Oban (/ˈoʊbən/ ( listen) OH-bən; An t-Òban in
Scottish Gaelic meaning The Little Bay) is a resort town within the
Argyll and Bute
Argyll and Bute council area of Scotland. Despite its small size, it
is the largest town between
Helensburgh and Fort William. During the
tourist season, the town can play host to up to 25,000
Oban occupies a setting in the Firth of Lorn.
The bay is a near perfect horseshoe, protected by the island of
Kerrera; and beyond Kerrera, the Isle of Mull. To the north, is the
long low island of Lismore, and the mountains of
Morvern and Ardgour.
4 Local attractions
9 Town twinning
10 See also
12 Further reading
13 External links
The site where
Oban now stands has been used by humans since at least
mesolithic times, as evidenced by archaeological remains of cave
dwellers found in the town. Just outside the town stands Dunollie
Castle, on a site that overlooks the main entrance to the bay and has
been fortified since the Bronze age. Prior to the 19th century, the
town itself supported very few households, sustaining only minor
fishing, trading, shipbuilding and quarrying industries, and a few
hardy tourists. The Renfrew trading company established a
storehouse there in about 1714 as a local outlet for its merchandise,
but a Custom-house was not deemed necessary until 1736 when "Oban
being reckoned a proper place for clearing out vessels for the herring
The modern town of
Oban grew up around the distillery, which was
founded there in 1794. The town was raised to a burgh of barony in
1811 by royal charter. Sir
Walter Scott visited the area in 1814,
the year in which he published his poem The Lord of the Isles;
interest in the poem brought many new visitors to the town. The town
was made a Parliamentary Burgh in 1833. A rail link - the Callander
Oban Railway - was authorised in 1864 but took years to reach the
town. The final stretch of track to
Oban opened on 30 June 1880. This
brought further prosperity, revitalising local industry and giving new
energy to tourism. Also at this time work on the ill-fated
was commenced but abandoned, and left to fall into disrepair, after
1882 when Dr Orr, the schemes originator, realised he had grossly
underestimated its cost. Work on McCaig's Tower, a prominent local
landmark, started in 1895. It was paid for by John Stewart McCaig
(1824-1902) and was constructed, in hard times, to give work for local
stone masons. However, its construction ceased in 1902 on the death of
Oban in 1900
During World War II,
Oban was used by Merchant and
Royal Navy ships
and was an important base in the Battle of the Atlantic. The Royal
Navy had a signal station near Ganavan, and an anti-submarine
indicator loop station, which detected any surface or submarine
vessels between Oban,
Mull and Lismore. There was a controlled
minefield in the Sound of Kerrera, which was operated from a building
near the caravan site at Gallanach. There was also a Royal Air Force
flying boat base at Ganavan and on Kerrera, and an airfield at North
Connel built by the Royal Air Force. A Sector Operations Room was
built near the airfield; after the war, this was extended to become
Royal Observer Corps
Royal Observer Corps Group HQ.
Oban was also important during the
Cold War because the first
Transatlantic Telephone Cable (TAT-1) came ashore at Gallanach Bay.
This carried the Hot Line between the US and
USSR presidents. At North
Connel, next to the airfield/airport was the NRC (Nuclear Reporting
Cell) of the
Royal Observer Corps
Royal Observer Corps (29 October 1925 to 31 December
Since the 1950s, the principal industry has remained tourism, though
the town is also an important ferry port, acting as the hub for CalMac
- Caledonian McBrayne - ferries to many of the islands of the Inner
and Outer Hebrides.
As with the rest of the British Isles,
Oban experiences a maritime
climate with cool summers and mild winters. The nearest official Met
Office weather station for which online records are available is
Dunstaffnage, about 2.7 miles (4.3 km) north-north east of Oban
town centre. Rainfall is high, but thanks to the
Gulf stream the
temperature seldom falls below zero.
Climate data for Dunstaffnage 3m asl, 1971-2000 (Weather station 2.7
miles (4.3 km) NNE of Oban)
Record high °C (°F)
Average high °C (°F)
Average low °C (°F)
Record low °C (°F)
Average precipitation mm (inches)
Average precipitation days (≥ mm)
Average rainy days (≥ mm)
Average snowy days (≥ cm)
Mean monthly sunshine hours
Met Office 
Source #2: Weatherbase 
The local culture is Gaelic. In 2011, 8.2% of the town's population
over age 3 could speak Gaelic and 11.3% had some facility in the
Oban is considered the home of the Royal National Mòd,
since it was first held there in 1892, with ten competitors on a
Saturday afternoon. The town hosted the centenary Mod in 1992 (the
year it became Royal) and in 2003 the 100th Mod, the two events
attracting thousands of competitors and visitors (the 100th Mod was
later than the centenary because it was not held in the war years).
The Mod is held in
Oban roughly every 6–8 years, and has last been
held in October 2015.
An annual Highland Games, known as the Argyllshire Gathering, is
also held in the town.
