Dr. Guy Brown
Village of Port William, along with the harbour, dates from around
1770. Previous to that date, there had been a few houses, most likely
inhabited by fishermen, around the mouth of the Killantrae Burn
which runs into the sea at this point. It is an example of a planned
village, and was built by Sir William Maxwell of Monreith, after
whom it takes its name. As the village took shape, so also did the
harbour. Originally, it ended in a slipway at its seaward end, but
later in 1898, it was extended to its present size. In the late
1700's there were great changes taking place in agriculture and
the harbour was developed in order to allow larger schooners to
bring in lime and other materials to market for use in improving
the farms, and also to ship out the products of these improvements
to market, especially in the north-west of England and Ireland.
The harbour preceded those at Port Patrick and Port Logan by about
thirty years. It was also in use , y what in racing terminology
is called a "short neck", before the harbours were improved
at Wigtown and Isle of Whithorn, where there had been ports for
In the late 1770's smuggling was rife in this area, with the Clone
Farm, less than half a mile north of the village, being the main
centre of the trade. The contraband was mainly shipped in from the
Isle of Man and many of the local farms were involved and had secret
caches, "brandy holes" where they could conceal the smuggled
goods. At the present, these are still, from time to time, being
uncovered. Unfortunately, they have all been empty. In 1788, a barracks
to house a detachment of the militia to be used for suppressing
smuggling was erected on the harbour.
is a great deal of history associated with the area around Port
William going back about six thousand years. A Mesolithic site from
this time has been uncovered about half a mile south of the village
on the heugh adjacent to "The Gables". At a similar distance
to the north, and in a similar position, another site was also found
. Evidence of crannogs has been found near Airylick farm in Elrig
loch, and in the White Loch of Myrton . Cup and ring markings and
standing stones are to be found at Drumtrodden Farm, which is approximately
a mile inland from the village. Another stone, the Carlin stone,
can be found on The Derry, near to the head of Elrig Loch. At Barsalloch
Point, a mile south of the village, there are the remains of an
Iron Age fort and of mesolithic settlement. Evidence of early Christian
churches is found at St. Finian's Chapel, six miles or thereabouts,
along the shore to the north of the village and a mediaeval church
is to be seen at Barhobble, which is near to the House of Elrig.
The present parish Church at Mochrum is two hundred years old, but
is built on the site of a previous church dating back to the twelfth
century. A Mote Hill can also be seen just outside Mochrum village.
are several other buildings of interest. The Old Place of Mochrum,
parts of which date back to the fifteenth century, lies near the
Culshabbin to Kirkcowan road at the eastern end of Drumwalt Loch.
It was restored by the Bute family in the late nineteenth and early
twentieth centuries. The House of Elrig was the childhood home of
author , Gavin Maxwell, and made famous by him in his writings.
Myrton castle, now a ruin, lies next to the Monreith Estate Offices
overlooking the White Loch on the approach to Monreith House. Monreith
House was built in the late 18th century by Sir William Maxwell,
and was the Maxwell family home. This is where Sir Herbert Maxwell
, grandfather of Gavin Maxwell, resided. He was a great naturalist
and gifted artist. His talents did not end here, as he was also
a noted historian, author, local MP and Government Whip, Lord Lieutenant
for Wigtownshire and Knight of the Thistle.
There is still much more for the visitor to see and do in Port William
and the surrounding area. Leaving your transport at The Square or
on the Harbour, you will notice a man leaning on a railing on the
Harbour Green and gazing out to sea. This is a statue by locally
born and bred sculptor, Andrew Brown, on the theme of those well
known lines by WH Davies :
"What is life if, full of care
We have no time to stand and stare ?"
also you will find a direction and distance indicator to places
near and far. With the harbour nearby and small brightly coloured
fishing boats and pleasure craft, this is a popular picnic site.
Although the harbour is tidal, many anglers will cast their lines
from the point and children are to be found dangling in lines to
catch crabs. Fishing in Luce Bay is good and there is a slipway
at the harbour for launching small boats. The harbour also houses
the local inshore rescue boat "Pirsac". There is a second
slipway at the Second Sands at the northern end of the village,
where small boats can be taken down to the sands and launched. Next
to the Car Park is a grassy picnic area and the sands are a good
place for children to play and swim. A pathway runs north from here
beside the road for approximately a quarter mile. There are two
further grassy picnic areas further north along the shore at Changue
and Chippermore, and a sandy beach over the Rocks of Garheugh at
Craignarget. The roads to the north and south of the village are
flat for walking and cycling. Garnets Way, a partially off-road
walk, starts from The Square next to the Old Corn Mill and proceeds
inland. The village has a Bowling Green and Tennis Courts. Play
parks for children are to be found in the Maxwell Park where the
Millennium Cross is sited overlooking the Square and on King's Green
at South Street, next to the Caravan Site.
There is much wildlife to be seen. Otters, seals, badgers are all
relatively common and the foreshore and adjacent area is not to
be missed by those interested in wild flowers or bird-watching.
The mainly rocky shores on either side of the village hold a pleasing
variety of birds- many resident and passage waders (ringed and golden
plover, dunlin, curlew, redshank, turnstones, oystercatcher) ducks,
gulls and terns. The grass and scrub above the shore is home to
finches, pipits , buntings and wagtails, and is an excellent place
to see the handsome stonechat.
The village has a hotel, inn and a licensed restaurant. There are
caravan sitess on King's Green and at West Barr, about two miles
north along the shore from the village. Houses and caravans are
available to let in the area, and there are also B&B facilities.
There is a petrol station, Vauxhall car agency, motor repair workshops,
Post Office, grocers, dairy, hairdresser's, newsagents, ironmongers,
Charity Shop, lending library, a branch of the Bank of Scotland
(open three half-days per week) and a working harbour. There is
also a dispensing doctor's surgery in the village, which is open
six days a week (not Saturday pm, Thursday pm, or Sunday) . Church
services in the Church of Scoltand are held in the Parish Church
at Mochrum each week. (Other services such as carpet supply, joinery,
plumbing and upholstery are also available).