|Town and sea port|
Stranraer looking west from the castle tower, Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland
|Population||10,110 (mid-2020 est.)|
|OS grid reference|
|• Edinburgh||102 mi (164 km)|
|• London||310 mi (499 km)|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
Stranraer (UK: // stran-RAR, in Scotland also /-/ strən-; Scottish Gaelic: An t-Sròn Reamhar [ən̪ˠ t̪ʰɾɔːn ˈɾãũ.əɾ]), also known as The Toon, is a town in Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland. It is located in the historical parish of Inch in the historic county of Wigtownshire. It lies on the shores of Loch Ryan, on the northern side of the isthmus joining the Rhins of Galloway to the mainland. Stranraer is Dumfries and Galloway's second-largest town, with a population including the immediate surrounding area of nearly 13,000 inhabitants.
Stranraer is an administrative centre for the West Galloway Wigtownshire area of Dumfries and Galloway. It was formerly a ferry port, connecting Scotland with Belfast and Larne in Northern Ireland; the last service was transferred to nearby Cairnryan in November 2011. It lies by road 87 miles (140 km) southwest of Glasgow, 52 miles (84 km) miles southwest of Ayr and 72 miles (116 km) to the west of Dumfries.
The Battle of Loch Ryan was fought near Stranraer on 9/10 February 1307 during the Scottish Wars of Independence. King Robert I of Scotland's invasion of his ancestral lands in Annandale and Carrick began in 1307. The Annandale and Galloway invasion force was led by his brothers Alexander de Brus and Thomas de Brus, Malcolm McQuillan, Lord of Kintyre, an Irish sub-king and Sir Reginald de Crawford. The force consisted of 1,000 men and 18 galleys. They sailed into Loch Ryan and landed near Stranraer. The invasion force was quickly overwhelmed by local forces, led by Dungal MacDouall, who was a supporter of the Balliols, Comyns and King Edward I of England, and only two galleys escaped. All the leaders were captured. MacDouall summarily executed the Irish sub-king and Malcolm McQuillan, Lord of Kintyre. Alexander, Thomas and Reginald de Crawford were sent to Carlisle, England, where they were executed. The heads of McQuillan and two Irish chiefs were sent to King Edward I.
On 12 November 1595, the "Clashant of Stranrawer" was named part of Ninian Adair's lands of Barony  and in 1596 was erected into a burgh of barony, the Barony of Kinhilt. This is recorded in the Register of the Great Seal of Scotland. The partial translation into English is:
At Linlithgow, 12 November 1595, the King confirms and for faithful service again dedicates to Ninian Adair of Kinhilt, and the legitimate male heirs of his body, which failing his nearest legitimate male heirs whosoever bear the name and insignia of Adair[, various lands....] In addition, the King creates the village at Clauchane de Stranraer as a free burgh of the barony with a free port, called the Burgh and Port of Stranraer; and the said Ninian etc shall have the authority to appoint a bailiff, treasurer, Dean of Guild, magistrate, burgesses, officials etc; and the burgesses shall have the authority and leave to pack and unpack [meaning the selling of bulk merchandise (wholesale trade) allowed by law only by free men in a free burgh], to buy and sell [also allowed only in a free burgh] etc; [...] and the said Ninian etc shall have authority to hold the position of governor of the said burgh, [...] to hold weekly markets on Saturday, with free (untaxed) market days twice a year, viz Saint Barnabas' day the 11th of June, and at Peter's Imprisonment called Lammas on the 1st of August, [...] and the said Ninian etc shall have authority over all the port customs of the said burgh raised by sea or land among the land tenents of the said burgh and support of the said port; and the said Ninian etc shall have authority to receive resignations of lands of the said burgh etc [i.e. recover his lands from towns people who choose to sell them or give them up]; from those persons whatsoever who chose to dispose of them; the townspeople may meet three times a week on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.
By 1600, Stranraer had become the market town for western Wigtownshire. Around this time, Stranraer was reached by a military road built from Dumfries to allow easier access to Portpatrick for transportation of people to Ireland for the Plantation of Ulster. Stranraer became a royal burgh in 1617.
