Kilmallie timeline

loidhne ùine Cill Mhàlaidh

Help build the timeline

The timeline is work-in-progress and we need your help to build it.   Do you have any features you’d like to add?   Do you have any more information about any of the features already on it?   Do you think something on our timeline is wrong?   Do you have any old photos that would illustrate any of the features on the timeline?   Would you be interested in helping to get the Kilmallie History Group going again?   Hugh Muir, who ran it previously, and who is a generous contributor to this timeline, would be very willing to help someone restart it.

Please email the website editor.

We’d love to add more of the social history, the history of the people of Kilmallie in days gone by that would be of interest to our community now…

Can anyone identify

  • the distant building just visible in the middle of this 1883 photo?  Does it still exist?

Does anyone have

  • any copies of the Banavie Observer, a paper produced between 1917 and 1919 by the convalescent soldiers at the Lochiel Auxiliary Hospital?

Does anyone know?

  • the oldest person still living in Kilmallie who went to Banavie School?   If you think it might be you or someone you know, please get in touch.
  • what Lochaber High School looked like when it was first built?
  • when the Banavie Pier branch railway disappeared?
  • who was the last shopkeeper at Banavie?

Any stories to tell?

  • Were you one of the first pupils when Lochaber High School opened in 1959?
  • What can you remember about schooldays in the old school before the present High School at Camaghael was built?
  • Can anyone remember going to events in the Locheilside Hall (which was demolished in 1962)?

Can anyone suggest?

  • an event or two to include for 2009?


