Centre Booklet

The front cover: – The Kyles of Bute

About the Booklet

The booklet has been placed online to enable visitors and residents access to local heritage information when the museum is closed. It supplements the displays within in the heritage centre. It is also available in printed form at the heritage centre for a small donation to cover costs.

The images and information are copyright to the Colintraive Village Hall Committee, individual authors, and donors. Some items have been granted permission for educational use by the Heritage Centre.

Our collection is more extensive than the material shown here. Work is progressing on the production of a catalogue of the images narrative stories and artefacts we hold. Please use the contact link if you are researching a particular aspect of local history and we will do our best to help you.

List of Figures

  1. Heritage Centre and Village Hall
  2. The Stables and Smiddy 1903
  3. Mill House at Milton Village (demolished)
  4. The Bowling Green
  5. Colintraive Hotel
  6. Shinty on the Pier Field 1890’s
  7. The Columban Chapel Ruin at Fearnoch
  8. Plan of the Chapel
  9. View of Eilean Buidhe from the Platform
  10. The Lamonts Raiding Cattle,
  11. The Campbells Charge Down,
  12. The Wishing Rock by Loch Riddon
  13. The Castle on Eilean Greig 
  14. Eilean Dearg Today. Now called Eilean Greig,
  15. Thatched House at Loch Striven
  16. South Hall House
  17. South Hall Lodge and Drive
  18. South Hall Estate Plan
  19. Donald McNeil at South Hall Farm
  20. Johnie Maclean at Inverneil
  21. The Baxter Brothers at Fearnoch
  22. Ploughing at Ardentraive
  23. The Croft at Port an Eilean
  24. An Early Postcard
  25. The Columba at Colintraive Pier
  26. The Waverley, the Last Clyde Paddle Steamer
  27. Passengers on a Local Boat
  28. Archie Clark Ferryman
  29. The first Vehicular Colintraive Ferry
  30. Eilean Fraioch 1 (1957-1963) 
  31. Loch Dunvegan Ferry
  32. John MacLean, The Blacksmith
  33. Map of Milton and Milton Dam
  34. Milton with the Smiddy and the Mill
  35. The Shop at the Pier
  36. Caol Ruadh (Newly Built)
  37. Caol Ruadh Children Besiege the Shop
  38. Midget Submarines in Loch Striven (source unknown)
  39. Practice Landings from Loch Striven (source unknown)
  40. Hay Making, Couston
  41. Ardentrraive Pier Field 
  42. Feornoch
  43. Ploughing at Upper Altgaltraig
  44. Feorline Shore
  45. Colintraive Church
  46. Colintraive School
  47. Sunday School Picnic
  48. Colintraive Players

Neolithic to the Iron Age

Small groups of people began to settle here many thousands of years ago. They would have stayed for a while in one place, cleared it of trees, grown crops and, when the soil was tired out, moved to a fresh site, to clear it and then start to grow crops

The first signs of these people were found in the nearby Clachan (or village) of Glendaruel where a large stone cairn and the sites of several round wooden houses were discovered in the 1960s.

About 4,000 years ago people began to create homes here in Colintraive and they left their mark on the landscape. In the field in front of the hotel there is a grass covered cairn a metre high and 12 to 13 metres broad. There are several stones with cup shaped markings on rocky outcrops above the farm at Ardentraive. Ancient stone coffins were also discovered close to South Hall farm.

About 3,000 years ago a fort was built on Eilean Buidhe – the Yellow Island – to the north of the ferry crossing. The fort is 20 to 25 metres across, with 4 metre thick walls. The stones have been vitrified, becoming glassy, when the wood that was part of the construction caught fire.

Christian Settlements

Christianity came to the Scottish island of Iona in 563 CED when Columba founded a monastic school there. By 1,000 AD the faith had spread throughout the west coast, particularly in Cowal, with itinerant monks founding small chapels or kils.

