Harbour News – May 2019

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Mallaig Passenger Ferry Pontoon

Harbour Engineers Wallace Stone issued the Completion Certificate for the Passenger Walkway Pontoon on Friday 4th April 2019 signifying that contractors Gael Force Engineering had completed the project at a cost in the region of £193,000.

Mallaig Harbour Ice

Several weeks behind schedule it may have been but on Friday 5th April half a dozen fishing boats took on board ice from the new Harbour Authority owned Mallaig Ice Plant.

The new plant has not yet been fully commissioned and questions remain about it’s overall ability to provide ice at the touch of a “computer button” but progress is being made, ice is being manufactured and delivered to fishing vessels although currently its only available during office hours on week days at present.

Service will be improved once the IT side of the operation is in situ

Robert MacMillan


01687 462154


Harbour News – April 2019

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Passenger Walkway

The new Passenger Access Walkway is now operational.  It began it’s working life on Friday 22nd March – several weeks behind schedule.

Contractors Gael Force Ltd have now completed 99% of the work with the only outstanding item being the replacement of ill fitting mesh panelling with ones manufactured/cut to the proper size.

As an add on to the contract mesh infill panels will be fitted between the walkway ramp and the pier surface.

Mallaig Harbour Ice

The plant is now powered up and the electrical meters were fitted on Thursday 28th March after what seemed an interminable delay.

Officials from TRS Ltd will be on site week commencing 8th April so hopes are high that the new Plant will become operational later this month.

Robert MacMillan


01687 462154


Harbour News – March 2019

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This month will see the completion of the two Harbour projects that have been on-going since the turn of the year namely the new Ice plant and the Passenger Access Pontoons.

Mallaig Harbour Ice

Site delays have occurred due to the failure of contractors to identify and locate the whereabouts of the power cable to the old Ice Factory that needs to be dis-connected prior to the re-connection of the new Ice Plant to the mains power supply.

After digging in several locations contractors Fion Construction finally located the cable on Thursday 28th February and the following day, 1st March SSE Hydro were on site to install the new cable.

Water connections to the new Ice Plant were also established on the 1st March so by the time you read this it is to be hoped that the new Mallaig Harbour Ice Plant will be operational if not wholly then at least partly and able to produce ice for the local fishermen and buyers.

Passenger Access Pontoons

The final one of eight pontoons that will form the base of the new passenger access was placed in-situ on Thursday 28th February and by the following day it was estimated that 90% of the work was now complete with the passenger access becoming operational by mid-March.

At time of press lifebelts, lights, safety railings and bollards are among the items yet to be installed but they should only take a few more days to fit.

Board Members

As is normal at this time of year the Mallaig Harbour Authority advertise for new Members to come forward and join the Harbour Board.  New faces around the Board table are required, it brings new thoughts and ideas so please consider applying and help keep MHA at the forefront of local development, vibrant, forward thinking, responsive and pro active.

Fish Feed

A very warm west coast welcome to the Aqua Senior – pictured here – the new Fish Feed Carrier that will be based at Mallaig from 1st March.

The 47.58 metre long Norwegian registered “Aqua Senior” – a side loading vessel – has been seen in and around the port for the past few weeks undergoing trials not only in the Harbour but also at several of the fish farm sites.

Robert MacMillan


01687 462154


Harbour News – February 2019

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Mallaig Harbour News: February 2019

Current Engineering Issues

Delays have occurred to both Harbour Projects that were highlighted in the January issue of West Word: i) The Passenger Access Pontoons; and ii) The new Mallaig Ice plant.

i) Problems with a prefabricated steel beam which resulted in the need for a new beam to be manufactured and then galvanised has been the main cause of the delay with the Passenger Access Pontoons.  Once the beam is on site and in situ all the other components – the access platform, access ramp and the placement of the pontoons – will be able to be placed in position.

The new amended completion date is now the 22nd February 2019. We do apologise for the delay.

ii) Mallaig Harbours new Ice Plant is nearing completion and should become operational by the end of this month.

The containerised Ice Plant arrived from China – it’s country of manufacture – on the 16th & 17th January and, at the time of writing, is now 95% complete.

Utility connections (power, water, broadband line) are proving an issue and that is part of the reason for the delay in the commissioning of the plant.

Past Times

The Scottish Fishermen’s Organisation Ltd (SFO) calendar for 2019 is entitled The Fisher Folk’s Story and it contains historical black & white photos of fishing scenes from the past.

There are a couple of photos of Mallaig Harbour including this one, the cover shot of the calendar, which carries the sub-title “Valiant OB191, landing lobsters at Mallaig.

The picture dates back to the late 50’s/early 60’s and was probably taken one Saturday morning, the normal day from the Mallaig Lobster Sale.

After being away for the week, fishing on the west side (of the Hebrides) the Mallaig lobster boats of the time, the “Valiant” owned by Jimmy Henderson, the “Beulah” (Jimmy McLean); the “Excellent” (Jimmy Aitchison); the “Winner” (Willie MacDonald); and the Speedwell (Alex Duncan) among them, would return to Mallaig on the Friday afternoon/evening with their catch and then “steep” the lobsters in the bay, the line of boxes being supported by a buoy at each end – this being done to keep the lobsters alive of course.

On a Saturday morning to save all the boats going out into the bay to haul up their boxes one or two boats would venture out, pick up the boxes of lobsters and take them back to the pier for the auction which is why on the deck of the Valiant you can read the name “Excellent OB343” on one of the boxes.

When all the boxes were landed onto the pier, the Auction would commence with Salesmen Ian MacLennan & Robbie Hepburn eeking out the best prices for their clients.  Some of the buyers involved around about that time would be George Aitchison; Alex Henderson; Bill Henderson; Andy Duncan; Jimmy Sanderson and Wm Simpson & Sons.

Can you identify the fishermen on board the “Valiant”?  Names below.


Robert MacMillan


01687 462154 info@mallaigharbourauthority.com

Names: (left to right): Duncan Henderson, Jimmy Henderson, Jimmy Aitchison, Ian Campbell, Eckie Aitchison, Jimmy Philip.

Harbour News – January 2019

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Mallaig Harbour News: January 2019

Projects for 2019

This new year will herald the completion of two projects that have been bubbling away for the past few months.

The Passenger Ferry Access – which will replace the steps – will be in situ by the time the February 2019 issue of West Word hits the streets.  Contractors Gael Force Ltd will be on site on the 8th of January, will begin lifting in the guides on the 11th, the pontoons on the 14th and the access ramps and bridges on the 16th January.

Mallaig Harbour Ice plant is due to arrive in Mallaig mid January.  The Ice Plant which consists of two 40’ containers one on top of the other will then be assembled, commissioned and become operational early in February 2019.


It’s been a dismal end to what has been a dismal year for our fishermen with not even an end of year boost for the sprat trawlers.  There’s been no sprat landings (so far) this winter.

It all adds to the doom & gloom as it’s fair to say that since October 2017 – a total of 14 months – the prawn fishing in the South Minch has been poor, the usually abundant grounds providing sparse return for the effort and fuel expended by the skippers.

One could argue that the fishing industry in Mallaig is at it’s lowest ebb ever, certainly within living memory and its extremely worrying with only a handful of fishing boats left in the port.  Not so long ago Mallaig used to boast over 40 locally owned vessels employing up to 160 (mostly) local men eager to put to sea and eager to get the rewards.  It would seem that a way of life is fading away before our very eyes.

Tommy Ralston, an ex fisherman, prawn buyer and Lifeboat Coxswain, who sadly passed away last year, wrote a book entitled Captains and Commanders which contained this nostalgic poem also called Captains and Commanders.  Read it please and ponder!

