Current / Last Route
David MacBrayne Ltd.
J Barr & Sons (Craigendoran) Ltd, Dumbarton
Bergius Kelvin Co. Ltd, Glasgow.
Kelvin Diesel, Type K.3 – 1 Oil 4 SCSA 3 cyl 6”x9”.
Hoist & Lifts:
1954 - 1967: Loch Shiel Service
1968 - 1969: Kyle - Toscaig
Completed for MacBrayne's new Loch Shiel service in June 1954, this little ship left Dumbarton on 1st December under her own power and duly reached Salen, Loch Sunart, where she was born to Loch Shiel to join her eponymous sister-ship. Though LOCHAILORT closely resembled LOCHSHIEL, she had more covered accommodation for passengers and crew and was not specifically equipped for cargo and cattle. In fact, she was less sturdy workhorse than delicate excursion craft and was used mainly for passengers on the Loch Shiel leg of a special circular tour, run not only from Fort William via Glenfinnan to Acharacle and then back by sea from Ardgour, but also three days per week in summer from Oban. MacBraynes had in fact run this tour for years – they also operated the local buses!
In January 1962 LOCHAILORT was holed and sunk near Acharacle by the impact of ice. Members of the Oban Sub Aqua Club were resourcefully called to the rescue, and she was duly raised after they secured empty 40-gallon oil drums to her hull and then pumped them full of compressed air. She appears to have made a complete recovery.
After the departure of LOCHSHIEL early that summer, LOCHAILORT was left to bear the Loch Shiel service alone and, accomodation being more limited, the circular tour was no longer offered from Oban. She was relieved as necessary by the ageing prewar MacBrayne launch GARRY (q.v.)
On 30th September 1967 a fine new road was completed from Lochailort to Acharacle and MacBrayne's service down Loch Shiel ceased. LOCHAILORT was for a time laid up, but in 1968 was drafted to Kyle to take up the Toscaig service in succession to LOCHNELL . This lifeline link to Applecross had commenced in 1955, to end the necsitty of regular calls by the Stornoway mailboat, and would continue until a coastal road from Shieldaig to Applecross – not, unlike the Bealach na Ba (very) high way, constantly vulnerable to winter snow – was opened by Princess Margaret in 1972.
By then, LOCHAILORT was toast. During her 1969 overhaul the timbers of her hull were found to be rotten, and she was unceremoniously burned at Kyle of Lochalsh.