The first harbour in Stranraer was built in the mid-18th century, with further port development in the 1820s. The arrival of the railway from Dumfries in 1861 (closed 1965), giving the shortest journey to/from London, finally established Stranraer as the area's main port. In 1862, the line was extended to serve the harbour directly, and a link to Portpatrick was also opened. In 1877, a rail connection north to Girvan and Glasgow was also established. Stranraer remained the main Scottish port for the Irish ferries for the next 150 years or so. On 31 January 1953, 133 people died when the Princess Victoria sank near Belfast Lough after its car deck was swamped by heavy seas.
Stranraer and its surrounding area saw a significant amount of activity during the Second World War, as it became a focus for anti-U-boat work. Flying boats operated from the area in an attempt to secure the waters of the North Channel and the south western coast of Scotland. Almost all of Britain's shipping imports passed through those two sea areas en route to the Clyde or the Mersey. Indeed, the flying boat Supermarine Stranraer is named after the town. Winston Churchill himself departed from Stranraer in a Boeing Flying Boat on the night of 25 June 1942, when making his second visit of the war to the United States. Churchill also spent time at nearby Knockinaam Lodge during the war years.
Stranraer has an active local history trust, which publishes work on the area's history, commissioned from local authors.
The A77 runs north towards Ayr, Prestwick and Glasgow. The A75 runs east from Stranraer to Gretna, with links to the M6 going to Carlisle. The A75 is part of European route E18, but, like all European routes, it is not signposted as such in the United Kingdom.
The main national coach providers operate services from Stranraer. National Express offer a service to London, and Scottish Citylink (in association with Ulsterbus) operate services to Edinburgh. Local transport in and around the town is provided by Stagecoach Western, and local companies, including McCulloch's Coaches.
Stranraer railway station is the southern terminus for one of the branch lines of the Glasgow South Western Line. Trains are provided by ScotRail daily to Ayr, Glasgow Central, and Kilmarnock. From Stranraer connections to the West Coast Main Line, can be made at Glasgow Central, or traveling via Ayr, Kilmarnock, Dumfries to Carlisle. Onward trains from either Glasgow Central or Carlisle connect direct to London Euston and other destinations such as Manchester Piccadilly, Crewe and Birmingham New Street.
In November 2011, Stena Line relocated its ferry services to a new port at Old House Point, north of Cairnryan, which is a few miles north of Stranraer. The existing port in Stranraer may be redeveloped with the departure of Stena Line; proposals to build a transport hub have been made.
Both Campbeltown Airport and Glasgow Prestwick Airport, at around 45 miles (72 km), are the closest airports in Scotland to Stranraer. Belfast City Airport in Northern Ireland is 39 miles (63 km) distant.
The main industries in the area are the ferry port, with associated industries, tourism and, more traditionally, farming.
At an estimated cost of £1.29m, the Castle Square development was the first phase of the redevelopment of Stranraer town centre and significantly changed the flow of traffic, with Castle Street and George Street both being narrowed in a bid to be more pedestrian friendly. By January 2010, work on the streets around the town centre was complete, with the streets around the Castle of St John re-paved and re-profiled. The Castle Square was formally unveiled in March 2011 and has so far hosted a range of activities, including music and family events.
Stranraer is currently undergoing redevelopment in the South Central Area (known as Dick's Hill, Ochtrelure and the southern part of Liddesdale Road area into the Gallow Hill).
Historic and notable buildings
The Castle of St John is a medieval tower house, built around 1500 by the Adairs of Kilhilt. It has been used as a home, a court, a prison, and a military garrison, the last during the Killing Time in the 1680s. The Old Town Hall, built in 1776, now houses the Stranraer Museum with its displays of Victorian Wigtownshire and the town's polar explorers, Sir John Ross and his nephew James Clark Ross. The town is also home to the North West Castle, built in 1820 and the first hotel in the world with its own indoor curling ice rink.
