This best-preserved and most attractive village on Islay, was founded by Walter Frederick Campbell's in 1828 and named after his mother. The village was built to provide housing facilities for the folk who worked in the Lochindaal Distillery, which opened in 1829, and was also known as Port Charlotte and Rhinns Distillery. The first licensee was Colin Campbell, but he owned the distillery for only two years and many owners followed him. The distillery closed in 1929 but its buildings still remain and some are now in use by the Youth Hostel and Islay Natural History Trust. Bruichladdich Distillery Company have recently bought the rest of the old Lochindaal Distillery buildings and are planning to create a new distillery there.
In 2007 the management from the Bruichladdich Distillery announced that the former Lochindaal Distillery in Port Charlotte plans to open in May, 2009. The location for the new distillery will be opposite the Wildlife Information Centre. During the Islay Whisky Festival in May 2007, Lady Caroline Mactaggart performed the official ceremony by cutting the 'First Turf' for the new Distillery.
The award-winning Museum of Islay Life is housed in the old church on the right hand side, opposite the Rhinns Medical Centre surgery. This car park is intended only for doctor's patients and visitors of the Croft Kitchen restaurant. The museum was opened in 1977 and is devoted to all aspects of Islay life and times. Exhibits include reconstructions from archaelogical excavations of prehistoric sites on the island, as well as an important collection of carved stones. There is a fine array of domestic items, largely from the Victorian era, displayed in room settings, plus such objects of interest such as an illicit still and the clockworks from the Rhinns lighthouse. The museum holds an extensive library and archive with books related to Islay's rich history. Interesting to mention is the fact that most items in the museum are in fact a gifts donated by people on Islay. The Museum is open six days a week from April to the end of October, and on Sunday afternoons.
The Islay Natural History Trust Information Centre is located in the centre of Port Charlotte and occupies the ground floor of a former distillery warehouse. The warehouse belonged to the Lochindaal Distillery, which closed down in the 1920s. The Centre contains a large exhibition dealing with all aspects of Islay's wildlife, including geology. There is a reference library of natural history books and files of records of Islay's rich flora and fauna, all available for consultation, also a field study laboratory and a lecture room. The Information Centre opening hours are: June, July, August - 10.00 am to 4.00 pm, Monday to Saturday, closed on Sunday. April, May, September, October - 10 am to 4.00 pm, Monday to Friday, closed Saturday and Sunday.
Opposite the Museum of Islay Life is Yan's Kitchen, an excellent restaurant to stop for coffee and scones or a meal and to take in the lovely views over Loch Indaal. Following the Main Street with it's lovely white painted houses the visitor will find the Port Charlotte Hotel and bar where a fine meal can be combined with a dram from the hotel bar, there's live music on Wednesday and Sunday nights. To the left, a road takes the visitor to Port Charlotte's beach with its picturesque houses and stunning views over Loch Indaal and the hills from the neighbouring island of Jura.
In the centre of Port Charlotte, where's a shop annex Post Office, is a road which leads west to Kilchiaran and ultimately ends in Portnahaven. In a glen on the right from the road is Port Charlotte's 'Tooth Stone'. Local stories have it that hammering a nail into the Tooth Stone will stop tootache. Or it might be better to visit the dentist! Just outside the village centre on the main road to Portnahaven is the new Port Mor Centre, a beautiful community centre with lots of facilities as well as a campsite, a restaurant and a fantastic children's playground. The new centre opened in 2007.
Port Charlotte Local Information: