The ferries remembered as they were in 1937 .....................

A slight digression from our main theme of country buses to take a brief look at the ferries that went "over the sea to Skye" in the 1930s.  These illustrations are taken from an AA guide to ferries in Scotland, published in 1937.  The Mallaig ferry boat then was the "Road to the Isles". This was the first car ferry from Mallaig and had started in 1932 with local boatbuilder John Henderson and marine engineer Ian Macintyre constructing the flat bottomed vessel which was capable of carrying two cars and transporting vehicles across the five miles which separate Mallaig from Armadale on the Isle of Skye.

Two of the ferries are still operated today although the Kyle of Lochalsh - Kyleakin ferry succumbed to the opening of the Skye road bridge in 1995.  Although the ferries depicted may seem a little precarious to our modern day expectations, they did sterling work taking cars and people to and from the island.  There were no Sunday services then. In particular, the Mallaig - Armadale and Kyle - Kyleakin services were essential links between the mainland railways to Glasgow and Inverness and the island buses of firms like Neil Beaton and Skye Transport.

It is also interesting to note that in the summer of 1937 you could fly to Skye, landing at Glenbrittle on the west coast.  With a flying time of about two hours the plane left Glasgow Renfrew Airport on Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings, returning from Skye on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday afternoons.   From the timetable leaflet, teas and sandwiches were available "at reasonable prices" at Glenbrittle for passengers continuing their journeys.  The aircraft continued to North Uist, South Uist and Barra, and was operated by Northern and Scottish Airways Ltd.

Nowadays the Glenelg ferry (number eight in the leaflet above) still runs in the summer months and is operated by a not-for-profit community interest company with a traditional swing deck vehicle ferry. The car ferry here started in 1934 although a traditional crossing point for many years previously. Their website is here.  The route from Mallaig to Armadale continues in modern times with Caledonian Macbrayne.

 Click here to return to the Countrybus index page   Clicking on this link will take you to the full Macbrayne's Islands Area bus timetable dated 2nd May 1955