We were recently approached by a former guest, Mr Denholm, to ask us if we knew the meaning behind the name Loch Melfort. He asked as his family own Denholm Shipping and have recently named their latest ship ‘Loch Melfort’ after spending many happy summers in the area. After further investigation, it turns out that the founder of Loch Melfort Hotel, Colin Tindal, used to work for Denholm Shipping in Glasgow before his hospitality career took off.
The ship is 33,000 metric deadweight tons and 176.80 meters long and specially fitted to be able to carry logs. The ship will be joined shortly afterwards with a sister vessel named Loch Maree. Both ships will be employed carrying logs from New Zealand to China and so unlikely they will pass close to home!
Regarding his initial question about the origin of the name Melfort, Matthew Anderson from Melfort House stepped into help;
The main village is called Kilmelford (the T and the D appears to be interchangeable), and an anglification of the Gaelic Cill Mheallaird, meaning “church at the lumpy headland” Melfort should translate as “Lumpy headland” and therefore ‘the loch with the lumpy headland’.
The general area appears to have been created by volcanic activity on Mull and is of pretty poor agricultural quality but would have been heavily wooded and probably teeming with wild game and fish, fresh and sea, which clearly proved attractive to our stone age/bronze age ancestors.
The lands around Loch Melfort have been held by the Campbell’s for some 650 years having been granted to them by David the 1st. There were fortified houses or castles at Melfort, Ardenstur, Degnish, Ardmaddy and Arduaine.
Melfort Estate was bought by Harrison Ainsley and Co in 1839 and Gunpowder was manufactured here until the late 1800’s when the factory was closed following a catastrophic explosion. The gunpowder was used for armaments and for the blasting required for the extraction of slate most notably from Seil, Luing, Easdale etc.
Arduaine House was built around 1897 by Arthur Campbell. He then set about building a garden of exotic and semi tropical plants, most notably Rhododendrons and Azalea. The garden has thrived and is now in the care of the National Trust for Scotland.
Arduaine House was bought by Colin Tindal around 1967. He extended it using and American style and created the Loch Melfort Motor Lodge now known as the Loch Melfort Hotel.