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Wee Fea Naval Communication and Operational Centre

Date 5 March 2014

Event ID 975602

Category Management

Type Site Management

Permalink http://canmore.org.uk/event/975602

Large concrete, rectangular-plan World War II communications and signal station. Built into bank to NW with ditch between building and hill to NW and SW.NW ELEVATION: entrance door to left (missing timber forestair). Porthole opening to right flank; 2 more to right. Door set back to far left; stairs lead up to door. SW ELEVATION: small square window. External piping below.SE ELEVATION: numerous porthole openings; window to far left; ventilation slits. Advanced 3-sided section to right; windows in each face; ventilation slits. Window to far right.NE ELEVATION: 3 windows. Forestair to far right leading to door in right return.Flat roof; remains of signal mounting on roof, brick water tank and concrete structures.INTERIOR: stripped interior apart from one boiler.

During the World Wars, Lyness was strategically important due to its position at the entrance to Scapa Flow. Lyness formed the hub of the Royal Navy's base in Scapa Flow. The centre was very important in the success of the defence of Scapa Flow. According to Hewison; 'The Communications Centre was the culminating point in this vital sphere of wartime activity at Scapa', enabling direct communication by telephone and by radio telephone to all defence sectors in the Scapa perimeter. Using Morse code, light signalling, wireless and telecommunications, the Centre, with Stanger Head (also run by the Navy), controlled the shipping at Scapa. All main fleet buoys in the anchorage were connected by underwater cable to the Centre and then to the outside world. In connection with the nautical theme, the windows are shaped like portholes. Hewison illustrates how active this Centre was; staff numbers rose from 80 in November 1939 to 270 in 1944, 230 of them WRNS (Women's Royal Naval Service), who handled 8,800 phone calls a day in 1943 and 1944. The Wee Fea Centre is a rare survival and a conspicuous landmark. (Historic Scotland)

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