Lochgilphead shop to close after decades
AFTER more than half a century in business, Burgh Electrics in Lochgilphead will soon close its doors.
Owner Peter Ciaralla, who will be 96 in September, is retiring after having built, repaired, sold and distributed electrical supplies for 82 years in Mid Argyll.
Burgh Electrics has been something of an institution on Colchester Square since the early 1960s and is famous for always having that one part that no other shop stocked.
Peter started his electrical apprenticeship in 1935 at the age of 13 with the Campbeltown and Mid Argyll Electrical Supply Company, earning the princely wage of £6.
His ambition to run his own electrical company couldn’t be quelled and he opened his first shop on Argyll Street in 1947 – in the place where the Argyll Cafe stands today.
At its peak, the business – run by Peter and his business partner, Davie Wilson – employed 18 members of staff, doing work from Campbeltown to Strontian and on Islay, Mull, Coll and Tiree.
Peter recalls: ‘I used to leave at 4am, get my rolls in the morning before travelling up to get the ferry to Craignure on Mull.
‘Then I’d take a bus to get the ferry over to Iona and then make the trip back home again. It was very hard work but it’s just what you did back then.’
He served in the Clyde shipyards during the Second World War. After being told by officers he was too valuable a member of staff to go to war, Peter worked on more than 400 battleships, cruisers and navy vessels in his six years in Greenock – even getting to meet Winston Churchill on a ship set for North Africa.
Peter wasn’t entirely removed from the tragedy of war on the Clyde, however, and was on board the HMS Dasher aircraft carrier when she sank off Arran. He recalled: ‘We
were out on a day sailing on the Dasher when she blew up and sank. They lost more than 500 men that day.’
As he approaches his 96th birthday, Peter has kept busy in the shop with repairs but found the demand was no longer there. He explained: ‘I’m still do- ing repairs in the shop but people don’t get things repaired any more.’
Peter’s daughter, Margaret Loughran, is helping close the shop and is glad her father is involved. She said: ‘He’s a very active man and in good health so he’ll keep busy. There’s no plan just now with the shop, just dealing with closing and clearing out just now and doing it slowly, there’s no rush.’
Margaret continued: ‘It’s been quite tough but I’m glad he’s here for the clearing out and closing down process.’
Summing up his feelings, Peter said: ‘It’s quite sad. But all good things must come to an end.’
Peter Ciarella and his daughter Margaret outside the famous shop.