The Channel Fleet in Lamlash Bay during World War 1. Source:

The name “Lamlash” originated in the 6th century when an Irish monk named Saint Molaise spent some time in a cave on Holy Isle. “Lamlash” evolved from “Eilean Molaise” (Molaise Island) to “Elmolaise”, to “Lemolash” before finally becoming “Lamlash”.

During both World Wars Lamlash was an important naval base and prior to WW1, visits from the North Atlantic and Home Fleets were great social occasions. Naval personnel were given the courtesy of Lamlash golf club, and in return they presented trophies which are still played for today. (The signatures of the Prince of Wales, later to become King Edward VIII, and Prince Albert, later to become King George VI, can be found in the Golf Club visitors book.)

awmh-arran-medical-co-ukThe Isle of Arran War Memorial Hospital which overlooks Lamlash Bay was built on the suggestion of the Marchioness of Graham, (later to become Duchess of Montrose) as a fitting memorial to those who gave their lives in the First World War.

Directly in front of the Glenisle Hotel & Bistro and visible at low-tide are the remains of a harbour built by the good Duchess Ann. It was built at some point in the 1600s with a view to introducing a coal mining and salt industry to the island. It was eventually demolished around 1800 when it became seldom used and too expensive to run. Stones from the harbour were saved and reused in building some of the houses in Lamlash which still stand today.

When the age of the steamer became the age of the ferry, earlier and faster investment in Brodick’s harbour facilities ensured it would become the predominant ferry port, leaving Lamlash to enjoy the title of unchallenged yachting and leisure sailing capital of Arran. Lamlash’s bay is home to many moored boats of all shapes, sizes and budgets.

Since 2008 Lamlash Bay has been a “No Take Zone”, which means that no fish or shellfish can be taken from the designated area. This is to help protect and recover marine habitats and therefore to hopefully encourage important species like scallops and cod to increase in numbers and naturally spill out into the surrounding seas.

Kilbride Chapel, photo: Heather Upfield 2009

Kilbride Chapel © Heather Upfield 2009

Most interesting of the old churches of Arran are the remains of Kilbride Chapel (also called St. Bride’s Chapel) at Lamlash, located on a burial ground where rest the remains of many generations of Arran people. If you are interested in information about your anchestors, you can contact the genealogists at the Arran Heritage Museum. In 1357 the churches of Kilbride and Kilmory were given by the lord of Arran, Sir John Menteith, to the monks of Kilmory. There are a few sculptured stones of interest in the graveyard, but many more have been destroyed. The most interesting and important was the ancient cross, which for many years lay on the family grave of the late Mr. John Mac-Bride, who formerly farmed the Holy Island. On the removal of the stones from the burial-ground there he brought the cross to Kilbride. It has been recently removed to the front of the parish church at Lamlash. Stones of this type were often erected in graveyards where no church stood, to mark the sacred character of the place (source and more information: Electric Scotland). Currently the Saving St Bride’s Chapel Arran Group is working to secure the ruins of of the Chapel and conserve its burial ground for people today and for future generations.

1For more information about the work of the Saving St Bride's Chapel Arran Group click on the + in the circle

The overall aim of the Group is to secure the ruins of of the Chapel and conserve its burial ground for people today and for future generations.
The immediate aims are:
1. To determine what are appropriate repair works for the Chapel and memorials.
2. To provide greater physical and virtual access to the site and the information it contains.
3. To gain consent to undertake the works.
4. To consolidate and preserve the Chapel and its graveyard using conservation best practice.

Instructions have been given recently to Conservation Architects Robert Potter & Partners to provide architectural, quantity surveying and structural engineering services and in 2015 it is hoped to obtain measured, level, structural, and condition surveys following which a specification and prioritised list of repairs to be done. Drawings will be prepared and an indicative cost for the repair works proposed. Grant funding streams will be identified and applications for grant funding made.

Behind the Glenisle’s walled garden is Hamilton Terrace. Originally, a similar-looking terrace ran in-line with the front of the hotel, named “Old Row”. However, when these houses fell into disrepair they were demolished and the now standing Hamilton Terrace was built in 1895. They were built for estate workers and the row of homes behind the terrace were for the residents’ summer occupation. This allowed the main houses to be let to visitors, a common practise on Arran. The terrace was named so because the 10th Duke of Hamilton commissioned the construction.


Arran has been through many historical changes: In the 6th century Gaelic-speaking Irish people colonised the island. It became the property of the Norwegian crown during the troubled Viking Age and then in the 13th century Arran was formally absorbed by the Kingdom of Scotland. The Highland Clearances in the 19th century however, significantly altered Arran’s way of life and saw the end of the Gaelic language. This was a period of time when small farms were forced to close to make way for a huge change in agriculture. Sheep were being introduced in large numbers and they needed lots of space and very few people to tend to them. The Clearances caused mass emigration and in the case of Arran, they were far less brutal than some other places in Scotland.
86 crofters from Glen Sannox emigrated from Lamlash on 25th April 1829, aboard the Caledonia. It is for this reason that Arran’s monument for the clearances is situated in Lamlash. It was erected in 1977 and a plaque on the monument recalls the emigrants’ departure and new life as settlers in Canada.

Most of this text about the history of Lamlash and Arran was kindly provided by the Glenisle Hotel & Bistro which has an interesting history itself. It was originally built in the late 1700s and was the home of Mr and Mrs Sillars until Mr Sillars’ death in 1858. At this point Mrs Sillars turned the building into a boarding house named Sillars’ Temperance Hotel. It remained the same after Mrs Sillars’ death in 1901, until 1909, being run by her daughter. During the wars this building was used as navy billeting for commandos and after the Second World War in 1948 it was sold and the name was changed to the Glenisle Hotel as we know it today.