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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, 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.
During the Second World War, Tobermory was home to Royal Navy training base HMS Western Isles, under the command of the legendary Vice-Admiral Sir Gilbert Stephenson, the so-called 'Terror of Tobermory'. His biography was written by broadcaster Richard Baker, who trained under him.
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