Location: Oban, Lorn and the Slate Islands

Weapons and the West Coast

The Melfort Estate was bought in the 1830s by the firm of Harrison Ainslie & Co Ltd, the owners of the Bonawe Foundry, to manufacture gunpowder. The Melfort factory operated until about 1900, providing blasting powder for the slate quarries in the immediate vicinity. The estate employed over 100 people from across the area, and there is still evidence of the extensive civil engineering that was undertaken. These include water-powered mills and a Steam Railway. The business was wound up following a final catastrophic explosion, and there are some records of many casualties.

There is still plenty of physical evidence on the ground. In the kirkyard of the small Parish Church, some gravestones mark the burial places of people killed while making the 'black porridge'. The former factory site is now occupied by a timeshare village, and many of the cottage names are linked to the gunpowder factory.

This story was contributed by Matthew Anderson

More information on visiting the area can be found here.