The Corran Halls theatre acts as a venue for community events,
local and touring entertainers, and touring companies such as Scottish
The town had a two-screen cinema, which was closed in early 2010.
Thanks to a local community initiative, and supported by a number of
famous names, it was reopened in August 2012 as the Phoenix
Oban has itself been used as a backdrop to several films,
including Ring of Bright Water and
Oban War and Peace Museum advances the education of present and
future generations by collecting, maintaining, conserving and
exhibiting items of historical and cultural interest relating to the
Oban area in peacetime and during the war years. A museum also
Oban Distillery, just behind the main seafront. The
distillation of whisky in
Oban predates the town: whisky has been
produced on the site since 1794. The Hope MacDougall collection
 is a unique record of the working and domestic lives of people in
Music is central to Gaelic culture, and there is lively interest in
the town. In the 2010 Pipe Band season, the local
Oban High School
Pipe Band, led by Angus MacColl, was successful in winning the World
Pipe Band Championships in Glasgow, the Cowal Games competition, and
the Champion of Champions for the year in the novice-juvenile grade.
The town also boasts a successful senior pipe band. The local
Gaelic choir competes regularly and successfully in the Mod.
During the 2011 Guy Fawkes Night,
Oban became briefly infamous for its
fireworks display, which became a worldwide news and online hit when
£6,000 of display fireworks were ignited all at once due to a
computer error. The display, which was due to last 20–30 minutes,
was over in less than a minute. Pyro1, the company putting on the
display, later said sorry to the town by providing a free fireworks
The town has been the birthplace and home of a number of well known
Oban Bay from McCaig's Tower. The bay is sheltered by the island of
Kerrera. Behind lies the Isle of Mull.
Oban and bay at night, note
McCaig's Tower is illuminated.
The area around
Oban is rich with attractions for tourists, from the
dramatic scenery of the coast and mountains to the fascinating
histories of the local castles and ancient religious sites. There are
also many activities available for families and those interested in
more active pursuits. The
Oban and Lorn tourist information website
has detailed information for visitors.
Oban Visitor Information Centre, operated by VisitScotland, is
located in the Columba Buildings on the North Pier.
Bay aerial view
City aerial view
Isle of Mull
Isle of Mull ferry leaving the terminal
South Uist to Mallaig
Baile Mòr, Iona
Port Askaig & Kennacraig
Glasgow Queen Street
Oban lies at the western end of the A85 road. It also has a railway
station from where a number of
Abellio ScotRail trains run to and from
Glasgow Queen Street daily. The town is also an important ferry port:
it is Caledonian MacBrayne's busiest terminal.
Oban is known as the
"Gateway to the Isles", with ferries sailing to the islands of
Lismore, Colonsay, Islay, Coll, Tiree, to
Craignure on Mull, to
Barra and to
Lochboisdale on South Uist. In 2005, a new
ferry terminal was opened, and in 2007 a second linkspan opened,
allowing two vessels to load/unload at the same time.
Scottish Citylink run buses from Glasgow's Buchanan bus station
several times a day; in summer, buses run from Dundee via Perth (route
973) and to Edinburgh via Stirling (route 978).
West Coast Motors
West Coast Motors operate many local services and also coach links as
far south as
Lochgilphead and as far north as Fort William.
Oban has an airport outside the village of North Connel, some 5 miles
NE of the town. In 2007, a further airlink was created between Oban
and west-central Scotland: seaplanes fly from
Glasgow city centre's
Seaplane Terminal off the Clyde to the bay in Oban.
Oban has a primary school campus located in the south of the town
along with Park Primary School at the north of the town, and a major
Oban High School. Secondary school pupils are drawn from
a wide surrounding catchment area, with some pupils having long
commutes to and from school every day. Students who live on
surrounding islands such as
Mull stay at a local hostel during
the school week. The school funds the hostel so that the families of
the students don't have to pay themselves.
St Columba's Cathedral
Oban is served by Kilmore &
Oban Parish Church of the Church of
Scotland. There are three church buildings in the united parish,
namely at Glencruitten Road and the white church (opened in 1957) at
Corran Esplanade in the town, as well as Kilmore Church. The minister
(since 2007) is the Rev. Dugald Cameron, who formerly served at St.
John's Renfield Church, Glasgow.
The mother church of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Argyll and the
St Columba's Cathedral
St Columba's Cathedral at the north end of the Esplanade.
During the 19th century, the Rector of the
Pro-Cathedral was Father
Allan MacDonald, a poet and Gaelic scholar. The present cathedral was
designed by Sir
Giles Gilbert Scott
Giles Gilbert Scott and constructed between 1932 and
Scottish Episcopal Church
Scottish Episcopal Church is represented in
Oban by the Cathedral
Church of St John the Divine, situated in George Street. It is one
of two cathedrals of the united Diocese of Argyll and the Isles, the
other being the
Cathedral of the Isles
Cathedral of the Isles in Millport, Isle of Cumbrae.
