From Our Files, May 20, 2022

In 2012: Fireworks over Campbeltown Loch to mark the opening of the Royal Hotel.
In 2012: Fireworks over Campbeltown Loch to mark the opening of the Royal Hotel.

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TEN YEARS AGO
Friday May 18, 2012

‘We are never leaving,’ says hotel developer

‘We are never leaving’: this was the message from the man behind the renovation of a prominent town centre hotel.

David Southworth, president and CEO of Southworth development LLC, which bought over the Royal Hotel in Campbeltown and the Ugadale in Machrihanish in 2008, reassured the Courier that they are here to stay.

Mr Southworth and his business partner Joseph Deitch unveiled the £4.95 million renovated Royal Hotel and explained they will now focus on improving what they have in Kintyre over the next six months.

Phase one has now been completed, which involves the creation of the village at Machrihanish Dunes, the new golf course and the restoration of the Ugadale and Royal hotels.

The company has invested £19.3 million in all the projects, as well as further grants funding from Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Campbeltown Conservation Area Regeneration Scheme, European Regional Development Fund, Historic Scotland and the Scottish Government.

The Royal Hotel boasts 23 rooms, the Black Sheep Pub and the elegant Harbourview Grille, and its opening was celebrated with a special dinner and reception, plus a fireworks display over Campbeltown Loch, with hundreds of locals turning out to watch.

Speaking exclusively to the Courier, Mr Deitch said although there were a few surprises when they began the renovation of the Royal, everything went smoothly after that.

‘The relationship with the community really has been great,’ he said. ‘Everything went to schedule and we’ve had wonderful help from the people in the community.

‘We have had to prove ourselves to the local people, and we have been welcomed with open arms.

‘We are becoming part of the community.’

He said transportation was a huge issue for the company and the more accessible Campbeltown is the more people they can attract.

Exclusively, he revealed they are in talks with helicopter companies and other tour operators to encourage more people to travel here.

‘Instead of people moving to the city, we want them to come to Campbeltown to start their own business,’ he said. ‘This is a success story for Campbeltown.’

He thanked the community for giving them an opportunity to invest in the area and for supporting them throughout.

Jan crowned Red Cross volunteer of the year

A local woman has beaten off 300 other shops across the UK to be crowned volunteer of the year for the Red Cross.

Jan McNair was nominated for her 20 years’ service as a volunteer by shop manager Sheena Howarth, and she beat competition from 300 other shops across the UK to win the award.

Speaking to the Courier, Jan said: ‘When I was told my award was for volunteer of the year, I thought they had made a mistake. I thought it was for 20 years of service.’

Sheena said her – her ‘unofficial assistant manager’ – deserved huge credit for the growth of the Campbeltown shop in recent years, through her dedication, enthusiasm and not least an eye for a good window display.

‘Jan has a great rapport with our customers and will always go out of her way to try to help them find something suitable,’ said Sheena. ‘Her dedication to the Red Cross goes above and beyond the norm, no more so than this year, when I was off for six weeks, and Jan ran the shop fantastically in my absence.’

In 2012: Jan McNair, left, was presented her volunteer of the year award by manager of Campbeltown's Red Cross shop, Sheena Howarth.
In 2012: Jan McNair, left, was presented her volunteer of the year award by manager of Campbeltown’s Red Cross shop, Sheena Howarth.

TWENTY FIVE YEARS AGO
Friday May 16, 1997

New owners at creamery

Campbeltown Creamery staff and local dairy farmers were at the top of the list of those celebrating this week’s news of the creamery takeover by Scottish Milk Products Ltd.

Guaranteeing a future for all creamery staff as well as securing a local market for Kintyre dairy farmers, the deal ends weeks of speculation and uncertainty arising from the receivership of the plant’s previous owners, Scottish Pride.

‘We’re all delighted at the news,’ said Mr George McSporran, factory manager.

