A picture of SHE, just after first occupation, is below. (Left click on photos to enlarge).
In general service families were very happy with the estate. It saved searching for hiring’s (often fairly remote) or in some cases doing unaccompanied tours. However, over the years the climate, prefabricated construction and the usual service problem in allocation of sufficient funds for maintenance, led to a drastic deterioration in the quarters patch. The first 4 photos below show general views of SHE in 1993 and superficially there appear to be few problems.
On closer inspection of the exterior parts of the buildings it becomes obvious that significant decay and faults have appeared.
Not only were there problems on the outside of the quarters but the interiors were in a bad way. The central heating systems installed were solid fuel (coal not peat) and were in a sad state of disrepair. Most of the houses are also suffering from damp walls, cupboards etc.
Many of the quarter’s patch occupants would have been young families. Whilst most people would agree that Unst is a great place to bring up young children the immediate surroundings of SHE in 1993 were not ideal for letting youngsters roam free. The drainage ditches were ineffective and sometimes contained dirty stagnant water. The Environmental Health Dept was called in to make assessments and in the process removed a dead rat from some Japanese Roses by the childrens play area. On top of all that the sewage system was found to be dilapidated and inadequate.
In 1993 the Type 93 Radar became operational at Saxa Vord and the future of the Unit seemed assured. MOD, perhaps somewhat belatedly, ordered a rebuild at SHE. I will be writing a further section on that rebuild at a later date.
Links to more sections about Setters Hill Estate: