Hoswick is the most distinctive of the villages on the Sandwick area of Shetland's South Mainland, and just about the most westerly of them. In the centre of the village is its most striking building, the Hoswick Visitor Centre.
The Hoswick Visitor Centre is two buildings married together. The western end is a plain whitewashed building with a corrugated roof. The eastern end is a very distinctive modern extension which curves around the corner in the main road going through the village and manages to be both striking and attractive, while not looking totally out of place attached to its earlier, more humble neighbour.
The large interior has a bright, modern, open plan feel throughout. The central portion of the visitor centre comprises the tourist information/shop area and a nice cafe offering floor to ceiling views out across the village towards Hos Wick, the bay around which the village grew. There is also an internet access point here for those unable to leave home without keeping up to date with their email!
A large part of the west end of the visitor centre is occupied with a series of displays and exhibitions. These focus on the history of the area. In particular they look at the part the sea played in the growth of Hoswick, and Sandwick more widely, through fishing. The fishermen of Hoswick are famed for a legal case following an incident, in 1888, when they drove 300 whales ashore. They then resisted the landowner's claim for a share of the profits. The case ended up at the Court of Session in Edinburgh where, in a landmark judgement, the fishermen won.
Also on show is a collection of textile machinery, recognising the importance of that industry to the local economy in the past. And in the present too - there remains a knitwear factory and shop in the village, almost opposite the visitor centre.
The east end of the visitor centre is home to a remarkable collection of radios, radio equipment, tape recorders and so on stretching back to the origins of public radio broadcasts. We have to admit to not being sure exactly why such a collection is particularly relevant to Hoswick or to Sandwick, but it is fascinating to see how far technology has come in under a century.