George Waterson Memorial Centre and Museum

The George Waterson Memorial Centre and Museum is located in Fair Isle, which is part of Shetland. The Orkney and Shetland region has an interesting history, as it was not always part of Scotland. It was Christian I of Denmark that saw to it that Shetland formed part of Scotland. His daughter, Margaret, was married to James III in the 1469, and Christian I had given Orkney and Shetland to the Scottish crown, while he paid off her dowry. Unfortunately, Christian I was never able to pay the dowry in full and in the year of 1472, the islands were permanently amalgamated into Scotland. The Fair Isle is located to most southern part of the Shetland Islands and was at one stage, under the ownership of George Waterson. The George Waterson Memorial Centre and Museum is in memory of the man who dedicated his life to the protection of birds and wildlife on the island, and established the bird observatory in the year 1948. He was also the director of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds for 15 years.

After World War II, George Waterson bought Fair Isle of which responsibility of the island was taken over by the National Trust for Scotland in 1955. The establishment of the observatory did not only become a popular attraction in Scotland, but brought about enrichment of the islands’ economy and the founding of a new industry, tourism. After the National Trust for Scotland stepped in, the islanders were given immigration opportunities and a massive boost in the revival of the community.

The George Waterson Memorial Centre and Museum is housed in the old Fair Isle School building and stands as a reminder to the positive power that he injected into the island. Exhibits in the museum include a complete history on the islands past that dates all the way back to the prehistoric era. It also has an extensive collection of artifacts that were collected on the island, documents and photographs that have recorded history and educates visitors on the roots of the islanders and their land.

George Waterson also received the OBE Award in 1964 for the services he rendered to the British in regard to conservation and ornithology. His passion and dedication to the study and conservation of all bird species also saw him being awarded the Golden Plover Award and he would most certainly be proud to know that his efforts would be rewarded, by becoming a favorite attraction in Scotland.


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