Back to Archive Index

3 October 2003

The threat of decommissioned nuclear submarines being scrapped and rendered ‘safe’ at the south end of Cowal has been removed following a high-level meeting between Argyll and Bute Council representative and officials from Sir Robert McAlpine.
MacAlpine’s oil-rig construction yard at Ardyne Point, which has lain disused since the 1970s, was widely perceived as being the favourite site for the disposal of old Royal Navy nuclear sub-marines, which presently total eleven boats.
However, earlier this week the company withdrew its proposals to manage radioactive waste from decommissioned submarines leaving coun-cillors jubilant at the change of heart.
The company’s about-turn followed a meeting with Council representatives, Council Leader Allan Macaskill and Cllr Dick Walsh, Chair of the Bute and Cowal Area Committee, along with Director of Development Services, George Harper.
Following news of the withdrawal, Councillor Macaskill said, “ I really am very pleased with this result. The Council has been in constant contact with McAlpine since the announcement of their proposals for Ardyne, and I am pleased to have met with a director of the company in Glasgow.
“This proposal has been unacceptable to Argyll and Bute and we left the company in no doubt about that. We really do not want this sort of development in unspoiled countryside, at the very gateway to our national park, where tourism is a major industry.
“We succeeded where others did not. We have been accused of silence, when in fact we were working very hard behind the scenes and are absolutely delighted at this decision.”
The Ministry of Defence announced on 11 September that Sir Robert McAlpine’s submission for the management of radioactive waste from decommissioned submarines was one of a number being considered.
Local Councillor Dick Walsh said, “ We applaud this decision which will see the people of Argyll and Bute, and especially those in Cowal and Bute, heaving a huge sigh of relief. We are very, very pleased indeed.
“The impact of any such development would have been enormous. Not only would it have adversely affected the local economy but it would create real unease within the population of the area. It is our responsibility as the local authority to put the best interests of local people and the local environment first and foremost and we have been doing so in the strongest possible terms.
“Importantly, now that discussions with McAlpine have been opened we and the company intend to continue to discuss ways to develop the site in a more sympathetic way.”
Bute North Councillor Robert McIntyre, however, was quick to point out that the credit for McAlpine’s change of heart did not lie entirely with Argyll and Bute Council.
“I understand that there was an absolute avalanche of letters of protest from residents of Rothesay and Bute directed to MacAlpine, “ he said.
“This indicated that the people of Bute and Cowal were united in the strength of their opposition to the dumping of these submarines, and its good to see that common sense has prevailed as far as McAlpine is concerned.”
MP Alan Reid said: I’m delighted that MacAlpine has listened to the voice of the public in Cowal and Bute and have scrapped this idea.
“However, the prospect of nuclear ‘dumping’ has not been entirely removed, as the MoD site at Coulport is still in the running for the storage of radioactive material from the scrapped boats, and we have to continue to exert pressure to ensure that this doesn’t come to pass.”
McAlpine has confirmed that it is keen to work closely with the Council in developing new proposals for the site which they own.

Plans to redevelop Dunoon’s Queen’s Hall took a major step forward last week, as the Queen’s hall development group agreed recommendations to seek funding of £4.5 million to support the project.
The Development Group, which is made up of five councillors Jimmy McQueen, Dick Walsh, Brian Chennell, Gordon McKinven and Bruce Marshall, hope to gain funding from a number of bodies, such as the National Lottery, European Fund, Arts Council and Argyll and Islands Enterprise.
Chairman of the Development Group, Councillor Bruce Marshall commented on plans to redevelop the hall. He said: “Providing that we gain the agreement of the full Council, and that the funding is secured, we can make the Queen’s Hall fit for the 21st century. The Development Group is totally committed to supporting the arts within our community, and we intend to hold full and frank discussions with all groups who have an interest.
“Obviously, we must have the agreement of the Council and the funding in place before we can begin, but it is the intention of the group to waste no time in pressing ahead. We will be trying to get our funding application included in Argyll and Bute Council’s 2005 Capital funding programme. Ideally, we would like to see the Pier Project and the Queens Hall Project develop hand in hand to create the best possible gateway to Dunoon and the National Park beyond.”
The main emphasis of the project will be to create the right environment to give maximum support to art groups within the Cowal area, and to improve facilities to attract other groups to Dunoon. The Tourist Information Centre which is based in Alexandra Parade, will also be relocated to the new building - which would be similar to the Winter Gardens in Rothesay. Shop owners who use the premises will also be included in the proposals, and negotiations between the group and owners will take place in the future.
The Queen’s Hall which was built in the late 1950s has faced a number of problems recently, such as leaky roofs, dislodged tiles and the building not being designed for disabled users. However the new plans for the building will be ‘user friendly’ for the disabled, with improved access to all areas, and a lift also being installed. The building will also include a smaller theatre than at present, giving a ‘cosy effect’ and also have a specific area for Cowal Youth Theatre workshops. There will also be more meeting rooms and space for large events, and the cafe will also be expanded.

