for Scapa Flow music
Originally built to supply fuel to the British Fleet much of the naval base's vast original infrastructure has been cleared, although one oil storage tank has been retained and restored. Inside the tank are larger exhibits, including a searchlight, bren-gun carrier and a boat that sailed to Orkney from occupied Norway. The tank has a most incredible acoustic, which you can hear in a sound clip of the tune 'Scapa Flow' played by Amy Cameron, Chloe McIssaac and Daisy Bateman from North Walls Community School, and their instrumental teacher Ian McKune. Click here to hear the clip which is in Real Player format - (click here to get the free player application).
Lyness was briefly the Navy's wartime base in 1919, but the Longhope Hotel, further along the island, was preferred - with most of the larger vessels situated north of the island of Flotta, today home to a major oil terminal. It was after WW1 that Lyness became the base for the salvage of the scuttled German High Seas Fleet. The firm of Cox and Danks were responsible for the massive salvage operation which attracted employment to a great many incomers.
In 1939 Orkney's population swelled massively once again as Lyness became the Navy's base in World War Two - the base was known as HMS Prosperine. A frantic rush of activity swept the area as camps and buildings were hurriedly constructed The surrounding areas were also used and a Barrage Balloon Centre was built and Lyness became the centre of Boom Defences. A massive pier was erected, with its complexity and cost earning it the name 'Golden Wharf'. Due to the vulnerability of the surface oil storage tanks it was decided, in 1939, to construct underground storage tanks, and highly skilled Norwegian miners from Spitzbergen were employed to work on this massive excavation. The size and extent of this storage network is truly one of the wonders of the Second World War, and there are plans to open them eventually up as a visitor attraction.
Sadly, Orkney has seen more than its share of wartime tragedy and the nearby Lyness Naval Cemetery is the final place of rest for many brave personnel. It houses the graves of people who died at the Battle of Jutland, on HMS Hampshire, HMS Vanguard, Germans who died during the scuttling of the German Fleet and of crew from HMS Royal Oak. It also has graves of German aircrew from World War Two.
The Visitor Centre is reached by a short ferry trip across Scapa Flow from the Orkney Mainland and is only a five minute walk from the ferry terminal. There is a also a small cafe and shop where books, videos, gifts and souvenirs are available.
Scapa Flow Visitor Centre and Museum, Lyness, Hoy, Orkney
Telephone: (01856) 791300
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