|Top - MacBrayne's cruise steamer King George V (1936-74) at Fort William; bottom - the Corran Ferry|
I like piers. They're places where you can watch boats and sometimes even get on one which is always a good thing. If not, then you're often surrounded by water on three sides and can pretend you're on a boat. You can also go fishing. When I was young, I remember being invited to go "beach fishing" and thinking, "What's that all about - surely you can only go fishing from a pier?" As a child (late 60s, early 70s), we were more likely to say "Can we go to the pier?" than to the beach.
|Armadale on Skye - a pier which ticks a lot of boxes|
|MacBrayne's cargo steamer SS Claymore (1881-1931) at Gairloch Pier|
Anyway, one of my favourite abandoned "local piers" (although it's not in Alistair's book because I'm guessing there's a sequel to come called "Western Isles Piers") is the one at Croggan on the south shore of Loch Spelve in Mull.
In such a very remote location, the pier seems incongruously imposing. There are just a handful of crofts at Croggan (now, of course, mostly holiday houses) although it was no doubt designed also to serve the needs of the village of Lochbuie a mile or two to the west which is too exposed to the prevailing south westerly winds to allow reliably regular calls by steamers.
|Photo credit ceeyefaitch|
|Croggan - picture credit Graham Maxwell|
|Black Mill Bay, Luing|
EDIT - also just noticed that the pier is marked on the 1897 edition of the Ordnance 6 inch map.
Anyway, this is all by way of a very long introduction to a series of photos of Croggan Pier in use which I was fasconated to see on the Ships of Calmac forum. They were taken by forum member Craig McDowall's grandfather who grew up in Croggan (his grandmother from Lochbuie although they all now live in the north of Mull) and with Craig's permission I reproduce them here and let them speak for themselves:-
I don't know exactly when Croggan Pier closed for business, but in Duckworth & Langmuir's "West Highland Steamers", I read that, from July 1953, "further road transport and cargo trans-shipment was introduced so that Glasgow goods for Luing, Lismore and Croggan were conveyed via Oban." I don't know how that would have worked in practice, though - were goods for Croggan off-loaded at Oban, transferred there to the Mull mail steamer, then off-loaded again at Salen (the first pier on Mull up the Sound of Mull before Craignure Pier was built in 1963) and eventually taken by lorry to Croggan and Lochbuie? If so, I'm not sure how that fits with the fact that D&L tell us in the next sentence that goods for Bunessan and Fionnphort, further west on Mull, were to be conveyed by road from the cargo steamer at Tobermory. Anyway, I'm guessing the changes in 1953 spelt the end for Croggan Pier (and Black Mill Bay on Luing). Cargo services to the Western Isles finally ended in 1976 with all the islands by then being linked by ro-ro ferries.
|Picture credit tobers|