In 1882-4, Frances Groome's Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland described Walls like this:
Walls, a parish in the W of the Mainland of Shetland, whose church stands at the head of Vaila Sound, 24 miles WNW of Lerwick, under which there is a post office. The parish, containing also the post office of Sandness, 31 miles WNW of Lerwick, comprehends the ancient parishes of Walls, Sandness, Papa-Stour, and Foula; comprises the mainland distriets of Walls and Sandness, and the inhabited islands of Papa-Stour, Vaila, Linga, and Foula; and is bounded on the E by Sandsting, and on all other sides by- the sea. ...
Its utmost mainland length, from N to S, is 6 7/8 miles; its utmost mainland breadth is 5 miles; and its total land area is 38 2/7 square miles or 24,499 acres. The islands are separately noticed. The mainland district extends southward from St Maguns Bay to the S end of Vaila Sound; includes the most westerly ground on the mainland; is indented, but not to any considerable length, by several creeks and bays; and has mostly a rocky coast, often rising to a height of over 100 feet. The interior is hilly, attaining 817 feet at Sandness Hill, 536 at Dale Hill, and 549 at Stoubrough Hill; to the E are more than thirty small fresh-water lochs. The rocks are gneiss, quartzite, granitic porphyry, and Old Red Sandstone. The soil is mostly moorish or mossy, but forms some good arable tracts. Upwards of 1000 acres are in tillage; a great extent is meadow or pasture; and abundance of peat is on the hills. R. T. C. Scott, Esq. of Melby, is chief proprietor, 2 others holding each an annual value of between £100 and £500, 2 of from £50 to £100, and 3 of from £20 to £50. Walls is in the presbytery of Olnafirth and the synod of Shetland; the living is worth £185. The parish church was built in 1743, and contains 500 sittings. The sub-parochial churches of Sandness and Papa-Stour were built in 1749 and 1806, and contain 278 and 190 sittings. There are also Free, Congregational, and Wesleyan churches; and six schools, with total accommodation for 311 children, had (1884) an average attendance of 259, and grants amounting to £215, 18s. 3d. Valuation (1860) £1651, (1884) £2187, 7s. Pop. (1801) 1817, (1831) 2143, (1861) 2570, (1871) 2579, (1881) 2262.
A Vision of Britain through Time includes a large library of local statistics for administrative units. For the best overall sense of how the area containing Walls has changed, please see our redistricted information for the modern district of Shetland Islands. More detailed statistical data are available under Units and statistics, which includes both administrative units covering Walls and units named after it.
GB Historical GIS / University of Portsmouth, History of Walls in Shetland Islands | Map and description, A Vision of Britain through Time.
Date accessed: 30th August 2014
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