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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Tobermory, a seaport village in the N of Mull island, Argyllshire, 28 miles WNW of Oban, and 2½ W by S of the nearest point of the Morvern mainland. It stands at the head of a sheltered bay, on the SW side, and towards the north-western entrance of the Sound of Mull; and it was built in 1788, at the same time as Ullapool, by the British Fisheries Company, as the site of a fishing establishment, and the rendezvous of the herring vessels. Its name means ' Mary's Well,' and was taken from a fountain on the spot, which was dedicated to the Virgin, and had much celebrity in pre-Reformation days. The chief part of the town is arranged in the form of a crescent; but an upper town, surmounting a cliff to the rear, consists almost wholly of poor cottages or huts, though a number of villas have been recently built on the outskirts. The harbour or bay is spacious, and almost completely landlocked; and -is sheltered across the entrance, and at a brief distance, by Calve Island. A new quay and pier, constructed by the proprietor, F. W. Caldwell, Esq. of Mishnish, at a cost of over £2000, was opened in 1864. As the only town in Mull, and in a large circumjacent district, both Hebridean and continental, Tobermory possesses much provincial importance, and is the seat of some domestic trade. As a seaport, it is the natural outlet of the surplus produce of northern Mull; and enjoys regular steamboat communication with Oban, the Clyde, etc. It has a post office under Oban, with money order, savings' bank, and telegraph departments, branches of the Clydesdale and North of Scotland Bank, 18 insurance agencies, 3 hotels, a reading-room and library, a Scottish Baronial courthouse (1862), a public school, a girls' industrial school, a poorhouse, etc. A new water supply was introduced in 1882 at a cost of over £6000. Places of worship are the quoad sacra parochial church (1827 - 28), a Baptist chapel (1816), and a new Free church (1878-79). The last is an Early English edifice, built at a cost of over £3400, with a tower and spire, and 500 sittings. The quoad sacra parish, which was constituted ecclesiastically in 1827, and politically in 1845, is in the presbytery of Mull and the synod of Argyll; its minister's stipend is £120, with manse and glebe. The town is a police burgh under the General Police and Improvement Act (Scot.) of 1862, being governed by a chief magistrate and two bailies, who act, with three others, as police commissioners. Its prison was closed in 1884. The ' Florida,' one of the ships of the Spanish Armada, in 1588 was blown up in Tobermory Bay (see Inveraray), where the ill-fated Earl of Argyll put in on 11 May 1685, and where the Queen passed the night of 19 Aug. 1847 on board the royal yacht. Pop. of village (1841) 1396, (1851) 1543, (1871) 1196, (1881) 1200, of whom 1007 were Gaelic-speaking and 629 females; of q. s. parish (1871) 1344, (1881) 1342. Houses in town (1881) 180 inhabited, 10 vacant, 4 building.

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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