Cailleach: Oban Bay pontoon saga – we’ve been here before

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News that a contract has finally been signed for the Oban Bay project has been welcomed by townsfolk this week – and rejected by others.
I trawled through old editions of The Oban Times archive to find out whether Boats in the Bay have ever been a reality.
Back in 1937, every week in the newspaper there was a record of the yachts that were in the bay. There is no detail at the time of when and where the yachts docked or whether indeed whether they were simply passing through the waters near Oban.

Cailleach: A list of yachts in Oban Bay in 1937
Cailleach: A list of yachts in Oban Bay in 1937

The list of owners is a who’s who of sailing – The Chinnecks from Dawlish, Mr Gardner of Liverpool, some visitors from Ireland, the Campbell Blairs from Inveraray and Robert N MacLeod from Taynuilt.
Readers will be aware of the many plans over the years to improve the bay – including a scheme for digging out a bypass road around the town and using the tonnes of debris that came out of the fairly hilly landscape to fill in the wee bay.
There should be no outcry – we already live on reclaimed land.

Cailleach: delayed plans for Oban.
Cailleach: delayed plans for Oban.

But those who have struggled for the step-ashore facility will be delighted that it is finally going to be in place – fingers crossed.
My cynicism is merely due to the number of times proposals for the bay have reached this stage and gone no further.
In the time of the current arrangements, I can count four, maybe five, times when the Oban Bay marina project almost came to fruition.
It failed – though not for the want of trying – in no small part due to infighting between various individuals. This infighting was always done in the nicest possible way but it has deterred things nonetheless.
Finally, the plan has come together and now there is ill feeling about who was invited along to sign the paperwork.
I remember feeling exactly the same way during my short stint in politics. I was challenged by a town worthy one day who asked me to make sure I was spending the money on the correct project.
The truth of the matter is, do you ever know what is a good or bad project until it is up and running? I was involved in the setting up of the cinema and it was easier to circumnavigate the council than involve them in the setting up because some councillors had set their minds against the project because of who was involved with it.
To date, the cinema has had no capital assistance from the local authority and it brings in a grand amount of money, employs 10 people and entertains thousands every year.
Anyway, here we have the Oban Bay project at the point of no return and, for many, it will be a relief to see the plans move ahead.

Cailleach: Bed Bound at 100, 1967
Cailleach: Bed Bound at 100, 1967

Also in the news this week, it has been revealed that the age of mortality in some places has gone above the age of 90.
My goodness, in Oban not only could these people see the start of the Oban Bay project, but also the end.
In the days before double glazing and central heating, and keeping active and image consultants, people were often bed-bound at that age and considered very old.
This woman, pictured in her bed, dressed to the nines in her bed jacket and nightcap, celebrated her 100th birthday from her bed with a Champagne party. How wonderful!
But I can’t image what was in the editor’s head when this picture was approved for use in the newspaper.