Many of these chapels were rebuilt as churches for example at Kilmodan, the chapel of Aedin, in Glendaruel.

The foundations of a small chapel and its surrounding walls can be seen just over the small hill to the south of the lay-by on the road leading from Colintraive. It is a typical Columban site set in a sheltered dell on the edge of oak woods looking out to the Kyles of Bute. To the south of the chapel is a small pool, then used as a tober a bhaistidh or christening well.

Figure 7: – The Columban Chapel at Fearnoch
Figure 8: – A Plan of the ruins of the Columban Chapel (Rennnie, E.)

When the chapel was built there were two, now deserted, villages near. The platforms on which they can be found on either side of the new road leading from Colintraive. Above Feorline there are nineteen platforms over some 41 acres. The larger group is set in the oak wooded hillside to the east of the road and has forty-four platforms spread over 115 acres. On the platforms were timber framed, circular buildings which were used as houses byres and stores.

Figure 9: – View of Eilean Buidhe From the Hut Platforms

The Battle of the Braes of Glaic – 1649

In the middle of the 1600s civil wars broke out in Scotland brought on by religious differences and reinforced by fighting between powerful families seeking to extend their influence. Though much of the fighting took place in the east of the country, the enmities between the McDonalds and the Campbell and Lamont families took devastation and war into Argyll and eventually to Cowal.

On the Cowal peninsula the Lamont families, whose land holdings included Couston and Trouston on Loch Striven, sided with the royalist McDonalds under the Marquis of Montrose and came into conflict with Campbell of Eilean Greig whose lands were situated to the east of Loch Ridden and the Kyles Of Bute.

A group of Lamonts, crossing over Loch Striven, were raiding land belonging to the then small village of Glaic. These villagers appealed to Duncan Campbell in his castle of Eilean Greig for help.

Figure 10: The Lamonts Raiding the Village at Glaic.
(Source, Kirkhope, J. 1971a)

The Lamonts had their guns and swords with them. They armed themselves, and the fight began. The Campbells fired down from the upper ground on the Lamonts, and the Lamonts fired up from the lower ground on the Campbells. But, as the Campbells were behind the mountain dike, which was pretty high, they were well protected from the fire of the Lamonts. The fire of the Campbell therefore had a deadly effect. The Lamonts were at last obliged to fall towards their boats. The first of them that reached the boats pushed them out and left their friends and comrades to destruction. Those of the latter that could swim threw away their swords and guns, leapt into the water and swam after the boats, expecting that those in the boats would take them on board. But those who were in the boats paid no attention to any of them and being afraid of the bullets they allowed them to drown.’

Source McKechnie H. (1938)
Figure 11: – The Campbells Charge Down from Glaic

The war between the Campbells and the Lamonts did not stop at that. The Campbells were far too powerful for the Lamonts. They put up gallows at the top of a rock, above Eilean Greig at the side of Loch Ruel, on which they hanged many of the Lamonts. They then threw their bodies from the rock into the loch.

Figure 12: – The Wishing Rock
At Loch Riddon

The Argyll Rebellion 1695

There had been a fortress for some time on the island Eilean Dearg or Eilean Greig, in Loch Riddon (also known as One Tree Island – though that tree is now longer there). The castle was a Campbell stronghold held by Campbell of Loch Awe in the 1400s and then by Campbell of Eilean Greig in the 1600s before the land was passed on to the Campbell of Southall in the early 1700s.

Archibald, Duke of Argyll moved from Bute to the old castle on Eilean Greig where he stored his arms and ammunition. Desperate for support he recruited in Colintraive and several men joined him, possibly against their will. Colintraive members of the ‘List of Rebels’ compiled after the rebellion included:

  • Portenelan;- Archibald McIntailor
  • Ardintraive:-Malcolm McAlpine
  • Ardghaldrich;-William McErchar, Archibald McErchar and John Mclean
  • Steilag;- John and Alex. McIlmichel

Source Mckechnie, H. (1938)

Figure 9: – The Castle on Eilean Greig Source Miller 1971b)

Both rebel and government armies had marched through Cowal during the rebellion causing the devastation that armies inevitably leave in their wake. In the spring of 1686, the major landowners petitioned the Privy Council for some remission of taxation as

‘the countrey was dispeopled of men, first the late Earle of Argyll and then the King’s forces, and then everie bodie at plesure, pillaged and robbed and neither one farthing of their owne rents not publict dues could be gotten in this conditione.’

