History of the Town

Inveraray prior to the reconstruction of the castle was little more than a collection of humble cottages, church, school and some forty three taverns but well enough established to become a burgh of barony in 1472 and a royal burgh in 1648. To ensure that the grounds around the new castle could be properly landscaped it was planned to move the town less than half a mile to Fernpoint. As early as 1747 by order of the 3rd Duke the renowned architect William Adam had drawn up plans for the creation of a new Inveraray. By 1770, however, little had been done, and it was the fifth Duke who set about rebuilding the town in its present form.

At that time Inveraray was isolated and the nearest road fit for a carriage was forty miles away. This was to change for military rather than social reasons. Following the Jacobite rebellion of 1745, it had become obvious that to control the clans, it was vital that troops should be able to move quickly throughout the Highlands.

General Wade was sent north to undertake the task, and set about creating a network of roads and bridges which would ensure that troops could be rushed from strategic bases in Fort William, Fort Augustus or Fort George to tackle any insurrection. Thus it is that the approach to Inveraray along Loch Fyne on the A83 actually follows one of Wade’s old military roads; Aray Bridge, just before the castle, dates back to 1775 and is one of wade’s famous military bridges.

Part of the new Inveraray were completed by John Adam including the Argyll Hotel (recently renamed Inveraray Inn) on Front Street as well as the Town House. The rest of the new Inveraray, however, was the creation of Robert Mylne, another celebrated architect of the period. The end product was an attractive town which included houses for estate workers, a woollen mill, and a pier to exploit herring fishing. This was to boom in later years and play a major role in the town’s economic prosperity. The finished product is one of the best examples of an 18th century new town in Scotland. The celebrated essayist Doctor Johnson, himself no fan of Scotland, was moved to comment on the new Inveraray: ‘What I admire here is the total defiance of expense”. Inveraray became more accessible, both by land and sea and like many towns on the Clyde, it was a popular destination for passengers after the coming of the steamship. Regular shipping services have long since ceased, rendered extinct by the motor car.

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