The Bus Shelter sits on the corner of the main road through Unst (A968), and the Little Hamar Road in Baltasound. It was used by children waiting for the school bus on a daily basis. A dull, brown but wholly effective bus shelter served this purpose for many years, until it was declared unsafe in 1996 as the roof started to come off. The council came to remove the danger by demolishing the entire bus shelter. This clearly led to a far less effective place to wait for the bus.
Encouraged by my Dad, I wrote a letter to the Shetland Times asking for a new bus shelter to be put in place to keep us dry while we waited for the bus. A seven-year-old writing such a letter brought awareness to the situation and soon led to a shiny new bus shelter being constructed on the same site.
A few days after the completion of the replacement shelter, a wicker sofa and table appeared in it with nobody claiming responsibility for putting them in. Soon afterwards, a small TV was added, closely followed by a ‘hot snacks’ counter. In the winter, a 2-bar heater was installed, allowing an even more comfortable wait and it wasn’t long before a carpet was fitted. By this time, The Bus Shelter (now capitals) had gained some publicity in and around Shetland. The visitors book was filling up and the comments indicated the demand for a website dedicated to the Unst Bus Shelter.
The original website went live in 1998. Due to the publicity it gained that website stayed unchanged for about 10 years. This was the time when the Bus Shelter was most in the public eye with highlights including being broadcast live on Sky News every hour on the Queens Golden Jubilee, winning national internet awards and being pretty much entirely responsible for me getting a scholarship to go to an international school.
A good part of its appeal can also be put down to the hamsters. I don’t know how they really came about but they’ve been in since about 1999 in various different guises and costumes. They were fed curry and local beer which may have partially explained their almost total lack of movement for over 10 years.
As media interest grew so did the potential for wind-ups. The jubilee was a perfect opportunity and soon after then there were the Weapons Inspectors. We managed to make pretty big things out of both of them by basically telling flat-out lies and relying on tabloid journalists to print them.
Theres been only one major physical change in the Bus Shelter since its inception, it being moved back to accommodate a traffic island and parking area in 2004. This was the same year that the legendary DJ and broadcaster John Peel died and we could think of no better tribute than to dedicate the traffic island to him.
I left home in 2005 to go to school and have lived most of my time away from Unst ever since. The maintenance and upkeep of the Bus Shelter has been done by my Mum since then and may be the reason for the dramatic improvement in the look of the bus shelter since then. Mum’s also developed a range of Bus Shelter merchandise including vanilla tablet, framed photos and greetings cards. Currently these are only available at outlets in and around Unst.
Thats pretty much the story. Have a look at the other pages on the site for more information and for pictures of the last 15 or so years of the Unst Bus Shelter.