From Our Files, May 21 2021

In 2011: Diver Robert Lamont, far left, removed the damaged rudder from Sceptre when she was safely back at Campbeltown Harbour. Also pictured, from left: skipper Tom Smith, Neil Blair and Roger Finbow.
In 2011: Diver Robert Lamont, far left, removed the damaged rudder from Sceptre when she was safely back at Campbeltown Harbour. Also pictured, from left: skipper Tom Smith, Neil Blair and Roger Finbow.

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TEN YEARS AGO
Friday May 20 2011

Yacht crew saved from rock horror

A classic British racing yacht and her crew were saved from being dashed onto the rocks of the Mull of Kintyre on Saturday night by Campbeltown’s lifeboats during a six-hour rescue operation.

The yacht was competing in the Scottish Islands Peak Race.

The rudder of the 70ft-long Sceptre had broken and Force Six winds from the northwest were driving her onto cliffs below the lighthouse.

Campbeltown’s Severn-class lifeboat was launched with the inshore lifeboat following. They did not return to the harbour until after 11pm with the casualty in tow.

The following day, Sceptre skipper Tom Smith praised the hard work and efficiency of the Campbeltown lifeboat crews.

Diver Robert Lamont, a member of the lifeboat crew the night before, went in and removed the damaged rudder ready for Sceptre to be towed by tug to Troon, the finish of the race.

The race sails from Oban to Mull, Jura and Arran then Troon, stopping at each island for a team of runners to complete a hill race.

Sceptre, with a crew of four, was carrying the boys’ team from Glenalmond School, Perth.

She had run aground the night before entering Craighouse, Jura. Everything looked fine on the yacht, which was built in Argyll at Alexander Robertson’s Holy Loch yard to compete in the America’s Cup of 1958.

‘As a precaution, we did not have the boys on board for the tough leg round the Mull of Kintyre to Arran,’ said crew member Roger Finbow.

‘They haven’t missed the race; they were on board Blue Damsel, carrying the girls’ team.’

The decision proved a wise move as not only did the rudder come loose leaving the yacht with no steering, it was flapping wildly and in danger of damaging the hull.

As a precaution, the lifeboat crew put a heavy-duty pump on board but this was not needed.

HMS Dragon broke off her sea trials to come to the aid of Sceptre. The Type 45 Clyde-built destroyer stood by until the lifeboat arrived.

In 2011: Diver Robert Lamont, far left, removed the damaged rudder from Sceptre when she was safely back at Campbeltown Harbour. Also pictured, from left: skipper Tom Smith, Neil Blair and Roger Finbow.
In 2011: Diver Robert Lamont, far left, removed the damaged rudder from Sceptre when she was safely back at Campbeltown Harbour. Also pictured, from left: skipper Tom Smith, Neil Blair and Roger Finbow.

TWENTY-FIVE YEARS AGO
Friday May 17 1996

Calls for quick Irish ferry decision

Calls were mounting earlier this week for a Scottish Office decision on the proposed ferry link between Campbeltown and Northern Ireland.

The Scottish Office has been considering a business plan for state-owned Caledonian MacBrayne to operate the link with Ballycastle in Northern Ireland since the beginning of February.

The company needs Scottish Office permission to become involved in the project.

But concern is growing that unless a decision is made soon the necessary harbour work at Campbeltown will not start until it is too late for the service to begin next year.

Mercy men honoured with royal medal award

Two Campbeltown ambulance men were among six from Argyll recently presented with long service and good conduct medals by the Duke of Argyll.

Ronnie Hamilton and Malcolm Black travelled to Oban for the presentation, carried out by the Duke on behalf of HM Queen.

The medals are not awarded automatically but are made on the recommendation of a special panel.

The Duke told the ambulance men: ‘What you do is not a profession, it is a vocation.’

He also paid tribute to their families, pointing out the ambulance men worked anti-social hours for long periods at a time.

In 1996: Malcolm Black is second from the left, while Ronnie Hamilton is second from the right in this photograph taken at the award ceremony in Oban.
In 1996: Malcolm Black is second from the left, while Ronnie Hamilton is second from the right in this photograph taken at the award ceremony in Oban.

FIFTY YEARS AGO
Thursday May 20 1971

Colour TV comes to Campbeltown

Campbeltown was ‘switched on’ to colour television on Tuesday by the town’s new Provost, William Craig, in his first official engagement.

The service has been brought to Campbeltown by Rediffusion, the firm which pipes television to several thousand subscribers from its mast at Crosshill Farm.

The firm’s Scottish general manager Mr Colin Payne said that Rediffusion offers a public service of which they were proud.

‘We looked at the television problems here. There were just BBC1 and STV and occasionally Ulster in the town.

‘We said can we bring to Campbeltown the full range of colour programmes which are available elsewhere and the answer to that was ‘yes’.

‘There are now six programmes on the system. There aren’t many places in the country which can receive this.’

ONE HUNDRED YEARS AGO
Saturday May 21 1921

Sparks and flashes

An English steam liner which called in here for bait one day last week had full bunkers and a plentiful reserve of coal in various corners. She had gone to Ostende for the fuel.

***

A further restriction of the gas supply in the burgh comes into force on Saturday night. The hours during which there will be reduced and normal pressure respectively are given in advertisement.

***

The local branch of the Miners’ Union opened a subscription list this week for the purpose of starting a communal soup kitchen. It is not intended, of course, to confine the benefits of the scheme to miners or their dependents. Over £50 has already been raised and the committee intend to publish the list of subscriptions next week.

***

A welcome break in our comparative isolation from the mainland was made at the beginning of the week when the steamer Kinloch made a special run to the upper reaches, with mail, passengers and cargo.

Many merchants, not only in Campbeltown but at Carradale and the west of Arran ports, were carrying very low stocks and this run was not made a day too soon to prevent absolute scarcity of not a few necessities.

Flour, for one thing, was running very short, and the new supplies got by bakers were very much-needed.

***

Alcohol is again tipped as a likely rival to petrol. The new motor fuel is being produced by the Distillers Company Ltd and consists of a mixture of 50 per cent of alcohol, 25 per cent of benzole and 25 per cent of paraffin. The idea of using alcohol is not new, but a fatal obstacle has been the unwillingness of the government to release its hold upon alcohol and permit it to be used for commercial purposes.