FORT WILLIAM, a police burgh of Inverness-shire, Scotland. Pop. (1901) 2087. It lies at the north-eastern end of Loch Linnhe, an arm of the sea, about 62 m. S.S.W. of Inverness by road or canal, and was, in bygone days, one of the keys of the Highlands. It is 1222 m. N.E. of Glasgow by the West Highland railway. The fort, at first called Kilmallie, was built by General Monk in 1655 to hold the Cameron men in subjection, and was enlarged in 1690 by General Hugh Mackay, who renamed it after William III., the burgh then being known as Maryburgh in honour of his queen. Here the perpetrators of the massacre of Glencoe met to share their plunder. The Jacobites unsuccessfully besieged it in 1715 and 1746. The fort was dismantled in 1860, and demolished in 1890 to provide room for the railway and the station. Amongst the public buildings are the Belford hospital, public hall, court house and the low-level meteorological observatory, constructed in 1891, which was in connexion with the observatory on the top of Ben Nevis, until the latter was closed in 1904. Its great industry is distilling, and the distilleries, about 2 m. N.E., are a familiar feature in the landscape. Beyond the railway station stands the obelisk to the memory of Ewen Maclachlan (1775-1822), the Gaelic poet, who was born in the parish. Fort William is a popular tourist resort and place of call for the steamers passing through the Caledonian canal. The town is the point from which the ascent of Ben Nevis-42 m.
E.S.E. as the crow flies - is commonly made. At Corpach, about 2 m. N., the Caledonian canal begins, the series of locks between here and Banavie - within little more than a mile - being known as "Neptune's Staircase." Both the Lochy and the Nevis enter Loch Linnhe immediately to the north of Fort William. A mile and a half from the town, on the Lochy, stands the grand old ruin of Inverlochy Castle, a massive quadrangular pile with a round tower at each corner, a favourite subject with landscape painters. Close by is the scene of the battle of the 2nd of February 1645, in which Montrose completely defeated the earl of Argyll. The modern castle, in the Scottish Baronial style, 12 m. to the N.E. of this stronghold and farther from the river, is the seat of Lord Abinger.
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