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Publication Account

Date 1999

Event ID 1022530

Category Descriptive Accounts

Type Publication Account


Behind the village, in the lea of the hill known as Wee Fea, there is a Naval Cemetery and an intermediate pumping station; on the shoulde of the hill is the large Naval Signal Station completed in 1943 and still a conspicuous landmark. In the Second World War the above-ground oil tanks were eventually fed from six enormous underground fuel tanks, built into and under the hill, capable of holding some 100,000 tons of oil for the refuelling of the fleet. The excavated spoil from the tunnels was tipped at the foreshore to create an extension to the quay which, on account of the enormous cost, was ironically nicknamed 'The Golden Wharf'.

Surveyed in 1936, the six underground tanks were completed by 1943 when further work was aborted. The two entrances are modest gaps in the hillside with ventilation shafts nearby, but inside, each of the tunnels giving access to the tanks are themselves over a quarter of a mile long, both the inlet and the outlet pipes passing through the north tunnel which formerly had intermediate blast walls. The tanks and their network of access tunnels were - and remain - by any standards a considerable feat of engineering and masterpieces of concrete construction extending for about three-quarters of a mile under the hill.

Information from 'RCAHMS Excursion Guide 1999: Commissioners' field excursion, Orkney, 8-10 September 1999'.

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