McKechnie, H. (1938)
Figure 14: – Eilean Dearg
now known as Eilean Grieg

Clearance and Change about 1790

Most people in Colintraive in the 1700s would have lived in multi tenanted farms similar to those described by Thomas Pennant in 1772 in ‘A Tour in Scotland and Voyage to the Hebrides’

The method of letting a farm is very singular: each is commonly possessed by a number of small tenants who live in houses clustered together so that each farm appears like a little village.

With the introduction of sheep, times were changing and between 1755 and the 1790s the population of Inverchaolain, the parish which includes Colintraive, almost halved, dropping from 944 to 504. The minister of Inverchaolain, the Reverend Mr Hugh McTavish, surveyed the situation in his ‘Statistical Account’ of the parish about 1793.

It has been humorously observed, since flocks of sheep have     expelled the droves of cows which formerly were kept in this part of the country, that the district should be called Sheep-all instead of Cowal. This has been owing to a practice, of letting large tracts of ground, to one or two individuals for sheep grazing, which were formerly occupied by eight or ten different tenants.’

The people who had occupied the land moved into the growing industrial towns around Glasgow and the minister optimistically suggested that:

‘Happily, for them, they were mostly removed to the neighbouring towns, where they found sufficient employment, and where many of their children, by advantages of education, have raised themselves up to independence, to become useful members of the community, and a support and comfort to their parents in their old age.

Mctavish, H. (1799)

These changes did not come without opposition. The insecurity brought on by the lack of leases or short leases coupled with evictions caused dissention and the local Commissioners of Supply (controlled by the major landowners) noted in 1750 that in Inverchaolain Parish:

‘threatenings have been lately emitted by several persons legally removed from their possessions.’

(Mctavish, H. 1793)

The change from cattle grazing to the pasturing of sheep altered the nature of the land replacing the heather covered hills with grass, partly through the practice of burning the heather in the springtime. All the mountains some years ago, were covered with heath, but many of them now, by being pastured with sheep, are mostly green.’ (Mctavish, H. 1793)

‘A typical highland house was described in 1825:

‘It was of an oblong shape, about six yards long by three wide and the roof very steep, particularly at one end. The interior was dark and gloomy, for there was neither window nor lattice; and the little light that was admitted through the roof and the door place, was barely sufficient to shew the blackened sides and the slender poles which scarcely supported the roof. There was no chimney; and the draught was therefore so imperfect, that its smoke completely filled every cranny of the hut.’

Bowman J. E. (1825)
Figure 15 The House at Loch Striven
(Source Grant I. Dr)

Campbell of South Hall

Except for the holdings around Couston, which was Lamont land, Colintraive was held by the Campbells of Eilean Greig.

Between 1710 and 1720 General Peter Campbell bought the lands of Achnabreck, Stronafian and Ardachuple and built the mansion house South Hall. His descendants extended the estate over the next 200 years.

Figure 16: – South Hall House

The family had a strong military tradition. General Peter Campbell served with the Duke of Marlborough in France. His nephew, the next laird, fought under the Duke of Cumberland during the Jacobite rebellion of 1745/6 and was a juror at the trial of James of the Glen. The fifth laird, Colonel Duncan Campbell, served in the Crimea and the last laird, Lieut. Colonel E.P. Campbell fought at the Battle of Tel-El-Kebir*, the battle that brought British influence on Egypt until the Suez Crisis in 1956. His eldest son, Captain Duncan Campbell was killed in Flanders in 1915.