Robert MacMillan


01687 462154


Harbour News – December 2018

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Mallaig Harbour Ice

Contractors TRS Ltd have recently informed the Authority that the arrival of the new Containerised Ice Plant due to be delivered to Mallaig Harbour on Tuesday 8th January 2019 has been delayed by one week.  The new delivery date is now Monday 14th/Tuesday 15th January 2019 with engineer onsite for the following 2.5 weeks to assemble/commission the plant.

The Authority remains hopeful that the new Ice Plant will therefore become operational February 2019.

Passenger Pontoon

Gael Force Ltd have been given the contract to construct the Passenger Pontoon and place it in situ in the inner harbour so making the existing passenger steps redundant..  It was hoped that this would become operational prior to the year end but unfortunately this will not now be the case as work will not now commence until week beginning the 14th January 2019.  The new completion date is now end of January 2019.


The non-appearance of shoals of sprats in the Minch this winter is a major disappointment as it had been hoped to end what has been a pretty dreadful year for the fishing industry in Mallaig on a high but this is clearly not now going to be the case.

Festive greetings to all Harbour users from all at the Authority.

Robert MacMillan


01687 462154


Harbour News – November 2018

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Landing Values

As can be seen from the attached chart the port of Mallaig is ranked No 8 in Scotland on the value of catch landed for the calendar year 2017:

Mallaig Ice Factory

The dramatic downturn in fishing boats using Mallaig Harbour in recent years has already impacted on the availability of shoreside facilities.

The latest blow is the decision by Denholm Fishselling Ltd to close down the Mallaig Ice Co later this month.  The Mallaig Ice Co was formed in 1948 – 70 years ago – and its closure is a sad reflection on the current state of the west coast fishing industry.

However the Mallaig Harbour Authority has sourced 50% EU funding for a new containerised ice plant which is due to arrive on site early January 2019 and allowing three – four weeks for erection and commissioning, becomes operational late January.

There will inevitably be a lack of ice during the change over period from one ice plant to the other and unfortunately this will impact on the fishing fleet using the port.


  • Here is an interesting photo showing the original Lovat Pier (bottom right) and the wooden pier constructed by British Railways. Not sure of a date, 1920’s?


Robert MacMillan


01687 462154


Mallaig Harbour News – October 2018

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Birthday Celebrations

Over 100 people attended the 50th birthday celebrations of the Mallaig Harbour Authority held in the Mallaig & Morar Community Centre on Friday 14th September.  The celebration took the form of a photographic exhibition, augmented by various other memorabilia spanning the 50 year life of the Mallaig Harbour Authority, a buffet served up by the West Highland Hotel, and a look forward with plans/drawings culled from the Harbour’s Masterplan illustrating the way ahead for the next 10 – 20 years.

The Exhibition was an opportunity to look back at some of the major milestones in the life of the Authority – formed by an Act of Parliament on 24th July 1968 – but also to look ahead with the future blueprint now in place via the recently published Masterplan.

In paying tribute to people and events of the past Chairman Charlie King stated in his welcoming address that over the years the Authority has always been forward looking, doing its best not only for the harbour but also for the village,  it’s people and environs.  This forward thinking is set to continue he stated with future plans and aspirations including new Outer Breakwater, new ferry terminal, deep water berthing, land reclamation, Local College, enlarged yachting marina, and the soon to commence passenger pontoon access all highlighted courtesy of the Harbour Masterplan.  There’s some exciting times and challenges ahead for the Authority concluded Mr King.

Instrumental in establishing the Mallaig Harbour Authority in those early days was George Gordon Jackson, the first Secretary, and William John Manson Vice-Chairman of the Authority up until his retiral in 1982 – one wonders what they would have made of it all 50 years on.

The Authority is grateful and wishes to thank all who contributed to the success of the Exhibition.



Mr Andy Race (left) is pictured receiving his farewell gift from Harbour Chairman Mr Charlie King.  Mr Race who retired from the Board in March 2018 after 28 years of service to the Authority, was warmly thanked for his commitment, input, diligence and contribution to the Authority over the years.



