Inchindown oil storage tanks

On the edge of Kinrive Forest, hidden in the side of Kinrive Hill, are two bolted doorways. Today they stand forgotten and unheeded, but during World War 2 they formed the entrance to a vital part of the British government’s defence plan against the Germans and their allies.

Secret fuel stores

Inchindown was one of three secret fuel stores constructed near the main naval anchorages in Britain, in this case Invergordon naval base. The tanks held a specific kind of fuel called Furnace Fuel Oil (FFO). The Royal Navy used this type of fuel for their ships until the late 1960s.

The government needed to keep stores of fuel, in case the German Navy managed to block the ports or destroy shipping convoys and stop fuel supplies reaching Britain from overseas. These supplies of fuel had to be hidden from view and protected or German planes would have targeted and tried to destroy them.

The fuel would make sure the Royal Navy could continue to protect Britain, no matter what happened. In 1941 the Germans did successfully destroy one of the above-ground oil tanks immediately beside Invergordon naval base.

Four miles of pipes connected Inchindown to the naval base, keeping it supplied with fuel and ready for action. The fuel flowed downhill from the stores to Invergordon, but restocking the tanks from the base was more problematic. To get the fuel back up hill they built three pumping stations, the largest located at Tomich.

Audio

Allan Kilpatrick of RCAHMS leading people around the secret fuel tanks as part of the Highland Archaeology Festival.