There are several other churches in the town, including the Free
Scotland in Rockfield Road, the
Baptist Church in Albany
Salvation Army in Stevenson Street,
Elim Pentecostal Church
Elim Pentecostal Church in
Soroba Road, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the
Lorn Christian Fellowship (Independent) both of whom meet at
School and the Associated Presbyterian Church in Campbell Street.
The Congregational Church in Tweedale Street was built in 1880.
A Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses is located nearby at 57 Lorn
Oban's proximity to the mountains and the sea means that a wide array
of sports are available to visitors and locals, from scuba-diving to
coasteering to sailing to mountain biking to winter mountaineering.
Other activities of note in the town are:
The local amateur football team is
Oban Saints with a small stadium
situated in Mossfield. However, shinty is a more popular game locally,
with two major teams,
Oban Camanachd and
Oban Celtic, in the town. The
Oban Times runs a "Spot the
Shinty Ball" competition each week. Oban
Cricket Club was formed in 2003 and plays in nearby Taynuilt. Oban
Rugby Football Club turned 50 years old in 2012, and competes in
the RBS West region. The Highlanders were a World Wrestling
Entertainment wrestling tag-team originally from Oban.
course was designed by professional golfer James Braid in the early
1900s, and offers a challenging 18 holes across difficult terrain.
The West Highland
Tennis Championships are held annually in July and
attract some of Scotland's best players to the town. Past champions
Colin Fleming and Judy Murray.
Oban also has a thriving martial arts scene, with karate, kick boxing,
mixed martial arts, and boxing all available.
Watersports are an obvious activity in a seaport, and sailing is very
popular. West Highland Week  brings sailors from around the world
to the town every year.
Scuba diving is also readily available. The
wreck diving is spectacular, with the Sound of
Mull offering some
truly world-class dive sites. Although weather and visibility can be
variable, the local geography means that a dive somewhere can always
Laurinburg, North Carolina
Laurinburg, North Carolina (United States) became a sister city to
Oban in 1993. The initial agreement was between
Scotland County, North
Carolina, and Argyll & Bute District Council. Following
reorganisation in 1995, the agreement was confirmed by Argyll &
Bute Council in 1997. In 1997
Oban was also twinned with Gorey, County
Wexford, in Ireland.
Oban, New Zealand, a small village on Stewart Island, New Zealand,
named after Oban
^ Ainmean-Àite na h-Alba ~ Gaelic Place-names of
Place-names of Scotland
^ John Butler. "Pronunciation of Scotch Whiskys". School of
Informatics, University of Edinburgh. Retrieved 12 Oct 2014.
^ The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of
Scotland (1974). Argyll, An Inventory of the Ancient Monuments, Volume
2 Lorn. HMSO. ISBN 0 11 491147 9.
^ "History of Oban".
Oban Tourist Information Centre.
Oban History". The Gazetteer for Scotland.
^ "Dunstaffnage 1971-2000 averages". Met Office. Archived from the
original on 19 October 2011. Retrieved 2 November 2011.
Oban weather records". Weatherbase. Retrieved 23 November
Scotland Census, Table QS211SC.
Oban Games - Information about The
^ "The Corran Halls - Oban".
Argyll and Bute
Argyll and Bute Council. 6 December
^ "Dame Judi Dench in bid to save
Oban cinema". 17 February 2011 –
Scotland the Movie Location Guide - Oban".
Oban Distillery - The Distilleries of
Scotland - scotchwhisky.net".
^ "Dunollie House Oban :: O, A, J".
Oban Pipe Band on top of the world". 20 August 2011.
Oban Gaelic Choir". www.obangaelicchoir.co.uk.
^ Mullen, Scott (8 November 2011). "Fireworks company to put on free
show to make up for display which lasted just 50 seconds because of
^ "A SCOTS town's bungled firework display has become a YouTube
sensation — after the £6,000 display lasted less than a
Oban & Lorn Tourism Alliance :: Home".
^ "Visit Oban: The Gateway to the Isles -
Scotland blog - By Scotland
^ "Kilmore &
Oban Church of Scotland".
^ "St. John - An Online Cathedral For St John The Apostle". Archived
from the original on 3 August 2010.
^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 7 August 2008.
Retrieved 10 December 2008.
^ "50th Birthday Celebration for
Golf Course, Argyll, Scotland, Glencruitten
^ "West Highland
^ "West Highland Yachting Week".
Gorey Town Twinning".
Gorey Town Council. Retrieved 10 June
Hughes, Mike, The
Hebrides at War. Canongate Books, 1998,
Batstone, Stephanie, Wren's Eye View, The Adventures of a Visual
Signaller, Parapress Ltd, 1994, ISBN 1-898594-12-0. Written by a
Wren based in
Oban for most of WWII.
Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Oban.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Oban.
Oban Times (local newspaper)
Oban War and Peace Museum
Royal Air Force
Royal Air Force Oban
Anti-submarine indicator loop at Oban
Minefield control tower at Gallanach
ROC Group HQ Connel