Business / Pierhead for sale is sign of the times

The Pierhead. Photo: B. Anderson

THE PIERHEAD restaurant and bar in Voe is being put up for sale after 21 years under the same landlord.

Proprietor Billy Anderson said that a number of factors had come together to make up his mind to sell the pub, not least the decline in “birthday buses” for which the Pierhead had been a prime stopover.


Anderson said that he had been considering the fate of the well-liked business over the summer and had not yet had the valuation completed.

According to Anderson the birthday bus trade has sunk with a decline in bus parties. This follows incidents at the St Magnus Bay Hotel, and the Northern Lights bar, with both deciding to bolt their doors to buses.

Yell based bus company R. Robertson & Son also spoke out about bus hires following the “disgraceful” behaviour of a few party goers.

The buses had been a big part of business at the Pierhead with up to 16 buses in a day and six at one time descending on the pub. “They filled the car park and on down to the pier,” said Anderson.


He said that declining conditions for the pub trade went back years. The reduction in the oil industry had also hit custom, with about 20 or so regulars who were staying in the Voe area no longer about.

Other long-term factors included changes to the drink driving limits which have made it virtually impossible for folk to stop and have a pint on their way home.

“I think that is good because it has made things safer,” said Anderson.


Additionally, the national trend is seeing 18 pubs in Britain close every week, perhaps reflecting a change in drinking culture, with people opting to stay home and drink rather than visit the pub.

Anderson said that he had also decided to concentrate on fishing – he operates a shellfish boat with his son Alan – and that running a pub full-time along with the fishing was simply too much of a commitment.

“I think this business can still work very well with a couple that did not have other ties, if both of them can run the bar and cook,” said Anderson.

At the end of last month, another prominent North Mainland business, award winning chip shop Frankie’s was put up for sale in Brae.