Loch Fyne Ferry

Hope MacArthur, son of Isabella McGougan of Auchindrain was a long serving ferryman for Inveraray, and a popular character amongst locals and visitors alike.
The Ferries would have been an essential lifeline for all.

About the ferries

Ferries have crossed Loch Fyne since at least the 16th century and here is the little paddle steamer 'Fairy 1' which operated in the latter part of the 19th century. The last ferry ceased in the 1960s
St Catherine’s Hotel received its charter as an Inn as far back as 1460, and was rebuilt as a coaching in 1756. It was badly damaged by fire in the 1930s.
The ferry at St Catherine’s also stretches back into antiquity; it provided free transport for peasant, the blind, and pilgrims. Its existence was first put on record in 1680 when one John McCurray bought a boat for use as a ferry for 50 merks.
Following the arrival of the first steamship on the Clyde in the second decade of the 19th century, a road was built between St Catherine’s and Lochgoilhead over Hell’s Glen so that a coach could connect with the ferry.
The steamboat pioneer David Napier proposed to run a twice-daily steamer service between St Catherine’s and Inveraray, and in 1856 the Argyle maintained the route, connecting with a two-horse coach service to Lochgoilhead.
In 1864 the Duke of Argyll headed a syndicate of local merchant who put the little paddler ‘Fairy’ on the route; the following year she was recorded as carrying 4060 passengers at 5p each, the same fare, incidentally, as the 28 horses, and 22 cattle which were also carried.
A new ‘Fairy’ appeared on the service in 1893; sadly she was wrecked in a great storm in 1913. Thereafter the service was run by a succession of motor vessels, and finally succumbed to the encroachment of the motor car in 1963.
There was a short-lived revival in 1998 when a beautiful motor yacht, the ‘Silvander’, appeared on the service. Prior to her arrival considerable dredging work had been undertaken at the St Catherine’s jetty, and the new vessel was greeted with much celebration and publicity. However, within a few weeks she was gone, never to return - and the dredging carried out to facilitate her visits caused the pier to collapse!

Steamboat - St Catherines Fairy


The Building of the Pier:
In 1784, £8 sterling was collected from the inhabitants of the Burgh of Inveraray for a Quay. In 1758 representation was made to the Provost of the Burgh by James Porter, a mason, that it was determined that for every cubical foot of the facing there must be paid at the rate of one shilling sterling for cutting stone in the quarry, shipping, unloading, dressing and building, the Town Council always furnishing the lime or fog.
The proposal was laid before the Duke of Argyll and His Grace allowed £30 towards making a pier. In 1758, the Town Council borrowed £13 sterling for a new quay.
The work went ahead, plans were made, stones were quarried, timber was fetched. But the sea was merciless. In 1760, 1763 and 1764, the quay was in need of repair. As the work went on, the Town Council became more ambitious and in 1765, an addition was made to the quay in height and length at a cost of £26 stg.
The cruel sea continued to undo the work of man and in 1771, the Magistrates and Town Council resolved that it be repaired and further heightened to prevent the overflow of the water.

Boats at Inveraray Pier in 1871