1000,000,000 years ago Layers of sediment from a sandy sea floor metamorphosed into rock called psammite in the river bed at Fassfern.
5000 years ago peat started to form on the Blar
Iron Age vitrified fort at Torcastle
pre 389 ??? were the Romans at Banavie ???
c 389 ??? was St Patrick born at Banavie ???
6th C St. Columba built a mission-station at Annat
11th C Torcastle became the seat of the chiefs of Clan Chattan
1030s ??? Banquo believed to have stayed at Torcastle ???
14th-15th C The keep at Torcastle probably built by Alasdair Carrach (1380-1440), progenitor of the Keppoch branch of the Macdonalds, who had come into possession via his father, Lord of the Isles (but was later forfeited).
1335 – 1550 Original Camerons on Green Island.
1439 Battle of Corpach where the Camerons routed the Macleans of Coll
15th C Clan Cameron officially took possession of the Barony of Lochiel, at Banavie
15th-16th C Fighting over Torcastle in the long and bloody feud between the Cameron and Chattan (Mackintosh) clans who disputed the lands of Glenloy and Loch Arkaig for 350 years from the 14th century
16th C Kilmallie former parish church built at Corpach (later became Cameron burial chamber)
1528 The Camerons eventually gained legal possession of Torcastle through a charter of land granted by James V.
c 1530 Torcastle rebuilt by Ewan MacAllan, 13th Cameron chief
by c1600 village estabished at Corpach
1654 The Battle of Achdalieu took place on the ground between Loch Eil and the site of the present Outward Bound School.  Sir Ewen Cameron of Lochiel bit out the throat of an English officer in the midst of a heated struggle.
betw 1655 – 1665 Sir Ewen Cameron, 16th clan chief, abandoned Torcastle for Achnacarry, though his youngest son Ludovick continued to live there till after the ’45.
1670 Green Island occupied until now
18th & 19th C The Highland Clearances
1733 First known Kilmallie Manse and Glebe at Torcastle
Aug 19 1745 Raising of the Standard at Glenfinnan
Aug 21 1745 The Jacobite army halted at Kinlocheil for the night after leaving Glenfinnan.
Aug 23 1745 The Jacobite army stayed overnight at Fassfern House (Bonnie Price Charlie’s bed is now in the West Highland Museum).  In the garden he picked the rose that became the White Cockade emblem of the Jacobites. Later they passed along Gleann Laragain on their way to High Bridge.
1746 Township at Barre in Glenloy burnt by the Hanoverian troops
1747 Cameron of Fassfern built a handful of homes at Achnaherry, between Barr and Achnanellan in Glen Loy
1753 Charcoal burning may have started in Gleann Suileag, supplying the newly-founded charcoal-fired ironworks at Bonawe in Argyll
c 1764 Main period of the introduction fo sheep to the area
c 1770 Fassfern House rebuilt in altered form
1772 A survey recorded there were virtually no trees in Banavie or Corpach.
1773 First survey for the Caledonian Canal carried out by James Watt
1781 – 1783 Kilmallie Parish Church built, by Archibald McPhail
1784  Lochiel’s forfeited estate returned 
1795? Some references mention this as the year when Corpach was one of the first villages reached by the new road built from Fort William to Arisaig.  But this seems to conflict with the first survey for the road which didn’t take place till 1796???   Can anyone confirm definitively when the new road reached Corpach???   Or when it reached Kinlocheil for that matter???
1796 First survey of “Lochyferry to Arisaig ” road.   Road completed by 1814.   Lochy Ferry was about 50yds south of Lochy Bridge, also called Corpach Ferry
19 Sep 1797 Evan Cameron of Erracht was assessed £0/1s/10½d Clock and Watch Tax for possession of one silver or metal watch
Scotland’s Places: Historical Tax Rolls: Clock and Watch Tax 1797-1798
1803 Act of Parliament authorised construction of Caledonian Canal (engineer Thomas Telford)
1803 Banavie established as a base for the construction of the canal
1803/4 Strone’s hump-backed bridge built to carry the Parliamentary Road over the River Loy (Telford)
1804-1806 Corpach canal locks built
1805 Kilmallie House built, as canal superintendent’s house, using pine from Achnacarry
1807 – 1811 Neptune’s Staircase built
1810 Road from Banavie to Gairlochy opened.   It included 56 bridges and culverts.
early 1800s Torcastle House built for Lochiel’s factor
c 1815 Telford House and Canal House built at Banavie, Torcastle aqueduct built
Oct 1815 Vessel named Sir John Cameron launched at Corpach. 400 tons burden, belonging to the company that purchased Lochiel’s forest who named the vessel after Col John Cameron (from the Caledonian Mercury, 2/11/1815.  The Liverpool Mercury 29/12/1815 says it was 268 tons, coppered and copper fastened,  “in every respect a most eligible vessel for the conveyance of dry goods. Three fourths of her cargo being engaged, and ready to go on board, she will positively be dispatched by the 10th Jan” from George’s Dock, Liverpool to New Orleans, with Alexander Steward as Master (thanks to Martin Briscoe for this)
1816 Obelisk erected at Corpach to commemorate Col John Cameron, who died at Quatre Bras, at the Battle of Waterloo
1820 the first inn built at Banavie on orders from Lochiel, known as Neptune’s Inn, and thought possibly to be the building next to the top lock, currently a pair of cottages
1822 Caledonian Canal opened (twelve years late)
