This photograph taken in the 1961 shows the extent of the Kyles of Bute Hydro including the large kitchen gardens. The Hydro played an important role during World War II when, following naval tradition that all shore establishments are treated as ships, the Hydro was renamed HMS Varbel. This became the training base for the 12th Submarine Flotilla, consisting of human torpedoes and midget submarines. The name Varbel came from the combination of the names of the men who designed the prototype midget submarine, Commander Varley and Commander Bell. Much of the training was undertaken in the deep waters of Loch Striven which prepared the submariners, who were all volunteers, to undertake their most audacious mission, the raid on the German battleship Tirpitz in Alten Fjord. (For more detailed information see Bute’s War by Jess Sandeman). Part of HMS Varbel can still be seen on the island as the bell that hung in the hallway can be seen and rung in Bute Museum. This bell has its own story as it was salvaged from the wreck of the SS Politician when she was broken up at Port Bannatyne. The SS Politician and her cargo of whisky was the inspiration for Compton MacKenzie’s book Whiskey Galore though SS Politician was renamed SS Cabinet Minister.