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Push for a new home for Tingwall Agriculture Museum

A Shetland community group is calling on local people to attend a public meeting next Wednesday to voice their support for plans to build a new agricultural museum in the village of Tingwall.

The ambitious project began when a steering group was established to bring the old museum, at Veensgarth, back to public display in a purpose built museum.

The original museum was managed by Jean Sandison and her family, who had collected many agricultural artefacts ranging from hand tools and machinery to household implements.

The museum had to close due to the family’s work commitments on the croft.

The Tingwall Agricultural Museum steering group, consisting of ten people including Mrs Sandison and her son Callum, was formed three years ago.

They initially approached Shetland Museum & Archives but the sheer size of many of the artefacts meant that housing the collection there was not a viable option. It was soon decided that a purpose built building was required.

Now a project feasibility study has been completed and architectural drawings have been produced. The project has grown considerably in size and a 900 square metre building, to be sited west of Walster at Tingwall, is being proposed.

The £1.2 million building would also provide a base for the Tingwall, Whiteness and Weisdale history group and could also house the extensive Brindister tractor collection.

The Brindister collection is owned by Eileen Hunter and was brought together by her late father, Bertie Nicolson. The collection includes Massey Fergusons, Fergusons, Ferguson Browns and Fordson Majors. Some of the tractors date back to the 1930s.

There are also ploughs, binders, threshers and even a horse drawn gig. All the artefacts that would be housed in the new museum have a Shetland connection, having been used to work Shetland crofts.

The architectural design work has been carried out by Suzanne Malcolmson of Redman + Sutherland Architects, in Scalloway. Accommodation in the building will be split between display, workshop, storage and support facilities.


Proposed displays include a replica of the Smiddy at Veensgarth and a croft house to show off the smaller articles relevant to agriculture. A changing display of tractors, binders, carts and other items will be set in a circular route round the building.

The workshop and storage is at the back of the building and will be used to house exhibits that are not on display. A reception area with exhibits wall, offices and a learning room are also planned. Heating would be supplied by a heat pump, possibly powered by a wind turbine.

Drew Anderson, chairman of the steering group, is concerned about what will happen to the collections if the project does not go ahead.

“Jean’s collection would probably just have to sit and become covered in cobwebs. The Brindister Collection may be sold if this doesn’t come off.

“In this day and age there is a huge demand for this type of thing and more than likely the collection would be broken up and leave Shetland,” he said.

Mr Anderson explained that the group are hoping for a good turn out at the meeting so that the project can get off the ground.

“We have to have the support of the community before we go to funders. We need to show them that people want it. We feel this is part of Shetland’s heritage and it is important to have it on display,” he said

The meeting will be held in the Tingwall Hall on 7 April at 7.30pm. The architectural drawings will be on display.