Stromness Visitor Information Guide
- Stromness Latitude: 58.9662° N Longitude -3.2965° W
- Stromness Postcode KW16
- Stromness WOEID 36508
- Stromness 4 day weather forecast
- Stromness Map
Stromness is the second town after Kirkwall, it lies in a sheltered harbour at the west of the mainland and is further protected by the islands of Graemsay and Hoy.
Although known to Norsemen, it was of little importance until the mid-17th century when it became a trading port for Scotland and the Baltic, and a plaque at Login’s Well (sealed up in 1931) records visits of the Hudson‘s Bay Company’s ships from 1670 to 1891; of Capt, Cook‘s Resolution and Discovery in 1780 and Sir John Franklin’s ships Erebus and Terror ‘on Arctic exploration’ in 1845. It is said that at one time 75 per cent of the Hudson"s Bay employees in Canada were Orcadians, who found favour because of their industrious characteristics and acceptance of lower rates of pay.
The earliest houses date from about 1716, but Stromness did not come into its own as a town until 1758 when, thanks to the efforts of Alexander Graham, the House of Lords decreed that its merchants need no longer pay taxes to Kirkwall authorities for their own trading.
The town, however, was early enough to build in the Norse way with paved thoroughfares between facing houses, and many of these, gable ended towards the sea, have their own private jetties. Stromness has an excellent library at Hellihole containing important Orkney books, and the Orkney Natural History Society, founded in 1837, has a large collection in the Stromness museum. The town also boasts Orkney‘s ﬁrst indoor swimming pool and a picturesque golf course.
Stromness Situated in the west of Mainland, this is the second largest town of Orkney after Kirkwall. It began its existence in a small way, offering shelter for French and Spanish ships sailing to the New World. In 1670 there were only 13 houses, but during the following century Stromness expanded and prospered as the result of increased trade. When the Hudson's Bay Company began its operations in Canada, the town became its British base for the stocking and preparation of ships before their voyage across the Atlantic. Around 1760 Stromness had also became a supply base for whaling ships bound for the Davis Straits and northern Atlantic and Arctic waters. The piers once provided the Stromness inshore fishermen with space to make and mend their nets, bait lines and shelter their boats from the winter storms.
The town is the ferry terminal for the passage across the Pentlands Firth from Scrabster in Caithness. The fishing industry provides a steady income for Stromness, with many sites in the town echoing the past relations with the sea. Much of the charm of Stromness lies in the many stone-built piers, stairs and slipways which support the houses on one side of the mile-long narrow main street. In the early part of the 18th century the infamous pirate John Gow lived in Stromness. He left his native town as a young man and returned several years later in a ship under his command. But the pride of the townspeople was dashed when they discovered that Gow and his crew had mutinied and murdered their officers, which made them pirates, with the truth being out, Gow and his companions made off but were shipwrecked on the Calf of Eday.