Listed Building

The only legal part of the listing under the Planning (Listing Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997 is the address/name of site. Addresses and building names may have changed since the date of listing – see 'About Listed Buildings' below for more information. The further details below the 'Address/Name of Site' are provided for information purposes only.

Address/Name of Site


Status: Designated


There are no additional online documents for this record.


Date Added
Local Authority
Planning Authority
NH 68837 74486
268837, 874486


1938-1943. Extensive network of 6 rectangular underground fuel storage reservoir tanks with operational and maintenance access tunnels, valve chambers carved out of the hillside bedrock and predominantly lined in shuttered concrete. At the head of the operational piping tunnel is a small square-plan fan room, and at the end are 6 underground fuel tanks. The tunnel is approximately 350 metres long by 3 metres wide. The tunnel has two pipes laid underneath the concrete floor and accessed by metal inspection covers, connecting each underground reservoir to the tank farm in Invergordon. The reservoir tanks, each with valve chamber to control the flow of oil, are of variable dimensions due to the geology of Inchindown however generally they are 9 metres wide by 237 metres long and 13.5 metres high, with a capacity of approximately 5.6 million gallons of fuel.

Statement of Special Interest

The underground fuel reservoir complex set in the hill at Inchindown farm near Invergordon was constructed for the Royal Navy between 1938 and 1943 as part of a national programme to protect the Royal Navy fuel depots from aerial attack. It is a monumental and complex engineering achievement and a rare example of an intact underground fuel storage facility constructed to high specifications and engineering standards. It contains rare surviving and largely unaltered machinery, and forms part of a wider group with other military buildings associated with the First and Second World War in the area.

Built to service the Home Fleet and other Allied naval fleet vessels, underground fuel storage reservoirs played an integral role in the UK's Second World War defence strategy. This example at Inchindown is one of two surviving in Scotland and it remains largely in its original form and condition. The ability to store large amounts of fuel required pioneering engineering skills.

In the early 20th century the Royal Navy used coal to power their fleet. By the beginning of the First World War the Navy were beginning to adopt the use of furnace fuel oil (a heavy and thick crude oil) and this necessitated new facilities to be constructed to store the fuel at all major Admiralty naval bases in the UK. The fuel required purpose built tanks in large depots, onshore equipment, pump houses and power sources. By the Second World War, the Admiralty recognised the threat of possible enemy aerial attack to these fuel depots, therefore they commissioned the construction of several underground oil storage reservoirs across the UK to store oil securely in order to be prepared in the event of an aerial attack.

Reservoirs were constructed in the UK to designs by the Civil Engineer in Chief's Department, varying in size depending on the naval base they were serving. In Scotland three reservoirs were constructed and they were located near the major naval bases of Rosyth, Inchindown near Invergordon and Lyness in Orkney with some variation in design to account for geology of the sites chosen.

The immense scale of the engineering project for the construction of the reservoir, rare in itself, is a monument to British military engineering. Along with the construction of the afore mentioned reservoirs in Scotland, it was the largest construction in the north of Scotland since the Caledonian Canal; and the largest underground excavation in the UK before the construction of the Ben Cruachan hydro-electric scheme, completed in 1965 (see separate listing). It was constructed to the highest engineering standards, requiring an extraordinary degree of skilled labourers and the use of building resources, all of which were scarce in wartime. The excavated rock formed a spoil heap to the south west of the complex.

Invergordon, along the Cromarty Firth, was adopted as a naval anchorage in 1913 when Winston Churchill, then the First Lord of the Admiralty, successfully campaigned for fixed defences there. The Royal Navy base was soon established and with the arrival of furnace fuel oil the Navy constructed two large tank farms Seabanks and Cromlet before, during and after the First World War, to contain the fuel for the base. The Admiralty used Invergordon as one of 3 main naval bases in Scotland during the Second World War and the latter half of the 20th century.

The reservoirs remained in use until the fuel depot was decommissioned in the 1990s.



Ordnance Survey. (Published 1948) Orkney Islands (South). 1 inch to the mile, popular. London: Ordnance Survey.

Kilpatrick, A (2010) There was Oil in Them There Hills. Subterranea. [Accessed October 2013].

Further information courtesy of Allan Kilpatrick at the RCAHMS.

About Listed Buildings

Historic Environment Scotland is responsible for designating sites and places at the national level. These designations are Scheduled monuments, Listed buildings, Inventory of gardens and designed landscapes and Inventory of historic battlefields.

We make recommendations to the Scottish Government about historic marine protected areas, and the Scottish Ministers decide whether to designate.

Listing is the process that identifies, designates and provides statutory protection for buildings of special architectural or historic interest as set out in the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997.

We list buildings which are found to be of special architectural or historic interest using the selection guidance published in Designation Policy and Selection Guidance (2019)

Listed building records provide an indication of the special architectural or historic interest of the listed building which has been identified by its statutory address. The description and additional information provided are supplementary and have no legal weight.

These records are not definitive historical accounts or a complete description of the building(s). If part of a building is not described it does not mean it is not listed. The format of the listed building record has changed over time. Earlier records may be brief and some information will not have been recorded.

The legal part of the listing is the address/name of site which is known as the statutory address. Other than the name or address of a listed building, further details are provided for information purposes only. Historic Environment Scotland does not accept any liability for any loss or damage suffered as a consequence of inaccuracies in the information provided. Addresses and building names may have changed since the date of listing. Even if a number or name is missing from a listing address it will still be listed. Listing covers both the exterior and the interior and any object or structure fixed to the building. Listing also applies to buildings or structures not physically attached but which are part of the curtilage (or land) of the listed building as long as they were erected before 1 July 1948.

While Historic Environment Scotland is responsible for designating listed buildings, the planning authority is responsible for determining what is covered by the listing, including what is listed through curtilage. However, for listed buildings designated or for listings amended from 1 October 2015, legal exclusions to the listing may apply.

If part of a building is not listed, it will say that it is excluded in the statutory address and in the statement of special interest in the listed building record. The statement will use the word 'excluding' and quote the relevant section of the 1997 Act. Some earlier listed building records may use the word 'excluding', but if the Act is not quoted, the record has not been revised to reflect subsequent legislation.

Listed building consent is required for changes to a listed building which affect its character as a building of special architectural or historic interest. The relevant planning authority is the point of contact for applications for listed building consent.

Find out more about listing and our other designations at You can contact us on 0131 668 8914 or at


There are no images available for this record, you may want to check Canmore for images relating to UNDERGROUND FUEL RESERVOIR, INCHINDOWN, INVERGORDON

There are no images available for this record.

Search Canmore

Printed: 25/06/2022 15:06