History of the boat yard at Ardentrive Bay, Isle of Kerrera – 24.6.21

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In this concluding article Oban Times reader Douglas Lindsay of Kilmore shares the second part of his research into the history of the boat yard at Ardentrive Bay, on the Island of Kerrera

At the start of the Second World War the yard was taken over by the RAF as a base for servicing their Sunderland and Catalina flying boats which made long flights out into the Atlantic looking for submarines near convoys.


This photograph was taken in 1941 and shows a Sunderland on the slip with big yachts still pulled up beside it. I have been told that some of these yachts were taken out and sunk to make space in the yard! Later they got more organised and made the wide concrete slip which is evident today. This largely covered the original heavy duty slipway rails. Many other buildings were put up around the yard with lookout stations on surrounding hilltops, bomb stores around the bay and air raid shelters here and there.

In 1947 Guy Goodbody bought the yard and ran it as Oban Bay Shipyard until 1951 when it was put up for auction. It was bought by Marine Craft Construction which had a yard near Dumbarton. They stripped out the machinery and demolished some steel buildings and sold them for scrap. They left the yard derelict until they were declared bankrupt in 1965 and I bought the yard from the receiver in 1967.

My brother David and I started to clear up the mess and opened for business as Oban Yacht Services in 1968. We reroofed the workshop and office, and built the big shed at the top of the slip. It became a popular place to lay up and we used to fill the big shed very tightly with yachts every autumn, with more in the open behind it.

We equipped the workshop with band saw, circular saw and planer, and fitted a hand derrick on the pier for lifting masts, all of which let us undertake a wide range of repairs and maintenance. We extended the shed in 1973 and built a mast store beyond the workshop.

In 1975 we took delivery of Dirka 27ft Cheverton launch, which served us well as workboat and ferry across the bay. Then in 1977 we moved the shed, which had been an eyesore on the slope above the slip, to the flat ground behind the big shed, covered it with new sheeting and fitted roller shutter doors to both sheds. Using the two winch trucks and homemade bogeys we could slip yachts for very little capital outlay.

When we started there was no mains electricity on Kerrera, so we had our own generators, but the Hydro Board installed the mains in April 1977 which was a huge improvement, especially for running the workshop machinery. My brother sadly died in 1983 and in 1992 we sold the yard and the house we had built and moved to the mainland.

I would like to express my thanks to Iain Thornber for his generous sharing of information which made this article possible, to Bob McCulloch for the many photographs he discovered and shared with me, and to Neil Owen for further photographs and information about the war years.