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Campbeltown seafront.jpg
Campbeltown waterfront
Population 4,500 (2020)
OS grid reference NR 71800 20300
• Edinburgh 101 mi (163 km)
• London 352 mi (566 km)
Council area
  • Argyll and Bute
Lieutenancy area
  • Argyll and Bute
Country Scotland
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town Campbeltown
Postcode district PA28
Dialling code 01586
EU Parliament Scotland
UK Parliament
  • Argyll and Bute
Scottish Parliament
List of places
55°25′23″N 5°36′29″W / 55.423°N 5.608°W / 55.423; -5.608

Campbeltown ( Scottish Gaelic: Ceann Loch Chille Chiarain 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 Ciarán'), it was renamed in the 17th century as Campbell's Town after Archibald Campbell (Earl of Argyle) was granted the site in 1667. Campbeltown became an important centre for Scotch whisky, and a busy fishing port.

The 2018 population estimate was 4,600 indicating a reduction since the 2011 census.


The old Library and Museum, Campbeltown - - 254196
The old Library and Museum
The Wee Picture House, Campbeltown, Kintyre - - 53117
The Wee Picture House

There are several listed buildings in Category A in the town and include the following.

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, by John James Burnet, 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 cinema known as the Wee Picture House, a small but distinctive Art Nouveau building of the Glasgow School 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.

St Kieran (Ciarán of Clonmacnoise) 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.

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, designed by Page\Park Architects, 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 in a report by the Scottish Agricultural College as the rural places in Scotland most vulnerable to a downturn. The "vulnerability index" ranked 90 Scottish locations according to factors associated with economic and social change.


Campbeltown Airport is near the town, and has a scheduled service to/from Glasgow International Airport on weekdays and some summer Sundays.

The town is the westernmost town in the island of Great Britain (if the port of Mallaig is not counted as a town). It has the population of a large village, but lays claim to its town status based on its port and its central close grid of streets. Its position near the end of a long peninsula makes for a time-consuming 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). Bus service is provided by West Coast Motors.

Davaar Island
Davaar Island at the mouth of Campbeltown Loch

Ferries sail from Campbeltown to Ballycastle in Northern Ireland, operated by Kintyre Express. An earlier service had been suspended in June 2002; the new service, which runs to Ballycastle every Friday to Monday during summer months and on Mondays and Fridays during the winter months, commenced in 2011.

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.

Starting 23 May 2013, Caledonian MacBrayne began operating a pilot ferry service across the Firth of Clyde to Ardrossan calling at Brodick on Saturdays.

Campbeltown was linked to Machrihanish by a canal (1794 – mid-1880s) that was superseded by the Campbeltown and Machrihanish Light Railway, which closed in 1932. The railway, which was originally built to serve the Machrihanish Coalfield, ran from Campbeltown railway station to Machrihanish railway station.

Preceding station   Ferry   Following station
  {{{route1}}}   Ardrossan
  {{{route2}}}   Brodick
Terminus   Kintyre Express


As with the rest of Scotland, Campbeltown 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 mi (4.8 km) west of the town centre.

The lowest temperature to be reported in recent years was −12.9 °C (8.8 °F) during December 2010.

Climate data for Machrihanish, 10 m (33 ft) ASL, 1981-2010
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 7.8
Average low °C (°F) 2.6
Rainfall mm (inches) 128.5
Avg. rainy days (≥ 0.1 mm) 17.7 13.9 16.0 12.2 12.2 11.5 13.0 14.0 15.0 17.8 17.8 16.7 177.7
Sunshine hours 47.8 75.1 101.6 163.4 214.8 181.1 157.7 159.7 126.8 87.1 54.7 42.8 1,412.5
Source: Met Office


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, an enclave of Lowland Scots speech surrounded by Highland Scottish speech. 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.



Main Street Campbeltown - - 429867
Main Street Campbeltown (2006)

In addition to the benefits of distilling, and whisky tourism, there were two major employers in 2018, Campbeltown Creamery and CS Wind UK, who provided "a substantial portion of the Campbeltown area’s high skilled jobs and are a vital part of the local economy," according to the Scottish government. A report in October 2019 had raised warning signs for the economy of Argyle & Bute; the report also suggested that up to 70 jobs at CS Wind UK could be lost but did not specify a time frame.

Both companies confirmed the prediction of job redundancies, leading the Scottish government to hold an emergency summit in November 2019 to discuss steps that might be taken for improving the local economy. Participants included Argyll & Bute Council, Highlands & Islands Enterprise, trades unions and local employers. After the summit, a "working group" was formed in late November 2019.

The number of dairy farms supplying Campbeltown Creamery reduced from 147 to 28 and the number of dairy cows fell from 6600 to 2500. Consequently the Creamery became unviable. A plan by a small number of local dairy farmers to take over the running of the Creamery failed in early December 2019. The milk produced in Kintyre is now transported by road tankers to Lockerbie and Mull of Kintyre Cheddar is no longer available.

By early December 2019, CS Wind UK had declared 22 jobs redundant. The Scottish government was working with the company to search for long-term solutions. Preliminary discussions did not produce optimism about the future stability of the company. The Unite union indicated that while CS Wind had been profitable, it was not receiving an adequate number of orders to sustain full employment. The plant was shut down in 2019 and production shifted to CS Wind's cheaper Vietnam plant in Phú Mỹ.

Notable people

Main Street and Campbeltown Cross - - 1571069
Main Street and Campbeltown Cross
Campbeltown harbour - - 243027
Campbeltown harbour
  • Alexander Beith, minister and author in Gaelic and English. Free Church Moderator
  • Hugh Henry Brackenridge, American writer, lawyer, judge, and justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court
  • John Campbell Mitchell, landscape artist
  • T. Lindsay Galloway, civil and mining engineer and coal master of Argyll Colliery
  • James Gerald Gulliver, founder of Argyll Foods
  • Sir William Mackinnon, 1st Baronet, Scottish ship-owner and businessman
  • Norman Macleod (Caraid nan Gaidheal), Scottish divine and miscellaneous writer, served at the parish of Campbeltown, father of Norman Macleod (below)
  • Norman Macleod, Scottish clergyman and author
  • Angus MacVicar, author and broadcaster
  • Neil Mathieson, chemist and businessman
  • Neil McBain, professional footballer and football manager
  • Paul McCartney, musician, singer, songwriter, ex-leader of Wings and an ex-member of the Beatles, owns a farm (named High Park) near the town
  • Jill McGown, British writer of mystery novels
  • Gilbert McKechnie, Ontario merchant and political figure
  • Duncan McNab McEachran, Canadian veterinarian and academic
  • Dan McPhail, professional footballer who made 437 appearances in the Football League
  • William McTaggart, landscape artist
  • Denzil Meyrick, author of Kinloch novels
  • John Neil Munro, journalist and author of biographies
  • Rodney Pattisson, English yachtsman
  • George Pirie, artist who was associated with the Glasgow Boys in the 1880s
  • Kieran Prendergast, diplomat and a former Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs at the United Nations
  • Bob Pursell, footballer who played for Liverpool F.C. in the early 20th century
  • Peter Pursell, footballer. he won one cap for Scotland in 1914
  • Very Rev James Curdie Russell, Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland minister of Campbeltown
  • Angus Stewart, Lord Stewart, lawyer and Senator of the College of Justice, a judge of the Supreme Courts of Scotland
  • John Stewart, Australian politician
  • Gerald Tait, Olympic sailor
  • Lawrence Tynes, placekicker in the National Football League. Grew up in Campbeltown when his father was with the US Navy
  • George Wylie, member of the Wisconsin State Assembly and State Senate

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See also

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