‘The staff are all glad that we are now out of receivership and looking forward to a bright future with hopefully the possibility of long-term employment for the area.’

Simultaneously, the news was greeted enthusiastically by the dairy farming community.

‘We are very pleased indeed,’ said Mr Robert Millar, Kintyre NFUS milk representative. ‘We must have processing facilities for milk locally otherwise we face charges for haulage.’

‘This news guarantees that local market,’ he added, ‘it’s excellent news.’

Argyll and Bute MP Ray Michie was also among those who welcomed the news: ‘For all of us who are involved in trying to safeguard the future of the creameries, myself included, this is good news. I am delighted that at least the uncertainty is over.

‘The Campbeltown creamery can now go from strength to strength.’

This was a view which was echoed by local councillors George McMillan and Robert Currie.

Expected to be worth around £13 million, subject to the final verification of stock value, the deal includes the creameries at Arran and Rothesay and the pre-pack facilities in Mauchline.

FIFTY YEARS AGO
Thursday May 18, 1972

Amazing drop in court fines

Fines at Campbeltown Sheriff Court have dropped drastically during the past two weeks compared with previous courts.

At last week’s court, fines totalled £67 – compared with £550 at a recent Friday morning hearing.

Taking numbers and seriousness of complaints into consideration, perhaps there is some justification for the amazing drop but nevertheless could there be a case for fixed penalties.

It seems strange that one sheriff’s interpretation of the law would differ so much from the next.

Variations, of course, there must be, because of mitigating circumstances and the fact that sheriff and accused are both human beings.

At Friday’s court, Sheriff RA Inglis from Paisley said: ‘Perhaps I should live up to the image I apparently created last week.’

JAC mock auction

Campbeltown Junior Agricultural Club held a mock auction at Machrimore Mill Farm, by kind permission of Mr Douglas Galbraith.

After the competition, Mrs Galbraith kindly presented the prizes for the evening to the following: Ladies: 1 Wilma McMillan, Meadows; 2 Jenny Graham, West Backs; 3 (equal) Christina Campbell, Amod, and Janice McDonald, Crosshill Avenue. Gents: 1 James Barr, Clochkeil; 2 Malcolm Ronald, Ormsary; 3 Bobby Millar, Kilkivan.

A vote of thanks to Mr and Mrs Galbraith, the valuators and the auctioneer was then proposed by Dugald Graham.

A dance followed in Saint Blaan’s Hall.

SEVENTY YEARS AGO
Thursday, May 15 1952

Summer sailings to Arran and Kintyre

On Monday, British Railways’ programme of Clyde Coast steamer services for the summer season commenced operations.

The Arran sailings will be from Ardrossan instead of Fairlie.

Sailings to Lochranza (Arran) and Campbeltown will be introduced on May 31 and, by mid-June, the full programme of excursion sailings on the Firth of Clyde will be in operation.

These sailings will be to Inveraray; Arran via Kyles of Bute; Arrochar, Loch Long et cetera.

Two young naval airmen killed – Firefly crashes coming in to land at station

It was with profound sorrow that the community of Campbeltown and district learned on Thursday afternoon that the two occupants of a Firefly aircraft had lost their lives when the plane crashed coming in to land on the airfield of the Royal Naval Air Station at Machrihanish, where both young officers were based for training.

This was the first fatal air crash involving aircraft and personnel of the station since it was recommissioned in December of last year.

Flying operations commenced in January of this year.

The victims of the crash were Lieutenant William Alexander Bell, elder son of Mr and Mrs James Bell, Selkirk, the pilot, and Sub Lieutenant Bertram Philip Brushett of Chester, the observer.

It was raining heavily at the time.

The plane was on a training flight over the area and was coming in over the Atlantic Coast when it crashed into a bank near the 12th tee of the Machrihanish Golf Course, only a short distance from the perimeter of the station.

There was a memorial service for the dead airmen in the station chapel on Saturday which was taken by the resident Naval Chaplain.