The Scapa Flow Landscape Partnership Scheme

Herston, South Ronaldsay

The village of Herston lies along the shoreline of Widewall Bay. It was established as a result of the herring industry. Boats would follow a route which took in Stromness, Stronsay, Holm, Burray, St Margaret's Hope and Herston before heading south to Scottish waters.

A curing station was established and, each year, between 30 and 40 fishing boats from the Clyde arrived in Herston and the catches were cured here. Thomas Louttit, known locally as King Tam, is credited with organising a plan of 14 houses to be built to accommodate the crewmen of the herring boats who had no sleeping accommodation on board. Most of the houses were erected between 1821 and 1827.

Electric light came to the village in the early 1950s. The water supply took a lot longer and, prior to its arrival, water was carried from two wells, which supplied the village. The tar road was laid down in the 1960s and over time a second row of houses has been built.

Evidence of boats and fishing lie along the shore. (c) SFLPS.

On the shore the remains of an old wooden-hulled steam drifter can be seen. This boat was built in Canada and was beached by a local man just after the World War II. He intended to break her up, but this never happened and she has gradually succumbed to the elements. The boat is nicknamed The Monarch but it is questionable if this is the name she was launched with.

The remains of The Monarch. (c) SFLPS.
On the outskirts of the village, and again lying along the shore, is the Mission Church, which was built in 1884. It has an interesting panel on the front of the building, which reads Nectamen Consumebatur, which roughly translates as 'And still we shall not have been consumed'. The building was sold in 2002 and is now a holiday home.

Above the village are the remains of a camp site which dates from the World War II. There are also four heavy anti-aircraft batteries here, used to defend Hoxa Sound and Widewall Bay.

The village school also stood above the village and was built in 1888. It was demolished in the late 1960s. The children are now bussed to the school in Saint Margaret's Hope.

The Lighthouse Coal Store was built in 1828 and was the last of the buildings to be erected when the village was being formed. The coal was shipped over to the Pentland Skerries Lighthouse.

The Lighthouse Coal Store. (c) SFLPS.