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Lochmaddy

(Loch na Madadh)
Western Isles

Looking out onto a sea loch of the same name, the modest village of Lochmaddy (Gael: Loch na Madadh) is the chief settlement and port of North Uist in the Outer Hebrides. Situated on the northeast coast, Lochmaddy developed in the 18th and 19th centuries as a fishing centre and port frequented by ships from as far afield as Ireland and the Baltic. Herring were landed and packed in barrels, to be exported to Scandinavia and Russia. Salt was produced from seawater as a preservative for these fish. Today Lochmaddy is principally a ferry-port with regular sailings from Uig on Skye and Tarbert on Harris.

Lochmaddy benefits from a post office (opened in 1829), police station, two hotels, a B-listed Sheriff Court and an historic old courthouse, with its prisoner exercise yard, all of which are also B-listed. Lochmaddy Hospital, which began as the Long Island Combination Poorhouse in 1892, closed in 2001 having been replaced by a new Uist and Barra Hospital in Balivanich.

Lochmaddy once had an outstation of the Institute for Seaweed Research, based at Inveresk in East Lothian. In 1956 a factory producing alginates from seaweed was established here. The industry reached its peak in the 1970s, with up to 12,000 tonnes per year processed, but the plant closed in 1986. Seaweed is still harvested but now processed on the mainland

Visitor attractions include the Uist Outdoor Centre and the Taigh Chearsabhagh Museum and Arts Centre, located in an 18th-century merchant's mansion. Brothers and founder members of the folk-rock band Runrig Rory and Calum Macdonald were raised here.


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