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Campbeltown, Argyll, Scotland

Updated on December 3, 2012

Campbeltown across the loch on a calm day

Campbeltown | Source

Campbeltown, Argyll, Scotland

Campbeltown in Argyll has a population of around 5000, which is around half the population of the whole of Kintyre.

Founded in 1600, it became a royal burgh in 1700, and by the late 19th century was a thriving and prosperous community thanks to the successful coal, whisky and fishing industries.

Around the town are many fine examples of Victorian and Edwardian-built homes that have more than a touch of grandeur about them.

The mines at nearby Machrihanish were closed in the early 20th century, and by the early 21st century, the fishing fleet had been reduced to a handful, and all but one of the town's 34 distilleries closed.

The shipyard is not only closed now too, its building has been demolished and the site cleared.

Campbeltown, Argyll

Campbeltown Harbour

Campbeltown Harbour

The harbour is now home to pleasure yachts and the occasional transport ship instead of the nose to tail trawlers of the past.


Aquilibrium leisure centre and swimming pool
Aquilibrium leisure centre and swimming pool
the loch with the swimming pool in the background
the loch with the swimming pool in the background | Source

Aquilibrium - pool, leisure centre, library

However, they have a brand new indoor heated swimming pool and fully equipped gymnasium, with adjoining cafeteria. The town’s library is now contained within the same building.

Linda McCartney

Outside the town’s museum, in a private garden, lies a statue of Linda McCartney, the much loved wife of Paul.

Memorial to Linda McCartney

The Wee Picture House - art deco

The town also hosts a museum, a heritage centre and one of Britain’s old cinemas housed within a beautiful art deco building on the harbour front.

The Wee Picture House, Campbeltown

The White Hart Hotel, Main Street,Campbeltown

Campbeltown also has one of the only three senior secondary schools in the whole of Argyll, the others being in Dunoon and Oban, and several primary schools.

It has a fine array of local shops and two supermarkets, many churches, and plenty of good quality hotels, letting establishments and restaurants.

The closure of the nearby RAF Machrihanish must have meant the loss of livelihood for quite a few businesses, pubs especially. The town used to be heaving with young men of all nationalities at the weekends when the dancing was on in the Town or Victoria Halls.

Sometimes it was filled with young men from visiting warships berthed in the harbour.

There is a NATO storage base in Campbeltown Loch and warships still visit, but lesser so. The world’s oldest paddle steamship, the Waverley, used to visit the town once a week to offer cruises down the Firth of Clyde, but that has stopped now also, likewise the car ferry linking Campbeltown with Co. Antrim on Ireland. The economic downturn has affected everything.

The Waverley - the world's last sea-going paddleship

The Waverley sailing into Campbeltown Loch
The Waverley sailing into Campbeltown Loch | Source
The Waverley turning as she sails out again
The Waverley turning as she sails out again | Source

The population is ageing, but still the schools are filled with children. If they want further education they have to go away to Glasgow to get it, some 140 miles away, and many do not return because of the lack of jobs in the area.

But despite everything, the people of this town remain upbeat and vibrant.

Factories open and close, people are in work and out of it, but this town has a strong community that pulls together for the greater good.

Pipe Band, Campbeltown

There is talk of the remaining whisky distillery expanding, creating more jobs.

For visitors, the town offers everything. Friendly people, fantastic scenery, beautiful sailing waters that are a lot cleaner now that they do not suffer diesel spillage from the working boats, good facilities, and easy access to the whole of Kintyre with its many historic churches, prehistoric sites of interest and fantastic beaches with soft pure white sand and crystal clear water.

Davaar Island

Campbeltown Loch is also home to a little island called Davaar, accessible by a narrow causeway only at low tide, which features a 19th century painting of Christ in a cave.

The island, situated at the mouth of the bay, also has a lighthouse to warn the shipping traffic on the Firth of Clyde of their situation.

Davaar at Dusk

Campbeltown Palm Trees

Campbeltown is warmed by the Gulf Stream, and palm trees flourish along the sea front. It is a rare sight to see Campbeltown white with snow, as snow rarely settles on the town and frost is only ever light.

