|Population||4,487  (2013 est.) Dunoon only. Not including Kirn, Hunters Quay or Innellan.|
|OS grid reference|
|• Edinburgh||67 mi (108 km)|
|• London||364 mi (586 km)|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
Dunoon (//; Scottish Gaelic: Dùn Omhain) is the main town on the Cowal peninsula in the south of Argyll and Bute, Scotland. It is on the western shore of the upper Firth of Clyde, to the south of the Holy Loch and to the north of Innellan.
The early history of Dunoon often revolves around two feuding clans: the Lamonts and the Campbells. Dunoon was a popular destination when travel by steamships was common around the Firth of Clyde; Glaswegians described this as going "Doon the watter". This diminished, and many holidaymakers started to go elsewhere as roads and railways improved and the popularity of overseas travel increased.
In 1961, during the height of the Cold War, Dunoon became a garrison town to the United States Navy. In 1992, they closed their Holy Loch base, and Dunoon suffered an economic downturn. Since the base's closure, the town and surrounding area are again turning to tourism, marketing to outdoor enthusiasts and wildlife lovers as well as promoting festivals and competitions. The largest annual event held in the town is the Cowal Highland Gathering. The Royal National Mòd has been held in the town eight times, most recently in 2018.
Dunoon Castle was built on a small, partly artificial, conical hill beside the Firth of Clyde in the 12th century, from which low walls remain. It eventually became a royal castle with the Earls of Argyll (Campbells) as hereditary keepers, paying a nominal rent of a single red rose to the sovereign. Mary, Queen of Scots visited Dunoon Castle on 26 July 1563 and granted several charters during her visit. In 1646 the Dunoon massacre of members of Clan Lamont by members of Clan Campbell took place. The castle was destroyed during Argyll's Rising, a rebellion in 1685 against James VII.
Modern Dunoon owes its existence to steam power; as late as 1822 there were only 3 or 4 slated houses, the rest of the residences being traditional Highland cottages. In the New Statistical Account, the MP James Ewing from Glasgow is named as beginning the expansion of the village when he built Castle House close to Dunoon Castle. The growth of the village increased from that time, paralleling the engineering-led growth of the steamers. Other infrastructural advances also helped like the construction of a 130-yard long jetty in 1835. From 1812 to the late 1960s, thousands of holiday-makers travelled "doon the watter" from Glasgow and industrial Lanarkshire to Dunoon and to numerous other town piers on the Firth of Clyde. Only one Clyde steamer, the Waverley, satisfies demand for this business today.
During the Second World War, as the main part of the Firth of Clyde defences, an anti-submarine boom was anchored to the shore in Dunoon. A Palmerston Fort and camp at Ardhallow in the south of the town, provided one of the coastal defence gun emplacements that covered the anti-submarine boom and Firth of Clyde waters. There also was a gun emplacement on top of Castle Hill.
In 1961, as the Cold War intensified, the Holy Loch became internationally famous when the U.S. Navy submarine tender USS Proteus brought Polaris ballistic missiles, nuclear submarines to the Firth of Clyde at nearby Sandbank. Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament protesters drew this to the public's attention. Holy Loch was, for 30 years, the home port of US Navy Submarine Squadron 14 and Dunoon therefore became a garrison town.
In 1991, the Holy Loch base was deemed unnecessary following the demise of the Soviet Union and subsequently withdrawn. The last submarine tender to be based there, the USS Simon Lake, left Holy Loch in March 1992, leading to a major and continuing downturn in the local economy.
In May 2012, Dunoon and Campbeltown were jointly named as the rural places in Scotland most vulnerable to a downturn in a report by the Scottish Agricultural College looking at 90 places. The use of the Holy Loch during times of conflict has influenced the economy and social lives of the peoples of Dunoon, firstly with its use as a British Royal Navy submarine base during the Second World War and then as the home base of the American Navy's Submarine Squadron 14 during the Cold War.
Culture and festivals
Cowal Open Studios, held over a fortnight in September, gives the opportunity to visit the studios of artists around Dunoon and Cowal.
Cowalfest, celebrates the outdoors activities like rambling around Dunoon for ten days in October.
In 2013, the first Dunoon Film Festival was held over three days and opened with first public screening of Your Cheatin' Heart, a series made by the BBC that had last been shown on television in 1990.
The town and surrounding area are becoming recognised as a destination for outdoor pursuits, including walking, running, golfing, kayaking, sailing, fishing, climbing, triathlon and mountain biking.
Trails (walks, running and mountain biking) thread through the hills surrounding Dunoon. Corlarach Hill has way-marked routes for walkers, mountain biking and horse riders. These trails are located next to the Bishop's Glen.
Puck's Glen is a popular short walk set in the hills close to Benmore Botanic Gardens. A tumbling burn, criss-crossed by bridges, is enclosed by rocky walls heavily hung with mosses and overshadowed by dense trees. The walk has clear, waymarked paths. The glen is named after Puck, from A Midsummer Night's Dream.
Bishops Glen trail follows the shore of the remaining one of three reservoirs in the glen, that used to supply fresh water to Dunoon. The reservoir is damming the Balgaidgh Burn (Balgie) and is now a fresh water rod fly fishing location. Access to the hills behind Dunoon, including Corlarach Hill, is available from the Bishop's Glen Reservoir trails.
The arboretum at Benmore Botanic Garden, part of the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, is 7 miles (11 km) north of the town, just before Loch Eck. The garden, formerly a private garden for the Younger family, is now open to the public. It comprises 60 hectares (150 acres) and features some of the tallest trees in Britain, including the avenue of Giant Redwoods (Sequoia), some of which are over 37 metres (120 ft) high. One of Dunoon's listed buildings is the grade 2 Victorian fernery which was reopened in 2009 after an 18-month restoration.
The Castle House Museum opens during the summer season. It holds historical information and displays for Dunoon and the Cowal peninsula.
The B listed Dunoon Burgh Hall re-opened in June 2017, and is a fully accessible venue for exhibitions, performances and gatherings. Alongside a gallery and theatre, the venue offers creative workshop space, a garden and a café.
There are a number of churches in Dunoon including:
- St Munn's Parish Church.
- Cowal Baptist Church
- Dunoon Baptist Church Centre.
- Dunoon Free Church.
- Holy Trinity Episcopal Church.
- Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses.
Dunoon's Victorian pier was first built in 1835; it was extended to the current structure in 1895. The pier was shortened to allow the building of a breakwater in 2005, just to the south of the pier. As well as protecting the Victorian pier and its architecture from storm surges, a new link span was installed alongside the breakwater. This was to allow the berthing and loading of roll-on/roll-off ferries instead of the side-loading ferries that used to serve the pier. A tender to serve the new link-span between two interested parties, Caledonian MacBrayne and Western Ferries, came to nothing. Prior to June 2011, the pier was in daily use by Caledonian MacBrayne, who ran a regular foot passenger and car-ferry service to Gourock. However, after June 2011, a renewed tendering process produced a passenger-only ferry service (Argyll Ferries, owned by Caledonian MacBrayne) using the breakwater for berthing. On 1 September 2004, during the construction of the breakwater, the cargo vessel Jackie Moon (82 metres in length), ran aground on the breakwater, with six people on board. Since the breakwater became operational in June 2011, Argyll Ferries operate from this docking facility.The Waverley struck the breakwater on 26 June 2009, with some 700 people on board. The Victorian pier was partially refurbished by Argyll and Bute Council during 2015. Now containing meeting rooms, the pier is purely a tourist attraction.
Mary Campbell (1763–1786) also known as "Highland Mary" and "Bonny Mary O' Argyll", was born at Auchamore in Dunoon. She started a serious affair with the bard Robert Burns. A statue was erected in 1896; it is prominently sited on Castle Hill, overlooking the breakwater in Dunoon.
The war memorial of Dunoon is located in the Castle Gardens, overlooking the Victorian Pier.
The Clan Lamont Memorial, also known as the Dunoon Massacre Memorial, is on Auchaore Road close to Castle Hill. It was dedicated in 1906 and commemorates the Dunoon massacre of 1646, when the Campbell Clan attacked the Lamont Clan, killing over 200 people.
Dunoon is accessible by direct land and sea routes and indirectly by rail at Gourock. Dunoon lies towards the southern end of the A815 road. At its northernmost point, near Cairndow, this road joins the A83 and provides access to the town by road from Loch Lomond / Glasgow in the east, from the Inverary / Oban in the north and from Campbeltown in the west. Two ferry operators provide services to Dunoon, Cowal peninsula from Gourock, Inverclyde. The Public Service route provided by the Scottish Government-owned Caledonian MacBrayne which is a foot passenger only service between Dunoon Breakwater and Gourock pier, giving easy access to the National Rail Network. Local company Western Ferries (Clyde) LTD, carries motor vehicles and foot passengers between McInroy's Point, (A770, (Cloch Road)) and Hunters Quay near Dunoon. At Gourock Pier, an Abellio ScotRail train service provides access to the National Rail network via the Inverclyde Line at Glasgow Central. Public transport within Dunoon and the surrounding area is provided under government subsidy by bus and coach operator West Coast Motors.
West Coast Motors' route 486 provides a regular return journey from Dunoon town centre to Inveraray, where it connects with a Scottish Citylink service 926 and 976 onward to Campbeltown, Oban, Glasgow and points in-between.
The Queen's Hall is the town's major multi-function hall complex. It is situated opposite the head of the Victorian pier and built in 1958. It was officially opened by Queen Elizabeth II on 11 August 1958. The building houses four function suites and a large main hall. The main hall has a stage with professional sound and lighting equipment, and attracted popular acts such as Pink Floyd, Blur, the Saw Doctors, David Gray. Morrissey, the Red Hot Chilli Pipers, Primal Scream and comedians Kevin Bridges, Bill Bailey and Roy Chubby Brown. In late 2015 the Queen's Hall was closed to enable a major refurbishment. In December 2016 it was announced that the refurbishment would not commence until January 2017. The Queens Hall reopened in August 2018.
