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Kilcreggan’s iconic pier will mark its 125th anniversary this Sunday.

Built during the heyday of steamers on the Clyde, it is now a unique survivor of that era – the region’s last traditional wooden pier in daily use.

Unlike piers at Cove, Coulport, Rahane, Shandon, Craigendoran and now Helensburgh, it has stood all the tests that time has so far thrown at it.

But its future now looks far from certain, with owners Argyll and Bute Council saying they may need to spend over £9m on a new pontoon and breakwater since the Victorian pier ‘might not last another 60 years’.

Kilcreggan’s first pier was built in 1850, but the present B-listed structure dates from a rebuilding in 1897 – the new pier was opened on September 25 of that year.

It was strengthened in 1964, which is when the present pierhead building was added.

More than 400 people staged a protest on the pier ten years ago, when the lifeline ferry service descended into chaos under SPT – now the ferry is run by CalMac. Picture by Nigel Reid-Foster.

In A Victorian Burgh, author Richard Reeve shows that on a typical day in 1897 nearly 40 steamers called at Kilcreggan, taking passengers to piers including Lochgoilhead, Glasgow, Craigendoran and Rothesay.

Now the only boats using the pier are the lifeline CalMac ferry link with Gourock and the Waverley (above), which calls twice a week during its summer season – though in the relatively recent past CalMac ‘streaker’ ferries were regular visitors, as seen below.

Peter Walker, a founding member of the Kilcreggan Coastguard unit, with the then Princes Charles at the boat show in Earls Court.

Remarkably, two people have been pier master in Kilcreggan for almost half its lifetime – Gavin Walker (pictured above, waiting for the MV Chieftain to come alongside) has held the position for 28 years, and his father Peter was piermaster for the previous 26 years, with Gavin as his assistant for 12 years.

The operators of another Clyde icon – the world’s last seagoing paddle steamer – have sent congratulations to Kilcreggan pier on its 125th anniversary.

Paul Semple, general manager, of Waverley Excursions Ltd, said: “I am delighted to see Kilcreggan pier reach this significant anniversary.

“In recent years Kilcreggan has played an even greater role in helping to enable locals and visitors the opportunity to step aboard Waverley, given the loss of Helensburgh pier as a regular calling point.

“Kilcreggan is one of the few remaining traditional wooden Clyde steamer piers and the past two summers have shown it still holds great value to the last of the Clyde paddle steamers.

“It has been pleasing to see that the number of passengers using Kilcreggan to board Waverley has increased.

“I therefore hope in the years to come Kilcreggan pier will be maintained to ensure it remains a key part of Waverley’s itinerary.”

There are concerns that the new pontoons and breakwater might also affect the Waverley’s approach to Kilcreggan pier – and the various public authorities pushing that scheme might do well to note what happened back in 1897.

In May that year the Helensburgh and Gareloch Times reported: “The improvements to Kilcreggan pier are now well advanced, and a good portion of the deck is relaid and being utilised for traffic.

“It was intended to fill the pier-head with concrete, but the heavy weather of a few weeks ago which broke over the solid front of the pier convinced the contractor that it would never do to make the pier into a breakwater and the original plan was abandoned.

“The piling will now be laced up with diagonal cross-beams and left open to allow the water through.”

Now unique, Kilcreggan iconic pier has stood the test of time – The Lochside Press

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