The family played their part in the local community.

“On Tuesday evening the school children and their parents were invited to Southall House by Colonel and Mrs Campbell. After tea, the children were brought to the library where a lovely tree, decked with all manner of pleasing and suitable presents, stood. After the tree was disrobed and each one had received a present, the children had games, in which Lieutenant Campbell, who had recently returned from the front and the Misses Campbell took active part. (1901 Dunoon Observer, January)

In the middle of the 19th century the estate and its farms remained the focus of the Colintraive economy. Sporting lets also provided income and the Southall moors provided, “As many as 1,600 brace of grouse killed on the estate in one season and 100 to150 brace of black game, mostly blackcock,” (Lumley, J. A.  and Dowell, 1913)

Figure 17: – South Hall Lodge and Drive

By the last quarter of the19th century, many of the old estate owners in Argyll could no longer afford the upkeep of their lands. The last laird, Lieut. Colonel E. P. Campbell had to take the hard decision to sell South Hall and the whole Estate was put up for auction in July 1913.

Figure 18: – South Hall Estate in 1913 (Source, Lumley and Dowell 1913)

Farming from 1850 to 1913

The 1851 census lists 12 separate farm tenants with their families and another 10 farm worker’s families, in all about 160 men, women and children occupied in agriculture in Colintraive.

The largest tenanted farm was Ardentraive, with 76 arable acres. At that time, it was tenanted by Walter Black who lived there with his wife and two children. Living in were a shepherd, a labourer, a milkmaid, and a domestic servant. He also employed two other farm servants.

There were two holdings at Upper Altgaltraig. Duncan Brown and his wife and two children farmed 10 arable and 40 hill acres. On the other farm, a further 10 arable and 40 hill acres, lived Peter Brown aged 83 with his brother, two grown sons, one of whom was a sailor and a daughter and two grandchildren.

South Hall was the home farm. The family were not at home on census day but living in and in two nearby cottages lived two servants, a dairy maid, a cattleman, a gardener and his family, a labourer, a ploughman, and his family, 20 people in all.

By 1913 the number of farms had been reduced to 7, all let from the South Hall Estate.

The home farm at South Hall was ‘held’ by Donald McNeill.

Figure 19: – Donald McNeil and Dogs South Hall Farm

John McLean was in Glaic, now a single farm unit.

Figure 20: -Johnie McLean at Inverneil

The Clarks in Couston and Ardbeg,

Figure 21: – Couston

The Simpsons were in Ardentraive.

Figure 22: – Ardentraive 1900

Andrew McIntyre held Milton and Upper and Lower Altgaltraig,

Figure 23: -Ploughing at Upper Altgaltraig

The Baxter family farmed at Fearnoch

Figure 24: – The Baxter Brothers and Border Collie at Fearnoch Farm

The McKellar family in Feorline.

Figure 25: – Feorline Farm

One of Argyll’s few crofts at Port an Eilean was held by the Carmichael family.

Figure 26: -The Croft at Port an Eilean

Steamers and Tourism

Steamer services began from Glasgow to the Upper Clyde in the 1820’s. By the 1859’s over 30 steamers regularly served all the Clyde ports, with tourists often writing descriptions of their journey.

Yet few scenes exist in the Hebrides of a more romantic character than those which occur in the fairy mazes of the Kyles of Bute, presenting throughout an intricate combination of promontories, rocks, and islands.

Bowman, J. E. 1825

The pier at Colintraive was opened in about 1850 and the village was on the timetable of the steamers that were on their way to Arran or on the famous ‘Royal Route’ via the Kyles to Ardrishaig.

The steamers brought with them the summer visitors. “Doon the Water” became a popular journey and, of course, sending postcards to friends at home was almost obligatory.

Figure 27: – An Early Postcard

Colintraive Hotel had a “Moderate Tariff” and offered a Kyles of Bute Coach Tour, affording views of the most charming Highland scenery. The village also had new shop and a post office

By 1900 there were 46 steamers at work in the Firth of Clyde during the summer months. They could carry more than 52,000 fare paying passengers.

