The Scapa Flow Museum

The main exhibition illustrates the importance of Scapa Flow as a base for the British fleet throughout history, concentrating on its role during two world wars. It includes photographs, text, artefacts and a collection of large military vehicle sand dockyard equipment.  Visitors will gain an appreciation for the scale of the base at Lyness through modern VR experiences and detailed graphics. Key collections relate to the loss of HMS Hampshire and death of Lord Kitchener, the German High Seas Fleet and the loss of HMS Royal Oak.

The Pumphouse is an important exhibit in its own right, housing three Lancashire boilers, built by Wilson’s of Glasgow, and six steam-powered triple-expansion duplex Worthington pumps. This is an original part of the museum and was constructed in 1937 as a crucial part of the base infrastructure for pumping heavy fuel oil from the 16 above ground fuel storage tanks to vessels for the fleet to be fuelled. In the building visitors will discover equipment original to the pump house such as the ‘Wilson Lancashire Type Boilers’ which produced the steam to operate the pumps and other machinery within the pumphouse.

After closing in 2017 for re-development, Scapa Flow Museum finally re-opened to the public on the 2nd of July 2022. The museum is back, better than ever before. In the new extension visitors will find exciting new exhibits and artefacts, not seen by the public before, these help to demonstrate the scale of Lyness during wartime and bring to life the accounts of those who experienced it first hand.

Visitors will discover the many ways in which up to 100,000 serviceman and women entertained themselves; and learn about the tragic loss of HMS Hampshire, Opal and Narborough, not to mention how Ernest Cox bought a navy! There are so many aspects and different interest points to the museum, visitors will be hard pressed not to be impressed.

More large exhibits can be found in the Romney Hut, including a steam pinnace believed to have belonged to the German Admiral von Reuter, the Otter Bank, which once served as a floating bank for the north isles of Orkney and a collection of traditional Orkney boats.

Opening hours

May – Sep:  Mon – Son

Oct – Dec:  Tues – Sat

Jan – Feb:  Closed

March:  Thurs – Sat

April:  Mon -Sat

Phone – 01856701300

Email –

Dogs are not permitted to enter the museum with the exception of service dogs

There is an onsite café that sells soup, sandwiches, hot and cold drinks, hot filled rolls and a selection of home bakes.


BUS: A community bus service meets some ferries and can stop at the Hoy Hotel – please see here for the current timetable.

Please note that a day’s notice is required for the carriage of non-collapsible wheelchairs.

CAR: Follow the B9048 to the T-junction; the Hoy Hotel is opposite, on the right. To access the car park, turn right and then first left. The exhibition entrance is at the rear of the building.

ON FOOT/BY BIKE: The Hoy Hotel is ca. 1 mile from the ferry terminal. Follow the B9048 to the T-junction; the Hoy Hotel is opposite, on the right. The exhibition entrance is at the rear of the building. The museum is a minute walk from the Lyness ferry terminal on the scenic island of Hoy, one of Orkney’s most popular tourist destinations. Hoy is a short ferry ride from Houton on the Orkney mainland.

Collect a copy of the Lyness Wartime Trail leaflet from the ferry waiting room or the museum to see what this area looked like during WW2.


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8 thoughts on “The Scapa Flow Museum

  1. Have you got a copy of this sale notice for some of the huts etc on Hoy, gives a good idea of sizes and numbers.

    From the British Newspaper Archive

    Aberdeen Press and Journal – Wednesday 07 April 1920
    Image © D.C.Thomson & Co. Ltd. Image created courtesy of THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD.

  2. Hi, I am interested in the book in your display called “On Wings through Wonderland” by Dad, as I would like to write a little bit about if for our Orkney Norway Friendship Association newsletter. Who was “Dad” and can you tell me any more about it please?
    Ishbel Borland

  3. I have an original letter written at the time the ships were scuttled. It was written to my Grandfather from a friend who was living and working there at the time. It has some information about what he experienced during that time and how he was recruited to work there. I would like to find a good home for it – is this something you would be interested in? If so please email me to discuss donating it. Thank you.

  4. My grandfather Jesse Bradley was lost on the SS Giralda in 1940. any information for our family history please?

  5. Hi,

    We are due to visit Hoy on Wednesday 9th June 2021. I appreciate the Museum is closed for refurbishment but wonder if there is anything else of interest to see if we were tpo visit the site?

    Kind regards,
    Tom Martin

  6. I can’t seem to find any info about the café at the Scapa Flow Museum. I would like to know opening times during August, kind of food served, rough idea of prices, if anyone can help.

  7. Our family from Australia visited Hoy in August 2005, and it is pleasing to see the advances that have taken place over the past 18 years with this Museum. Hoy is a fascinating island steeped in history, some of which involved my family until circumstances necessitated a move to the mainland and then down the east coast until finally settling in the Essex area in the early 1500s. One group went down the middle of England to Southampton then across the Channel until settling in Holland. While there, they added a “Van” in front of Hoy!
    Lastly, while on Hoy, our eldest daughter celebrated her 26th birthday at the Stromabank Hotel our hosts being Tam and Maureen White. They prepared a beautiful cake with a few candles that made a memorable birthday for Francesca.

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