ROLL out the red carpet because Dunoon is having its very own film premiere.
But there will be no tiaras and tantrums at this bash because it’s all in aid of an extremely good cause and has been organised by the local branch of the Leukaemia Research Fund.
The local premiere of the movie ‘Calendar Girls’, starring Helen Mirren, Julie Walters and Annette Crosbie amongst a host of other stars, will be hosted by Dunoon’s ‘Studio A’ Cinema, John Street, on Friday October 10 and all proceeds from the tickets will be donated to Leukaemia Research.
Over the past 15 years, the Dunoon committee of Leukaemia Research have raised a staggering £95,000 for the charity, thanks to the generosity of the people of Cowal.
However, they are confident that they will break through the £100,000 before the end of this year with the film premiere and another fundraising event, ‘Alana’s Fashion Show’ which will be held on October 19 in the Queen’s Hall.
One of the committee members, Gillian Purdie, said: “The cinema’s owner, Robert Gilmour, has kindly let us take over his picture house and our very own SWRI will be providing refreshments - but you’ll have to come along to find out whether we are keeping our clothes on!”
The film, which premiered in cinemas nationwide on September 5 and attracted rave reviews, is based on the true story of 11 middle aged Yorkshire women, who decided to pose nude for a calendar to raise funds for research into lymphoma and leukaemia.
Originally, the group set out to raise funds for the husband of one of the women, John Baker, who was suffering from lymphoma.
But the idea was so successful that it raised £450,000 for research into the disease, although sadly, Mr Baker died in July 1998, aged 54, before the calendar was finished.
However, his memory lives on and in the Leeds hospital in which he was treated is a plaque in recognition of the fantastic fundraising achievements of the Rylstone and District Women’s Institute, now nationally known as the ‘Calendar Girls’.
In addition to the proceeds that will be donated nationwide from the movie, royalties will also be given to Leukaemia Research fund from a special 2004 calendar featuring members of the cast.
Tickets for the premiere can be bought from the cinema, RS McColl and at the reception in Dunoon General Hospital.
Priced at £6.50, the ticket will also include refreshments provided by the SWRI.
Tickets for the fashion show can be obtained from Alana’s, Argyll Street, Dunoon.

ONE of the Observer staff, Ruth Griffiths, a typesetter with us, is taking on a new role – as an Auxiliary Minister.
At a special service on Sunday, September 28, in the High Kirk, Dunoon, conducted by the Moderator of Dunoon Presbytery, the Rev. David Kellas, Ruth was licensed to preach the Word.
It was heartening that all her family were there on this happy day to support and congratulate her.
An Auxiliary Minister, an idea of comparatively recent consideration, is different from a fully-fledged minister in that he/she works under supervision on a part-time, non-stipendiary basis – the ministry is intended to be carried out in addition to the individual’s normal occupation. They are expected to share the load of parish ministers, and their role involves the full range of the work of the post – preaching, celebrating the sacraments and the social role which goes with the vocation, ie, pastoral care, visiting the sick, elderly and bereaved, as well as participation in Christian education and missionary outreach.
Ruth has been an elder at the High Kirk for almost ten years, and has played an active part in the life of the church.
To reach this stage in the route to Auxiliary Ministry, Ruth had first to be accepted as a candidate by the Church of Scotland. There followed a three-year distance learning course through Glasgow University, resulting in the award of a Certificate in Religion and Theological Studies. This was carried out in conjunction with three 6 month placements at local churches – the High Kirk, St. John’s with Sandbank and the Shore churches, providing practical experience.
As the Rev. Ruth Griffiths, she now begins her probationary year at Kirn Parish Church.

When workers at Kilmun Church discovered old remains for the first time in almost a century last month, it gave many people a chance to enquire about the history of the church.
Kilmun Church was built in 1422 by Sir Duncan Campbell, the chief of the Campbell clan, and acted as a burial ground for the Earls of Argyll. Sir Duncan himself was buried in the church, approximately under pew number 34 along with his wife; subsequent Earls were also buried in the church or in a small chapel at the north access of the building.
When the chapel was replaced by the present Argyll Mausoleum in the eighteenth century, the effigies were removed from the church and placed at the south end of the Mausoleum. Unfortunately many of the effigies were damaged by water seeping through the roof of the Mausoleum.
During the seventeenth century many individuals who held important positions in the community were also buried at the church, even though an edict which forbade this practice was passed by the Presbyterian church in 1642. The practice was continued until 1709, when the minister and elders called a halt to this unique ritual. The presbytery of Dunoon ordered the church people to put at least two feet of fresh earth on top of the remains which were buried on the ground level of the church, due to the stench of the bodies.
Today’s church was constructed to the designs of Thomas Burns in 1841, and later in the nineteenth century extensive refurbishments took place, such as the opening of the old vestry as a chancel, the installation of new pews and a gallery. However, the major refurbishment at the time was the installation of a coal- fired heating system, with the boiler situated in a pit outside in the northwest corner of the church. The earth from the excavation of this pit - which was in ‘common ground’ of the old churchyard was put in piles under the church floor, because it was consecrated ground.
However, until last month when workers uncovered the remains for the first time in almost a century, local people had mostly forgotten that the bones of some of the most important people in Argyll lay beneath their church. Church Elder,Valerie Gillies commented over the discovery: “Over the years we have had many visitors coming into the church asking about the history of the place, and we always explain the historical significance of the remains. I feel it is the responsibility of the local community to keep the history alive for future generations, and to keep the remains in their rightful place.”