Figure 28: – The Columba at Colintraive Pier

The Second World War stopped all but essential steamer traffic with only the now grey painted Loch Fyne remaining to take the mail to the Kyles villages. When the war was over the Colintraive Pier was in disrepair, it was closed in 1948.

Regular steamer service through the Kyles continued, but they did not stop at Colintraive.

However, freight was dropped off when the St Columba slowed down and made a quick transfer to Archie Clark’s boat lying alongside. The last regular steamer, Loch Fyne, was withdrawn in 1969, shortly after the ‘new road’ improving access to Tighnabruach was opened.

Point to point services became the norm. Passengers now came to Colintraive on the ferry from Weymss Bay to Rothesay, then by bus to Rubodach. The passenger ferry was locally operated By Archie Clark until the Bute Ferry Company took over in 1950. The car ferry is now operated by Calmac.

British Rail kept up a summer programme of day excursions until the 1990s. Now the last of the paddle steamers, the ‘Waverly’, continues the tradition with a series of excursions during the summer.

Figure 29: – The Waverly the Last Clyde Paddle Steamer

Colintraive Ferry

The name Colintraive is thought to be derived from Caol an t-Snaimh – ‘the narrows of swimming’ because the crossing was used by drovers moving cattle from Cowal and Bute to lowland markets.

It was a natural crossing point and the first recorded mention of a ferry across the Kyle at Colintraive is in 1685 when James Boill who was in Ardentraive, and described as ”ferryor in Caillintraive” lost his herring nets and his boat, probably destroyed by the soldiers of the Duke of Argyll crossing to his castle on Eilean Dearg. (See Maclagan, I. 1997 p.22 for further information)

There was also a ferry at Couston across Loch Striven to Inverchaolain, mentioned about 100 years later in 1782 when Archibald Lamond agreed to build a heather thatched ferryman’s house, 16 feet by 30 feet, all for £5. 5s. The ferry probably continued until the mid 1850’s when the parish church was still at Inverchaolain. (Source unknown)

In 1804, John Campbell, laird of South Hall was one of the promoters of a new road from Loch Fyne through Glendaruel to the “Ferry of Cuilintrive” to

the great advantage of the numerous fishermen, as well as other inhabitants of these place

Source MacLagan, I. (1997, p.23)

and when completed this road would have increased ferry traffic across to Bute.

Figure 30: -Passengers on a Local Boat

A proposal for a vehicle ferry was made in 1929 and again in 1938. However, the war intervened, and the project was dropped.

On 1st July 1950, the Bute Ferry Company, owned by Bute Estates, trialled the first 4 car ferry service from Colintraive to Rhubodach. The service was opened on the 13th of July. It was a bow loading ex-military landing craft. It replaced the motorboat, skippered by Archie Clark, who became the car ferry skipper. He was also contracted to take the mail between Bute, Colintraive and Tighnabruich. 

Figure 31: -Archie Clark, Ferryman
Figure 32: -The First Colintraive Vehicular Ferry
Figure 33: – Eilean Fraioch 1 1957-1963

In 1969 the Caledonian Steam Packet Company took over the service. from the Bute Ferry Company.New slipways were built. Shore lighting meant after dark crossings could be made. New ferries allowed the carrying of 10 cars and 60 passengers. It became Calmac in 1973.

Figure 34: – Loch Dunvegan

The Old Village and Milton

In the 1850s through to the turn of the century the centre of the village of Colintraive was just over the Milton Burn bridge from the present hotel, around the site of the present village hall. It included one or two houses, a Blacksmiths Bothy and his croft, a small inn, with a stable and a byre, a shop, the meal mill with its mill dam and importantly the smiddy.

Figure 35: -Milton with the Mill and Smiddy
Figure 36: – Map of Milton and the Mill Dam
Figure 37: – John MacLean, The Last Colintraive Blacksmith

After the pier was opened there was a small post office and shop at the pier head.

