2007 Schools Wikipedia Selection. Related subjects: Geography of Great Britain

Gaelic: Steòrnabhagh
OS grid reference: NB426340
Population: 5,602
Council area: Na h-Eileanan Siar
Constituent country: Scotland
Sovereign state: United Kingdom
Police force: Northern Constabulary
Lieutenancy area: Western Isles
Former county: Ross-shire
Post office and telephone
Post town: STORNOWAY
Postal district: HS1
Dialling code: 01851
UK Parliament: Na h-Eileanan an Iar
Scottish Parliament: Western Isles
European Parliament: Scotland
Scotland Scotland
Lews Castle in Stornoway
Lews Castle in Stornoway
Boats in Stornoway
Boats in Stornoway
Stornoway from the ferry
Stornoway from the ferry
Another picture of Lews Castle
Another picture of Lews Castle
Bayhead, Stornoway
Bayhead, Stornoway

Stornoway (Steòrnabhagh in Scottish Gaelic) is a burgh on Lewis (Leòdhas), in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland, with a population of approximately 5,600 people in the town itself, out of a total population of 26,370 for the whole of the Western Isles. It is the major town and administrative centre of the Outer Hebrides and is home to Comhairle nan Eilean Siar (the Western Isles Council). Stornoway is currently twinned with the much smaller Pendleton, South Carolina, United States of America. The civil parish of Stornoway includes the villages/suburbs of (among others) Sandwick, Plasterfield, Steinish, Laxdale, Newvalley, Newmarket and Marybank and has a population of approximately 12,000 .


The town grew around three villages by the well-sheltered natural harbour which was key to the devlopment of the town.

Harbour and Maritime Industry

Today the harbour hosts a fishing fleet (and associated shoreside services) somewhat reduced from its heydey, a small marina and moorings for pleasure craft, a small shipyard and slipway, 3 larger piers for commercial traffic and Stornoway Lifeboat Station, run by the RNLI and home to a Severn class lifeboat, Tom Sanderson. Her Majesty's Coastguard operates a Maritime Rescue Sub Centre from a building near the harbour.

A lighthouse and large oil fabrication yard are situated on Arnish point at the mouth of the harbour and visually dominate the approaches. The yard, run by Camcal, has suffered a downturn in business from the North Sea oil industry and despite orders for renewable energy technology such as wave power machines and wind turbines remains in financial difficulty.

On 31 December 1918, the Iolaire sank at the entrance of the harbour, one of the worst maritime disasters in Scottish or UK waters, with a death toll of 200 men.


A Caledonian Macbrayne operated ferry( MV Isle of Lewis) sails from the harbour to Ullapool on the Scottish mainland, taking 2 hours 40 minutes. There are an average of two return crossings a day, with an increase and reduction in frequency in summer and winter months respectively. As ferry traffic has increased, a second ship (MV Muirneag) now provides a single daily sailing to carry most of the island's articulated lorry freight. Stornoway is also the public transport hub of Lewis, and bus services provides links to Point, Ness, Back and Tolsta, Uig, the West Side, Lochs and Tarbert, Harris. These services are provided by the Comhairle and several private operators as well as some community-run organisations.

The town of Stornoway also has an airport ( Stornoway Airport), 2 miles away from the town itself, and it is located next to the village of Melbost. From here, you can fly to Aberdeen, Benbecula, Edinburgh, Inverness and Glasgow, with flights from bmi, British Airways, Eastern Airways and Highland Airways. The airport is also the station to the HM Coastguard Search & Rescue Sikorsky S-61 helicooter, and was previously home to RAF Stornoway.

Education, Sport and Culture

Stornoway is home to a small campus of the University of Stirling, teaching nursing, which is based in Ospadal nan Eilean (Western Isles Hospital). There is also a further education college, Lews Castle College, which is part of the UHI Millennium Institute, and the Nicolson Institute is the only six-year secondary school in Lewis, and has a roll of approximately 1,000 pupils. Attached to the school is the Ionad Spors Leòdhas (Lewis Sports Centre), an all-weather pitch and running track.

