Tuesday, 21 October 2014

ABC Wednesday, O, for Oban

McCaig's Tower,

Oban ( An t-Òban in Scottish Gaelic meaning The Little Bay) is a resort town within the Argyll and Bute council area of Scotland. Despite its small size, it is the largest town between Helensburgh and Fort William and during the tourist season the town can play host to up to 25,000 people.

The site where Oban now stands has been used by humans since at least mesolithic times, as evidenced by archaeological remains of cave dwellers found in the town. Just outside the town stands Dunollie Castle, on a site that overlooks the main entrance to the bay and has been fortified since the Bronze age. Prior to the 19th century, the town itself supported very few households, sustaining only minor fishing, trading, shipbuilding and quarrying industries, and a few hardy tourists. The Renfrew trading company established a storehouse there in about 1714 as a local outlet for its merchandise, but no Custom-house was deemed necessary until around 1760.

The modern town of Oban grew up around the distillery which was founded there in 1794, and the town was raised to a burgh of barony in 1811 by royal charter. Sir Walter Scott visited the area in 1814, the year in which he published his poem The Lord of the Isles, and interest in the poem brought many new visitors to the town. The arrival of the railways in the 1880s brought further prosperity, revitalising local industry and giving new energy to tourism. Shortly thereafter McCaig's Tower, a folly and prominent local landmark, was constructed, as well as the ill-fated Oban Hydro.

Oban in 1900

During World War II, Oban was used by Merchant and Royal Navy ships and was an important base in the Battle of the Atlantic. The Royal Navy had a signal station near Ganavan, and an anti-submarine indicator loop station which detected any surface or submarine vessels between Oban, Mull and Lismore. There was a controlled minefield in the Sound of Kerrera which was operated from a building near the caravan site at Gallanach. There was also a Royal Air Force flying boat base at Ganavan and on Kerrera, and an airfield at North Connel built by the Royal Air Force. A Sector Operations Room was built near the airfield, and after the war this was extended to become the Royal Observer Corps Group HQ.

Oban was also important during the Cold War because the first Transatlantic Telephone Cable (TAT-1) came ashore at Gallanach Bay. This carried the Hot Line between the US and USSR presidents.

Since the 1950s the principal industry has remained tourism, though the town is also an important ferry port, acting as the hub for ferries to many of the Hebrides.

With thanks to Denise Nesbitt,  who created ABC, and Roger, who took over from her. For more interesting ABC posts click on the logo in the sidebar. This week we are looking for words beginning with O.


Ann, Chen Jie Xue 陈洁雪 said...

McCaig's Tower, do they light it up every evening?

Cloudia said...

McCaig's Tower caught my imagination!

ALOHA, Wil, from Honolulu

Anonymous said...

What a fabulous place - and the single malt whisky is good too!

Roger Owen Green said...

Just saw a piece on the Roman Coliseum, and that's what this reminded me of, though obviously this is far smaller.

Melody Steenkamp said...

sommige plekjes op de wereld zijn het bekijken zeker waard, dit is er eentje van volgens mij ☺

Trubes said...

Wonderful Scotland, We had a holiday on The Ardnamurchan Peninsula a few years ago, it was Autumn and the scenery all around was swathed in changing colours. I can't say I saw The tower but we visited during the day time in a dreadful downpour so just made for the nearest café. I recall we had a delicious lunch of haggis with Tatties and Neeps, totally delicious and most warming on a very cold day!
We travelled up the coast to Mallaig which was an interesting port harbouring the ferries to The Isle of Skye.
Best wishes,
Di x

Hildred said...

Such a very interesting post, Wil - the ancient archeology connections are particularly catching.

carol l mckenna said...

Fascinating post and great photos for O~

Happy Week to you.
artmusedog and carol (A Creative Harbor)

Susan Moore said...

Such interesting history in that whole area. I would love to visit Scotland. It is home to some of my ancestors after all :)

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

What amazing history within this charming town.

How very new my country is!

Anonymous said...

What a poem can do for a town -interesting! I know you enjoyed it there:)

Anonymous said...

How great to see this post on Oban. My hubby and I were in Oban in 2006 and so enjoyed a tour of the distillery and jumping on a ferry to Mull and Iona!

Lmkazmierczak said...

ooh...sounds like a place I'd like to visit, thanks for sharing♪ http://lauriekazmierczak.com/orange-maple-leaf/

lotusleaf said...

I always like to read your posts,Wil. Interesting information is written so well.

Rajesh said...

Wonderful place of historic importance. Thanks for sharing.

NC Sue said...

Thank you for taking us on a visit - such an interesting place!

RuneE said...

I enjoy Scotland very much, but I do not think I have visited Oban. Though of course I have met THE Oban ... The closest I have been must have been Fort William. It seems like a very nice and proper Scottish town to visit - a bit smaller than Edinburgh where we went (once again) two months ago.

I hope all is well with you. BTW - I have "moved to visualnorway.wordpress.com