by 1822 a ferry service was operating between Corpach and Fort William (when did it finish???)
1832 School at Tomonie in building now called Chevalier Cottage
1834 Jas Rhodes, a canal construction carpenter who became Banavie Head Lock-keeper and ran Neptune’s Inn, lost his job because he harassed and delayed ships if they did not use the Inn!
1841 John Robertson was keeper of Neptune’s Inn at Banavie
1843 on the canal, part of Corpach double lock collapsed
1845 Corpach Hotel built
1840s years of potato famine
1846 Maiden voyage of the Glengarry steamer on the canal
1847 Depth of canal increased
1849 First Lochy Bridge opened, and the last of the Corpach/Lochy ferries to and from Fort William
1849 Lochiel Arms Hotel (later the Banavie Hotel) built
mid 1800s When larger steamers began to use the canal to link Inverness with Glasgow, Corpach started to grow as a popular resort.
1850s French gold coins found buried at Badabrie
1866 –1939 Paddle steamer Gondolier plied the canal between Inverness and Banavie. Her service finally ended in 1939, when the Admiralty sunk her in Scapa Flow as a blockage to German shipping.
16 Sep 1873 Queen Victoria took a trip along the canal on the Gondolier
by 1875 township at Achnaherry, Glen Loy, in ruins
1875 Banavie School opened  (its original site was just to the West of the present Masonic Hall)
1876 possibly the end of charcoal burning in Gleann Suileag, after Bonawe ironworks in Argyll ceased operating.
early 1880s Banavie Hotel enlarged
10 Sep 1883 Photo of fishing boats at the top lock, Banavie, by Erskine Beveridge.  The boats are presumably from Castletown on the Isle of Man (though the CT registration could also mean Cartagena in Spain or Trouville in France).   Note the lack of trees.
Photo of Corpach sea lock by Erskine Beveridge, with boats from Inverness.   The lock keepers’ cottages seen in the far right background still survive.
Photo of Corpach sea lock and lock keepers’ cottages by Erskine Beveridge.   No sign of Corpach itself!
03 Oct 1883 Photo of the Corpach entrance to the Caledonian Canal by Erskine Beveridge.   Notice the paddle steamer, and the absence of the pepperpot lighthouse.
1885 Lochiel’s Hunting Lodge built at Achdalieu
1889 West Highland Railway line to Fort William authorised by Act of Parliament. (Paul Biggin has plotted his own interesting timeline for the West Highland Railway)
1890 Construction of branch railway line to Banavie Pier authorised
1894 West Highland Railway line to Fort William opened, built by the North British Railway Company
1894 extension of West Highland Railway to Mallaig authorised, (with stations at Banavie, Corpach, Locheilside and Kinlocheil)
1895 Banavie Pier station opened
1899 First ‘modern’ mart opened near Lochybridge
3 June 1899 The original Ben Race was started from the Banavie Hotel, the winner (in 2 hours 41 mins 12 secs) being a man from Torcastle.
According to Am Baile, “the winner was Hugh Kennedy, the under keeper at Tor Castle”.
1900 Banavie Hotel lit by electricity
1901 Banavie Railway Swing Bridge, engineers Simpson & Wilson, opened 1901
1901 Extension of West Highland Railway to Mallaig completed; Corpach station opened
1911 First Kilmallie Scout Troup formed
1913 Lighthouse tower built at Corpach sea lock
1914 –1918 First World War.
“The US Navy had a base at Corpach as part of the laying of the Northern Barrage. Mines were shipped into Corpach from the USA, and were then sent to the Inverness base along the Caledonian Canal”. (info from Wikipedia).
US ships were delivering mines for the NE. Ships transferred mines to barges in the bay before moving through the Canal.   The crew often camped, during transfer, in the grounds of Ravensdale House.   One US sailor met a local girl and married her in Kimallie Church.   About 2006 their daughter visited the Church.
Info from Martin Briscoe: it looks as if Ravensdale was the headquarters of US Navy Base 18 (see old photos gallery). There were 65 US Navy men based at Corpach. There was also an American YMCA hut somewhere in Corpach.  They shipped 1500 mines a week through Corpach onto the canal which ran around the clock during that period – extra beacons had been fitted. There was a gun battery at Corran to protect Corpach during WWI, one gun mounting is the base of the war memorial there and there is a concrete base by the roadside which looks like where they had the searchlight.
1917 – 1919 Banavie Hotel became the Lochiel Auxiliary Hospital for convalescent soldiers.   They produced a paper called the Banavie Observer.
30 Nov 1918 ‘Corpach News’ in the Oban Times – American sailors left Corpach after being stationed there for ten months (thanks to Martin Briscoe for this link)
1920 Ownership of canal passed from Caledonian Canal Commissioners to Ministry of Transport
22 Aug 1921 MFV Rosie caught fire and was beached ?near Corpach lighthouse
1924 Banavie Hotel destroyed by fire
1927 Remains from the old Bunloy burial ground were reinterred at Strone (due to river bank erosion)
1927 The Glengarry steamer was scrapped, after travelling the canal daily for over 80 years
1929 Kilmallie Shinty Club founded.   They were given a pitch at Corpach by James Weir of Annat Farm.
1929 The Second Lochy Bridge built
1930s A830 road bridge over the canal at Banavie realigned from the third lock to its present position at the foot of Neptune’s Staircase
