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Second World War Air Raid Shelter, Scapa Flow Visitor Centre and Museum, Lyness

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

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Latitude: 58.8357 / 58°50'8"N

Longitude: -3.1958 / 3°11'44"W

OS Eastings: 331072

OS Northings: 994869

OS Grid: ND310948

Mapcode National: GBR L5GC.YL3

Mapcode Global: WH6BN.W5CS

Entry Name: Second World War Air Raid Shelter, Scapa Flow Visitor Centre and Museum, Lyness

Listing Date: 20 November 2014

Category: C

Source: Historic Scotland

Source ID: 402761

Historic Scotland Designation Reference: LB52319

Building Class: Cultural

Location: Walls and Flotta

County: Orkney Islands

Electoral Ward: Stromness and South Isles

Parish: Walls And Flotta

Traditional County: Orkney

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Circa 1939. Air-raid shelter set in open landscape within the former Royal Naval base at Lyness. U-plan with earthwork covering. Pre-cast sectional shuttered concrete construction with partial corrugated metal sheeting and earth roof covering, with brick and concrete retaining wall passages to entrance and exit.

The interior was seen 2013. Two entrances with a passage connecting to a small central rectangular chamber. Painted directional arrows to walls.

Statement of Interest

The air raid shelter is a good survivor of a standard military 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).

As a building type, air raid shelters are common features of most military installations. However, the survival of these shelters is rare as the majority of them have been demolished or filled in.

Specifically designed to protect against a potential air raid attack, the U-plan design of the shelter would help to deflect any debris from an explosion. Located near to the naval base repair and boom defences' workshops, this air raid shelter's primary function was for the protection of the military personnel in Lyness.

The building is entered via openings to the east, descending into a hillock. Internally there is evidence of the original use of the building in the painted arrows indicating where it would be safe to withstand a blast. There is a small rectangular chamber, roughly midway through the passage network.

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.

Listed as part of the review of Lyness (2014).

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