Stories of Kilmun

Marchioness of Lorne at Kilmun Pier

Our oral history project, Cowal Connections, continues to be rewarding. We've had lots of interesting tales of life in Dunoon so far, as well as some fun stories about the goings on at the funeral of the last Duke of Argyll to be buried in the mausoeleum, so we've been hoping to find people with memories of everyday life in Kilmun over the past century. Well, today we got lucky! A lovely lady who was born and raised in Kilmun, and who has always kept a home here - even when life took her elsewhere - came to our fourth session in the Visitor Centre tea room.

She's blessed with a truly excellent memory and regaled us with accounts of the thriving and bustling village that Kilmun was back when the post office and telegram station was still in operation. Did you know that residents of Kilmun found it more convenient to hop on a ferry boat to Greenock to do their shopping than to make their way to Dunoon? Or that, although there wasn't a scheduled ferry to Sandbank, there was one always waiting to shuttle you there from Kilmun and back; all you had to do was wave it down, like a taxi!

Kilmun from the Pier (old postcard)

We also heard funny stories about the youth club held in 'Mad Scientist' Mr Richardson's house, by Lewis and his wife Catherine; the children were allowed to run wild anywhere in the house - except the office, of course! - and were encouraged to do their own experiments (one wonders if they involved parsnips).

We even learned the pitfalls of being in the habit of travelling by boat; with a tale of three girls stranded on the loch because there was no wind to power their yacht! This being such a rare thing, the eldest of the girls decided to use a rowing boat to tow the yacht out to Kirn, where thy intended to have a bite to eat and wait for the weather to change. Unfortunately, they'd forgotten to bring butter, for their bread, but this was easily solved by hailing a passing ferry and asking them to bring some butter from the shop on Kilmun Pier on the return journey. Alas, the wind never did pick up that day, so they had to tow the yacht all the way back to Kilmun.

We hope to hear many more such local interest stories, as it's exactly these sorts of tales that everyone can relate to and enjoy, but which often fall through the cracks of history, in favour of names and dates of a select few people, and the events they've been involved in (no offence meant to the illustrious residents of our mausoleum, whose histories are just as interesting).


Many thanks to the members of Facebook group 'Dunoon in Old Photos', from whence these images were borrowed.