Easdale, an island and a village of Kilbrandon parish, Argyllshire. The island lies 16 miles SW of Oban, off the W shore of Seil island, from which it is separated by a strait only 400 feet wide at the narrowest. With a somewhat roundish form, measuring 850 and 760 yards in the two greatest diameters, it rises at one point to a height of 130 feet above sea-level, but generally is very little higher than tide-mark. It presents an unattractive appearance, but is highly interesting for its valuable slate quarries. Commenced about 1631, these, in one part, have been carried to a depth of 220 feet below sea-level, being there kept dry by steam pumps and by the accumulated débris thrown up in the way of embankment; they have long been worked with the appliances of steam-engines and railroads; and they belong to the Earl of Breadalbane. In 1866 they were let to a company of workmen formed on co-operative principles, but, favourable as were the terms of the lease, the venture proved unprofitable, so in the following year they were transferred to a company of slate merchants, who have continued to work them with great vigour. They employ about 280 men, and turn out annually between seven and nine millions of slates, worth not less than £14,000. The strait between Easdale and Seil is used by the inhabitants of the two islands much in the manner of a highway, or similarly to the manner in which the people of Venice use their canals, the workmen especially disporting themselves on it in boats at all available times, and regularly crossing it at meal hours; it also is part of the ordinary marine highway of the western steamers between the Clyde and the N, affording passengers an opportunity of seeing the curious operations in the quarries; and it likewise serves as a good harbour, and has been entered in the course of a year by as many as 400 sailing vessels, most of them sloops, and many of them, even to the number of more than twelve at a time, waiting their turn to be cargoed with slates. The village stands on both sides of the strait, or is partly Easdale proper on Easdale island, and partly Ellanabriech on Seil; consists chiefly of snug, slated, one-story houses; and has a post office under Oban, with money order, savings' bank, and telegraph departments, a new pier (1873), a public school, a young men's improvement association, a library, and occasional lectures on popular and scientific subjects. Queen Victoria, when on her way to Ardverikie in 1847, had a brilliant reception at Easdale. Pop. of island (1841) 531, (1861) 449, (1871) 504, (1881) 490; of village, (1861) 772, (1871) 855, (1881) 805. See p. 76 of Trans. Highl. and Ag. Soc. for 1878.
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