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Royal Elizabeth Yard

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Royal Elizabeth Yard
Royal Elizabeth Yard
© Simon Johnston

The Royal Elizabeth Yard in Kirkliston, West Lothian was a Royal Naval Victualling Depot.

It maintained a store of food supplies, the Rum Ration having been abolished since July 31, 1970, sufficient to supply RN ships in the event of an emergency. The site was maintained by the MoD as a storage facility, to provide supplies to RN ships berthed at Port Edgar in South Queensferry, and Rosyth in Fife. The site is now a busy trading estate, with 17,200 square metres (185,000 sq ft) of good quality secure space on a 50 acre site,

The site was sold off by the MoD in 1996, as part of its plans to transfer the armed services food supply task to the Navy, Army and Air Force Institute (NAAFI). In 1999, the purchaser sold the estate for £2.75 million, netting an initial yield of 12.5%, at which time it was reported to be making a gross passing rent of some £350,000 per year, with an occupancy of almost 100%.

The Government used to have, and may well still have, strategic stores distributed around the country. Some dedicated to non-perishable goods, others to food, and all with environmental controls, air-conditioning, freezers and chillers as required to maintain their quality. This came to light several years ago during a baker's strike in Scotland, when the Government was able to release millions of frozen loaves to feed the population.

Many of these stores have been disposed of in recent years, having been found to be both costly to maintain, and ineffective. While the post World War II environment led to such stores being maintained, the lack of utilisation meant their contents were either out of date and obsolete when called on, or useless due to the length of time they had been stored. While the MoD attempted to address this by procuring rolling supplies, and maintain the stores, the process was ultimately flawed as it resulted in unsustainable expense, as obsolete, unused stores were disposed of, and replaced by new stock which would ultimately be discarded in the same way. Even military budgets could not justify such ongoing costs, especially since the fears of the early postwar years and Cold War were receding, with both MoD and Government financial accountability becoming more transparent.

The MoD now operates in a much more commercially oriented manner with regard to procurement, having divested itself of many of the costly former contingency stores it used to maintain, together with much of its other facilities which do not require in-house control for security.

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