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Fort William

(Inverlochy, An Gearasdan Ionbhar-lochaidh, An Gearasdan)

A historical perspective, drawn from the Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland: A Survey of Scottish Topography, Statistical, Biographical and Historical, edited by Francis H. Groome and originally published in parts by Thomas C. Jack, Grange Publishing Works, Edinburgh between 1882 and 1885.

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William, Fort, a small town in Kilmallie parish, Inverness-shire, near the head of salt-water Loch Linnhe and the southern end of the Caledonian Canal, in the mouth of Glen Nevis, 66 miles SSW of Inverness, 35 NNE of Oban, 50 WSW of Kingussie, and 134 NW of Edinburgh. A fortress, built here by General Monk in 1655, during Cromwell's protectorate, from a neighbouring castle took the name of the Garrison of Inverlochy, and had accommodation for 2000 men. But it was chiefly earth-built, and altogether of a temporary character, so that General Mackay in July 1690 replaced it with the present smaller stone structure, and renamed it Fort William, after William III. An irregular work of a triangular form, with ditch, glacis, and ravelin, a bomb-proof magazine, two bastions mounting 15 twelvepounders, and accommodation for 104 men, this fort was sold by Government about 1860 to Mrs Cameron Campbell of Monzie, and is now dismantled. At it the Glencoe murderers divided their spoil; and in the spring of 1746 it was vainly bombarded by the Jacobites under Brigadier Stapleton. The town itself bore the name first of Gordonsburgh, from being built on the property of the Gordons, and then of Maryburgh, after King William's consort. It chiefly consists of three parallel lines of buildings, forming two streets, and containing several good hotels and shops, whilst in the suburbs are a number of handsome villas. A favourite tourist resort, and the headquarters of one of the twenty-six Scottish fishery districts, Fort William has a post office, with money order, savings' bank, and telegraph departments, branches of the Bank of Scotland and the British Linen Company and National Banks, 9 insurance agencies, 6 hotels, a gas company, a public -hall, a new courthouse, a police station, a substantial stone quay (1834), a masonic lodge, a volunteer corps, a hospital founded by Andrew Belford, Esq. of Glenfintaig, for the poor of Kilmallie and Kilmonivaig parishes, and fairs on the forth Wednesday of March, the second Wednesday of June and November, the Tuesday after the second Thursday of July, and the Tuesday fortnight before Falkirk October Tryst. A new church and manse for Duncansburgh quoad sacra parish were built at Fort William in 1881 at a cost of £5000; but the great ornament of the place is St Andrew's Episcopal church (1880-81), an Early French Gothic structure, with tower and spire, a chime of three bells, stained windows throughout, and all its fittings of the most sumptuous description. The Roman Catholic church of the Immaculate Conception was built in 1868, and there is also a Free church. The public school, accommodating 306 pupils, and built at a cost of £3000, was opened in 1876; and the Episcopal and Roman Catholic schools are likewise handsome and recent erections. In or near the town are monuments to Wm. Kennedy, M.D., Capt. Peter Cameron, and Ewen Maclachlan, the Gaelic poet and scholar. Fort William was made into a police burgh in 1874, and is the seat of a sheriff court every Thursday during session. Pop. (1841) 1026, (l861) 1104, (1871) 1212, (1881) 1594, of whom 829 were females. Houses (1881) 333 inhabited, 9 vacant, 3 building.—Ord. Sur., sh. 53, 1877.

An accompanying 19th C. Ordnance Survey map is available, or use the map tab to the right of this page.

Note: This text has been made available using a process of scanning and optical character recognition. Despite manual checking, some typographical errors may remain. Please remember this description dates from the 1880s; names may have changed, administrative divisions will certainly be different and there are known to be occasional errors of fact in the original text, which we have not corrected because we wish to maintain its integrity. This information is provided subject to our standard disclaimer

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