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Former Gas Decontamination Station Building, Lyness, Hoy

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

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Coordinates

Latitude: 58.8342 / 58°50'3"N

Longitude: -3.2083 / 3°12'30"W

OS Eastings: 330344

OS Northings: 994709

OS Grid: ND303947

Mapcode National: GBR L5FC.YVK

Mapcode Global: WH6BN.P6FZ

Entry Name: Former Gas Decontamination Station Building, Lyness, Hoy

Listing Date: 31 January 2002

Category: C

Source: Historic Scotland

Source ID: 395736

Historic Scotland Designation Reference: LB48353

Building Class: Cultural

Location: Walls and Flotta

County: Orkney Islands

Electoral Ward: Stromness and South Isles

Traditional County: Orkney

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Description

Directorate of Works, circa 1939. Rectangular-plan brick gas decontamination station building set in open landscape to the west perimeter of the former Royal Naval base at Lyness. West elevation has an advanced central section with 2 openings, with a single opening in each of the wings set back to the right and left including a brick blast wall to the right. The north and south elevations have plain gable walls. The east elevation has an opening to right and left and no window openings. Flat roof, with raised central section (formerly a water tower) and brick stack. Roof level lowers slightly at the end bays. The interior was seen, 2013. Most internal fixtures and fittings have been removed, however the original floor plan is evident.

Statement of Interest

The former Gas Decontamination Station building is a good surviving example of its building type, 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).

Decontamination stations were a common feature on most British military bases, however their survival is rare. While only 2 now remain at Lyness, 4 decontamination station buildings were originally constructed at Lyness to decontaminate those working with gases and chemicals. The other remaining building, to the south of Haybrake, is less well preserved. The station follows a standard type, however, there are few now remaining in Scotland.

The use of gas in war was outlawed by the Geneva Gas Protocol of 1925 (both Britain and Germany were signatories), but not its production and development. As a result the British Government developed gas weapons and designed methods of protection against their use. This included the construction of specialised buildings, so that in the event of such an attack, personnel who became gas casualties could receive first-aid decontamination treatment. The station formed part of the Passive Defence Office. The decontamination building was therefore designed for the treatment of all types of gases which were first developed during the First World War: lachrymatory agents; respiratory agents and blister agents.

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, Decontamination Shed'. Listed building record updated as part of the review of Lyness (2014).

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