Stranraer, town (1991 pop. 10,766), Dumfries and Galloway, SW Scotland, at the head of Loch Ryan. A fishing port, it has a prosperous trade with Northern Ireland. Food processing is an industry. Viscount Dundee occupied the 15th-century castle while suppressing Covenanters in Galloway in 1682. Northwest Castle was the home of the explorer John Ross.
Stranraer (Gaelic: An t-Sròn Reamhar, ) is a town in the south of Scotland in the west of the region of Dumfries and Galloway and in the county of Wigtownshire.

Stranraer lies on the shores of Loch Ryan on the northern side of the isthmus joining the Rhins of Galloway to the mainland. The name is generally believed to come from the Scottish Gaelic "An t-Sròn Reamhar" meaning literally "The Fat Nose", but which more prosaically might be rendered as "the broad headland" - although another interpretation would connect the second element in the name with Rerigonium, a settlement anciently noted by Ptolemy in this part of Britain.

Stranraer is an administrative centre for the West Galloway (Wigtownshire) area of Dumfries and Galloway. It is best known as a ferry port connecting Scotland with Belfast in Northern Ireland.


Stranraer became a burgh of barony in 1596 and a royal burgh in 1617. By 1600, it had become the market town for western Wigtownshire. At about this time Stranraer was reached by a military road built from Dumfries to allow easier access to Portpatrick for transportation to Ireland.

The first harbour in Stranraer was built in the mid 1700s, with further port development in the 1820s. The arrival of the railway from Dumfries in 1861 finally established Stranraer as the area's main port. In 1862, the line was extended to serve the harbour directly, and a link to Portpatrick was also opened. Some time later, a rail connection north to Girvan was established.

Stranraer remained the main Scottish port for the Irish ferries for the next 150 years or so. On 31 January 1953, 133 people died when the Princess Victoria sank near Belfast Lough after its car deck was swamped by heavy seas.

Stranraer and its surrounding area saw a significant amount of activity during the Second World War, as it became a focus for anti U-boat work. Flying boats operated from the area in an attempt to secure the waters of the North Channel and the south western coast of Scotland. Almost all Britain's shipping imports passed through those two sea areas en-route to the Clyde or the Mersey. Indeed, the flying boat Supermarine Stranraer is named after the town. Winston Churchill himself departed from Stranraer in a Boeing Flying Boat on the night of the 25 June 1942, when making his second visit of the war to the USA. Churchill also spent time at nearby Knockinaam Lodge during the war years.

Stranraer has an active local history trust which publishes work on the area's history commissioned from local authors.

Historic buildings

The Castle of St. John is a medieval tower house, built around 1500 by the Adairs of Kilhilt. It has been used as a home, a court, a prison, and a military garrison, the latter during the Killing Times in the 1680s.

Stranraer Today

Stranraer is best known as a ferry port connecting Scotland with Belfast (and previously with Larne) in Northern Ireland. In 2003 Stena Line announced plans to transfer its operations to a new port at Old House Point, north of Cairnryan, sharing with P&O. However, this plan was later scrapped due to increasing costs, securing Stranraer's future as a ferry port for the time being.

However Stena Line announced on 5th June, 2008 that it was to transfer it operations to its own new port at Old House Point. Stena Line stated that the operations will be separate to that of P&O.

A person from Stranraer is referred to as a Clayeholer (kleɪ'həʊl-ə).

The Old Town Hall, built in 1776, now houses Stranraer Museum with its displays of Victorian Wigtownshire and the town's polar explorers, Sir John Ross and his nephew James Clark Ross.

Stranraer is Dumfries and Galloway's second largest town (or as locals call it, 'toon/the toon') with a population including the surrounding area of nearly 13,000+ compared to that of the next town Annan (nearly 8,000). It is currently undergoing redevelopment in the South Central Area (known as Dick's Hill, Ochtrelure and the southern part of Liddesdale Road area into the Gallow Hill).

