Graeme Georgeson

Peter Blance
Frank Hay

Christina Vaughan

 

7 Meetings
Kathleen Balfour
Robbie Arthur &

Graeme Georgeson

Peter Blance &

Frank Hay

Donald Robertson

 

8 Reflections
Gwen Jamieson

Peter Blance

Kathleen Balfour

Frank Hay

Kathleen Balfour

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Views of the sites we've covered with glow in the dark yarn and wool knitted in patterns we designed and creatively adapted from instructions to volunteers in the Royal Observer Corps.  

 

 

Roll over the photograph to see the description of the Post.

 

Joining the ROC

The Uniform

The Posts

Training

Exercises

The Rations

Meetings

Reflections