On the Move

Visit the on the move section to the galleries to explore how Shetlanders travelled around within the islands, and how they came to abandon rural life for urban life.

Discover how road transport rapidly replaced age-old travel by sea. The move to villages allowed people to embrace convenient home improvements like electricity and sewerage – things impossible in Shetland’s rural past.

With a regular ferry service, people could easily now travel to and from Shetland. As links increased and the service improved, today’s ‘North Boat’ has become a lifeline that islanders couldn’t survive without. Communication links speeded up, from postal to the internet era, making Shetland less isolated. However, this resulted in the islands losing much of their traditional identity.

Artefact themes in this section include: Transport, communications, urbanisation, immigration and emigration.

Highlights include:

  • North boat ticket machine – Tickets for the steamer bringing islanders home or away were dispensed by this manual system.
  • Shetland’s first telephone – This 1883 device connected a local business to the family home.
  • Inter-island ferry ticket machines - The introduction of inter-island 'ro-ro' ferries increased accessiblity to the isles.