Building the Oil Terminal, 1976

Special thanks to Keith Hill

Flotta has played a significant role over the years both in the development of the North Sea Oil fields and in the subsequent exploitation and landing of the oil reserves. Construction on the Flotta Oil Terminal started in 1974 and the terminal became fully operational in December 1976. Many people were involved in the two year construction, living on the island during its build.

Most have happy memories of their time on the island, enjoying the island lifestyle and their time in the Orkneys. One of those working on the island was Keith Hill who has kindly sent the pictures shown on this page.

Quote: “They were all taken in February 1976. Hope that some or all of the photos may be of interest to readers of your message board.

The Turrif Electrical team photo includes self (Keith Hill), on the left, Bill Darcy, and Willie Johnstone standing, and Tom Wainwright seated.”

Many thanks for your pictures Keith.

I’d be happy to hear from any other terminal workers and to receive your pictures and stories.

Views of Flotta 2008

My brother David and I spent a lovely day on Flotta on May 28th 2008. There was a thick cover of fog in the morning which lifted as the day went on, revealing Flotta in clear light and sunshine. It was a heavenly day, one we will never forget. Below are just some of the photographs that we took during the visit, and our recollections of the day.

All photographs courtesy of David and Singne Palmquist.


Special thanks to: Singne and David Palmquist British Columbia, Canada.
For more pictures from their day on Flotta visit their Flickr accounts: Singne and David.

James Hay’s Tune Book

Submitted by David Palmquist:

This tune-book belonged to my grandfather’s grandfather, for 45 years the Society school teacher on the island of Flotta in Orkney, for the Scottish Society for the Propagation of Christian Knowledge. Its flyleaf is inscribed “James Hay’s Tune Book, October 14, 1843”.

The Scottish Society for the Propagation of Christian Knowledge was founded in 1709 to promote the Presbyterian faith amongst a mainly Gaelic speaking population in the Highlands and Islands. Schooling was heavily biased towards teaching of the Bible but also included the usual subjects of reading, writing and arithmetic, as well as the more practical subject matter of household and agricultural enterprises.

SSPCK school’s were often known as ‘Charity Schools’ because they provided free education

I hope those interested in religious music of this era will enjoy seeing, transcribing and playing it.

Click on the link below to access:

Tune Book

The Scapa Flow Mystery – Fisherman Found (1929)


Mr John Sabiston, Little Curries, Flotta, Orkney, who was reported missing on Wednesday, was found lying in his small boat yesterday morning at Point of Ayre, Deerness, in a dazed condition. He could give no coherent statement as to what had occurred. A man in sea boots, who stated his name was Sabiston, landed from a small boat at Smogro, Orphir, on Wednesday, and after asking for a drink of water at a house in the vicinity left in his boat, stating he was going to Flotta. He was seen on Wednesday night off Hoxa Skerry, Scapa Flow. Where he had been from then until yesterday morning is a mystery.

[Prior Article]

From The Scotsman, Friday 29th March 1929 – page 7. By kind permission of Scotsman Publications Ltd.

Missing Fisherman (1929)

28 March 1929


A STRONG westerly wind prevailed in Orkney on Tuesday, and Mr John Sabiston, Little Curries, Flotta, who left St Margaret’s Hope between 7 and 8 o’clock in the evening to return home has not been heard of since. Grave fears are entertained for his safety.

Mr Sabiston has been working his lobster creels in the vicinity of Nevi Skerry, in Hoxa Sound, the south-eastern entrance to Scapa Flow, when, owing to the increasing strength of the wind, he ran before it and sought shelter in St Margaret’s Hope, South Ronaldshay. It is believed he intended staying the night in the village of St Margaret’s Hope, but with the moderation of the weather conditions in the evening he apparently changed his mind and set off home in his yawl.

The first indication that anything was amiss came from an inquiry from the island of Flotta to St Margaret’s Hope, asking if the whereabouts of Mr Sabiston were known. Captain Laird, of S.S.. Sutors, which was on passage from the island of Burray to Scapa pier, yesterday morning stated that he sighted the dinghy in Scapa Flow, but at too great a distance for the purposes of identification.

In the course of telephonic inquiries to Flotta yesterday afternoon it was ascertained there was still no news of Mr Sabiston, and his continued absence was causing great anxiety. He is about 50 years of age, lives by himself in a little cottage by the shore, and is a relative of the Rev. James Sabiston, parish minister of Orphir, Orkney.

[Follow-up Article]

From The Scotsman, Thursday 28th March 1929 – Page7. By kind permission of Scotsman Publications Ltd.