*I am in the process of redesigning this section to include further information and many more high-res shots*
Tobermory, the Isle of Mull's capital, on the edge of a fine natural harbour, gets its name from the Gaelic tobar-mhoire which translates as "Mary's Well", after an ancient holy well dedicated to the Virgin Mary in what is now the upper part of the town. Designed by Thomas Telford, Tobermory was developed as a fishing port in 1788 by the country's Fishery Board, at the same time as Oban and Ullapool. The original settlement was a cluster of dwellings near where the current distillery now stands but the seafront was filled in and expanded to accommodate a variety of industrial buildings and additional housing.
You would think Tobermory would be mainly associated with its brightly painted houses, its small but busy fishing fleet, or its fine, locally produced malt whisky but these days the town is perhaps best known for its connections with children's television. First it had a Womble named after it then, many years later, it was used as the setting for the BBC TV children's series Balamory.
As well as the Tobermory whisky distillery, the town hosts the small but very interesting Mull Museum (Link)*, and the Mull Aquarium, the first catch and release aquarium in Europe. The clock tower on the harbour wall is a noted landmark. Its construction was funded by Isabella Bird, the famous Victorian traveller and writer, in memory of her sister Henrietta who had a house in Tobermory and spent much of her time assisting the local doctor.
The Mull Museum on Tobermory`s main street is worth a look and admission is free.
A model of an Iron Age Broch. These structures were probably roofed with timber and thatch, incorporating smoke holes. Staircases connected storage areas and thatched living platforms that had been secured to the inner wall at several levels. As well as providing protection from the elements and dangerous animals, the brochs were fortresses, defensible from enemy attack during times of conflict. There are only seven of these structures in Argyll, two of which can be found on Mull and another pair on Tiree. The Mull brochs are Dun nan Gall at Kilbrennan on the west side of the island and An Seam Chaisteal at Ardnacross on the east. The latter is so ruinous that it appears to be just a circular mound of stones.
This model shows how Moy Castle including its interior would have looked circa 1600. Standing close to the shores of Lochbuie, the Maclean stronghold comprises a three-level tower house with a garret. The crenellated parapet and the remains of two cap-houses survive at the upper level. The ground floor contains a well. It was captured from the Macleans of Lochbuie by Clan Campbell, but later returned to the Macleans. It was abandoned in 1752 when a new house was built.
The steamship Auriana was built by Swan Hunter, Newcastle-upon-Tyne for Cunard who intended to operate her between Europe and Canada. She was pressed into service as a troopship during the Great War and made a number of trans-Atlantic voyages, however, on 3 February 1918, while en route from Liverpool to New York, she was torpedoed by German submarine U-67, 15 miles off the northwest coast of Ireland.
Eight persons were lost and the stricken vessel was abandoned only to drift ashore off County Donegal. A salvage operation was mounted and she was taken in tow with the intention that she be brought to the Clyde for essential repairs. Unfortunately the tow line broke off the Isle of Mull during a storm and she drifted northward to Caliach Point where she foundered and sank. The wreck still lies on the ocean bed and this bell was brought to the surface by divers.
Due to the tight security, wartime photos of Tobermory are scare, but this view shows `Western Isles` and attendant vessels, but no warships under training. The following image shows a captured German U-Boat being escorted into Tobermory Bay on 10 August 1945.
Among the exhibits are pieces from, and information on some of the aircraft that have been wrecked on the island`s hills, particularly during the Second World War. The largest section on display is from the nose of RAF C-47B Dakota KK194 which crashed on Beinn Talaidh (763m / 2,502ft) en route to Prestwick Airport in Ayrshire, Scotland, on Thursday 1 Feb 1945 during a ferry flight from Canada. On board were 3 crew and 5 passengers, all RAF officers.
During the Second World War, thousands of small to medium-sized aircraft arrived on British soil at ports around the country having been transported on cargo ships. The `heavies`, however, as well as numerous other types, flew in from North America via Iceland and many passed through Prestwick before heading to their allocated squadrons. This Imperial War Museum photo shows the Transport Command Delivery Park on the Northeast Apron at Prestwick where planes were marshalled after being flown across the Atlantic. Among the types present are Consolidated Liberators, Douglas Dakotas, North American Mitchells, and Canadian-built Avro Lancaster B Mark Xs.
After a fuel and rest stop at Meeks Field (Reykjavik), KK194 proceeded towards RAF Prestwick, passing over the Western Isles and Inner Hebrides, but by this time the weather conditions were horrendous. It may be that the aircraft was flying lower than normal due partly to pilot disorientation and partly to icing on the wings, which would have made it very difficult for the pilot to maintain sufficient altitude. On reaching Mull, the aircraft failed to clear Beinn Talaidh and crashed 200 feet below the summit. The plane then slid a further 500ft down the mountain on the snow and ice, at which level visibility improved somewhat.
Three crew members including the pilot died in this accident, and five survived, one of whom sent up flares. After assisting others, F/L Auchinvole, who had sustained a back injury, set off down Glen Forsa to raise the alarm and met the first rescue party heading up the glen. F/L Auchinvole was able to give them the location of the crash site before passing out from his injuries and exhaustion. His colleagues were rescued and the bodies of those who died were recovered, in the latter case at a later date by Norwegian commandos who were training in the area.
Most of the wreckage has since been cleared but a propeller has been embedded in a granite boulder above the gully where the aircraft came to rest to act as a memorial to those who lost their lives. A small plaque is attached to one of the blades with the following inscription: `Dakota Mk IV KK194. Those who lost their lives were the following: Sqn Ldr Archibald Earnest Alderton 73083 RAFVR, Kings Courier and passenger, F/O Frank Bishop 162502 RAFVR Pilot, F/O Herbert Ellis 158646 RAFVR passenger. In their memory this memorial was attached to the propeller blade from KK194 by the Vice-chairman and Hon. Secretary of the Aircrew Association, Highland Branch, Inverness on 1st February 2005.`
The board displays artefacts collected from the wreckage of Bristol Beaufort Torpedo Bomber L7803 which crashed on Ben More, Mull`s highest peak and only Munro. (A hill or mountain that reaches or exceeds 3,000 feet (914 metres)). Although it was designed as a torpedo-bomber, the Beaufort was more often used as a medium day bomber. The type also flew more hours in training than on operational missions and more were lost through accidents and mechanical failures than were lost to enemy action. The Beaufort was adapted as a long-range heavy fighter variant to become the Beaufighter, which proved to be very successful.
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