Football is the most popular amateur sport and Goathill Park in the town hosts special matches involving select teams and visiting clubs and other organisations. The Lews Castle Grounds is the home of Stornoway Golf Club (the only 18-hole golf course in the Outer Hebrides) and hosts the Hebridean Celtic Festival. This 3-day festival attracts over 10,000 visitors during July of each year. The Royal National Mod has been held in Stornoway on a number of occasions, most recently in 2001 and 2005. Large influxes of visitors such as for these events can strain the town's accommodation capacity.

The radio station Isles FM is based in Stornoway and broadcasts on 103FM, featuring a mixture of Gaelic and English programming. It is also home to a studio operated by BBC Radio nan Gàidheal, and Studio Alba, an independent television studio from where the Gaelic TV channel TeleG is broadcast.

Notable buildings in Stornoway include Stornoway Town Hall and the neo-gothic Lews Castle. It is also home to a new arts centre, an Lanntair, containing an art gallery, auditorum for film showings, music and other performances, a restaurant and bar. Other attractions include a museum and the Lewis Loom Centre.

Stornoway's Sundays

Stornoway is known throughout Scotland for its adherence to the Sabbath. While some believe this to be simply a lack of amenities and facilities for locals and tourists, others believe it to be a vital aspect of island life, a link to tradition and an alternative to the more active lifestyle prevalent on the mainland.

There is only one filling station (Engebret's) which opens on a Sunday (along with Stornoway Airport). There was much controversy to the opening of this filling station on Sundays, by the churches and some of the islanders. In the end, the station decided to stay open until 1pm, but this hasn't affected it's trade. There has been a traditional refusal to trade and travel by ferry on or off the Island on the Sabbath. This had been put down to the influence of the various local churches and the conservatism of the town's tradespeople and the local council. In terms of Scottish and British tradition, this particular example of Sunday Observance only survives in the Western Isles, where the Sabbath continues to be considered a day of rest.

A recent Poll by the Hebridean newspaper suggested that 89% of Stornoway residents would use facilities on a Sunday if they were available. There would, therefore, appear to be a market for any business willing to take advantage of these demands for Sunday trade.

Recent Sunday ferry sailings from North Uist to Harris and the opening of Stornoway Airport on Sundays are a step towards a more cosmopolitan approach to living the Sabbath. While some argue that it is only a matter of time before the majority of viable businesses are trading on a Sunday, many believe that to do so will lose a significant element of the island identity.

Famous people

Born in Stornoway

  • Angus Graham, (Aonghas Greum), a famous strong man who moved a boulder weighing over a tonne.
  • Astrid (band), band from the Western Isles
  • Calum Kennedy
  • Sheilagh M. Kesting, first woman minister to be nominated to be Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland.
  • Calum MacDonald, politician
  • Alexander MacKenzie, explorer, after whom the Mackenzie River in Canada is named
  • Anne MacKenzie, BBC anchorwoman and radio presenter
  • Alyth McCormack, Gaelic singer
  • Donald Stewart, politician
  • Hans Matheson, plays the title role in Granada's £8.5m serialisation of Boris Pasternak's novel, Doctor Zhivago.

Links to Stornoway

  • Angus MacAskill, the strongest man to have ever lived - born in Bernaray and brought up in Stornoway before emigrating to Canada
  • John Wayne, film star (real name Marion Morrison) - father, Clyde Leonard Morrison, had ties with Stornoway
  • Stuart Braithwaite, lead singer of Glasgow based band Mogwai - mother was born in Stornoway
  • Donald Trump, American billionaire - mother came from Tong, a village four miles out of Stornoway
  • Derick Thomson, Scottish Gaelic poet, born elsewhere in Lewis, but educated in Stornoway.

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