Invergordon Harbour

Location type


Name and dates

Invergordon Harbour (1874-1971)
Opened on the US Naval Base 17 Railway.


The Cromarty Firth provides a partially enclosed and sheltered deep anchorage. Invergordon Harbour is located on the north side of the firth west of the sands of Nigg Bay. The harbour was served by a single track branch from Invergordon station's goods yard, to the north west, from 1874. This branch was known as the 'Shore Branch'. After leaving the station it crossed the High Street to the west of the village centre and followed the shore line to Shore Road where it terminated at a bone works and chemical manure works Highland Agriculture Works [Invergordon], near the east end of High Street. From these works, by reversal, the eastern of two piers which enclosed Invergordon Harbour was reached. A ferry pier was to its west, for the crossing to Inverbreakieferry on the Black Isle.

During the Great War the admiralty based the Grand Fleet at Scapa Flow and established a ship repair base at Invergordon. An early, vital, step was the relocation of a floating dock to Invergordon in 1914. This was placed at the head of the west harbour pier. The dock was of sufficient size to handle the largest British warships. The works on shore road were requisitioned to become workshops. The pre-war piers were rebuilt and an additional longer pier built to the east which reached deeper water. The firth was buoyed and navigation marks added. Land was reclaimed from the sea on the east side of the harbour as far as the bathing station, further stores and workshops added and the harbour branch doubled nearly throughout with sidings as required. A second floating dock was brought to Invergordon. A naval anchorage with 23 mooring buoys was laid out south and west of the harbour.

In 1918 US Naval Base 17 was established to the west at Dalmore Distillery. It was to have its own pier, Dalmore Pier, but prior to its opening was connected to Invergordon Harbour by a military railway which was laid alongside the shore road west to Dalmore. This line was accessed from Belleport Junction. Mines, shipped from the United States, were assembled at the distillery site and then moved by the military line to the harbour for transhipment to US Navy vessels which took them for laying as part of the Northern Barrage between the Orkneys and Norway. The track for these lines were acquired by requisitioning the track of the mothballed Buckie and Portessie Branch (Highland Railway).

Following the war the military railways were dismantled once the Northern Barrage had been dismantled.

In the Second World War moorings for flying boats were laid east of the harbour, in the southern part of Nigg Bay.

Since the 1970s the harbour has supported the North Sea oil industry. The Admiralty Pier was used for loading pipes coated at MK Shand [Invergordon].

The harbour branch officially closed in 1971 but coal traffic continued beyond this, at least as late as 1973.

A considerable area of land has been reclaimed to the west of the original harbour.

In recent years cruise have started to call here.


Port of Cromarty Firth


Harbour siding

External links

NLS Collection OS map of 1892-1914
NLS Collection OS map of 1944-67