Councillors voice support for revamp of Scapa Flow memorial area

The plans were discussed at a meeting of the harbour authority sub-committee on Tuesday.

Councillors voice support for revamp of Scapa Flow memorial area LDRS
Scapa Flow: Councillors have voiced their support over plans for a new building.

Councillors in Orkney have voiced their support for a new building at Scapa Flow, which would house an exhibition on HMS Royal Oak and Scapa Flow.

The plans were discussed at a meeting of the harbour authority sub-committee on Tuesday.

The vice-chairman of the committee, Andrew Drever, called it “a huge move forward”.

Councillor Rob Crichton added: “I am totally, utterly and wholeheartedly behind it.”

The new ‘T-shaped’ building would replace the wooden shed that has stood there for around 40 years.

A council report noted that the shed is in poor condition.

As well as serving as a store for the council, the new building would house an exhibition.

Development: The proposed building would house an exhibition on HMS Royal Oak.LDRS
Development: The proposed building would house an exhibition on HMS Royal Oak.

A council report said it would provide a “21st-century display area for the HMS Royal Oak Association”.

There would also be information on the wider history of Scapa Flow.

The memorial garden is also said to be in need of a “revamp”.

An annual memorial event is held at the garden to remember the 835 sailors lost in the sinking of the HMS Royal Oak, in October 1939.

During Tuesday’s meeting, councillors were told that the exhibition would also feature information about HMS Vanguard, which also sank in the flow, and the pioneering aviator Edwin Dunning.

Orkney Islands: The current shed at Scapa Flow.LDRS
Orkney Islands: The current shed at Scapa Flow.

Councillor Owen sought assurances over the wood cladding planned to be used on the new building.

He expressed concern that it may not cope with the weather conditions, at what is quite an exposed spot.

In reply, he was told that plans included using “the right wood”.

However, the proposals still have some way to go and have now been approved to go to the council’s policy and resources sub-committee.

The project is estimated to cost £500,000.

An application has been made to Crown Estate Scotland to cover the full cost. The harbour authority expects to hear whether they’ve got the funding in March.

By local democracy reporter Andrew Stewart