Today marks a historic date in the story of St Kilda, the 29th of August of course being the day on which the last few islanders left in 1930. Increasing contact with the outside world had put a lot of pressure on their way of life and a greater level of communication with the rest of the world had contributed towards the final decision to evacuate the island once and for all. A steady trickle of emigration had begun some years previous and by the 1920’s it had become impossible to maintain any semblance of a self-sustaining community. It is now 79 years since the HMS Harebell sailed from Village Bay carrying the last 36 islanders to a new and vastly different life elsewhere.
St Kilda is again today inhabited, with a year round presence on the island. I myself am present on the island for a six-month stint through the fairer months from April to September. The MoD radar station has civilian personnel on the island all year, however even they aren’t permanent residents, alternating their time on-island in month-on month-off format. Not since 1930 has there been a permanent resident on St Kilda; no one has been able to truly call this place home for nearly 80 years. Even now it is unclear as to what will become of the semi-permanent population of the island in the coming years. Today the future of St Kilda is as uncertain as it has ever been. This part of the story is by no means unique to St Kilda.
Ian the Warden