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Pier and Golden Wharf, with Boom Slipway, Lyness, Hoy

A Category B Listed Building in Stromness and South Isles, Orkney Islands

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Coordinates

Latitude: 58.8337 / 58°50'1"N

Longitude: -3.1908 / 3°11'26"W

OS Eastings: 331354

OS Northings: 994639

OS Grid: ND313946

Mapcode National: GBR L5HC.T7F

Mapcode Global: WH6BN.Y7QB

Entry Name: Pier and Golden Wharf, with Boom Slipway, Lyness, Hoy

Listing Date: 31 January 2002

Category: B

Source: Historic Scotland

Source ID: 395735

Historic Scotland Designation Reference: LB48349

Building Class: Cultural

Location: Walls and Flotta

County: Orkney Islands

Electoral Ward: Stromness and South Isles

Traditional County: Orkney

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Description

1917, pier; 1938-1943, pier extended to north to form wharf. Rubble to base with concrete blocks forming shallow U-plan. Boom slipway with metal tracks attached to south.

Statement of Interest

The pier at Lyness, with later wharf extension (also known as Golden Wharf), and including the rare survival of its boom slipway, is a good surviving example of a Second World War structure and is part of an important group of buildings put in place to supply the Royal Navy stationed in Scapa Flow immediately before, during and after the Second World War. It forms part of a wider group with other significant military buildings associated with the First and Second World War in the area (see separate listings).

The pier was constructed during the First World War, however, by 1939 the Navy base headquarters was expanding and it required a new wharf at Lyness to accommodate the increase of traffic to the base. The wharf at Lyness was built from the spoil excavated from Wee Fea in order to build the underground fuel reservoirs there (see separate listing) , not completed until 1943 due to construction delays. So much time and money was spent on the wharf that it was nicknamed the Golden Wharf.

The wharf design is innovative for its deep water sheltered anchorages, ensuring large ships had a safe harbour to refuel during wartime. It also has a boom defence slipway that survives which is highly unusual. The boom defences at Lyness began in 1938. The booms, large metal nets with square or round floats, were constructed in the workshops and on the hardstanding by the wharf at Lyness and were positioned by boat across the Flow, acting as a barrier to enemy watercraft. The wharf is remarkably complete in its survival, especially considering that it has been in continued use since the time it was constructed. The wharf is currently used as the Lyness ferry terminal (2014).

Prior to the First World War, Britain was considered to be most at risk of attack from continental Europe and the British Navy was based on the south coast of England. However the changing political situation at the beginning of the 20th century meant that the threat changed to focus on the German Navy in the Baltic sea. It was this, combined with the geography of the Orkney Islands which was the impetus for moving part of the Grand Fleet to Scapa Flow in the Orkney Islands. Scapa Flow is is one of the world's largest natural harbours and it is mostly enclosed by surrounding islands, including Hoy, where Lyness overlooks Scapa Flow.

The enormous impact on the Orkney Islands of both World Wars has left us with an important legacy of military structures, many of which do not survive elsewhere in the UK.

By 1942 the naval base at Lyness supported thousands of military and civilian personnel. Lyness would become a self-contained town that provided accommodation, recreational and practical facilities for the number of service men and women who were stationed there during the First and Second World War.

Previously listed as 'Walls (Hoy), Lyness Pier'. Category changed from C to B, and listed building record updated as part of the review of Lyness (2014).

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