An Introduction to Scalloway

Geology has affected what we see around us in Scalloway, and how we have lived. Erosion of soft limestone has created fertile valleys and enabled farming. Resistant schists, rich in quartz, gave rise to the hills. Quarries were formed. Stone from those quarries was used to create our built environment and provided income.

Old Scalloway

The oldest parts of Scalloway, with the castle in centre ©Mark Burgess

Scalloway has a natural harbour and good agricultural land, which has allowed the village to grow. It lies in the centre of the Shetland Mainland, making it easily accessible. It was once the capital of Shetland. Around 1,200 people live in Scalloway. Some families have roots in the village, which extend back generations. Others made it their home more recently. Many come from elsewhere in the United Kingdom, or from abroad. Approximately 3,000 people live in the surrounding central area, excluding the main town of Lerwick

Social events are at the heart of village life. Various venues draw crowds: the Scalloway Public Hall, the Royal British Legion and the Scalloway Boating Club. There are also two marinas where people berth their pleasure craft. Football has been popular in the village for over a century. The first Scalloway team took to the pitch in 1899.

Scalloway is rich in culture and tradition, with the annual winter Fire Festival foremost. A large company of costumed people march through the streets carrying flaming torches. The village also has an annual village gala, with carnival-style procession, and the Scalloway Public Hall has been a hub for music, drama and local organisations since 1903.

Boating Club

The Scalloway Boating Club offers berthing for visiting yachts ©Davy Cooper

The village boasts education facilities from pre-school to college, and a post-graduate research centre.

The port plays host to a wide variety of fishing vessels. Larger boats, part of Shetland’s whitefish fleet, are often berthed between fishing trips. Fish and shellfish are prepared for retail or wholesale markets. The majority of fish sold are shipped directly out of Shetland. The Scalloway & Burra area is one of the most productive salmon farming areas in Scotland. Salmon farming and mussel harvest are mainstays of the economy. There are more than 20 salmon farms off Scalloway, and seven or more mussel cultivating sites. Scalloway is a key port for accessing oil fields west of Shetland. Much of the largest shipping in the harbour is oil industry related.

There are a number of local farms and crofts (small farmsteads) in the area. All produce lamb in season. Some also specialise in beef, dairy, or local breeds. Scalloway Castle attracts more than 15,000 tourists per year. There are also several establishments offering accommodation, restaurant facilities and fine dining.

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