|Scots: The Cairn|
Cairnryan shown within Dumfries and Galloway
|Population||142 (2001 Census)|
|OS grid reference|
|Council area||Dumfries and Galloway|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|UK Parliament||Dumfries and Galloway|
|Scottish Parliament||Galloway and West Dumfries|
Cairnryan (Scots: The Cairn) is a small Scottish village in Dumfries and Galloway on the eastern shore of Loch Ryan. The village is important in maritime history, with a ferry service connecting Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Cairnryan has two ferry terminals connecting Scotland to Northern Ireland. The first opened in 1973, originally operated by Townsend Thoresen and now by P&O Ferries links Scotland with the port of Larne. The second at Old House Point is operated by Stena Line linking to the port of Belfast.
In September 2013 a bus link, route 350 operated by McLeans, was introduced between the P&O Ferries and Stena Line ferry terminals at Cairnryan and Stranraer railway station. The bus route also serves the centre of Stranraer. Stranraer railway station is served by trains run by First ScotRail to Ayr and Glasgow Central.
Cairnryan was established in 1701, when Lochryan House was built, along with many of the houses in the North End of the village, for workers on the Lochryan Estate. A slate quarry may be seen in the side of the face of the Cairn Hill which overlooks the village, where the slates for the housing roofs were sourced from. Features of the Estate included a Deer Park, and a Bowling Green. These, along with houses on the shore side of the main road, would make way for the war construction the village would see.
During World War II, Cairnryan became No.2 Military Port, and three harbour piers and a military railway, linking the village with nearby Stranraer, were built by the army. Only one pier remains; one was dismantled and another was destroyed in an ammunition explosion shortly after the war. The remaining pier is now in a state of disrepair and is fenced off. Despite this many anglers use this pier for mackerel, cod, dogfish, mullet and plaice.
Thousands of troops were based locally, in military camps. At the end of the war, the Atlantic U-boat fleet surrendered in Loch Ryan and was anchored in the port before being towed to the North Channel and scuttled. This activity was codenamed 'Operation Deadlight'.
For a period after the war, the port was used to load surplus ammunition onto army landing craft for disposal at sea – a hazardous task, which took the lives of several at the port, while the long-term and wider risks of such dumping have only later become more evident. In 1957 and 1958, Cairnryan Wharf and the port/jetty were again used in a joint Army/RAF operation called 'Operation Hardrock'. This operation was to build a rocket-tracking station on the remote island of St Kilda. Heavy plant and other equipment was transported using RASC Landing Craft Tanks (LCTs). Military activity ceased in the early 1960s, when most of the military infrastructure was abandoned, then dismantled, apart from the pier.
In the early 1950s, to the South End of the village,houses for were built at Claddyburn Terrace, which increased the village's population.
In the late 1960s, Ship breaking became the main industry; the British aircraft carriers HMS Centaur, HMS Bulwark, HMS Eagle, and HMS Ark Royal were all sent for demolition, as well as a number of other vessels, including HMS Mohawk and HMS Blake. As recently as 1990, Soviet Navy submarines were being dismantled for scrap.
The main facilities in the village today, are the Lochryan Hotel, some bed and breakfasts and guest houses, the caravan site built on the site of an old war camp site, Village Shop and the Merchant's House Restaurant. Up until the early 2000s, there was also a Post Office and petrol station. The village church was demolished in 1990.
Its status as a ferry port looks to be secured, with P&O Irish Sea continuing to depart from Cairnryan and Stena Line operating from a new terminal at Old House Point. This means a major financial investment in the North Channel routes and significant long term security for the village and the wider Loch Ryan basin.
- List of railway station names in English, Scots and Gaelic
- "Stranraer harbour bids farewell to ferries". BBC News. 18 November 2011.
- "Ferry terminal plan makes headway". BBC. 9 January 2009. Retrieved 2009-01-13.
Media related to Cairnryan at Wikimedia Commons