1957 - Jarl Peter Spence

The 1957 Festival took place on 11th February

This year's Guizer Jarl was Peter Spence. Peter was the Guizer Jarl of the first festival in North Yell which was held in Sellafirth. There was no Jarl squad. The guizers were all individual except a squad from Mid Yell, which was a depiction of the olympics, featuring the 'star' of the classic film 'Wee Geordie'.

Galley Name:- NORNAGEST

Peter's Jarl Squad



Squad List



Shetland Times Articles:


The idea of an Up-Helly-Aa celebration to be held at Sellafirth was first discussed at a Guy Fawkes bonfire, when Mr R. Williamson, Sellafirth, mentioned that he planned to build a small galley for the children to burn. He wondered if Mr Jamieson could procure a suitable head and tail. Mr Jamieson said he could; thus the idea began to take shape. When the event took place last Monday it had grown from a children's festival to an event which brought people from all over the island.
The galley was built by Mr Robert Williamson, who spent much time working on her out of doors, often under great difficulties due to the inclemency of the weather. She looked very smart in her yellow and blue paint, with sail furled and flag at top of mast depicting a raven in flight. The torches were made by the Guizer Jarl, Mr Peter Spence, Gutcher, with valuable help of others. Much of the organisation was done by members of the community Club.
During the forenoon the galley, which was named Nornagest, was placed on show at the crossroads of the Sellafirth-Gutcher junction, which was the starting place. Weather conditions were ideal for local amateur photographers who took a number of photos.
The weather still held good for the muster, and when the torches were lit at 7 o'clock, many people remarked at the colourful spectacle of guizers dressed in their costumes. The route to Portland Quarry, which was the burning site, was a short one of about 400 yards. After the Guizer Jarl jumped from the galley, torches were thrown into her as the guizers and crowd sang "The Norseman's Home." As she burned there was a firework display of red signal rockets, Catherine wheels, squibs, etc.
When the galley had burned guizers and spectators made their was to the public hall, which was packed to capacity. A number of children were dressed in individual costumes, some depicting famous characters. Most of the younger boys were dressed in Davy Crocket suits, and there was one excellent impersonation of Oor Willie, dressed in dungarees and sitting on a bucket. One small boy was dressed up as a cowboy complete with six-shooters. The girls were dressed in more feminine garb, including Japanese lady, dressed in Oriental costume; a fairy, whose dress and wings were made out of crepe paper, who carried in her hand a wand; another was dressed as an elf, while yet another posed as Little Red Riding Hood. Other outstanding costumes among the children included a boy dressed up as a jockey; a girl as a hospital nurse, and a dress representing the song Buttons and Bows. The adults too had their individual fancy dresses, and some were organised in squads.
After everyone was seated inside the hall there arrived a squad dressed as Indian Pedlars. They wore outer coats, with coloured turbans on their heads, and darkened faces. On entering the hall they blabbed among themselves in a pseudo-Hindustani, and the proceeded to open suitcases, with great persistence attempting to sell their wares.
To the playing of the grand march of a dozen young ladies marched in representing the King, Queen and Jack of the four suits in a pack of cards. Their head-dress was in the shape of a crown decorated with either heart, spade, diamond or club. They wore cloaks on which were embroidered the letter K for king etc.
Next came a squad dressed in white boiler suits, each man wearing a face mask. On the suits were fixed imitation sweets of the conversation lozenge type. They dished out sweets around the hall.
The Guizer Jarl then mounted the platform to make a short speech in which he said: "With the help and support we have received from without and inside the district, there is ample evidence that although this is the first Up-Helly-Aa in Sellafirth it will not be the last. I hope you all enjoy yourselves as much as I have since I was first asked to be Guizer Jarl. The preparation for the festival has been a great pleasure, and I wish to thank all those who have helped to make it a success. I hope you all enjoy yourselves, despite the fact that many things have arranged at short notice."

He then read four telegrams, the first being a greetings telegram from the Up-Helly-Aa committee in Uyeasound : -
Uyeasound - Best wishes for a successful festival - Uyeasound Up-Helly-Aa Committee.
Lerwick - Hope the galley burns well and that you all have a first class night - Andrew Hardie.
Lerwick - Best wishes for a grand night, sorry we can't be with you. - Eliza and Alma.
Burravoe - Our spirits are with you, sorry we can't be with you too. Best wishes for your new enterprise. - Brough.

Tea was served after the reading of the telegrams, and the next part of the evening consisted of items rendered by members of the Cullivoe party. Each item was introduced by the Guizer Jarl. The programme included: - Solo Miss Joey Henry, Makes no Difference Now and the Heart of the Shamrock; duet, Miss Vina Jamieson and Miss Muriel Tulloch, Whatever Will Be Will Be; solo, Miss Vina Jamieson, I wish I had never seen sunshine; solo, Mr George Henry, Old Ireland Over Hear and Dounaree; solo Mr Andrew Nicolson, Teardrop off a Rose, and a yodelling song. The musical items were accompanied by Mrs B. W. Tulloch at the organ, with the exception of the cowboy songs sung and yodelled bu Mr Andrew Nicolson, who accompanied himself on the guitar. Mr L. Robertson, Herra, and Mr Andrew Nicolson, Cullivoe, rounded off the programme with a selection of tunes played on the violin and guitar.
Mr W. Scollay, Sellafirth, asked for a vote of thanks for the Guizer Jarl and all those who helped.
Dancing then commenced, but was interrupted about 10.30 p.m. by the arrival of the "Olympic Team." First to enter was the torch bearer carrying the Olympic flame, followed by the organiser and his team. There was a motor cycle race on child's tricycles, followed by a boxing match. It was obvious that the decision was not to the satisfaction of the spectators. Throwing the hammer was done by one man dressed in a kilt as Geordie. After his magnificent throw he was congratulated by the blonde Helga.
Dancing again commenced ans carried on until the late hours of next morning. Music was supplied by various musicians present in the gathering.

No Up-Helly-Aa festival is complete without a proclamation and the Sellafirth one read as below:

Telegrams / Messages:

  • 'Best wishes for a successful festival' - Uyeasound Up-Helly-Aa Committee

  • 'Hope the galley burns well and that you all have a first class night' - Andrew Hardie, Lerwick

  • 'Best wishes for a grand night, sorry we can't be with you' - Eliza and Alma, Lerwick

  • 'Our spirits are with you, sorry we can't be with you too. Best wishes for your new enterprise' - Brough, Burravoe