Areas of Stranraer

Areas of Stranraer include:

  • Stranraer Town
  • West End
  • Dick's Hill
  • Ochtrelure
  • Sheuchan Parks / Liddesdale
  • Stair

Outer-Areas of Stranraer

  • Inchparks
  • Innermessan
  • Sulseat
  • Culhorn
  • Sandmill
  • Auchtrelure
  • Gallowhill
  • Blackparks


The main industries in the area are the ferry port, with associated industries, tourism and more tradiotnally farming. The Caledonian Cheese Company (owned by Lactalis) operates a large creamery in the town which supports a large number of jobs. Stranraer is the home to Seriously Strong Cheese


Local newspaper the Stranraer and Wigtownshire Free Press is based and printed in the town's St Andrews Street. The Galloway Gazette also covers the town and surrounding area. Stranraer falls in the ITV Border Scotland area. The nearest radio station is based in Dumfries, South West Sound broadcasts at 96.5FM in the town.


The town is the home of Stranraer F.C., the local semi-professional football team who play at Stair Park. They currently play in the Scottish Second Division after being promoted due to Gretna's demotion to the Third Division. Stair Park is also home to Stranraer FC reserve team who play in the South of Scotland League. Another local football team, Stranraer Athletic also compete in the South of Scotland league, and the venue for their home matches is on the playing fields in the grounds of the local secondary school, Stranraer Academy.

The rugby team Wigtownshire RFC are based in the town and are currently in West League Division 2. They play at London Road Playing Fields, just opposite Stair Park.

Also at Stair Park are BMX and skateboarding ramps, and all weather tennis and netball courts. The town also has a swimming pool (with flumes), fitness suite, gymnasium and large sports hall at the council run Ryan Leisure Centre, as well as many other football fields, parks and All Weather Multi Purpose pitches.


Apart from the Stena Line ferry port linking the town to Belfast, the town's Stranraer railway station is also the Southern terminus for one of the branch lines of the Glasgow South Western Line. Trains are provided by First ScotRail daily to Ayr, Glasgow, and Newcastle. The main national coach providers operate services from Stranraer. National Express offer a service to London, and Scottish Citylink (in association with Ulsterbus) operate services (which connect with HSS Sailings) to Edinburgh.

Local transport in and around the town is provided by Stagecoach Western, and three locally based companies James King Coaches, Irvine and McCulloch's Coaches


Stranraer has five primary schools:

  • Belmont
  • Park
  • Rephad
  • St. Joseph’s
  • Sheuchan

The town has one secondary school, Stranraer Academy. The 'Academy', as it is referred to, is a comprehensive school consisting of two 1960's modernist buildings and one ultra modern. The New Building has excellent physical education facilities. The school has around 1100 pupils, 90 members of staff and serves both the town itself and the surrounding villages and rural populations.

Stranraer has no private education institutions.

Dumfries and Galloway College have a campus in the town, at what used to be the site of Stranraer Academy. In 1990 the John Niven Further Education College was built on Academy Street in the town, it has since been absorbed into the Dumfries and Galloway College.


NHS Dumfries and Galloway provides healthcare services in the town. The Galloway Community Hospital opened in 2006 and replaced the Garrick and Dalrymple hospitals of the town. GP services are based in the Waverly Medical Centre, adjacent to the new hospital.

The town has several care homes for the elderly, the biggest being Thorneycroft on the edges of the town which is run by the CIC company.

References to Stranraer in Popular Culture

  • A reference to Stranraer is made in the song "Cap In Hand" by The Proclaimers, in which they say "I can understand why Stranraer lie so lowly, they could save a lot of points by signing Hibs goalie." A reference to goalkeeper Andy Goram, and to Stranraer F.C's poor league position at the time the song was written.
  • In the 4th episode of the BBC Radio 4 series Knowing Me, Knowing You... with Alan Partridge, one of the guests was the Duchess of Stranraer. No such title does exist.
  • Stranraer has also featured in Peter Kay's Channel 4 Phoenix Nights series, albeit only by name. Alan is said to be stuck in Stranraer with his lorry and not at the club.


Local tourist attractions include:

Famous people associated with Stranraer


  • Ordnance Survey Landranger Map (number 82) - 1:50,000 scale (1.25 inches to 1 mile).

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