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Invergordon and the Cromarty Firth from the Black Isle
©2020 Gazetteer for Scotland

Invergordon and the Cromarty Firth from the Black Isle

A large village in Easter Ross, Invergordon lies 11 miles (18 km) northeast of Dingwall adjacent to the sheltered deep waters of the Cromarty Firth. The modern town was laid out, replacing the older settlement of Inverbreakie (or Innerbrachie), by Sir William Gordon of Embo, who purchased the castle and estate in the 18th Century. A harbour built in 1828 was expended in 1857 and the town developed in association with port trade, whisky distilling and coaching travel, boosted by the arrival of the railway in 1863.

Invergordon became a refuelling and repair base for naval cruisers during World War I. It offered one of the largest and safest anchorages in Britain, ideal for the Navy, and the area surrounding the town became prosperous with the influx of employment linked to the dockyard. It was here that the entire complement of the Atlantic Fleet went on strike when the government tried to reduce its costs during the economic downturn of 1931 by cutting ratings pay. Crisis was averted by the direct intervention of King George V. Flying boats of the Royal Air Force were based here during World War II. Although the naval base has been closed since 1956, the proximity of Invergordon to the North Sea oilfields has encouraged oilrig construction and maintenance facilities to develop in the area. The British Aluminium Company built a smelter here in 1971 on the promise of cheap nuclear electricity from Hunterston 'B'. This attracted in-migration to the town from Central Scotland. The plant was never economic but its closure in 1982 brought significant unemployment and social problems. Yet, the continued importance of Invergordon to the economy of this part of the Highlands is reflected by it being the location of the headquarters of Ross and Cromarty Enterprise. Cargo trade and the berthing of summer cruise liners continue to supplement distilling, food processing and microelectronics and major sources of employment.

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