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Balivanich

(Balivanish, Baile Mhanaich, Bailebhainich)
Western Isles

A village of Benbecula in the Western Isles, Balivanich (Balivanish, Baile Mhanaich, Baile a' Mhanaich, Bail' a' Mhanaich or Bailebhainich) lies to the west of the causeway linking Benbecula to North Uist. It represents the most populous settlement in the Southern Isles and a significant commercial centre. The name meaning "town of the monks" relates to a monastery established here in the 6th century and the remains of Teampull Chaluim Chille can be seen to the south of the village. An airfield to the north, built during World War II, became a long-range radar station (RAF Benbecula) and the control centre for the Hebrides rocket range, established in 1957 at the height of the Cold War. It benefitted from a major upgrade in 2002, but the monitoring facilities closed in 2004 as the radar head became remotely-controlled. The size of the village has grown and declined with the fortunes of the military facilities. There are air links with Glasgow, Barra and Stornoway, a hospital, a community primary school (which occupied a new building in 2011), several shops, a bakery, laundry, bank, police station, post office and government offices. Former military facilities were redeveloped as the East Camp Community Enterprise Park. Benbecula Golf Course also occupies former military buildings on the edge of Benbecula Airport. Between 2000-4, the Balivanich Regeneration Project has revitalised former Ministry of Defence (MoD) housing, now owned by the Western Isles Council, at a cost of £2.5 million bringing much-needed public housing to the island.


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