Former Fishing Skipper Mr John McLean (Mallaig) was the winner of the bottle of Mallaig Harbour Water.  John came closest to correctly naming the year the following pictures were taken.  He got two of the three questions right and was one year out with the third.

Photo 1 – 1977

Photo 2 – 1996

Photo 3 – 1998



Robert MacMillan


01687 462154


Harbour News August 2018

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The Chairman and Board Members of the Mallaig Harbour Authority cordially invite you to come along to the Mallaig & Morar Community Centre on the afternoon of Friday 14th September to help celebrate the 50th birthday of the Authority.

A buffet and light refreshments will be available from 12.45 with a Photographic Display created by the Mallaig Heritage Centre and The Harbour Authority and other memorabilia on show.

There will also be the chance to mingle and discuss future Harbour Board developments with Board Members – past and present – Harbour Engineers and employees.  Local businesses will also attend the occasion which is open to all members of the public.

Robert MacMillan


01687 462154


Harbour News July 2018

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Annual Report

Here are some excerpts from my Annual Report, compiled to accompany the Authority’s end of year (31st March 2018) accounts:-


There is little doubt that the introduction of RET (Road Equivalent Tariff) on the west coast ferry routes continues to have a positive impact with more and more passengers and vehicles making use of the services.  This is certainly the case as far as the Port of Mallaig is concerned as can be seen via the statistical tables below:-

1st April 2016 to 31st March 2017                               1st April 2017 to 31st March 2018

Passengers       :           301,237                                   Passengers       :           343,847

Cars                 :             71,127                                   Cars                 :             82,230

Coaches           :               1,874                                   Coaches           :               2,375

Commercials   :                  744                                   Commercials   :                 851

The above figures equate to a 14% increase in passengers and a 15% increase in vehicles making use of the Mallaig Linkspan.  However the 2017 summer season was, once again, blighted by poor vessel deployment and tidal issues leading to a myriad of cancellations on the Mallaig Armadale and Mallaig Lochboisdale routes.

With 285,483 passengers conveyed over the sea to/from the Isle of Skye, the Mallaig Armadale service is CalMac’s 5th most popular summer route and it’s also interesting to note that it comes out top of any other route when it comes to the carrying of coaches.  In 2017 coaches numbered 2337 – a 20% increase on 2016 – used the Skye Ferry Service.

Steamer Pier Surfacing Repairs

Surface defects on the Steamer Pier including ponding, drainage channel issues, and concrete erosion were all addressed via a £60,000 contract carried out by Gareloch Support Services.  Work was completed prior to the commencement of the 2018 summer season.


The laundry, shower and toilet facility now available at the Mallaig Marina Centre, along with disabled access and baby changing amenity, continues to be appreciated by pontoon/yachting patrons who are generous in their praise of the state of the art facilities

Usage of the Marina showed an increase on the previous year as the following table illustrates:-


Occupancy                  Short Stay                   Locals

2017                    1547                             42                               65

2016                    1482                             43                               65

2015                    1481                             29                               58

2014                    1503                             33                               56

2013                    1338                             81                               60

It should be remembered that the actual size/capacity of the Marina coupled with the seasonality of the yachting calendar really prevents any major increase in berthing uptake.

In addition to the above a further 58 vessels made use of the moorings at the Marina.

Waste Oil

Waste oil collection figures for the year to 31st March 2018 were as follows:-

Waste Oil:                   11,640 litres

Oily Water/Sludge:     49,924 litres

The full report will shortly be available on the web-site www.mallaig-harbour.com

Board Membership

As at May 2018 the composition of the Harbour Board is as follows:-

Charles King (Chairman)

Anthony Kenning (Vice Chairman)

Gavin Davis

Michael Foxley

Allan Henderson

John MacMillan

Jim Wilson

Jacqueline Wright


Robert MacMillan


01687 462154