Down Memory Lane, August 7 2020

Walkers on a previous tour standing on Quarry Green and looking towards Fort Argyll.
Walkers on a previous tour standing on Quarry Green and looking towards Fort Argyll.

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Take yourself on a walk down memory lane

Campbeltown’s popular heritage trail walking tours which are usually enjoyed by locals and visitors during the summer will not take place this year as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.

Although people will miss out on the wisdom and anecdotes the tour guides usually provide, they can still immerse themselves in Campbeltown’s historic past as a leaflet outlining the tour’s highlights is available to download from Argyll and Bute Council’s website.

Containing a map of the town and detailed information about the sites typically visited during the tours, the leaflet, published by The Campbeltown Townscape Heritage Initiative on behalf of the Campbeltown Heritage Trail Group, allows people to take themselves on the tour whenever they choose.

The first attraction on the route map is the statue of Sir William MacKinnon, 1st Baronet of Strathaird and Loup, which stands outside the Aqualibrium.

Sir William MacKinnon was born at Argyll Street, Campbeltown, in 1823, and rose from humble beginnings to become the founder and manager of a world-class mercantile network.

The next stop is Campbeltown Cross, the 14th century crucifix taken from Kilkivan Cemetery to Campbeltown to serve as a market cross in 1680.

It is said to be the largest and most famous example of a late medieval Celtic cross in mainland Argyll and an iconic emblem of Campbeltown.

A short walk from the cross, Campbeltown’s two quays have been at the centre of the town’s working life and economy for more than 250 years.

The Old Quay was completed in 1712 and, perhaps surprisingly given its moniker, the New Quay was finished in 1765.

Linking the two quays is Hall Street where the ‘Wee Train’ used to operate. The two were inextricably connected during the opening decades of the 20th century.

An increase in tourism inspired the formation of the Campbeltown and Machrihanish Light Railway Company in 1906, the addition of carriages to an existing coal-carrying railway, which ran until 1932.

Also on Hall Street, Campbeltown Picture House is one of the earliest purpose-built cinemas in Scotland and is possibly the oldest continuously running film theatres in the country.

The A-listed building, designed by renowned architect Albert Gardner, underwent £3.5 million renovations, re-opening in 2017 with a second screen, café and conference space.

The Burnet Building, which houses Campbeltown Museum, was opened in 1899 as a gift to the town by businessman and local benefactor James Macalister-Hall of Killean and Tangy.

The next stop along the tour is a short walk along to Quarry Green, beside the ferry terminal. Looking out across Campbeltown Loch, walkers will spot Fort Argyll, built in 1639 as a defensive installation at the entrance to the loch.

Just up the road, Stewart’s Green is the site of the Old Gaelic or Highland Church of Campbeltown.

Along the road, Kirk Street Hall sits where the First Lowland Church of Campbeltown was built in 1654.

On Main Street sits Campbeltown Town Hall, built between 1758 and 1760. Extensive refurbishments were carried out with the hall re-opening in 2016.

At the top of Main Street, the final stop on the tour is Castlehill – the site of the long-demolished Lochhead Castle.

More detail on each of these sites is available in the leaflet.


John Bakes, one of the tour guides who usually leads the heritage trail walks, pointing out Fort Argyll from from Quarry Green during a previous tour. NO_c32dmltours01

The trail leaflet includes information on Campbelown’s 14th century Celtic cross. NO_c32dmltours02