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Stromness is the second-largest town in the Orkney Islands and is located on the southwestern edge of mainland Orkney. A long-established seaport, it has a population of about two thousand. The town consists of a single main street flanked with houses and shops built from local stone and narrow lanes and alleys branching off it. It is the main centre for sea traffic from mainland Scotland and became important during the late 17th century, when England was at war with France and shipping was forced to avoid the English Channel. Ships of the Hudson's Bay Company were regular visitors, as were whaling fleets. Stromness Museum reflects these aspects of the town's history.