Figure 38: -The Shop at the Pier

The inn was replaced by the present hotel about the 1900s and the stables became a coach house.

In the early 1900s a new shop and a larger post office were built across the road from the pier and old post office. Both are, at present, private homes.

The steamer service ran daily to Glasgow, reaching it in two and half hours and the mail coach ran, daily, to Glendaruel. The hotel ran its own motorboat and there was a daily tour coach to Glendaruel, connecting with the steamer service. In time it ran its own motor charabancs. The present shop was the tearoom and acted as the village hall, with regular dances and social evenings often with Gaelic singing.

The smiddy continued to operate between the wars and the blacksmiths bothy and croft remained nearby. In addition to the bothy there were a couple of houses. The mill was used as workshop. The mill and smiddy buildings continued to be used in much the same way until the 1950’s when they were demolished. The present village hall, which replaced them, was opened in August 1960.

The post office by the pier closed in the late 1940s. The shop, then including the post office, continued serving the village until it too closed in the 1990s.

After a gap of a few years the shop and post office reopened in their present position beside the hotel and, with one gap, have continued there since

The bowling green opened in June 1994 and has thriving indoor and outdoor clubs. The community garden, on the site of the old mill dam, was opened in August 2003 after a working visit by the Beechgrove Garden team in June 2003.

Caol Ruadh and New Houses c1900

The steamers brought opportunities for development and large villas began to spring up on all along the shores of the Clyde, and in Colintraive. It was claimed that.

In the Kyles of Bute especially, the demand was greater than the supply. The proprietors there, however, though poor, were proud and would suffer no part of their territory to be invaded by city folk, and accordingly they lost a golden opportunity.’

(unknown source)

In the late 1890s Southall estate began to feu land for houses. Building continued and by 1913 over 60 acres had been feued to accommodate the new holiday homes. Several large mansion houses were built, Caol Ruadh and Dundarroch, and villas the “Seven Sisters” at Altgaltraig Point and Ardare, Failte and Cladach and Ardachuidh in woodland by the coast.

The largest, Caol Ruadh, clad in Lancashire brick, was built for the Clyde shipbuilder William Connel in 1898. It was sold in 1907 to Thomas Hinshelwood an oil refiner, paint manufacturer and dry- salter from the city of Glasgow.

Figure 39: -Caol Ruadh Newly Built

On the outbreak of the Second World War the house was requisitioned for evacuated children. In 1944 it was bought by Glasgow Corporation, opening in 1945 as a residential school for Glasgow boys aged 8 to 11 and often disabled by TB, asthma or rickets. Their stay gave them the opportunity to enjoy the open air and to live in this grand mansion by the Kyles for 3 to 6 months

Initially the “poor wee souls” came all alone and though, on the first few nights, they might cry themselves to sleep many made strong attachments to the school and still return to recall an impressionable part of their childhood – remembering “See this – it’s a’ oors”.

The School’s role continued to develop over the years employing about 25 people, many local. Environmental studies became the core of the curriculum, integrated with the children’s school programme, and always with the assistance of their own teacher

With the reorganisation of local government and the demise of Strathclyde Regional Council the school was closed in

Figure 40: – Caol Ruadh Children Besiege the Shop

War Time

The Kyles was mined by German aircraft in the first years of the war. To keep a lookout for the enemy a naval station was established where the Craigs now stands, and a lookout post established at the Boathouse. The Kyles were mined again, this time by the navy, to deter spies or raiding troops landing there.

About the same time a mock village was built on the northern tip of Bute. It was lit up at night to act as a decoy for the German bombers who were at that time raiding Clyde towns, but none arrived.

Before the D-Day landings Argyll became a training area for the troops about to take part in the landings. Some local people have memories of waking to find tanks lined along the Colintraive road.

