We’d like to thank Charlie Colville of P6, Dalintober Primary School, and his mum, Emily, for sharing Charlie’s homework project about Campbeltown Shipyard. It’s great to see how the Campbeltown children are discovering so much about their local heritage, finding relatives who worked at the yard and learning from those family members with a story to tell. It’s also fantastic to see that the online archive is serving as a comprehensive source for research for younger generations.
Location and owners
Campbeltown Shipyard was built in 1877 by a local man called Archibald McEachan The shipyard was built at Trench Point in Campbeltown. It was ideal for a slip way with good deep water that was easy for launching ships into Campbeltown loch. In the 1920s McEachan’s Shipyard closed down but it was reopened again in 1967 by Thames Launch Works Ltd and Lithgows Ltd. With help from the Highlands and Islands Development Board the shipyard office opened in December 1968 and the yard started to operate again in May 1969.
To start with there were only 30 people working at the shipyard but eventually it got bigger and had around 150 people working there. It was very important in the community because it created jobs and apprentiships for people. The first boat built from the new yard was the 50 foot Crimson Arrow.
The Crimson Arrow was finished on 18th February, 1970. The vessel was commissioned by a local Campbeltown Skipper, James MacDonald.
Andrew Colville, my uncle, started working at the Shipyard in 1985 aged 15 as an apprentice Plater and Welder. His job was to build the pre cut steel sections together in the plating shed. when he first started he found it quite tricky but after a while he became pretty good at it. He started his work on boat number 69 (BE READY LK377) His boss was called Jock kerr. He really enjoyed working at the shipyard and he made lots of friends there. He used to get the bus to work from his house in Meadows Avenue every morning at 7.30. At lunchtimes he would play football but it was hard because he had to ware steel toe cap boots. My uncle Andrew knew all the shipyard cats. He used to feed them and he took a kitten home and called her Ziggy. Ziggy lived with my Granny and Grandad for 15 years.
Uncle Andrew worked at the shipyard for 6 years and helped to build 23 ships while he was there. He remembers the launching ceremonies were always busy with lots of people taking photos. His favourite ship was called Alison Kay. He liked it because it was painted red, white and blue the same colours as Rangers football team. He learned loads while he worked there. Now he works off shore where his job is not ship building but he still works with steel and welds it every day.
My uncle Archie Johnstone also used to work at the shipyard as an engineer. He is no longer living so I couldn’t speak to him about his job. He’s in this picture of Fear Not INS 197 (Yard no. 33), built in 1976.
Archie Johnstone (Engineer) and Ralph Hill (Welder) at Campbeltown Shipyard are in the picture below.
The end of the Shipyard
Between 1969 and1998 Campbeltown Shipyard produced almost a hundred steel hulled fishing boats. Orders came from Scotland, the Faroe Islands, Shetland, Orkney, Ireland and England. One boat was even taken to Africa.
The last ship to be launched at the Shipyard was the Steadfast IV (FS 433) and the last order made was for the supply of steel work for a CalMac car ferry being built in Buckie Shipyard in 1996. In July 2002, the last of the Shipyard sheds were demolished.
By Charlie Colville, P6, Dalintober Primary School, Campbeltown