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Former Munitions Depot, South West of Ore Farm, Lyness, Hoy

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

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Coordinates

Latitude: 58.8212 / 58°49'16"N

Longitude: -3.2085 / 3°12'30"W

OS Eastings: 330307

OS Northings: 993267

OS Grid: ND303932

Mapcode National: GBR L5FD.YS9

Mapcode Global: WH6BN.PJBX

Entry Name: Former Munitions Depot, South West of Ore Farm, Lyness, Hoy

Listing Date: 31 January 2002

Category: B

Source: Historic Scotland

Source ID: 395767

Historic Scotland Designation Reference: LB48374

Building Class: Cultural

Location: Walls and Flotta

County: Orkney Islands

Electoral Ward: Stromness and South Isles

Traditional County: Orkney

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Description

Ministry of Supply, circa 1938. 4 rectangular-plan former ammunition stores. The buildings comprise an inner shuttered concrete structure with buttressed outer concrete baffle wall and an earthen mound to baffle walls. Large concrete curbs extend from the store openings. Low gradient pitched roof.

Double steel doors and small ventilators in each gable end face large concrete kerbs extending from the entrances. On each side of the kerb are small concrete platforms where shells and fuses would be transferred from vehicles into and out of the store. In front of the steel doors are metal barred gates. The roof has a very low pitch with a central row of ventilators.

The interiors to the stores were seen in 2013 and are accessed from two doorways in the main elevation gable end. Concrete piers support the roof over the various rooms. The metal rolling racks remain where ammunition would be conveyed in wooden trays. A number of steel doors remain in the stores. The original room layout is intact.

Statement of Interest

The former munitions depot south of Lyness is a rare and predominantly intact survivor of this building type. It 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).

Whilst there were many gun defended areas throughout Scotland during the Second World War, the concentration of batteries on Hoy and surrounding Scapa Flow are comparable only to the Clyde and Forth gun defended areas. These larger anti-aircraft defended areas would have had nearby munitions depots serving their Heavy Anti-Aircraft (HAA) and Light Anti-Aircraft (LAA) batteries, possibly similar to the one at Lyness, however there are no other known surviving examples of this type of munitions depot in Scotland. The survival of the four munitions stores at Lyness is therefore considered exceptionally rare as examples of this building type.

The former Munitions Depot west of Ore Farm was the central ammunition depot on Hoy to serve these batteries. Of the original six ammunition stores at the Depot, one for each battery on Hoy, four survive and are intact, and the sunken bases and blast walls of the demolished stores are still evident. Their function is still evidenced by the number of intact internal and external features.

The munitions depot was constructed by the Ministry of Supply for the Royal Artillery to provide munitions support for the 26 Heavy and Light Anti-Aircraft battery defences on Hoy protecting the Scapa Flow area during the Second World War. An anti-aircraft box barrage was created to protect Scapa Flow, and this was made up of 25 HAA batteries, including two mobile units, supported by numerous LAA posts and rocket sites. Six of the fixed HAA batteries were on Hoy, four equipped to fire 4.5-inch caliber shells, and two the more basic 3.7-inch caliber, 98 mm and 113 mm respectively.

The munitions depot was where ammunition was received and stored before issue to the gun emplacements. Vehicles reversed up to the doors, hence the prominent kerbs; the ammunition would be rolled down the revolving racks and loaded into the trucks before being transported to the nearby batteries.

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), Munitions Depot SW of Ore Farm'. Listed building record updated as part of the review of Lyness (2014).

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