Other local tourist attractions include:
- Ardwell Gardens – landscape gardens
- Castle Kennedy Gardens – a 75-acre (30 ha) garden between two lochs, noted for its rhododendrons, azaleas and embothriums in the grounds of Lochinch Castle, the seat of the Earls of Stair.
- Glenluce Abbey – a 12th century Cistercian monastery.
- Glenwhan Gardens  – a 12-acre (4.9 ha) garden near Dunragit.
- Logan Botanic Garden, near Port Logan village – one of the four sites of the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh.
- Mull of Galloway – the most southerly point of Scotland, with a lighthouse, visitor centre and RSPB bird reserve.
- Portpatrick – small fishing town
- The Robert the Bruce Trail begins at Loch Ryan, near Stranraer.
- Southern Upland Way – a 212-mile (341 km) coast-to-coast path between Portpatrick and Cockburnspath.
- Whithorn – with its relics of St Ninian.
- Wigtown – Scotland's national book town.
The town of Stranraer has five primary schools: Belmont, Park, Rephad, Sheuchan and St. Joseph's R.C., while villages in the local area usually have their own local school or nursery.
The secondary school, Stranraer Academy, is a comprehensive school consisting of one modern building (New Building Phase 2 completed in 2010). The school has around 1,200 pupils, 90 members of staff and serves the area of Stranraer, the Rhins, and parts of the Machars, Wigtownshire. Stranraer Academy has another seven associated primary schools from areas outwith Stranraer: Glenluce, Castle Kennedy, Drummore, Kirkcolm, Leswalt, Sandhead and Portpatrick. The original Stranraer Academy was opened in 1845 on the site of the present Stranraer Campus of Dumfries and Galloway College. In 1965, a new Academy (B Block) was built alongside a new High School (A Block) and in 1970 the schools amalgamated. Dumfries and Galloway College has a campus in the town. In 1990, the John Niven Further Education College was built on Academy Street in the town; it has since been absorbed into the Dumfries and Galloway College.
Also at Stair Park are BMX and skateboarding ramps, and all-weather tennis and netball courts. The town also has a swimming pool (with flume), fitness suite, gymnasium and large sports hall at the council-run Ryan Centre, as well as other football fields, parks and all-weather multi-purpose pitches.
Throughout the years, Stranraer has also been a centre of excellence for Scottish curling. The town boasts the first hotel in the world with an indoor curling ice rink (North West Castle), and was the birthplace of Hammy McMillan, a World Champion curler, and current resident. The town is host to a number of annual curling championships, including the Scottish Ladies Curling Championship and the World Juniors Curling Championship.
NHS Dumfries and Galloway provides healthcare services in the town. The Galloway Community Hospital opened in 2006 and replaced the Garrick and Dalrymple hospitals of the town. GP services are based in the Waverly Medical Centre, adjacent to the new hospital.
The town has several care homes for the elderly, the biggest being Thorneycroft on the edges of the town, run by the CIC company.
- Ailsa Gait
- Ailsa View
- Sheuchan Parks / Liddesdale
- Stranraer Town
- West End
Local newspaper the Stranraer and Wigtownshire Free Press is based and was previously printed in the town's St Andrews Street. The Galloway Gazette also covers the town and surrounding area. Stranraer falls in the ITV Border television area. The nearest radio station is based in Belfast; however, the nearest local station is based in Dumfries. West Sound FM broadcasts at 96.5FM in the town.
In popular culture
- The song "Cap in Hand" by The Proclaimers says "I can understand why Stranraer lie so lowly, they could save a lot of points by signing Hibs' goalie", a reference to goalkeeper Andy Goram, and to Stranraer FC's poor league position at the time the song was written.
- In the fourth episode of the BBC Radio 4 series Knowing Me, Knowing You... with Alan Partridge, one of the guests was the 'Duchess of Stranraer'. No such title exists.
- Stranraer has featured in Peter Kay's Channel 4 Phoenix Nights series, albeit only by name. One character, Alan, is said to be stuck in Stranraer with his lorry and not at the club.