Groups of soldiers would act as defenders and others as the invaders – then they would change over and start the fight again. Landings were from landing craft and Churchill tanks disembarked regularly at Braingortan on Loch Striven. Accidents inevitably happened and, at least once, a lorry drove off the landing craft into deep water, unrecoverable until low tide.

Naval warships, firing from off Arran, used Strone Point for target practice and the house at Inverneil and the farm at Glaic were evacuated. Inverneil was returned intact, but Glaic was damaged and not tenanted again. After the war, a great deal of unexploded ordinance was regularly uncovered during ploughing. There are probably still many shell fragments buried deep into the heather hillside.

Loch Striven was used as a training area for midget submarines called X-Craft. These were about 15 metres long and had a crew of three or four. They carried two explosive charges strapped to the side of the hull, designed to be dropped below the target and then exploded. On the 11th of September 1943 six X-Craft left Loch Striven, towed by ‘mother’ submarines. Their mission was to attack the German battleship Tirpitz, which was then at anchor in a Norwegian fiord. The attack was successful, and the Tirpitz was severely damaged, even though only two of the X-Craft reached their target. The officers who were in command of each these submarines were given Victoria Crosses

At the end of the war the mines were detonated by the M.O.D. The school children were taken out of the classroom in case the school was damaged! Some still remember the enormous explosions, the sheets of water rising in the air, the debris raining down, including dead fish.

Figure 41: – The Midget Submarines Loch Striven
Figure 42: – Landings from Loch Striven

Farming Changes

By the late 1940’s there were probably about 20 people employed full time in agriculture. Another dozen or so were part-time, often coming over from Ireland to work over the summer cutting bracken and harvesting. The farms were mixed with dairy and beef cattle and hill sheep. Crops, including hay, turnips, oats and corn, were grown as winter feed. Potatoes and milk were also produced, mainly for local consumption.

The land was ploughed by horse well into the 1940’s when tractors were introduced. Within ten years tractors had replaced most of the horses.

Figure 42: – Couston Hay Making with a Tractor

Times change. Much larger and more efficient agricultural machinery has been introduced, hay silage has replaced almost all other crops and, in common with many other parts of Scotland, farms have amalgamated.

Figure 43: – Haymaking at Fearnoch in 1962
Figure 44: -Hay Making on the Feorline Shore

There are now just two working farms remaining; Ardentraive, which includes Milton, Fearnoch and the Altgaltraigs, and South Hall which incorporates the old farms of Glaic, Newton and Couston

The farm buildings and shepherd’s cottages on Loch Striven, at Trouston, Corrie and Ardbeg are now abandoned.

The farmhouses at Upper and Lower Altgaltraig, Couston, Fearnoch and Port an Eilein are private homes and the out- buildings and sheds have been demolished or converted to other uses.

The farm at Glaic was severely damaged by shell fire prior to the D Day landings in Normandy. It was demolished following the war and only the byre ruin remains.


For centuries, the parish church for Colintraive was at Inverchaolain on the far side of Loch Striven, reached by an often wet and windy ferry journey across the Loch from Couston.

A church serving Colintraive was needed and in 1840 the new building was opened.

Figure 45: – Colintraive Church

This church now linked with Kilmodan in Glendaruel continues to play an active role in the life of the community.

South Hall School, Colintraive

The first school in Colintraive was opened about 1800 as a single classroom cottage with a teacher’s flat soon added. The school closed in 1975 when the pupils moved to a new building in the Clachan of Glendaruel. Despite efforts to close it, Kilmodan school provides a significant local resource for pupils, parents, and their communities.

Figure 46: – South Hall School at Colintraive


Between the wars there were regular dances in the hotel tearoom. In the summer there were evening cruises and frequent dances on the pier. Concerts were held in the tearoom.

“Mrs Burnley Campbell opened the programme with a few words in Gaelic. She then called on Mr Archie Baxter to lead the singing of ‘Suas leis a Gaidhlig’. A Gaelic dialogue by Misses MacPherson and MacDonald, a recitation by little Miss Louisa MacKellar and songs by Misses Ruby Helm and Louisa MacKellar completed the programme.”

