Ballachulish ferries film to hit Fort big screen next month

Ballachulish ferry from August 1959 Retro-Roamer-Ballachulish-Ferry-August-1959.jpg
Ballachulish ferry from August 1959. Photograph: Retro Roamer. Retro-Roamer-Ballachulish-Ferry-August-1959.jpg

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The documentary The Last Ferries of Ballachulish will be screened at Fort William’s Highland Cinema next month, following the easing of Covid lockdown restrictions

It will be shown at the Highland Cinema on Saturday July 10 at 2pm and at Oban Phoenix Cinema on Sunday July 11 at 4.15pm.

The film’s maker, Graham Kitchener from Edinburgh, said it should have been released last year but the coronavirus pandemic put paid to that happening.

Mr Kitchener intends going to both screenings for question and answer sessions with cinema patrons.

Turntable ferries were unique to Scotland and were the precursor for roll-on roll-off ferries around the world.

In the film, Mr Kitchener goes in search of the last three, last seen together in 1975 when he was just nine years old, at Ballachulish in the Highlands of Scotland. It’s a detective story 45 years in the making and what a ride it is.

Mr Kitchener told the Lochaber Times: ‘At the time, few mourned their loss, relieved at the easier access to Fort William and the economic benefits the new road bridge provided. But ferries like those at Ballachulish were a uniquely Scottish invention. Their entire car deck rotated and delivered six vehicles at a time to any simply-made pier or slipway.’

Friendly with the ferryman, the young Graham Kitchener used to play on those last three ferry boats at Ballachulish and says he misses them like they were old friends. Whatever became of these quirky small ferries after they left the Loch Leven narrows in 1975?

Following the clues, we join him on a road trip through the Highlands and Islands of Scotland. Swooping aerial shots take in the splendour of the landscape as he pieces together the final fate of the last ferries of Ballachulish.


Ballachulish ferry from August 1959. Photograph: Retro Roamer.