Tom Henderson

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Thomas 'Tom' Henderson (b. 29 June 1911, Dunrossness, d. 15 October 1982), was the first curator of the Shetland Museum, holding the position from 1964 to 1978.

In the early part of his life he had been at sea in the Merchant Navy. During the war he was wounded, and while recuperating he read voraciously and began to write. He became a respected author and story-teller. His work was published in both local and national magazines, and what is probably his best known work, 'The Night that Mouat was Lost', a short story about the Tragedy at Spiggie 1887 appeared in the New Shetlander and eventually in the anthology 'Nordern Lichts'.

His family were partners in the business of R & T Henderson of Whillygarth, Scousburgh, and Tom inherited croft land, which included Spiggie Loch, the island of Colsay, and the small 'Henderson's Hotel' (now Spiggie Lodge), which he operated for a number of years in partnership with his wife.

He was co-opted on to the Zetland County Council in 1952 to fill the vacancy created by the departure of Robert Bruce, a seat he held for the next 11 years. The final three, from 1960-63, were also as Convener of the County.

He served at one time or another on numerous public committees, including the Board of Management of Shetland Hospitals, Lerwick Harbour Trust (now Lerwick Port Authority), the Fishermen's Mission (R.N.M.D.S.F), and the Shetland Folk Society. He was also a founder member of both the Shetland Group and the Shetland Movement.

Around 1970 he sold most of his property at Scousburgh, only retaining Colsay, and purchased the the Old Manse at 9 Commercial Street, Lerwick, which, dating from the late 1600s, is generally believed to be the oldest inhabited house in Lerwick.

In 1977 he was made a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, and was awarded the M.B.E.

As curator he wrote the introduction and captions to the book Shetland From Old Photographs. Henderson was an internationally respected expert on Shetland's maritime history, and in the 1940s planned a work on Shetland shipwrecks with R. Stuart Bruce, never completed. His essay 'Shipwreck and underwater archaeology in Shetland' appears in B Smith ed., Shetland Archaeology (1985).

Political Career

External Links

Preceded by
Prophet Smith
Convener of the
Zetland County Council

Succeeded by
William Hamilton
Conveners of the Zetland County Council
Councillors John Bruce (1890-1907) • John Anderson (1907-1910) • James Grierson (1911-1913) • Robert D. Ganson (1914-1917) • John W. Robertson (1918-1923) • Henry Mouat (1924-1927) • James A. Smith (1928-1929) • Magnus Shearer (1930-1935) • Thomas Johnston (1935-1936) • William McDougall (1936-1937) • Adam Halcrow (1937-1938) • Edward Adie (1938-1943) • Robert J. H. Ganson (1944-1947) • William Thomson (1947-1955) • Prophet Smith (1955-1960) • Tom Henderson (1960-1963) • William Hamilton (1963-1967) • Robert A. Johnson (1967-1970) • Edward Thomason (1970-1973) • George Blance (1973-1975)
Zetland County Council
Preceded by
Robert Bruce
Member for
Dunrossness North

Succeeded by
Robert Bruce
Dunrossness North County Councillors
Councillors Robert Henderson (1890-1898) • Charles Whyte (1898-1898) • Robert Isbister (1898-1907) • James Budge (1907-1922) • James White (1922-1925) • John Irvine (1925-1931) • John W. Robertson (1931-1934) • John Goudie (1934-1946) • Robert Bruce (1946-1952) • Tom Henderson (1952-1963) • Robert Bruce (1963-1967) • Iain Campbell (1967-1971) • James Leask (1971-1975)