As part of the Orkney-wide Scapa 100 commemorations Stromness Museum will hold a community conference, Scapa 100: The Orkney Story, looking at the lasting legacy of the scuttling of the German Fleet. It will take the story from internment up to the present day reflecting the ongoing relationship with the wrecks of Scapa Flow.
Orkney’s large natural harbour, Scapa Flow, was the base for the British Grand Fleet throughout the First World War.Orkney was transformed during this time, with naval infrastructure, a series of block-ships sunk to create maritime barriers, a system of nets and booms constructed to limit submarine access, as well as numerous coastal defences built to help make Scapa Flow more secure.Following the armistice in November 1918, the German High Seas Fleet was interned in Scapa Flow, awaiting the outcome of the peace talks that would officially end WW1, and decide the fate of the German Navy.After six or so months of waiting, on the 21 June 1919 Admiral von Reuter took matters into his own hands and gave the order to scuttle the German fleet.As a result, 52 of 74 ships went to the seabed.The events of that day and the subsequent salvage operations that followed, produced a story unique to Orkney.
‘Scapa 100’ is the umbrella term that has been chosen to cover all events and activities taking place in Orkney from October 2018 to October 2019.These events have been organised by a diverse community, comprising of local, national and international partners who share this heritage with us.
Scapa 100: The Orkney Story conference will be held in Stromness, Orkney from the 17th – 20th October 2019.This three day conference will comprise papers, evening events and field trip. It will include the following themes:
Salvage – the history of the salvage operations in Scapa Flow and its impact on the local economy and the development of the commercial diving industry.
Scapa now: Heritage Management – tourism diving, museums interpretation and cultural heritage management.
Scapa’s natural history – flora and fauna living on and around the wrecks, and their contribution to biological diversity in Orcadian waters
As a community conference this event will bring together diverse disciplines and enable the exchange of knowledge and expertise.There is a wealth of local expertise and knowledge within Orkney, which goes unrecognised nationally. The conference will give Orkney the opportunity to share this with the wider world. It will also give the opportunity to raise awareness locally of wider issues such as the responsibilities associated with dealing with past and present salvage materials and the role of the UK Receiver of Wreck and working with Historic Environment Scotland on the long term preservation of the wrecks in Scapa Flow.
Speakers include academics from Dundee University, Heriot Watt University, National Maritime Museum Greenwich, local historians, museum professionals and representatives from the diving industry.There will also be input from younger members of the community into the conference programme and local charities are involved in providing refreshment.While the lectures take place at the Town Hall, conference events are held at other venues within Stromness giving delegates the opportunity to get to know Stromness.
image: Top- Orkney Library & Archive. Photographer W H Hourston / Middle – Digital imaging – Chris Rowland / Bottom – Stromness Museum