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Gaelic: Ceann Loch Chille Chiarain
Campbeltown seafront.jpg
Campbeltown waterfront
Grid reference: NR718203
Location: 55°25’23"N, 5°36’29"W
Population: 5,144
Post town: Campbeltown
Postcode: PA28
Local Government
Council: Argyll and Bute
Argyll and Bute

Campbeltown is a town and royal burgh in Argyllshire. It stands toward the southernmost end of the Kintyre peninsula, on by Campbeltown Loch.

The place where the town stands was originally known as Kinlochkilkerran (The head of the loch by the kirk of St. Kieran), which still provides its Gaelic name, in 1667 Archibald Campbell, Earl of Argyle, was granted the site for the erection of a burgh of barony, which he named 'Campbell's town'. [1]

Campbeltown became an important centre for shipbuilding and Scotch whisky, and a busy fishing port. Campbeltown fishermen developed trawling techniques, until the fishery in the Firth of Clyde declined dramatically. In the twentieth century many of the young men of the town left for Corby in Northamptonshire to man the steelworks there.

Today Cambeltown is a quiet harbour town with impressive houses bearing evidence of its Victorian heyday.


Campbeltown is one of the handful of areas in Scotland categorised as a distinct whisky-producing region, and is home to the Campbeltown Single Malts, at one point having 34 distilleries and proclaiming itself "the whisky capital of the world". However, a focus on quantity rather than quality, and the combination of prohibition and the Great Depression in the United States, led to most distilleries going out of business. Today only three active distilleries remain in Campbeltown, which have a fine reputation for their quality.

The folk song Campbeltown Loch, I wish you were whisky is based on the town's history in this industry.


The town's isolated location gives it the feel of similar-sized communities on the Hebridean islands, largely reliant sea transport, linked by a single road to the rest of the mainland.

Davaar Island at the mouth of Campbeltown Loch

Ferries sailed from Campbeltown to Ballycastle in County Antrim for some years until the service was suspended in June 2002. According to the Campbeltown Courier, the Scottish Executive repeatedly gives the message "not this year, maybe next" about this ferry service. From 2006 to 2007 a foot passenger ferry ran between Campbeltown and Troon too.

Campbeltown Airport provides a scheduled service to Glasgow Airport on weekdays.

Campbeltown was linked to Machrihanish by a canal between 1794 and the 1880s. The canal was superseded by the Campbeltown and Machrihanish Light Railway until the line closed in 1932.


  1. "Campbeltown" in A Dictionary of British Place-Names, A. D. Mills, Oxford University Press, 2003. Oxford Reference Online. Oxford University Press. University of Hull. 12 December 2009 <>

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