Friday, November 14, 2014

Day 8 - Walkabout, Whiskey & a Movie in Oban

Waking in a much better state, we headed off for a morning walkabout of Oban Harbour,

Looking up over the other side of the harbour, George Street, you can see the McCaig Tower,

McCaig's Tower is a prominent tower on the hillside (called Battery Hill) overlooking Oban in Argyll, Scotland. It is built of Bonawe granite taken from the quarries across Airds Bay, on Loch Etive, from Muckairn, with a circumference of about 200 metres with two-tiers of 94 lancet arches (44 on the bottom and 50 on top).

The structure was commissioned, at a cost of £5,000 sterling (£500,000 at 2006 prices using GDP deflator), by the wealthy, philanthropic banker (North of Scotland Bank), John Stuart McCaig.
John Stuart McCaig was his own architect. The tower was erected between 1897 and his death, aged 78 from Angina Pectoris, on 29 June 1902 at John Square House, Oban, Argyll.

McCaig's intention was to provide a lasting monument to his family, and provide work for the local stonemasons during the winter months. McCaig was an admirer of Roman and Greek architecture, and had planned for an elaborate structure, based on the Colosseum in Rome. His plans allowed for a museum and art gallery with a central tower to be incorporated. Inside the central tower he planned to commission statues of himself, his siblings and their parents. His death brought an end to construction with only the outer walls completed.

The empty shell of the tower dominates the Oban skyline, and is now a public garden with magnificent views to the islands of Kerrera, Lismore and Mull. The first marriage to be conducted in McCaig's Tower was between Oban High School teachers Jim Maxwell and Margaret Milligan and was reported in the Oban Times published 11 July 2003.

The weather was wonderful and we made note of a number of places to visit on the way back from our first need, coffee. For this we found the Coffee Corner on Station Road. Great coffee and a breakfast bun stuffed with bacon, Yum.

Having gained sustenance we moved on closer to the harbour and came upon, a small green building boasting fresh mussels and loads of other seafood. Unfortunately, closed on a Saturday, maybe still in mourning, notice the flag at half mast. a YES supporter in the referendum.

Back up on George Street we located the Whiskey Shop, shelves and shelves of fine whiskey, settled on a bottle of Oban 14 and a wee dram from the Owner/Manager.

Now on to the Oban Distillery, one half block down George Street.

Oban distillery ( i/ˈoʊbən/ OH-bən; Scottish Gaelic: Taigh-stail an Òbain) is a whisky distillery in the Scottish west coast port of Oban. Established in 1794, it was built before the town of the same name, which sprung up later in the surrounding craggy harbor.

Oban distillery is owned by Diageo. It has only two pot stills, making it one of the smallest in Scotland, producing a whisky that has been described as having a "West Highland" flavour that falls between the dry, smoky style of the Scottish islands and the lighter, sweeter malts of the Highlands.
The distillery was built in 1794 by the brothers John and Hugh Stevenson and operated by them until 1866, when it was bought by Peter Curnstie. It was then acquired by Walter Higgin in 1883 and rebuilt. In 1898, Alexander Edward, who also owned Aultmore Distillery, bought out Higgin.

In its first year of operation, it suffered major losses when a major blending company, Pattison's of Leith, went under. In 1923, Oban was sold to Dewars and joined Distillers Company with that company in 1925. It fell silent from 1931 until 1937 and again from 1969 to 1972 when a new still house was built. In 1989 a new visitors' centre was installed.

Coming out of the distillery and feeling somewhat subdued, we walked to the Oban Cinema,

Oban Phoenix Cinema was bought by the community in 2011 and reopened in 2012. A small group of volunteers got together to bring the venue up to date. It now offers a first-class auditorium with superb sound, lighting and digital projection in 2 and 3D. Oban Phoenix Cinema is a cinema and events venue open seven days and offers a full programme of films and much more.

They are owned by the community thanks to funding organisations and benefactors who have shared the vision and ambition for the former Highland Theatre turning it from a good cinema into a great cinema with the support of the local community. They play top quality modern films alongside older classics. they regularly play a viewers choice of films.

The cinema is run by a group of volunteers who employ a team of staff, including a general manager who organises the day-to-day running of the cinema. Every single person who is involved with the cinema is passionate about this venture.

In 2013, Oban Phoenix Cinema was awarded the SURF (Scottish Urban Regeneration Foundation) for community-led generation.

We saw the new Billy Connelly movie, What Did We Do on Our Holliday (

Back to Mackie Dans, Tennants and scotch, off to bed.

No comments:

Post a Comment