‘The last shall be first.’ Today saw the first use of the new linkspan at Tiree’s pier. For the duration of the linkspan replacement process it has been a foot passenger only service.
With the ‘MV Clansman’ covering for the ‘MV Hebrides’ on what is known as the Uig Triangle, the first ferry to make use of the new linkspan was the ‘MV Lord of the Isles’. On the Saturday sailings when the linkspan has been in use ‘LOTI’ has made two crossings to Tiree. However, due to the linkspan work being completed a week earlier than previously advertised, there was only the one crossing. Not unexpectedly as the ferry berthed the rain came on!
The last ferry to make use of the old linkspan was the ‘MV Clansman’ while the ‘MV Lord of the Isles’ was the first ferry to lower its stern ramp onto the new linkspan. This was not the instance of the ‘last shall be first’.
The skipper who had he honour of first calling at the new linkspan was Byron Griffiths and although the South Westerly wind was gusting around 30mph ‘LOTI’ had no difficulty in berthing.
The ‘last shall be first’. The very last vehicle to cross the old linkspan was a piggyback articulated lorry belonging to IA MacKinnon Haulage of Tiree. The very first lorry to cross the new linkspan belonged to the same haulage contractor. This was a fact not lost on the driver.
This was not the only vehicle that MacKinnon’s Haulage had on today’s crossing. The load their next lorry to roll off the ferry and onto the pier is indicative of much of life on Tiree. The load included fishing creels, crofting implements, and sundry goods
Among the other vehicles which rolled off the ferry may well have been cars and vans that had been left on the Mainland during the linkspan works. Several islanders had to leave their vehicles on the Mainland and travel as foot passengers. The final lorry to cross the linkspan belonged to MacLennan Motors Ltd. The latter was bringing among other things supplies for the island’s two stores.
The were several foot passengers boarding today’s crossing to Coll and Oban. However, there were only two vehicles which left the island, the first of which belonged to MacLennan Motors. Leaving Tiree the vessel was lightly loaded.
The MacLennan Motors’ lorry had been on the island for the duration of the work on the linkspan and had been employed to transport deliveries for the island stores from the freight vessel that had brought goods from the Mainland.
With the linkspan back in use, life on the Island of Tiree in one sense returns to normal. However, like everywhere else there is a great deal of uncertainty as to what the next few months hold. Many of the service providers on the island have already put preventative measures in hand. Not unexpectedly CalMac have warned that ferry provision may be reduced.