Friends of Orkney Boat Museum was founded in 2004 in order to support the new Orkney Boat Museum project. Since it has not proved possible to move this project forward, reluctantly it has been decided to wind up the Friends of Orkney Boat Museum. This website will be maintained for one more year and then it will be taken down. For further news see our news page or the John Rae Society website using the links below.

The two successor bodies, the John Rae Society (Scottish Charity SC044463) and the Orkney Historic Boat Society (Scottish Charity SC044884) will now take up the task of continuing the work started by FOBM.

The John Rae Society now has its own website.

For further explanation, please see our News page.

Aims of the Project

The project aimed to:
(a) restore the Hall of Clestrain in Orphir, the finest example of  18thC Palladian architecture in Northern Scotland;
Sadly this part of the project has proved impossible to achieve.

(b)  establish a working Boat Museum to tell the history of the use of boats in Orkney since Prehistoric times and including a display of the Orkney Islands Council's collection of more than 40 boats, regular events on the water at the museum, and an apprenticeship in small boat building at the planned workshop at the Museum. The OHBS has taken up this challenge. There is now also a building at the Lyness Visitor Centre and Museum on Hoy where boats, including the newly restored Otter Bank, are on display. The OHBS is now undertaking the restoration of some more of the small boats in the collection.


(c) tell the story of Dr John Rae, the 19thC Arctic Explorer, (30 Sept 1813 - 22 July 1893) who discovered the last link in the North West Passage, and who was born and brought up in the Hall of Clestrain. This part of the project has been enthusiatically taken up by the John Rae Society.

During the course of 2013, a full programme of events to commemorate the 200th anniversary of Dr John Rae's birth took place, and a statue of him was unveiled at the pierhead in Stromness.

Articles by and about Dr John Rae are in our Library .

The Hall of Clestrain featured in the BBC TV programme 'Restoration' in 2004. Unfortunately it did not win its stage, but the seeds were sown for a visionary and exiting project.

The Friends have raised over £83,000 towards the project so far (April 2010) but there is still a long way to go. On this website you will find details of the activities of the Friends in support of Orkney Boat Museum at the Hall of Clestrain. Please click on the location map to the right to see where this exciting new project will take place. You can also find the Orkney Boat Museum's own website here

Using the Site

On the left you will find pages for the latest News, an events Calendar listing the programme of activities planned by the Friends in support of Orkney Boat Museum, the Library where all issues of our Newsletters and other documents are stored and a Gallery of recent and other pictures.

There are also pages for Feedback and a Guestbook where you can register your interest. We are very keen to hear your views concerning both the project and also how we can make best use of this website. Please do not hesitate to get in touch wherever you are.

You can also join us, or just send us a donation, by downloading our Membership Form

Finally the Orkney Boat Museum company has a website at www.orkneycommunities.co.uk/obm/   where you can find more information. The OBM has also now been wound up.


Friends of Orkney Boat Museum is a
registered Scottish Charity No SC036660

John Rae 200