Campbeltown Hospital

There is also a well-equipped and modern hospital in Campbeltown, though serious cases get sent to Glasgow byair-ambulance (the hospital has a heli-pad) only 20 minutes away by air.

The main street features a Celtic cross at the bottom, round which the Council gardeners maintain flowering plants, and further round the harbour there is a War Memorial, dedicated to the many lives lost in the Two World Wars.

The local dialect is unique. The word ‘wild’ is used to mean ‘very’. It’s not uncommon to overhear one person comment to another “ Aye, it’s wild and calm today”! Gaelic was never really a native language in this part of Scotland. It was always English but with some peculiarities that I have never heard elsewhere.

Burns Square, Campbeltown

Top of Main Street, looking down towards the harbour

Campbeltown Main Street, looking up from the cross

The town has an award winning Brass band, not forgetting the Campbeltown Pipe Band, which featured on the hit single, Mull of Kintyre.

But Paul McCartney was not the first artist to feature the town in a song. Many years before, people recognised Campbeltown because of Andy Stewart's song, "Campbeltown Loch I Wish you were Whisky".

Campbeltown also has its own weekly newspaper, the Campbeltown Courier, affectionately known as “The two-minute silence”, because of the time taken to read it cover to cover! However, it is a ‘must-read’ for locals, as it publicises what is on, and where, as well as listing all the hatches, matches and despatches in the locality and beyond.

Nearby Machrihanish, as well as being home to the commercial airport, also boasts a world-famous golf course.

Come visit.


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    • IzzyM profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from UK

      Thanks :)

      Glad you dropped by :)

    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 

      9 years ago from Georgia

      Scotland rocks! Enjoyed this!

    • IzzyM profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from UK

      I've been in Spain for nearly 7 years, and before that I lived in Glasgow for nearly 30 years, but I'm from 'The Wee Toon' above. Family still live there:)

    • profile image

      Duchess OBlunt 

      9 years ago

      That's quite a change for you then. How long have you been in Spain?

    • IzzyM profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from UK

      You should! The Highlands and Islands are beautiful, no matter what the weather. It rains a lot, most of the time a murky drizzle, but when the sun comes out everything is so GREEN! That's what I miss about Scotland most. The greenery. Here in Spain everything is brown.

    • profile image

      Duchess OBlunt 

      9 years ago

      Another wonderful hub rich with your local information. If I ever get to Scotland, I will have to look these up! (My dream vacation is spending 3 months just touring Scotland).

      Maybe some day!

    • IzzyM profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from UK

      Thanks Charlie Campbell:)

      I'll check out UninvitedWriter's stuff:)

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      LOL, that is too weird. Cool too. I love the boat song with Flora. You must meet UninvitedWriter. She is from Scotland, lives in Canada and maintains an excellent Scottish website too. I love her dearly. I must go now and let me know when and if you do that hub I now request of you. Welcome to hubpages by the way. Charlie m,m, good Campbell

    • IzzyM profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from UK

      They had every right to hate the British back then?

      We still do LOL

      I hate having a British passport, it should say Scottish!

      I couldn't find out how to reply to the comment you left on the fanmail, but funnily enough yes my middle-name is indeed Flora! How weird is that?

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Ah yes, the Scots have changed the world ye know? They influenced our Declaration of Independence ye know? Many were involved in the forming of the constitution as well. They had every right to hate the British back then. I am glad those wounds are healed now. The Wooster Scots Piping Band is really good and I listen to them a lot. A neighbor of mine is a piper as well and I hear him playing a lot in the summer, I think he hates me though, he's a Danald. LOL

    • IzzyM profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from UK

      Thanks for the heads-up. I've been struggling to come up with something new!

      I love listening a pipe band...brings tears to my eyes! There are excellent pipe bands the world over. Unfortunately I'm in the wrong part of Spain to hear one. Up North in Galicia they have a strong Celtic culture and the music is very similar to Scots.

      We got everywhere it seems!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Ach well, another fine hub lassie. I am enjoying these Scottish hubs a lot. You must write one about the feud between our clans and what caused it. I was going to a while back but decided not to. It is still a sore spot I think with some. thanks for sharing. Peace and love, CC

      btw we have a college here with a strong Scottih heritage. they have a wonderful Piping Band. Wooster College.


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