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The exhibition opens on Friday, 9 April 2010. Designed to illustrate the impact WWII had on the island of Hoy and for the many troops stationed there.
Date / Time / Venue:
9.00am 9th Apr 2010 - 9.00am 31st Dec 2014, Scapa Flow Visitor Centre
Full Event Details:
Fortress Orkney exhibition opens at Scapa Flow Visitor Centre and Museum on Friday, 9 April 2010.
Designed to illustrate the impact World War 2 had on the island of Hoy and for the many thousands of troops stationed there, the permanent exhibition is full of interesting exhibits and reminiscences from men and women who were based at Lyness and islanders who were children at the time, such as Nora Thomson.
This exhibition is part of a wider local history project by the same name, which in turn is part of a larger nationwide initiative entitled Their Past Your Future Scotland (TPYF Scotland). The project has recorded and documented the testimony of those who witnessed the war in the county, with the material being edited into a series of online exhibitions.
Designed as a 1940s style living room set, a recreation of one of the hundreds of wartime accommodation huts that were put up at Lyness during the war, the exhibition has several varied and fascinating themes from Service life at Lyness, Entertaining Orkney, Civilian life on Hoy 1939-1947, to Food in wartime Orkney and Life in Lyness 1945-1957. It is brought to life with photography, documents, interviews with people who remember life in Lyness and on Hoy during and after the war and artefacts from the period donated by local people including John Cload, Margaret Reid and the Thomson family.
Seated in original 1940s chairs taken from ships and local wartime mess halls, visitors can listen to a 1940s style wireless and hear people talking about their experiences of life in Lyness and on Hoy during and after WW2. These recollections form the basis of the exhibition and visitors can hear the stories of everyday lives lived during the most extraordinary time at Lyness. They can also browse copies of contemporary magazines or transcripts of the recordings or look at original framed documents and photographs on the walls.
To make the experience come alive for younger visitors, there is a selection of dressing up clothes, including original WW2 uniforms and hats. Related Fereday school projects by second year history pupils will also be on show. These include work by Stromness Academy pupils Jake Watson, HMS Royal Oak survivor Bertie Thomson’s great nephew Thorfinn Johnston, and Izzy Whitford.
Outside the hut there will be five exhibition panels exploring aspects of life on the base and for the islanders at the time.
Service life at Lyness highlights the experiences of those stationed at Lyness during the war, including Wren Rita Jones who enjoyed her time working in the mail room. Rita married her wartime sweetheart John Marsden, whom she met at Lyness. She recently returned to donate a WREN (Women’s Royal Naval Service) ensign to the Orkney Islands Council collection, which will be displayed at Scapa Flow Visitor Centre & Museum.
Civilian life on Hoy 1939-1947 tells the wartime experience from islanders’ point of view with childhood recollections from Billy Budge and Nora Thomson, who recounts playing in fallen barrage balloons and her mother making her a blouse from parachute silk.
Entertaining Orkney gives a peek into a time when the island played host to some of the biggest names in show business, as entertainers came to boost the morale of the troops and cinemas sprung up across the islands. The stories of Yehudi Menhuin playing a concert in wet trousers after a beach walk and local children enjoying the latest films at the naval cinemas bring that time to life.
Life in Lyness 1945 – 1957 tells the story of the busy postwar years, when Lyness Naval Base still employed hundreds of workers, up until the closure of the base in 1957, when as one contributor says ‘everything just stopped, stone dead”.
Recording equipment will be kept at the museum and visitors can continue to leave their own wartime recollections, making sure their firsthand accounts are stored for future.
Andrew Salmond , Their Past Your Future Scotland Project Manager for Museums Galleries Scotland, said: “The Fortress Orkney team have done a fantastic job collecting wartime stories from across Orkney. As well as ensuring that these stories are never forgotten, they have also made them accessible and appealing to Lyness visitors.” Their Past Your Future Scotland Phase 2, which is led by Museums Galleries Scotland and sponsored by The Big Lottery, brings young people and older generations in the local community together to capture oral histories that focus on the Second World War and all subsequent conflicts. For more information about the project and to view a sample exhibition, visit www.RememberingScotlandAtWar.org.uk
The Fortress Orkney project involved Flotta Community School, Stromness Academy, Orkney College and Orkney Library and Archive as well as Scapa Flow Visitor Centre & Museum.
During April, the museum is open Mon – Fri 9.00am – 4.30pm, with weekend opening starting on Saturday 1 May.
Venues:Scapa Flow Visitor Centre
Area of Interest
Society & social history
War & defence
Scapa Flow Visitor Centre