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Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Stromness Harbour and Pierhead

We'll start our walk today looking at the rooftops from the pier.  The tall spire is the Town Hall (a former church) that I told you about on our other walk.  The black/grey corrugated roof is on part of the Pier Arts Centre. I love the roofs of Stromness!

The cream coloured building is the new library. The building itself is old, with the "crow steps" on the gable end.  But it's been gutted inside and new bits added on (to the right) to form the new Library, which should be opening soon.

The harbour is still very much a working harbour. No longer home to the herring fleets of the 19th Century, instead creel boats fish for partans (crabs) like this one.....

Or dive boats taking visitors to dive the many wrecks in Scapa Flow.

And a very smart new dive boat joins the fleet this year....

And general workboats....

There are also a lot of boats working in the renewable energy industry, though there is a new pier across from Stromness now which can be used by them.  More easily accessible for the onshore vehicles too.

And of course Stromness one of the places you can sail from to mainland Scotland. The ferry goes to Scrabster and back, daily (the boat with the Viking on in the background).  And the wee boat in the foreground is the Golden Mariana, the boat currently sailing to Graemsay and Hoy.  Um yes it's a bit smaller than our usual ferry!  The MV Graemsay is off having new engines fitted so is out of service for about six weeks.  In the meantime we have this boat which usually sails between Westray and Papa Westray (they have a small plane they can use).  It's not my favourite vessel but it's better than no boat at all!

We have our own sign to the ferry as many folk think it sails from the main Ferry Terminal instead of here...Hmm the sign is looking a bit precarious!

And at this time of year there is work to do to boats to get them ready to go in the water again.

And looking into the harbour you can see some of the piers that jut out.  Every house would have had access to a pier to launch a small boat, the houses on the other side of the street would have had rights of access too.

This part of the harbour is often used by the Navigation Training School.  And the low building in front of the red shed in the photo above is the Pier Arts Centre.

Looking up the pier is the Stromness Hotel which was established in 1901 and was taken over as part of the Armed Forces headquarters during WWII.

In front of the hotel is the pierhead fountain.  This dates from 1901 and commemorates Alexander Graham who, on behalf of the merchants of Stromness, fought against taxes levied from Kirkwall (the capital of Orkney). He won his case but dies penniless in 1783. The history is here and it's fascinating. There is still some rivalry between Stromness and Kirkwall to this day.

To the right of the fountain (um it doesn't have water in it now!) is the RNLI office (Lifeboat office).

There's a commemorative plaque.....

I love the horse hoof feet!  It was originally a trough when the main form of transport was horse and cart.

Also at the pierhead is a newly erected statue of John Rae, the explorer,  known as "Orkney's greatest unsung hero".  Finally after quite a fight he is also commemorated in Westminster Abbey. Not a very good photo of him as the sun was bright.  There's a better photo here.  When the statue was first unveiled the adjacent parking space had a sign saying "Huskies only". Ha!  Oh fer goodness sake!!!  Blogger will NOT let me put this the correct way round.... well take a look at the link I gave or lie down and look at this!

But the BEST view from the harbour is, of course, out to Graemsay! Hoy High lighthouse on Graemsay....

So I hope you enjoyed your potter round the pier head.  I have a friend visiting this week so I'll try and get some photos of the South End of Stromness as we will take a wander down there to the museum.


  1. What a lovely place to visit, such beauty in ordinary things. A place that I have put on my list to visit.

  2. Recognise the Stromness hotel! We stayed there on our last visit, ooh, 20 years ago maybe. It hasn't changed......
    Anabel's Travel Blog
    Adventures of a retired librarian

  3. dear Sian,

    I'm loving this Stromness report Season in several Episodes - I feel like I live there, your photos as well as your comments help to that feeling. Your Graemsay may be little, but you can have great trips nearby, and Stromness really looks a cosy town, full of character and History. Thank you for sharing.

  4. Harbours must be the most photogenic places ever! There's always so much going on, and I love all the netting, huge knots tied with great big ropes, and all the other fishing boat paraphernalia! Great post! Thank you.

  5. I remember how much I enjoyed the harbour when I visited and this post reminds me clearly why. I love the fact it's still a proper working harbour, not a mini-marina. I can also see why you're looking forward to your own ferry vessel being back on duty. :-)