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Keil Hotel

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Keil Hotel postcard, believed pd
Keil Hotel postcard

The remains of the Keil Hotel stand at High Keil, Southend, at the bottom of the Kintyre peninsula. An imposing five storey Art Deco building attributed to James Austin Laird.[1][2] The original owner is believed to have been Captain James Taylor, who was to see his new hotel requisitioned almost immediately by the Navy in 1939.

World War II

During World War II, the Royal Navy requisitioned the hotel for use as a hospital, and the large white painted frontage of the building came to serve as a useful navigational aid to shipping and aircraft, as the outbreak of war had seen the country's lighthouses extinguished as a security measure. Although the lights were normally kept dark, they could still be activated on special occasions in order to guide Atlantic convoys.


After the war, the hotel reopened around 1947, but the good times were not to last, and by 1990 the business had collapsed. The proprietors ripped out the plumbing and electrics and sold them off, leaving gaping holes in the walls and ceilings. It finally closed in October 1990.

One consistent recollection of the hotel is that its advertising guaranteed sunshine or £10 off your bill.

The following points were forwarded to us, said to have been culled from various forum discussions over the years:

  • From memory, the hotel was re-opened during the 1950s, by two sisters who enjoyed a fair degree of success for a time.
  • It was said that he family which owned the hotel in the mid 1970s was Canadian, or at least the father was, and their daughter was named Virginia.
  • The hotel was owned by a Canadian named Terry, whose wife was a local called Marilyn McGeachy (George MacMillans sister in law), and their daughter was Virginia.
  • The Kelly family from Southend owned the hotel at one point.
  • During the 1980s, the hotel was owned by two young couples believed to be from Glasgow.
  • One unidentified individual has claimed that the last owner (freehold or leasehold unknown) was their brother and his partner, and that they contributed to the demise of the hotel (long story involving money), something they were not proud of now but when it happened they were a bitter and twisted person who wanted revenge on a family member who had upset them in the past. That said the hotel was failing fast with a couple of long term guests who used to work in the area and the odd party being held there.

(Admin note: I have tracked down what appears to be the source of the above note, and the original material can be read publicly online).[3]

Keil Hotel 2006
Keil Hotel 2006

Various plans have been proposed for the building, including the fitting of a pitched roof and conversion into flats. The structure has never been listed, although it does appear on the Building at Risk register, however this affords no actual protection, so it remains abandoned and at risk (as we write in 2006). The register also erroneously attributes the hotel as being home to the former Keil Technical School, which was actually located in Keil House, which lay some 200 metres to the west, and also pre-dated the hotel by decades.

The register details the following proposals and results:

  • 1990: The hotel closes. Planning Permission is granted to convert the hotel into flats, although conversion does not subsequently take place.
  • 1992: Planning Permission is sought to install a pitched roof. The works are not subsequently undertaken.
  • 6 July 1995: The Oban Times reports that the hotel has been bought by a consortium, which plans to upgrade the building. It has been in discussions with Argyll and the Isles Enterprise. Rain has leaked into the building, damaging the upper floors. Planning Permission granted in October 1990 will soon lapse.
  • May 1996: Local planners report that permissions are being sought by Keil Leisure Ltd for the redevelopment of the hotel and the erection of leisure facilities.
  • August 2001: External inspection reveals the hotel to be vacant and in poor condition.
  • October 2003: External inspection reveals further deterioration.
  • November 2009: External inspection finds the building's condition continues to deteriorate towards a ruinous state. Some of the upper floors have collapsed and the building is now completely exposed to the weather.

Some time after 1984, a local business carried out a survey and study: Keil Hotel, Southend Feasibility study and design for conversion from Hotel to 20 self-catering units; Mr Burns & Mrs Pool: Structural and condition survey, feasibility study including design and cost estimate.[4]

Renovation announcement 2010

Keil Hotel 2012
Keil Hotel 2012
© James T M Towill

Donnie McLean of Dunaverty is reported to have bought the Keil Hotel, and along with sons Alasdair and Oliver, is looking to renovate the existing building.[5]

The Building at Risk Register recorded work underway on the building when visited on 25 July, 2012, stating: "External inspection finds work is underway to restore the building with all windows now replaced. The condition of the overall building continues to be a concern however. Moved to Restoration in Progress".

Argyll and Bute Council web site has online planing records, but this only seems to show notes relevant to application made in the 1990s, with no later record apparent.[6]

No apparent change 2017

This flickr gallery shows the hotel building is unchanged seven years after the previous note.

Keil gallery


1 Dictionary of Scottish Architects - James Austin Laird

2 Dictionary of Scottish Architects - Keil Hotel

3 The Kintyre Forum • View topic - Southend building, wotsit?

4 stewart consulting » Tourism

5 New start for Keil Hotel - The Campbeltown Courier, February 05, 2010.

6 I7DRIVCH40000 | Keil Hotel | Keil Hotel Southend Campbeltown Argyll And Bute PA28 6RW Retrieved March 08, 2013.

External links

Aerial views



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