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North West Castle History

Today, North West Castle offers visitors a comfortable and conveniently-located selection of hotel rooms in Stranraer. Yet before its transformation into a wonderful castle hotel, it served as the home of one of Scotland's greatest explorers.

North West Castle was built in 1820 on the shores of Loch Ryan, for Sir John Ross, the Arctic Explorer.  He was born in 1777, and joined the Navy in 1786 as an apprentice and he then rose to the rank of Captain.

A reward of £20,000 was offered by Parliament to the first ship to find a trade route from Baffin's Bay through the Arctic to the Pacific and from there to the Orient.

John Ross began his search for the North West Passage in 1817.  This mission was unsuccessful, and in 1829 at the helm of the steamship Victory he tried again.

The ship became frozen in the ice and had to be abandoned.  Ross and his crewmen were lost for four years and presumed dead.  However they survived by living with the Eskimos and were eventually rescued by Ross's old ship the Isabella.  He returned home in 1833 and became something of a hero after his daring Arctic exploits and received a knighthood in 1834.

McMillan Hotels was established in 1961 when Hammy & Janet McMillan having come home from Canada bought the house, North West Castle and turned it into a hotel.  McMillan Hotels now operate 4 hotels across the south of Scotland with hotels in Dumfries and Galloway and a luxury Scottish castle in Ayrshire.

McMillan Hotels boast some of the most family and pet friendly hotels and all are excellent venues for hosting conferences, meetings and events, reunions and celebrations and weddings.

McMillan Hotels are all very individual in character but all have one thing in common - to offer guests a warm welcome, an excellent service and value for money.

You’ll be spoiled for choice with our collection of unique and individual hotels.

Do you think we've done the right thing, opening a hotel?" Surrounded by builder's rubble and construction materials, that was Hammy McMillan's question to a visiting council official on a chilly winter's day in 1962.  Over fifty years later in 2012,  Hammy  & Janet McMillan marked the Golden Jubilee of the establishment of the North West Castle hotel.

The book ‘McMillan - The Couple Who Built the Family Business’ was written and marks their achievement by telling the entertaining and sometimes intriguing story of the business up to the present day and is available for purchase at all hotels.

mcmillan the couple who built the family business