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Since the 1830s a regular shipping service has linked Shetland to Scotland. Passengers, supplies, and livestock are moved between Lerwick and Aberdeen, on vessels familiarly known to islanders as the "north boats". Reliable services were possible because of steamers, which were faster than sailing boats. Today all supplies arrive by boat, and the service has become a lifeline. The development of the boats, from paddle steamers to vehicle ferries can be traced through the photographs. The departure of the steamer used to be a social event, and many pictures show busy scenes at Victoria Pier. Up to the 1970s boats also linked small ports around the coast, where passengers and goods were taken onshore by rowing boat.
For a more comprehensive view of the North Boats please see Subject North Boats, under Shipping