From The Neolithic To The Sea: A Journey From The Past To The Present


Dumfries and Galloway
54°54'07.2"N 5°01'37.2"W

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Stranraer was a ferry port, is located at the bottom of Loch Ryan, in the Rhins of Galloway, Dumfries and Galloway.

The Battle of Loch Ryan was fought near Stranraer on 9/10 February 1307 during the Scottish Wars of Independence. King Robert I of Scotland's invasion of his ancestral lands in Annandale and Carrick began in 1307.

By 1600, Stranraer had become the market town for western Wigtownshire. At this time, Stranraer was reached by a military road built from Dumfries to allow easier access to Portpatrick for transportation of people to Ireland. Stranraer became a royal burgh in 1617.

The first harbour in Stranraer was built in the mid-18th century, with further development in the 1820s. The arrival of the railway from Dumfries in 1861 which closed 1965, giving the shortest journey from London, finally established Stranraer as the area's main port.

In 1862, the line was extended to serve the harbour directly, and a link to Portpatrick was also opened. In 1877, a rail connection north to Girvan and Glasgow was also established. Stranraer remained the main Scottish port for the Irish ferries for the next 150 years or so. On 31 January 1953, 133 people died when the Princess Victoria sank near Belfast Lough after its car deck was swamped by heavy seas.

Stranraer and its surrounding area saw a significant amount of activity during the Second World War, as it became a focus for anti-U-boat work. Flying boats operated from the area in an attempt to secure the waters of the North Channel and the south western coast of Scotland. Almost all of Britain's shipping imports passed through those two sea areas en route to the Clyde or the Mersey. Indeed, the flying boat Supermarine Stranraer is named after the town. Winston Churchill himself departed from Stranraer in a Boeing Flying Boat on the night of 25 June 1942, when making his second visit of the war to the USA. Churchill also spent time at nearby Knockinaam Lodge during the war years.

Stranraer has an active local history trust, which publishes work on the area's history, commissioned from local authors.