AskDefine | Define oban

Extensive Definition

Oban (An t-Òban in Scottish Gaelic meaning The Little Bay) is a resort town within the Argyll and Bute council area of Scotland. It has a total resident population of 8,120. Despite its small size, it is the largest town between Helensburgh and Fort William and during the tourist season the town can be crowded by up to 25,000 people. Oban occupies a beautiful setting in the Firth of Lorn. Oban Bay is a near perfect horseshoe bay, protected by the island of Kerrera, and beyond Kerrera is Mull. To the north is the long low island of Lismore, and the mountains of Morvern and Ardgour.
Attractions in Oban include the Waterfront Centre, the Cathedral of St Columba, the Oban Distillery, Dunollie Castle, Dunstaffnage Castle and McCaig's Tower, which dominates the town's skyline. Oban is an excellent base from which to explore the sights of Kilmartin Glen.
The Oban Tourist Information Centre, operated under VisitScotland, is located in the centre of the town in Argyll Square. It is housed in an old Church of Scotland building. In 2004, the Oban Tourist Information Centre was second to Edinburgh as the busiest Tourist Information Centres in Scotland.


1940 to today

During World War II, Oban was a busy port used by merchant and Royal Navy ships. The RN had a signal station near Ganavan which is now a private house. Also near Ganavan was a anti-submarine indicator loop station which detected any surface or submarine vessels between Oban, Mull and Lismore. There was a controlled minefield in the Sound of Kerrera which was controlled from a building near the caravan site at Gallanach. There is one surviving air raid shelter in the centre of Oban.
There was also a Royal Air Force flying boat base at Ganavan and on Kerrera. The airfield at North Connel was originally built by the Royal Air Force during World War II. A Sector Operations Room was built near the airfield and after the war this was extended to become the Royal Observer Corps Group HQ.
Oban was also important during the Cold War because the first Transatlantic Telephone Cable (TAT-1) came ashore at Gallanach Bay and this carried the "Hot Line" between the US and USSR Presidents. There was protected accommodation for the cable equipment at Gallanach Bay.


In 2003, Oban hosted the 100th Royal National Mod (a Gaelic festival), in anticipation of which many signs were replaced with bilingual versions. Not only was Oban the venue for the 100th Mod but it also hosted the centenary Mod in 1992 (the year it became Royal). The reason for the different dates for the 100th and the centenary being stoppages for the wars. Oban is considered the home of The Royal National Mod as the Mod was first held in Oban in 1892 with 10 competitors on a Saturday Afternoon. The 2009 Mod is to again be held in Oban
The town boasts two screen cinema. Oban has also been used as a backdrop to several films including Ring of Bright Water and Morvern Callar. See


The local amateur football team is "Oban Saints" with a small stadium situated in Mossfield. However, shinty is a more popular game locally, with two major teams, Oban Camanachd and Oban Celtic playing in the town. The Oban Times runs a popular Spot the Shinty Ball competition each week. Oban also boasts Oban Cricket Club that was formed in 2003 and play their home fixtures in nearby Taynuilt. The Highlanders are a WWE wrestling tag-team originally from (and billed) Oban. Scuba Diving is also readily available around Oban. There are many dive operators running srvices in and around the area. The wreck diving is specular, with the Sound of Mull offering some truly world class dive sites. Although weather and visability can be variable the local geograhphy means that a dive somewhere can aways be achieved.


Oban High School and Scotland High School (located in sister city of Laurinburg, North Carolina) share an exchange program which enlightens many students on the different and similar cultures within the two countries. The two schools have hosts families of 20 students (10 from each) which share experiences for two weeks in the summer (Oban) and 2 weeks in the fall (Laurinburg). The exchange was expanded in 2007 to include a participating law enforcement officer from each community. The law enforcement officer exchange is during the same time as the schools' exchange.


Oban lies at the western end of the A85 road. It also has a railway station where a number of First ScotRail services operate to and from Glasgow Queen Street on a daily basis. The town is also an important ferry port, being Caledonian MacBrayne's busiest terminal. Oban is known as the Gateway to the Isles, with ferries sailing to the islands of Lismore, Colonsay, Islay, Coll, Tiree, Craignure on Mull, and to Castlebay in Barra and Lochboisdale in South Uist. In 2005 a brand new modern ferry terminal was opened. In 2007 a second link span opened now allowing two of the vessels to load/unload at the same time.
Scottish Citylink operate services from Glasgow's Buchanan Street bus station several times a day, and during the summer a service from Dundee via Perth is also operated.
West Coast Motors operate many local services and also coach links as far south as Campbeltown and as far north as Fort William.
Oban is also reachable by plane via Oban Airport at the village of North Connel. The airport is currently being upgraded (costing some £4.2 million), so commercial planes can operate life-line island services, using Oban as a hub.
In 2007 a further airlink was created between Oban and west-central Scotland with a Seaplane service making it possible to fly from Glasgow city centre's Seaplane Terminal off the Clyde into the bay in Oban.

Town twinning

See also

Further reading

  • Hughes, Mike, The Hebrides at War Canongate Books 1998, ISBN 0-86241-771-6
  • Batstone, Stephanie, Wren's Eye View, The Adventures of a Visual Signaller, Parapress Ltd 1994, ISBN 1-898594-12-0 Written by a Wren based in Oban for most of WWII.
oban in Bulgarian: Оубън
oban in Czech: Oban
oban in German: Oban (Schottland)
oban in French: Oban (Écosse)
oban in Scottish Gaelic: An t-Òban
oban in Latin: Oban
oban in Dutch: Oban (Schotland)
oban in Polish: Oban
oban in Russian: Обан
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