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Campbeltown (; or Ceann Locha) is a town and former royal burgh in Argyll and Bute, Scotland. It lies by Campbeltown Loch on the Kintyre peninsula. Originally known as Kinlochkilkerran (an anglicization of the Gaelic, which means "head of the loch by the kirk of Ciar n"), it was renamed in the 17th century as Campbell's Town after Archibald Campbell (Earl of Argyle) was granted the site in 1667.[1] Campbeltown became an important centre for shipbuilding and Scotch whisky, and a busy fishing port.



Campbeltown is one of the handful of areas in Scotland categorised as a distinct whisky producing region, and is home to the Campbeltown Single Malts. At one point it had 34 distilleries and proclaimed itself "the whisky capital of the world". However, a focus on quantity rather than quality, and the combination of prohibition and the Great Depression in the United States, led to most distilleries going out of business. Today only three active distilleries remain in Campbeltown: Glen Scotia, Glengyle, and Springbank.

The well known folk song titled Campbeltown Loch, I wish you were whisky is based on the town's history in this industry.


Campbeltown boasts a museum and a heritage centre. The museum has a varied collection of items from Campbeltown's past, and prehistoric items excavated from sites around Kintyre, such as axeheads, jewellery and combs. The 19th century building also houses a library and has plaques or exhibits related to famous Kintyre people: for example, William McTaggart and William Mackinnon. Near the museum is the Wee Picture House, a small but distinctive Art Deco cinema dating from 1913 and believed to be the oldest surviving purpose-built cinema in Scotland. These buildings are on the waterfront, as is a 14th century Celtic cross that also served as a mercat cross.[2] St Kieran lived in this area before the town existed. A cave named after him can be visited at low tide, as can the cave on nearby Davaar Island where pilgrims and tourists go to see a 19th century crucifixion painting.

Campbeltown also hosts the annual Mull Of Kintyre Music Festival, which has seen acts ranging from up-and-coming local bands to well-established groups such as Deacon Blue, The Stranglers and Idlewild perform.[3]

A recent addition has been the Kintyre Songwriters Festival, a fairly low key annual gathering aimed at promoting the wealth and variety of original music across the area. The festival is held during the last weekend of May and is open to anyone interested in performing.

On Friday 16 June 2006, First Minister Jack McConnell flew to Campbeltown to officially open Campbeltown's new 'Aqualibrium' Centre. Aqualibrium replaced the old Campbeltown swimming pool, which closed 7 years ago due to safety concerns, and houses Campbeltown's library (with the old building being the museum only), swimming pool, gym, conference centre and 'Mussel Ebb' Cafe.

The Kintyre Camanachd are a local shinty team that belongs to the Camanachd Association.

Argyll FM is a local radio station based in Campbeltown on 106.5, 107.1 and 107.7

In May 2012 Campbeltown and Dunoon were jointly named as the most vulnerable rural places in Scotland to a downturn in a report by the Scottish Agricultural College. The "vulnarability index" ranked 90 Scottish locations according to factors associated with economic and social change.[4][5]


Campbeltown Airport lies near the burgh, and a scheduled service[6] runs between here and Glasgow International Airport on weekdays, but not at weekends.

The town's remote location near the far end of a long peninsula makes for a difficult road journey, and to some extent the area relies on sea and air transport, like the Inner Hebrides. However it is linked to the rest of Scotland by the A83 (to Tarbet) and A82 (from Tarbet to Glasgow).

Davaar Island at the mouth of Campbeltown Loch
Davaar Island at the mouth of Campbeltown Loch
Ferries once sailed from Campbeltown to Ballycastle in Northern Ireland, but the service was suspended in June 2002 until further notice. According to the Campbeltown Courier, the Scottish Executive repeatedly gives the message "not this year, maybe next" about this ferry service. Since 2011 a passenger ferry service runs to Ballycastle every Friday to Monday during summer months and on Mondays and Fridays during the winter months. This new service is operated by Kintyre Express.[7]

In 2006 a foot passenger ferry operated by Kintyre Express ran between Campbeltown and Troon every Monday, Wednesday and Friday with a crossing time of one hour in calm weather. By 2007 this ferry no longer ran, although the vessel can be chartered privately.[8]

Campbeltown was linked to Machrihanish by a canal (1794-mid 1880s) that was superseded by the Campbeltown and Machrihanish Light Railway that closed in 1932.


As with the rest of the British Isles and Scotland, Cambeltown experiences a maritime climate with cool summers and mild winters. The nearest official Met Office weather station for which online records are available is at Campbeltown Airport/RAF-Machrihanish, about 3 miles west of the town centre.

The lowest temperature to be reported in recent years was during December 2010.[9]


Campbeltown is one of the few communities in the Scottish Highlands where the Scots language predominated in recent centuries, rather than the previously widespread Scottish Gaelic. This was due to the plantation of lowland merchants in the burgh in the 17th century. The dominant position that Lowland Scots had in the town has today been taken by the English language, in the form of the Scottish English dialect.

Notable people

  • Lawrence Tynes Kicker with NY Giants. Grew up in Campbeltown when his father was with the US Navy
  • Jill McGown, British writer of mystery novels
  • Sir William Mackinnon, 1st Baronet, Scottish ship-owner and businessman
  • James C. Russell, Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland
  • Norman MacLeod, Scottish clergyman and author
  • Paul McCartney, musician, singer, songwriter and leader of Wings and a member of the Beatles owns a farm near the town
  • Duncan McNab McEachran, Canadian veterinarian and academic
  • Hugh Henry Brackenridge, American writer, lawyer, judge, and justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court[10]
  • Rodney Pattisson, sailor, Olympic gold medalist at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics and 1972 Munich Olympics along with a silver medal at the 1976 Montreal Olympics
  • Angus MacVicar, author and broadcaster


External links

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