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OHS Action

2019 OHS Laura Grimond Award presented to Kirkwall project

The Laura Grimond Award for Architectural Projects was established in 1999 in memory of Laura Grimond, with the aim of encouraging and promoting excellence in the built environment of Orkney, a subject dear to her heart. At a recent meeting of Orkney Heritage Society, it was decided to re-establish the Laura Grimond Award, albeit in a different format from the original competition that was held. The OHS Board of Trustees will now give out an occasional award to a building development that contributes to preserving the architectural heritage of Orkney.

The first recipient in this new format is the extension at the back of 53 Albert Street, Kirkwall, which deserves recognition on a number of levels. It is a testament to the developer’s willingness to spend the extra money to achieve a building that blends into the streetscape of Kirkwall’s historic core, utilising some traditional architectural features such as crow’s steps.

From left to right: Sandy Firth (OHS President), John Hamilton & Raymie Rendall (both R.S.Rendall Ltd), Spencer Rosie (OHS Chair). A third certificate was awarded to the developer, Ian Gorn.

Particularly impressive is the large stone wall built to mask the utilitarian flat roof extension. Laura’s son, Johnny Grimond, commented, “even utilitarian buildings can be made to sit comfortably in historic surroundings. The work is of a high standard. The use of stone is appropriate to the situation and the ‘dry stone’ coping adds an Orcadian touch. All in all, it draws the eye in all the right ways and none of the bad ones”.

The planning authority of Orkney Islands Council deserves a mention for working with the developer and encouraging the use of some of the architectural details.

Not least requiring recognition is the very high standard of work provided by the contractor, R. S. Rendall Ltd, particularly the superb craftsmanship shown by their stonemason, John Hamilton, on the stone walls. Three framed certificates were presented, one to the contractor, Raymie Rendall, one to the developer, Ian Gorn,  and one to John Hamilton, stonemason.

SSEN Project Update

Orkney Heritage Society are disappointed but not surprised at the OIC Planning decision to allow SSEN to go ahead with existing plans for the Finstown substation. We had submitted objections because of the huge visual impact – an industrial complex as big as Garson Industrial Estate with at least five buildings over 10 metres in height and, in our view, inadequate screening of the whole site. We felt that SSEN could have done much better in protecting the Orkney landscape by lowering the exposed height of the complex by excavating the site more deeply and using the rock won from this process as aggregate for the construction process. This would make the substation less intrusive and reduce the number of lorry movements through Finstown that would be needed to bring aggregate from other quarries.

Proposed Finstown Sub-station

Our case at the Planning Committee was ably presented by OHS Chairman, Spencer Rosie, who made clear that the Heritage Society agrees with the Council that Renewables are vital to Orkney’s future – we have held that view going right back to Ernest Marwick’s opposition to Uranium Mining. Green energy sources, and the infrastructure to support them, are needed to tackle our world wide climate crisis, as well as securing Orkney’s future economic security. However we expect OIC councillors to share our vision of an Orkney that is fully engaged with Renewables in a way that does not devastate or industrialise our unique island landscape. Our intervention at the OIC Planning Committee meeting was a useful opportunity for voicing the fears of many in the community about the current proposals.

As the SSEN plans develop there will be opportunities for the Orkney public and OHS to make clear that the proposed overhead cables, carried on massive Trident double poles, are not acceptable and that undergrounding of the cables is the sensible way forward. The Orkney Heritage Society is looking forward to working with Councillors and the Orkney public to ensure that the future plans of SSEN are respectful of our landscape and community.

To see how your location will be impacted and for more detail on the proposed works, including maps showing the proposed routes of overhead power lines and locations of sub-stations, CLICK HERE

Please view the detail on the proposals and make your opinions known to SSEN via their website:

Also please complete an opinion poll set up by OHS:…/viewform

OHS Annual General Meeting

The Society is very grateful for your past support and hopes you’ll come to our Annual General
Meeting to be held on Thursday 14th November 2019 at 7.30 pm in the Friends Room of St
Magnus Centre, Kirkwall.

The evening will include a talk by OHS Chair, Spencer Rosie, on Kirkwall’s Royal Charters.

Also, the launch of a new OHS publication, The Henry Sinclair Casebook  by Vicki Hild. Henry I Sinclair was a minor Lowland Scottish noble, who became a trusted servant of a ‘foreign’ king in Scandinavia, after being installed in 1379 as Earl of Orkney, then still part of Norway’s Atlantic territories.

As ever there is an opportunity to get involved and this year there are vacancies on the Board as
some members have decided to retire. We are therefore looking forward to welcoming new
members to the Board and would hope you will consider standing. The meetings are generally held
every 6 weeks on an evening in Kirkwall and last for about 2 hours. We are specifically looking for
a Treasurer and also a Membership Secretary along with general members who might take on some
specific tasks.

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