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May 6

Argyll and Bute, Scotland

Polphail Village

Built during the Scottish boom in the oil industry, the village was never inhabited 

When you think of oil you think of the Middle East or possibly Texas, but for a brief time Scotland was getting rich off of oil too.

In the 1970s Scotland enjoyed a sudden oil boom made possible by easy access to deep water offshore. This access led to its selection as a site for the construction of concrete North Sea oil rig platforms. But like so many other sudden gains in wealth, this was fleeting. Polphail Village is one example of that vanished dream.

The failure of the site has been attributed to a number of reasons, most common being that the authorities only realized after completion that the treacherous tides on Loch Fyne meant that it would be too risky to float the massive platforms out to sea once they had been completed.

However, it seems that the basic concept of construction at Portavadie was flawed from the outset, with the columns being made in three sections rather than one. This required the three parts to be joined and reinforced, making them heavy, complex, and therefore quite expensive compared to conventional single piece designs. Ultimately no platform operators were interested and the designs were rejected on both cost and safety grounds.

The area was described by some who worked there at the time to have been reminiscent of the type of sudden wealth the villagers enjoyed in the 1983 film, Local Hero. Despite promises to reinstate the site to its original condition, the area was abandoned and left to decay.

It is now the home to a colony of bats.

Know Before You Go

Near Loch Fyne
Near Millhouse
Close to Portavadie
Tighnabruaich, Argyll, Scotland

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