Posted by: pirliebraes | May 27, 2011

Flotta – The Flat Island

Updated 2 July 2022


  • Around 80 inhabitants
  • A mixture of indigenous islanders and newcomers to island life
  • Excellent place to bring up children
  • More or less crime free

An excellent location for –

  • Walking
  • Bird watching
  • Drawing/Painting/Photography
  • Fishing
  • Small boat activities
  • Seeing a variety of flora, fauna and marine mammals


  • The Flotta School was ‘mothballed’ at the end of the 2010 summer term, when the last two pupils went to Kirkwall Grammar School.  It was re-opened for three days a week during 2014/15 when a family with two primary school age children moved to the island but this family moved to the Orkney Mainland and so the school closed once more.  However, two families with primary school age children moved to the island this year and so the school has re-opened with a link to the primary school in Orphir.  Other children are home-schooled
  • Students attend secondary school in Kirkwall – staying in halls of residence from Monday to Friday – or they can travel to and from Kirkwall every day

Community Activities

  • The Community Centre is the island venue for most activities, for example:
    • Flotta Day Club for over 50s
    • Senior Citizens’ monthly lunch
    • Euchre drives (card games)
    • Carpet Bowls
    • Kurling
    • Craft Club
    • Children’s Activities
    • Bar open every Friday evening
    • Fish and chip takeaway once a month
    • Teas and snacks five days per week during the school summer holidays
    • Dances and other functions
    • Groups planning a visit to Flotta can book tea/lunch in the Centre
  • The impressive Flotta Community Mural can be viewed in a former classroom
  • Flotta’s Millennium Project – a putting green – was finally completed and formally opened in August 2009!
  • The play park was refurbished and some new equipment should be installed later this year
  • The Annual Flotta 10 k Race was usually held on the third Sunday in May, though not in the past three years
  • Annual ‘Bag the Bruck’ beach clean


  • There is one church on the island – the Church of Scotland – and everyone is welcome there
  • The kirk door is not locked and therefore accessible at all times for anyone wishing to enter
  • The present kirk was built in 1871
  • The Flotta War Memorial can be seen in the graveyard alongside, with a Memorial plaque and photographs inside the kirk
  • The church is currently linked with Orphir & Stromness
  • Services are conducted by local elders every Sunday at 2.00 pm, with a pre-recorded sermon by Orkney Ministers shown on screen

Flotta Kirk

Flotta Kirk Interior

Post Office

  • There is a small post office on the island – opening hours are: Monday – Thursday: 09.30 – 11.30 am; Friday: 2.30 – 4.30 pm; Saturday: 09.30 – 10.30 am
  • In addition to post office services, a limited selection of soft drinks, confectionery and crisps are available there.   The shop stopped stocking general groceries on 1 June 2022
  • Services of the local Registrar of Births & Deaths have been suspended since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, with all enquiries directed to the Senior Registrar in Kirkwall

Flotta Heritage Centre

Peerie Museum

  • Local memorabilia and wartime artefacts that were on display in the Peerie Museum at the Post Office were transferred to the new Heritage Centre next door (see separate post)


  • Library van visits once every two months
  • Hairdresser visits every six weeks
  • Coal, heating oil, gas, etc, all delivered regularly
  • There is a mini Recycling Centre near Gibraltar Pier
  • Weekly refuse collection, with quarterly collection of bulky items
  • Mobile phone reception can be an issue in certain areas


  • The main industry on the island is Repsol Sinopec Resources UK Limited’s Flotta Oil Terminal, which processes oil and gas from the North Sea for onward shipment, and has been operational for over 45 years
    • The terminal provides employment for several island residents
    • The majority of the workforce travel from the Orkney Mainland, commuting daily on the company’s own launches
    • The terminal has its own fire team and medics, with a fully equipped medical centre
  • NOV, a small company involved in environmental research technology, is also based within the oil terminal, and has operated in Flotta for over 30 years
  • Farming remains an important source of income on the island
  • A small number of residents travel from the island on a daily basis to work on the Orkney Mainland
  • Orkney Islands Council employs several people on the island, both full and part-time, such as –
    • Pier Master
    • Home Carer
    • School Caretaker
    • Cleaner – Pier Waiting Room & Toilets
    • Winter Maintenance Technicians (for clearing roads during periods of snow/ice)
  • Other residents sell various forms of craft work outside the island


  • There is a daily roll on, roll off ferry to and from the island Monday – Saturday, with a limited Sunday service
  • The last ferry leaves Flotta at 4.00 pm most days and leaves Houton (on the Orkney Mainland) at 5.30 pm


  • A hostel and family home have been established by the Flotta Community Council to provide well-equipped, reasonably priced accommodation for tourists/visitors (see separate page)
  • The hostel sleeps five and the family home has one double, one twin and one single room

Medical Services

  • Flotta had its own resident GP until 2003, when Dr George Drever died
  • The Stromness Surgery then took over responsibility for providing (excellent) GP services to the island
  • A GP holds surgeries on the island as required
  • A resident nurse practitioner ensures 24 hour medical care on the island

Pending/Ongoing Projects

  • The Flotta Heritage Trust continues to furnish the cottage at Lurdy into a 1940s Theme Cottage to complement the wartime installations on the island that attract visitors
  • Alongside is the small Heritage Centre illustrating the history of the island, including the part Flotta played in two World Wars and in the North Sea oil story
  • The Flotta Heritage Trust has recently taken over responsibility for managing the woodland around the area of the old Naval Cinema, on behalf of Repsol Sinopec Resources UK Ltd and Orkney Islands Council.
  • In 2009 the Scapa Flow Landscape Partnership was awarded a large sum of Lottery funding for projects in the Scapa Flow area, including Flotta
  • The Flotta projects included marking a coastal walk, interpretation boards at wartime sites, information leaflets, managing the woodland areas and carrying out additional planting
  • The Flotta Trail was launched in July 2011, with interpretation boards sited at the main wartime installations
  • A private developer erected a single, large wind turbine on the island, and agreed to donate £4,000 per annum towards community projects.  However, the turbine has since been sold and it is unclear whether or not community benefit will continue
  • One resident took part in a tree planting project to reintroduce and establish native species, with approximately 4000 trees planted in various locations, and now the Flotta Heritage Trust intends to plant more trees and bushes in the woodland around the old Naval Cinema


  1. Thank you for this website. I found it while trying to decide whether to come up and view a derelect house that is for sale, which I may be able to afford.

  2. Wonderful!

  3. Hi Lynda. Most of the contents of the Peerie Museum have been transferred to the new heritage centre at Lurdy now and so can be seen there. We’ll send you a separate message to arrange to speak with you, and hope to meet you at the end of the month.

  4. Hello, I’m a sociologist from Canada. My colleague from the University of the West of Scotland and I are doing research on cultural work, heritage and tradition on North Atlantic islands. We were wondering who to contact about the Peerie Museum. We will be coming to Orkney at the end of the month and are hoping to maybe arrange a chance to speak with the person. Thanks, Lynda

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