Noted by Daisy Black resident at Upper Altgaltraig
Figure 47: -Sunday School Picnic
Figure 48: The Colintraive Players


Bowman, J. E. (1825) The Highland and Islands; – A Nineteenth Century Tour

Dunoon Observer (1901) Children’s Christmas Party at South Hall January

Dunoon Museum (1939+) Landings from Loch Striven figure 42

Glasgow and Herald Newspaper (?) Tuck Shop to Colintraive Heritage Centre (permission granted for educational use by the Heritage Centre granted by Scran ID 000-000114-685 for figure 35

Grant, I. F. Dr. Collection, Asset ID: – 38635 at High Highland Life https://www.ambaile.org.uk/

Grant, W. (1844) ‘Parish of Kilmadan’ in The Statistical Account of Scotland, Vol. 7, pp.672-674 and online at Edina.ac.uk

Kirkhope, J. T. (1971, a) Historical Illustrations in ‘The Destruction of Eilean Dearg Castle: – The Dig on Red Island,’ Scots Magazine, February. Permission granted by the artist to Colintraive Heritage Centre.

Kirkhope, J. T. (1971 b) Historical Illustrations in Miller, H. ‘The Excavation of Eilean Dearg Castle. From Stone Age Man to the Victorians,’ Scots Magazine March. Permission granted by the artist to Colintraive Heritage Centre

Local residents. Photographs and postcards copyright donors and Colintraive Heritage Cenre.

Lumley, J. A.  and Dowell, Auctioneers and Land Agents (1913) Argyllshire Particulars with Plan of South Hall, Colintraive, Kyles of Bute South Hall Estate Sale Brochure, Argyll Papers.

Mckechnie, H. (1938) ‘The Lamont Clan: – Seven Centuries of Clan History,’ Clan Lamont Society.

MacKinnon, J, (1791-99) ‘Parish of Kilmadan’ in The Statistical Account of Scotland, Vol. 4, pp.337-342 (Edina.ac.uk)

MacTavish, H. Rev, (1793?) ‘Parish of Inverchaolain (County of Argyle)’ in Claire, J. (1754-1835) Statistical Account of Scotland, Vol. 5, pp.464-473 (edina.ac.uk)

MacTavish, A. (1843) ‘Parish of Inverchaolain’ in The Statistical Account of Scotland Vol. 7, pp.168-116. Statistical Accounts of Scotland (edina.ac.uk)

McNaughton, A. (1985) Twenty Five Years and More. Colintraive Village Hall, A Short History.

MacLagan, I. (1997) The Piers and ferries of Bute The Buteshire Natural History Society

Miller, H. (1971 a) ‘The Destruction of Eilean Dearg Castle: – The Dig on Red Island Scots Magazine February  

Miller, H. (1971 b) ‘The Excavation of Eilean Dearg Castle. From Stone Age Man to the Victorians,’ Scots Magazine March

Mowat, C. (197?) ‘The Legend and History of Eilean Dearg’ with a few short notes concerning the History of Colintraive. (Parish Leaflet)

 Pennant, T. (1772) ‘A Tour in Scotland and Voyage to the Hebrides’

Rennie, E.B. (1993) COWAL a Historical Guide Birlinn

Rennie, E. B. Peronal Archaeological information from her research in the Cowal area.

Cartographic Sources

Roy, W 1747-55 Military Survey of Scotland (circa 1750) Permission granted for educational use to Colintraive Heritage Centre from the National Library for Scotland/The British Library

Ordnance Survey 1869 (surveyed 1866) Argyllshire, Sheet CLXII. First Edition 6” to the mile map series. Permission granted for educational use to Colintraive Heritage Centre.

Ordnance Survey (2006) Cowal West & Isle of Bute. 1:25,000 Explorer map 362.