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Hopper's Pier

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Hopper's Pier has been described as a small pier dating from World War II, which served as an LCT and LCI (landing craft tank and landing craft infantry) base, located in the region of Ardyne Point on Loch Striven. Initially American, it was later handed over to the British.

No remains of this pier or base exist, as the area was extensively modified when an Oil Platform Construction Yard was built at Ardyne Point in the 1970s.

A discussion with the curator of Castle House Museum, Dunoon, related a story concerning the building of the pier. In this, a member of the Royal Navy described how a landing craft had been borrowed for a trip to Wemyss Bay, and how trees had been blasted off the hillside to be taken back for use in construction of the pier.

Slightly differing accounts of the pier suggest it may have been first established as a fairly makeshift structure, but was then upgraded into a more substantial and robust installation.

A contact in Australia knew a Lieutenant Commander who had been involved with the X-Craft project, and has suggested the pier may have been used as a temporary base prior to the arrival of HMS Bonaventure, one of the submarine depot ships devoted to the project, and which served initially in home waters. She was completed as a depot ship for the X-Craft in January 1943, and moved temporarily to Loch Cairnbawn for the attack on the German battleship Tirpitz in August 1943, then took the 14th Flotilla of X-Craft to the Far East in February 1945.

From the Bute Sons and Daughters project[1]:

Any ship that was hit by enemy fire on the British side of the North Atlantic and could be refitted or repaired was either towed or limped their way into our bay. At times there were five or six anchored out in the bay awaiting their repairs.

About the same time as this was going on the U.S. Construction Battalion was building a base at Ardyne Point on the mainland by Loch Striven and named it 'Hoppers Pier.' This we could see from our front windows together with all salvageable vessels being brought in. Loch Striven is where the charioteers and then midget submarines, manned by 2 and 4 men, did all their training.

...

The M.V. (motor vessel) Gurli had a Norwegian crew and I was happy about this because brother Bill sailed with Norwegians and considered them tops. When I arrived on board I was shunted below decks because they were just leaving for the first duty run to the base at 'Hopper's Pier'(this was the U.S. Base turned over to the Royal Navy) from Rothesay and I don't think they wanted me in the way.

From the BBC's People's War Project:

The next morning we crossed from Gourock to Dunoon on our way to a place called Hopper's Pier which we finally reached after a further bus ride and a walk across a field to the lochside .I don't know who Mr Hopper was nor why he built his pier in that spot but I can only assume he liked solitude. The war had presumably prompted the erection of the two nissen huts ,but apart from them the only man made structure in sight was the pier itself. The pier was really just a short ,ramshackle jetty ,but it was home to us and G6 ,which lay alongside.

© 1956baby[2]

Postwar development

Nothing identifiable remains of the base at Hopper's Pier, as the shoreline was extensively modified during the early 1970s, when the Ardyne Point Yard was constructed there, leading to much of the shore being altered by infilling to increase the depth of water along the shore, and provide deep construction bays. Aerial photographs taken during the war showed two piers separated by what may have been a slipway in the area which was infilled. The outline of a number of Nissen huts can be seen along the shore.

The piers and huts of the base can be seen by visiting the Air Photo Mosaics link given below, and entering "Ardyne Point" into the Gazetteer Search option provided, which will take you to the appropriate view. Unfortunately, we cannot provide a direct link as the NLS (National Library of Scotland) has not provided any means of linking to a desired view, therefore you must carry out the search to locate the area.

Photographs

  • AWM Collection Record: 306546
    Landing craft base, Hopper's Pier, Scotland. c.1948. Four landing craft tank of the Royal Navy. Left to right: LCT (8) 4063, unidentified, LCT (8) 4085, unidentified. (Naval Historical Collection).
  • AWM Collection Record: 306547
    Hopper's Pier, Landing craft base, Scotland, UK. c.1948. HM landing craft tank (8) LCT-4148, LCT-4164 AND LCT alongside. (Naval Historical Collection).
  • AWM Collection Record: 306548
    Hopper's Pier, Landing craft base, Scotland, UK. c.1948. HM landing craft tank (8) LCT-4063 and landing craft infantry (large) LCI(L) 507 AND 509 alongside. (Naval Historical Collection).
  • AWM Collection Record: 306553
    Landing craft base, Hopper's Pier, Scotland. c.1948. Bow view of HM landing craft tank LCT (8) 4063 alongside. Her bow doors are open and the ramp extended. On the right is LCT (8) 4098. ((Naval Historical Collection)
  • AWM Collection Record: 306554
    Landing craft base, Hopper's Pier, Scotland. c.1948. Port side view of HM landing craft tank LCT (8) 4063. (Naval Historical Collection).

References

1 Bute Sons and Daughters Project

2 BBC WW2 People's War Project

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