The Scapa Flow Landscape Partnership Scheme


YMCA building, Flotta


One of the most prominent buildings on the Flotta landscape, the YMCA building was finished in 1917 and quickly became established as a place of entertainment for troops manning the gun batteries, and shore-based recreation facilities for the thousands of sailors onboard the British fleet and attendant ships. It was equipped with the latest heating systems, and lit throughout using electricity from a dedicated generator. Photographs of the day show a large, sturdy stone-built structure, with huge chimneys and several fireplaces. The interior boasted a colonial-style bar and several billiard tables, as well as a panoramic view of the Grand Fleet at anchor.
The nearby St Vincent Pier made a handy landing point for 'top brass' using the facilities: amongst those who used the golf course were Admirals Sir John Jellicoe and Sir David Beatty, and King George V himself during a visit to the fleet. 
There was a scheme after the war to turn the building into a hotel and leisure complex (the 'Scapa Hydropathic'), promoting the healthy outdoors. However, the plans never came to fruition and in 1923 the roof was removed, presumably for tax reasons.
On one of the now-ruinous fireplaces, the names of WWII servicemen can be seen (in particular those of the Royal Engineers in 1940), marking their own presence a generation after the Great War.