In the decades following the Second World War there was an increasing requirement for fishermen (from skippers and engineers to deck hands) to have formal, nationally recognised qualifications.
Navigation and seamanship had been taught in some Shetland schools for generations, and in the 1960s and 1970s special classes for fishermen were provided in Whalsay and Lerwick by a few pioneers, such as Jeanette Williamson and Tommy Moncrieff.
By the early 1980s there was a growing recognition in Shetland of the seafood industries’ need for trained and qualified workers. Fishing vessels were becoming larger and more sophisticated; the aquaculture industry was expanding rapidly; the challenges facing the seafood industries were becoming more complex and global in nature; and there was an increasing regulatory demand for qualifications.
The Shetland Fisheries Training Association (SFTA) was established in 1981 to provide training courses required by the industry, but these were delivered on an ad-hoc basis with no permanent training staff or purpose-designed buildings, and students had still to attend colleges outside Shetland to complete some training and obtain their qualifications.
The establishment of a ‘Shetland Fisheries College’ was amongst the recommendations made by the late Alastair Goodlad in his ‘Shetland Fishing Industry Plan’ in 1984.
The SIC adopted this as part of its strategy to support the local seafood industries. The Shetland Fisheries Training Centre Trust was established in 1988 to administer the new college, and a site was chosen at Port Arthur in Scalloway (the location of a former herring curing station).
Funding for the new college was provided by the Shetland Islands Council and the European Regional Development Fund and building work started at 1991. Even before the college building was complete it was delivering training courses from various temporary premises in Scalloway (including the Scalloway Public Hall and Scalloway School, and classes for fishermen in the former Iceatlantic Offices at Blacksness).
In 1900 the site now occupied by the Shetland UHI Scalloway Campus was uninhabited and undeveloped.
A herring curing station was established there in 1904 at the height of Shetland’s early 20th C. herring boom, after an access road had been driven along the shore. The new curing station acquired its name from the Russian far-eastern city of Port Arthur (now the Chinese city of Dalian) which became famous as the focus of the Russo-Japanese war of 1904-05.
Although the herring boom did not last, herring curing continued on the site for many years, along with boat building and repairs, and other activities. In the 1970s the SIC built a large housing scheme on the hill above Port Arthur, and in 1984 it acquired the site now occupied by the Scalloway Campus.