The town's sporting arena is Dunoon Stadium, which is located in the north of the town, near Dunoon Grammar School. When it hosted football matches, it had the largest capacity of any amateur ground in Scotland. It later became the focal point of the Cowal Highland Gathering. Motorcycle dirt track racing (or speedway) was staged at the stadium on 18 June 1932 as part of the annual Dunoon and Cowal Agricultural Show. A demonstration event had been staged in May 1932.
Riverside, swim and health centre, including an indoor pool (25m long) and associated facilities, located in the centre of Dunoon, next to the Firth of Clyde on Alexandra Parade. Facilities include a main pool, teaching pool, gym including a sauna and a water flume.
Dunoon Library is situated in the rebuilt Queens Hall at the Castle Gardens.
Dunoon is served by three primary schools. Dunoon Primary School is on Hillfoot Street; this building was the original location of Dunoon Grammar School. St Muns Primary School is on Pilot Street and Kirn Primary School is on Park Road.
Dunoon Grammar School is located on Ardenslate Road in Kirn, Dunoon. The Grammar School was founded in 1641.
Fishing locations surround Dunoon, both fresh and sea water.
Dunoon Camanachd was established in 2015; the shinty team started competing in South Division 2, in 2016.
The two Bowling Clubs in Dunoon are Dunoon Argyll Bowling Club on Mary Street and Bogleha' Bowling Club on Argyll Street.
Cowal Rugby Club was formed in 1976. In 2008 it scored its first league victory in the Scottish Hydro Electric Western Regional League West Division 2.
Dunoon Amateurs FC was founded in 1975 and play football at Dunoon Stadium and Dunoon Grammar School.
The Dunoon Youth Football League (DYFL) is a voluntary organisation that teaches football skills to all interested children with ages between 4 and 17. The DYFL have their own clubhouse and changing facilities at Dunoon Stadium. All coaches are parents who have received coaching certification through the Scottish Youth Football Association (SYFA), and the club has a PGA officer and coaches with Sports Injuries First Aid Certification. As of January 2015 the club had a membership of over 125 children. In the summer of 2016 the DYFL celebrated its 35th anniversary.
Castle Tennis Club in Dunoon is situated in the town's Castle Garden. The club has 2 concrete and 2 all-weather courts, all lighted. The clubhouse plays host to social events such as quiz, pool and darts nights.
Every year in June the town hosts the Argyll Rally, a motorsport event that takes place in the forests around the local area. The rally counts as a round of the Scottish Rally Championship and brings competitors from all over United Kingdom.
Dunoon's most famous resident was Sir Harry Lauder (1870–1950), whose mansion, Laudervale, stood just south of Dunoon on Bullwood Road. After a fire, that burnt over half of it, it stood ruinous until c. 1980 when it and the stable blocks were demolished. Much of the grounds were subsequently sold for housing development. The development there today preserves the Laudervale name. Dunoon Grammar School had a number of notable former pupils, including the
- Labour Party politicians John Smith (13 September 1938 – 12 May 1994),
- George Robertson (later head of NATO),
- Brian Wilson
- Reverend Donald Caskie, also known as the Tartan Pimpernel (22 May 1902 – 27 December 1983).
- Neil MacFarlane, a professional footballer who reached the 2008 Scottish Cup final with Queen of the South, was born in the town.
- MT Carney, co-founder of British nail salon chain Nails Inc. and former president of marketing for Walt Disney Studios Worldwide, was born in the town.
- Peter Dorschel Cold War spy.
- Alexander Robertson Boatbuilder
- Pipe Major John McLellan DCM (1875–1949), was a piper and noted composer of pipe music. He was also a noted songwriter and poet.
- Virginia Bottomley (Baroness Bottomley of Nettlestone and former Conservative Cabinet minister) was born in Dunoon
- Stewart Houston, former Manchester United player and QPR manager
- Sylvester McCoy,
- Tom Wisniewski of the punk band MxPx
Dunoon's local weekly newspaper, is the Dunoon Observer and Argyllshire Standard, that was founded on 25 March 1871 in nearby Sandbank by William Inglis, Sr., who was editor and proprietor. On 1 December 2009, Dunoon Community Radio was launched. Dunoon Community Radio or often called "DCR" by presenters has a variety of programming to meet the needs of people living in around Dunoon. Broadcasting on 97.4 FM from the Dunoon Observer building, Dunoon Community Radio is an independent social business entirely staffed by volunteers.
As with the rest of the British Isles, Dunoon has a maritime climate with cool summers and mild winters. It is an exceptionally wet part of the country, particularly so for a place near sea-level, with annual average rainfall totals nearing 2,400 mm (94 in).
|Climate data for Benmore Botanic Gardens 12m asl, 1971–2000, extremes 1960– (Weather station 7 miles (11 km) to the North of Dunoon)|
|Record high °C (°F)||14.4
|Average high °C (°F)||6.5
|Average low °C (°F)||1.0
|Record low °C (°F)||−13.9
|Average precipitation mm (inches)||298.76
|Source: Royal Dutch Meteorological Institute/KNMI|
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- for Dunoon
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Dunoon.|
|Wikisource has the text of the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica article Dunoon.|
|Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Dunoon.|