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Aberdour Cultural Association
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HMS Tarlair

Hawkcraig Admiralty Research Experimental Station, Aberdour

For more information, visit www.hmstarlairfife.org.uk

HES Commemorative Plaque

We’re delighted to announce that a Historic Environment Scotland Commemorative Plaque has been installed on Hawkcraig Cottage, Aberdour to celebrate the life and achievements of Captain Cyril Percy Ryan, inventor of the hydrophone and Captain of HMS Tarlair, WW1 Naval Research and Experimental Station.


The HES Commemorative Plaque Scheme celebrates significant people by erecting plaques on the buildings where they lived or worked. These are people whose lives and achievements have made a significant difference to Scotland and its people or who have gained international recognition for their impact and accomplishments.


Ryan, of course, fits into both those categories and it is wonderful that his achievements, and that of the base, have been so formally recognised.


Diana Maxwell, the current owner of Hawkcraig Cottage, discovered while writing about HMS Tarlair that Captain Ryan had lived in the same house!


HMS Tarlair is the name of the WW1 Royal Navy research base that was located at Hawkcraig point in Aberdour, Fife. Nothing now remains of the base, or the associated seaplane station, other than two or three shattered concrete hut bases and the crumbled remains of an old pier. There is little memory remaining of the base or the people who worked there.  Who now knows that this base played a key role in the defence of the nation?

The work carried out at HMS Tarlair is of local and national interest. During its short period of operation, major technological advances were achieved, not only in the detection of submarines, and it was one of the first instances of collaborative work between civil and military scientists and researchers. This is not only the story of the development of technology, but also of the characters and personalities involved.

From early 2013 the Aberdour Cultural Association has been supporting a community-driven local history project which has uncovered a significant amount of archive and other material, and with local residents has carried out original research and has compiled this information. The results of this programme were presented at the 2014 Aberdour Festival: Friday 8th August to Sunday 10th August: Exhibition HMS Tarlair including launch of the booklet Listen Up! by Diana Maxwell, a history of the base and the people who worked there, and a programme of talks. See the Gallery page for pictures of some of the events.


The 2nd edition of Listen Up! was published in 2016 and includes more information that came to light following publication of the 1st edition in 2014


For more information on this project please contact us on aberdour.culture@outlook.com.

Aerial photograph of HMS Tarlair, Hawkcraig Point, Aberdour, circa 1918

"Listen Up!"

The 2nd edition of Diana Maxwell's book about HMS Tarlair - "Listen Up!" - is now available online via Amazon and will soon be available in the following:

Willie's Newsagent Aberdour, Antiques and Gifts Aberdour, Post Office Aberdour


Click here to link to Amazon

A general view of HMS Tarlair c 1917

Captain Cyril Percy Ryan - in charge of the base


We would like to acknowledge the support of the following

Aberdour Community Council

Cedar Inn Social Fund

20 Shore Rd, Aberdour, Burntisland KY3 0TR

01383 860310

Fife Council Culture and Heritage Fund

Forth Road


Heritage Lottery Fund

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