Discovering Oban: 15 Fascinating Facts About The Wee Bay

Oban is known for its stunning views, fresh seafood, and sunsets that leave you awestruck.

However, there’s more to the Little Bay than meets the eye. Did you know that the town is twinned with a another town in the USA, or that it played a major role in several wars?

In this article, we’ll explore some of the fascinating facts about Oban that you might not have known about.

From historic landmarks to famous fiascos, Oban is full of surprises. So, let’s dive in and discover what makes this town so special.

1. Oban is twinned with Laurinburg in North Carolina, USA.

The two town’s have been sisters since 1993 and every year, pupils from Oban and Laurinburg swap locations for two-weeks and live with host families. 

2. McCaig’s Tower was commissioned to serve as a lasting monument to the McCaig family.

The tower, which cost £5,000, was commissioned by John Stuart McCaig to provide work for local stonemasons in the winter months and was originally intended to hold a collection of statues of the McCaig family. Building started in 1897, but stopped in 1902, when John McCaig died. 

3. The last woman to be hanged for capital punishment in Scotland, Susan Newell, was from Oban. 

Susan McAllister or Newell on was executed on 10 October 1923 after being found guilty of murdering a 13-year-old newspaper boy.

4. Oban, the main town on Stewart Island, New Zealand, was named after Oban Scotland.

The town, which is located on the southernmost inhabited island on New Zealand, was named after Oban in Scotland due to the strong influence Scottish settlers.

5. In Scottish Gaelic, Oban is called An t-Òban, which translates to The Little Bay. 

If you’ve ever been to Oban, you’ll know why. Oban bay is a focal feature of the town and for good reason.

6. Queen Victoria and Prince Albert visited Oban in 1847, and stated it was “One of the finest spots we have seen.”

After sailing up the Sound of Kerrera on August 19 1847, Queen Victoria described Oban in her journal as “one of the finest spots we have seen, with the remains of the old Castle of Dunally [sic], & a range of high mountains in the distance”.

7. Humans have called Oban home since the Mesolithic times. Evidence of cave dwellers has been found throughout the town. 

This is backed up by archaeologists who have found remains of cave dwellers found in the town.

8. Oban has played a major role in several wars.

A trip to Oban’s War and Peace Museum will tell you that. In the Second World War, there was an RAF base located in the area and between 1955 and 1956, during the Cold War, the first transatlantic telecommunications cable was laid between Gallanach Bay, near Oban, and Clarenville, Newfoundland. 

9. Oban is referred to as The Seafood Capital of Scotland

This is due to the abundance of fresh seafood that is on offer throughout the town. Whether it be from a shack, restaurant, or a chippy. 

10. The town is also known as The Gateway to the Isles

Oban serves as a transport hub, ferrying people from Oban to many of the islands in the Inner and Outer Hebrides.

From its ferry terminal, CalMac transports people to Craignure, Castlebay, Coll, Colonsay, Kennacraig, Lismore, Lochboisdale, Post Askaig, & Tiree. 

11. The big rock near Dunollie Castle is called the ‘Dogstone’.

If you’ve been to Ganavan or visited Dunollie Castle, you’ll be aware of a large 400-million-year-old rock that dominates the roadside. The giant piece of Conglomerate rock, is known as the ‘Dogstone’. As folklore goes, it’s where the giant Fingal would tie his dog Bran after a hard day of hunting. 

12. Across from the ‘Dogstone’, next to the War Memorial, lies Fingal’s ‘putting stone’.

The stone, which stands 9.5 feet high, had to be moved when the new road to Ganavan was created. It’s estimated that the giant stone weighs around 25 tonnes.

13. Oban as we know it was built around the distillery, which was founded in 1794.

Before then, Oban was a small fishing village. 

14. The oldest building in Oban is Dunollie Castle.

The current castle was built in the 13th century, however, Dunollie has been a defensive site for thousands of years. 

15. Oban is famous for a fireworks mishap on Novemeber 5 2011

The 2011 annual fireworks display was over within a matter of minutes due to a technical mishap. £6,000 worth of fireworks went off at once and the clip has since been viewed almost 2 million times on Youtube. 

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