Brief description of the Kintyre-Machrihanish  region which Fessenden would have seen had he  been present when his station was constructed.  Hopefully he may have been but no details exist of him being on site. (yet)

Kintyre is the long peninsula nearest to Northern Ireland and is approx 30 miles from its northern end at Tarbert to the village of Southend at it’s southern extremity. The distance from its southern end the  Mull of Kintyre  proper is only 12 miles from the Antrim coast of Northern Ireland . It is populated mainly along the coastal fringe. The spine being of high heather covered moorland rising up to about 446 metres at its southern end. The main town is and was Campbeltown now about 5000 population in the south and Tarbert in the north with very much less. Several villages existed outside the main town but of only a few hundred population.  Southend already mentioned and Carradale in the north east and again Machrihanish  in the south west on the lee of the much higher land known as the Mull proper to the south.

The land was very arable and a large numbers of farms existed throughout the area . Crops of barley were also abundant for the local whisky distilling industry.  Campbeltown was, near the 1900’s known as the whisky capital of Scotland with well over a dozen “legal” stills in use. In those days the smoke from the aforementioned  distilleries must have hung over the place .

The other main occupation of the area was herring fishing and again the quality and quantity of Campbeltown herring was well acknowledged .Carradale and Tarbert also had large fishing fleets.

Weather was also reasonably kind with no great extremes due to the nearness of the Gulf Stream . In fact the area is blessed with many palm trees due to its mildness. Snow is not a problem here and only exceptionally lies more than a few days on the coastal strip.

So what is different now from Fessenden’s time ?…..well the fishing industry has almost gone, possibly due to Laws of the European Common Market and it must be admitted the over fishing of the stock by our own crews. Only a few small boats remain fishing or dredging for prawns and clams.

Whisky distilling has vanished and only two producing distilleries exist now in Campbeltown. The once popular railway has gone as the road service improved gradually and unfortunately the coal mine has also gone. Both the latter were at Machrihanish

Farming again has changed and large numbers of smaller farms have been succumbed by much fewer but of course now larger farms.

Machrihanish however, at least the village itself, would not have looked all that much different. There were large houses which still exist today as does the Lossett Estate on which Fessendens site was of course built. Smaller houses now fill in the spaces , many of those built after WW2.There was as mentioned above in Fessendens time  a small coal mine near Machrihanish served by a small narrow gauge railway  supplementing the roadway to Campbeltown. Machrihanish also boasted a fine golf course as it does to this day.

The actual site of the radio station is about 600 yds to the west of the village and was built on a slightly raised beach. Although Machrihanish has almost 5 miles of golden sand the beach  at the radio station is completely different and consists mainly of small boulders  covered by thin grass areas. The Atlantic being only 300 feet from the station must have drenched the site many times and of course its very exposed location was instrumental to the collapse of the mast itself.

This part of the coast is subject to hurricane force gusts especially November till March.

Basically that was and is Kintyre still a beautiful place and we would like to keep it a secret as long as possible!!!

There are many excellent internet pages showing the area with its beautiful scenery and seascapes...


Duncan MacArthur