A town on the Mainland of Orkney, Stromness is the terminal for the ferry from Scrabster on the mainland of Scotland. Once a busy port servicing the herring fleets, whalers and ships on the northern sailing routes, Stromness was a base for the Hudson Bay Company from 1670 to 1891. The explorer Dr John Rae (1813-93) sailed for North America from Stromness in 1833 and the ships of Captain Cook and Sir John Franklin were serviced here. Stromness, which has a natural history museum, was the home of the writer George Mackay Brown (1929-96). Stromness Academy serves the west of the Orkney Mainland. It moved to a new building in 1990, while the Old Academy is now a business centre accommodating the European Marine Energy Centre and the Orkney campus of Heriot-Watt University.

The town gives its name to a bay and a whaling station in South Georgia.

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