In 1882-4, Frances Groome's Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland described Tarbert like this:
Tarbert, a village and small seaport in the parishes of Kilcalmonell and South Knapdale, Argyllshire, 35 miles NN E of Campbeltown and 13½ S of Lochgilphead. It stands at the E end of the isthmus between East Loch Tarbert and West Loch Tarbert, separating the peninsula of Kintyre from the district of Knapdale. That isthmus is only 11/8 mile across, and was anciently protected by three castles-one in the centre, one at the head of the West Loch, and one on the S side of the East Loch. ...
The ruin of the last of these castles still exists, in grouping with the village, and is the subject of curious popular traditions. The village probably arose under protection of the castle-at all events it is a place of much antiquity; and it is so situated around the head of the East -Loch, with command over its natural harbourage, as to have possessed from the earliest time as much commerce as the circumstances of the surrounding district could give it. The loch, projecting westward from Loch Fyne, is of small size- only 7 furlongs long, and nowhere more than ½ mile broad; but it is a curious and singularly safe and landlocked natural harbour, and is entered by so narrow and circling a passage between low ridges of naked rock, that a steamer, in sailing through it, appears to a stranger to be irretrievably rushing upon the crag. On its S side near the head is a steamboat quay; and both here and all over the inner space of the loch may be seen in the fishing season a very numerous fleet of herring-boats. The steamers from Glasgow to Ardrishaig call regularly at this harbour. The village is inhabited principally by fishermen, and is the resort, during the herring fishery season, of several hundreds of fishermen from other parts. It has a post office under Greenock, with money order, savings' bank, and telegraph departments, four inns, several neat villas, a branch of the Union Bank, a quoad sacra church, a Free church, a new public school, and fairs for horses, etc., on the Wednesday of March and the Tuesdays of June and November before Lochgilphead, and on the last Thursday of July. Pop. of village (1861) 1254, (1871) 1434, (1881) 1629, of whom 793 were females, and 508 were in South Knapdale parish; of q. s. parish (1871) 1866, (1881) 2017, of whom 1261 were in Kilcalmonell, 7 in Saddell, and 556 in South Knapdale.Ord. Sur., sh. 29, 1873.
A Vision of Britain through Time includes a large library of local statistics for administrative units. For the best overall sense of how the area containing Tarbert has changed, please see our redistricted information for the modern district of Argyll and Bute. More detailed statistical data are available under Units and statistics, which includes both administrative units covering Tarbert and units named after it.
GB Historical GIS / University of Portsmouth, History of Tarbert in Argyll and Bute | Map and description, A Vision of Britain through Time.
Date accessed: 20th May 2013
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