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Publication Account

Date 1996

Event ID 1016196

Category Descriptive Accounts

Type Publication Account


Lyness was the major naval base for Scapa Flow during both World Wars, and it was used by the Royal Navy until 1956. The original oil-pumping station has been renovated and used as an interpretation centre for the story of wartime Scapa Flow. The station was built in 1917 to house the steam-driven pumps that brought oil from tankers moored at the the piers into storage tanks. One of the four tanks survives, designed to hold 12,000tons of oil. The gleaming pumps were originally powered by coal, but they were converted to oil in 1936, when another twelve storage tanks were built. The displays include artefacts recovered from HMS Hampshire and from ships of the scuttled German fleet.

By 1940 there were more than twelve thousand military and civilian personnel at Lyness, and one of the great red sheds built around 1918 was converted into the largest cinema in Europe. Even more striking is the cinema built around 1942 south of Lyness (NO 307922). A huge Nissen hut was transformed by a facade built in art deco style, with its brickwork painted black and bands of white linking the windows (see p.35). The Nissen hut has been demolished and the facade is now a guesthouse.

On the hillside above Lyness are the naval cemetery and a good example of a pillbox, a small defensive look-out post so-called from its squat circular shape.

Information from ‘Exploring Scotland’s Heritage: Orkney’, (1996).

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