Bonawe Ferry

There was a ferry crossing of the mouth of River Awe, Taynuilt known as the "Penny Ferry". In the 1800s the maps indicate 2 crossings of the Awe

There was a passenger ferry at Bonawe for many many years.


  • 1950s - Mr McLean

A bigger ferry was set up by J A Gardners in the 1930's from Bonawe to Taynuilt across the narrows of Loch Etive as competition for the Connel bridge which still had a toll charge to cross. This took up to 4 small cars, and small lorries for the quarry, and was established in the face of some of the most expensive bridge tolls in the country at Connel Ferry. Drivers would chose to take the 100 mile detour via Glencoe to avoid them.
Before World War Two a reliable shuttle service operated from 07:30 until 22:30.

After the war, the service finally resumed in 1956 but always in a more haphazard manner, and was abandoned altogether, even for quarry lorries, in 1966, all traffic having to divert via Connel. This also meant that the B845 was completely and finally severed into two sections either side of Loch Etive. Both ferries which operated the service were supplied as Turntable Ferries, but the Dhuirnish was converted to a bow loader towards the end - this is believed to be in order to accommodate larger, heavier lorries, but also increased car capacity, at the expense of requiring reversing on or off.

1871 It shows the penny ferry across the River Awe nicely

images held in the archive

  • Ferry house on Eilean Dhuirnish
  • Passenger ferry - row boat
  • several of the car ferry boat
  • maps of the ferry routes
  • news paper articles about the 1936 ferry

Ferrymen (names of the ferrymen)

  • ..

the current ferry house was built in the 1970s

Bonawe ferry pier


  • Deidre J&A Gardner 1937-40 4 cars
  • Dhuirnish J&A Gardner 1956-66 4/6 cars

DHUIRNISH was a turntable ferryboat.

Gardner archives :
Mr. A. J. Gardner: Bonawe near Taynailt Ferry (Argyll)
Reference: MT 41/48
Description: Mr. A. J. Gardner: Bonawe near Taynailt Ferry (Argyll)
Date: 1947
Held by: The National Archives, Kew

DEIRDRE introduced at Bonawe in 1937. She could carry 4 cars and was the first motorised ferry on the route.
The first car (row) ferry operated from 1905 and 1914 saw the introduction of a vessel capable of carrying up to 10 tonnes.
DEIRDRE was withdrawn after the DHUIRINISH was introduced in 1967, which could carry 6 cars. She was broken up at Bonawe, timber used for firewood, local kids used the hulk as a playground.

Dhuirinish was built by Noble at Fraserburgh for Glasgow shipping company J & A Gardner, to serve on their ferry service to Bonawe in Loch Etive where they (still?) operate the quarry. She transferred to the Bute run in 1967 on the cessation of the Bonawe ferry service.

With the closure of the Ballachulish railway line from Oban in the wake of the notorious Beeching Report, the bridge at Connel Ferry was fully integrated into the highway system and the Bonawe ferry closed in 1966.

More photos of the ferry when she left Bonawe and plied her trade in south Argyll
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