1939 – 1945 Second World War.   Naval repair base established at Corpach with HMS St Christopher used as a training base for Royal Navy. There was also a large camp at Annat.
Collection of photos (taken 2007) of the various buildings of the naval repair base.
Collection of photos (taken 2009?) of various military camp structures at Annat (thanks to Martin Briscoe)
betw 1939 –1945 ??? 12 commandos drowned when their boat broke up in the rapids at Eas nan Long on the River Lochy
Sept 1939 Banavie Pier station closed to regular passengers
1940 Allt Dogha, Annat Burn was dammed to create a water supply reservoir for the new Annat Camp of about 200 houses
c1940 -1950s On the short road known as Annat Terrace (where Riddochs sawmill was later built) there were 4 Officers houses.
1942 – 1945 29 Commandos were registered as having died/been killed while training out of Achnacarry
mid 1940s Locheilside Hall built (east of the station but across the road).   It’s believed it was built to provide social activities for the crews of the many ships anchored in the Loch.
Feb 1947 The Coast Preventive Man’s office was situated at Corpach Cottage (thanks to Martin Briscoe for this link)
1948 North British Railway Company became British Rail
1951 Torcastle House Hotel burned down.  The proprietor was W Bremnar, who subsequently in 1952 ran the hotel at Achdalieu.
Aug 1951 Banavie Pier station ceased to provide rail connection to canal steamers
1952 Achdalieu became a hotel
1959 – 1960 Lochaber High School built, by Arnott McLeod, designed by the Inverness County Architects’ Office, at a cost of approx £270,000. The present site is about 2 miles from the old building.
Aug 1959 Lochaber High School opened.   The first head teacher was Dr Honeyman.
22 Jul 1960 Lochaber High School officially opened by Under-secretary of State, Scottish Office.
1962 Ownership of canal passed to British Waterways
1962 Locheilside Hall demolished
25 Oct 1963 Photo of dumper truck preparing site for Corpach pulp mill
20 Nov 1963 Photo of construction labour camp at Corpach pulp mill
1964 Kilmallie Shinty Club won the Camanachd Cup against Inveraray
betw 1964-1969 British Waterways mechanised the canal’s lock gates
1964 The Dulverton Trust purchased Achdalieu to run an outdoor centre
1965 Pulp and paper mills opened at Corpach
1965 The third Lochy Bridge built
1965 Loch Eil Centre opened at Achdalieu
1965 Banavie School’s present building was opened
1966 Picture of dolphin cranes at pulp mill
1967 Four storey extension built to Lochaber High School
late 1960s Last shop in Banavie, run by the Dohertys, closed and was subsequently converted to apartments by John Doherty.  The Post Office was in a shed in the garden of the house next door (thanks to Christine Falconer for this – it was her grandparents’ house).  Thanks too to Andy Goodwin for this photo.
1968 Engine house at Corpach Sea Lock demolished.   The pump was said to have been moved to the Science Museum in Kensington, London.
1969 Kilmallie Hall was built (by Modern Builders, local Messrs Beecham and Mount)
1970s A830 road bridge over the canal replaced, and A830 realigned across the Blar Mhor
1970s Corpach pulp mill at its peak, employing over 900 people, providing 1000s more forestry jobs across the West Highlands, and consuming over 10,000 trees per day.
See photo
1976 further extension to Lochaber High School
1976 Loch Eil Centre at Achdalieu became an Outward Bound Centre when the Moray Sea School at Burghead closed
1980 Pulp mill at Corpach closed
early 1980s? Kilmallie Sawmill opened at Annat Farm – as Riddochs. (The access road to the farm had previously gone through the middle of the site.
1984 reintroduction of steam train to the railway
12 Aug 1991 Queen Elizabeth II, from the Royal Yacht, arrived by tender at the mouth of the canal
1993 cairn erected at Erracht to commemorate the bicentenary of the raising of the 79th Cameron Highlanders in 1793
1995 – 2005 Major repairs to Caledonian Canal
1996 – 2010 lifespan of Kilmallie History Group (are you interested in helping to get it going again?)
12 May 1999 Inaugural meeting of the new Scottish Parliament
2002 Great Glen Way officially opened
2005 Corpach paper mill finally closed.    Corpach pulp mill history
Jan 2005 Big storm with tidal surge
May 2007 New Fort William Health Centre opens at Camaghael
2008 Corpach paper mill demolished
2010 Canal control box at A830 road bridge rebuilt
2010 Tiller Girl Betty Locke and her husband Donald, now living in Corpach, celebrate their 70th wedding anniversary 
2010 Great Glen Shipping Co started trials to transport timber on the barge MV Kanutta from Loch Etive to Inverness, using the canal for freight transportation for the first time since WW1
2010-2015 Lochaber High School major refurbishment
2011 Annat signal box removed
31 Aug 2011 Bothy at Gleann Dubh Lighe destroyed by fire
Nov 2011 Kilmallie Community Council website launched!
late 2012 new roundabout built on A830 at Blar Mor
27 Jan 2013 22:25h – The first normal operation of the new safety barriers at Corpach level crossing after the addition of barriers.  (info from Martin Briscoe)
01 Apr 2013 Massive wildfire threatened Badabrie, Banavie and Corpach
07 Mar 2015 MV Fri Sea grounded at Corpach

A Chronology of Fort William also gives some interesting historical information in a broader context.

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