Campbeltown is a town and former royal burgh in Argyll and Bute in Scotland. It lies by Campbeltown Loch on the Kintyre peninsula. Located some 38 miles south of Tarbert on the A83, it is often thought of as being the most remote of Scotland’s mainland towns.
1. It has the oldest continuously-run cinema in Scotland – the Wee Picture House (picture below) was purpose built in 1913 and now a Graded A listing building by Historic Scotland.
2. It has a medieval cross in its centre from around 1380. The Campbeltown Cross is a medieval carving, with Celtic designs. The cross was erected at a church at Kilkivan before being moved to Campbeltown after the Reformation.
3. Campbeltown used to be known as “the Whisky Capital of the World” with 34 scotch whisky distilleries and today only three active distilleries remain in place: Glengyle, Springbank and Glen Scotia (pictured below). The Campbeltown Malts Festival will take place from 23rd to 25th May 2018.
4. You can walk to Davaar Island and see the Crucifixion Cave – at low tide it is possible to walk from the mainland and explore a number of sea caves including one with a famous crucifixion painting.
5. The town was originally known as Kinlochkilkerran but renamed in the 1600s by the then Earl of Argyll, the Chief of the Clan Campbell.
6. Campbeltown Airport (CAL) has one of the longest runways in Europe – at over three kilometers long and built as RAF Machrihanish, it was also used as a diversion airfield during the initial testing of Concorde. Main flight destination is Glasgow Airport.
7. It is the home of renowned Scottish goldsmith Grant Logan – using the inspirational raw beauty of the landscape, wildlife and coast of Kintyre, Grant produces original jewellery designs worth checking out in your visit there.
8. The man who transformed the face of British food retailing came from Campbeltown – James ‘Jimmy’ Gulliver was born in Campbeltown Argyllshire August 17, 1930, the son of a grocer, and died September 12 1996. He established in the late 1970s the Argyll Group, a multiple chain store, and is famously known for having made an ultimately failed bid for the Distillers Company (click here for an article on the Guinness/ Distillers Saga by Charles MacLean).
‘I wanted to build a big food multiple, [but] realised we would have to be bold enough to grow through acquisition, and quickly, if we were to reach a critical mass – the point where we were obtaining economies of scale to enable us to grow organically.’ James Gulliver
9. You can still find remains of the old Scotch Whisky distilleries around town – one such example is Benmore Distillery situated not too far from the still active Glen Scotia Distillery. It opened in 1868 on Saddell Street and the name above the archway is no longer visible except for the word Distillery (pictures below). Given that there used to be 34 distilleries, there is still some Scotch whisky history left around the town.