- BBC TV series 2000 Acres of Sky (starring Paul Kaye & ex-Eastenders star Michelle Collins was filmed in and around Stranraer (the village used for many exteriors in the show was Port Logan, approx. 13 miles [21 km] to the south on coast).
- Vicki Adams, Olympic medalist in curling
- Richard Arkless, former MP
- David Broadfoot, hero of the 1953 Princess Victoria sinking
- Sir James Caird, agricultural writer and politician
- Colin Calderwood, football player and manager
- James Dalrymple, 1st Viscount of Stair, jurist and author of the Institutions of the Laws of Scotland
- John Dalrymple, 1st Earl of Stair, sat as MP for the Burgh of Stranraer in the 1689 Convention Parliament
- Craig Hamilton, rugby player
- Thomas Hamilton, recipient of the Victoria Cross
- Ryan Hardie, footballer
- Emma Harper, MSP
- Leander Starr Jameson, leader of the Jameson Raid, a precursor of the Second Boer War, and Prime Minister of the Cape Colony, and editor of the Wigtownshire Free Press
- Robert William Jameson, author, editor of the Wigtownshire Free Press, and father of Leander Starr Jameson
- Allan Jenkins, footballer
- Sir John Noble Kennedy, army officer, author and colonial governor
- William King, writer of a number of science fiction and fantasy books most notably in Games Workshop's Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000 series.
- Keith Knox, footballer
- Kevin Kyle, footballer
- Allan Little, BBC foreign correspondent
- John Livingstone, minister banished to Rotterdam
- John Claudius Loudon, landscape gardener and horticultural writer, who laid out the grounds at Castle Kennedy in 1841
- Rory Loy, footballer
- Robert McDouall, officer, Napoleonic Wars
- William McFadzean, Baron McFadzean, industrialist and President of the Federation of British Industries
- Hammy McMillan, World Curling Champion, 1999
- Shaun McSkimming, footballer
- James Mavor, economist, economic historian and Professor of Political Economy and Constitutional History at the University of Toronto
- Sir Robert Pringle, Director-General Army Veterinary Corps 1910-1917
- John Rennie, naval architect
- Sir John Ross, polar explorer
- David Speirs, Australian politician
- Dame Leslie Strathie, Chief Executive of HM Revenue and Customs
- Peter Wilson, World Junior Curling champion, 1981
- Vicky Wright, Olympic curler
Like most of the United Kingdom, Stranraer has an oceanic climate (Köppen: Cfb). The nearest weather station to Stranraer is located at RAF West Freugh, around 5 miles (8 km) to the south of Stranraer.
|Climate data for West Freugh (11 m asl, 1991–2020 normals)|
|Average high °C (°F)||7.7
|Daily mean °C (°F)||5.0
|Average low °C (°F)||2.3
|Average precipitation mm (inches)||104.2
|Average precipitation days (≥ 1 mm)||15.9||13.5||13.3||12.1||10.9||11.3||12.4||13.5||12.5||16.0||17.3||16.1||164.8|
|Mean monthly sunshine hours||56.9||80.2||115.2||169.9||226.0||185.5||189.1||186.0||139.9||101.1||61.1||53.6||1,564.5|
|Source: Met Office|
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- North West Castle
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- Dumfries and Galloway Council; see item 6. Archived 26 August 2011 at the Wayback Machine
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- Westbrook, Kieran (11 March 2011) "Lockerbie and Stranraer curlers in World Juniors Final". Dumfries and Galloway Standard.
- (28 February 2011) "Vicki takes Scottish title". Galloway Gazette.
- (20 March 2011) "Top of the World". Galloway Gazette.
- "Stranraer to Host Skiffieworlds 2019".
- Waverly Medical Centre
- Care Homes – Thorneycroft
- The Galloway Gazette
- West Sound FM
- "Cap In Hand Lyrics" by The Proclaimers
- "Knowing Me Knowing You... with Alan Partridge" – Programme Four. BBC.
- Phoenix Nights
- "West Freugh UK climate averages". Met Office. Retrieved 15 January 2022.