Little Aden


Little Aden was the location for the BP refinery which processed crude oil brought down from the Persian Gulf States for use in bunkering ships calling at the Port of Aden and also onward shipping to the rest of the world. It was the largest single employer of labour in the area and many of the employees were Yemenis. This was to prove an important factor in the growth of the insurgency that occurred over the period of time that we were resident in Aden arising from the seeds of unrest planted by the Aden Trade Union Congress and subsequently fuelled by broadcasts from Radio Cairo and Sana'a.

These propaganda broadcasts had a considerable impact on the local Arab population. Our Company driver and handyman, Mohammed 'Morace', frequently discussed with me his belief that BP were secretly extracting oil in Little Aden and 'robbing' the Adenis of their birthright. No amount of assurance to the contrary would convince him otherwise.

The refinery staff were well cared for with local shops, schools, housing and recreational facilities, including a sand golf course and a Go-kart racing track. As I was involved with the repair of equipment on the many tankers calling at Little Aden we were given an honorary membership of their excellent beach club.


Go-karting at Little Aden.


BP employee housing - Marine Drive, Little Aden.


Fina Luxembourg berthed at the refinery's oil terminal, Little Aden.


View approaching Little Aden - the ever changing sand swept slopes had a unique beauty.


View of BP Refinery at Little Aden with the 'flame' burning off gas.


Observation Hill, Bandar Sheikh, with it's 750 steps to the summit.

(My thanks to Jonathan Wilkins, webmaster of, for assisting with the identification of the location of several of these photographs taken around Little Aden.)


Ghadir Bay.



Shark Island, Bandar Sheikh.




'Warning Mines' - I was unable to recall where I took this photograph. However, since posting this website I have been advised by Bob Collyer that he has a similar photograph of this sign taken on a trip out to Little Aden in 1964. It is on the roadside at the location of what is believed to be an FRA (Federal Regular Army) camp. Bob served in Aden as a Corporal in the RAOC (Royal Army Ordinance Corp) from mid 1964 to mid 1966. This photograph was processed in February 1965.

(Jonathan Wilkins has identified this as 'Wedge Hill' which was blasted to provide building materials. It is the first thing to be seen when crossing the bridge to Little Aden and is now the site of a new housing complex.)


Looking out across the desert on the road to Silent Valley from the refinery area at Little Aden. Sadly, local inhabitants frequently discarded their rubbish as they drove along the road.


The BP Refinery, Little Aden.


Oil storage tanks and employee housing.


Another view of the storage tanks.


View across to twin peaks and oil storage tanks.


My wife on the beach at Marine Drive, Little Aden.



Houses on the beach road at Little Aden.


Silent Valley Cemetery - The British Military Cemetery for fallen comrades, built in 1965.

With acknowledgements to Mick Allen who provided this photograph.


The Federation's Secretariat building at the newly formed federal capital at al-Ittihad ('union'), located within the Colony of Aden boundary midway between Sheikh Othman/Khormaksar and Little Aden. A parade, which included the Federal Regular Army Camel Mounted Troop, was held in front of this building when Princess Alexandra visited al-Ittihad in December 1961.


I am unable to be certain of the location of this apparently newly built mosque but wonder if it was part of the development of al-Ittihad, April 1965.


© Charles D Harrington 2006. All rights reserved.