Lochgilp­head shop to close af­ter decades

Argyllshire Advertiser - - FRONT PAGE - Neill Bo Fin­layson ed­i­tor@ar­gyll­shiread­ver­tiser.co.uk

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.’

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Pe­ter Ciarella and his daugh­ter Mar­garet out­side the fa­mous shop.

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