fp 2.2 – Commerce and Buildings – 1880-2000

History of Portsoy.


Researched by Findlay Pirie


Banffshire Reporter, Saturday, January 24th 1880: -

BUILDING TO LET – The building, 9 North High Street occupied by Mr. Moir as a manure store.  It could be adapted as a coal shed or cooperage.  Apply to Mrs. Harper, Durn Road.


Banffshire Reporter, Saturday, January 24th 1880:  -

LOCAL IMPROVEMENTS: – Portsoy cannot with any degree of truth be called a town of “mushroom growth”, for its progress in the extension of its borders has not at any time been very rapid, but still it has not been altogether a laggard in the march of improvement.  Some of the improvements may not be very obvious to those who have daily seen their growth; but, were a native of the town to revisit it now, after long years of absence, he would find it a very different place in many respects from what it was when he left it, perhaps some forty or fifty years ago.

It is well known that even with strangers the first impressions they form of the place they chance to visit sink the deepest.   In this respect Portsoy is certainly as fortunate as most towns, and a great deal more so than many.   If the stranger is coming by the railway, before he has fully satisfied himself with admiring the beauties of Roseacre Cottage and garden, on the one side, and taken a passing glance at the Roman Catholic Church on the other, he will find himself in a station far more spacious than he could have looked for in such a small town, and so convenient that a few paces will bring him from the door of it into the centre of the town, in which, if he sees nothing to excite his admiration, he will find little to offend his sense of propriety, unless he has had the misfortune at night, as should he do so, he may find himself where few strangers care to be in a strange town – in the dark.

If the visitor comes by the Banff road, he must all but fancy he is entering a terrestrial paradise, as the first house he meets with is Eden Cottage, the new, elegant, and very tastefully kept residence of Mr. William Chivas, and which certainly is a very great improvement as compared with the old, primitive-looking homestead whose site it occupies.   If the visitor is a native, instead of his old familiar acquaintance, the ‘Chad Hole’ he will find our really elegant and spacious public school, erected at a cost of somewhere about £3000 – a large sum certainly when contrasted with the fact that by a blundering mis-arrangement of the School Board, if any boy belonging to the town wishes to know some what more of Latin than to be able to decline penna, he must go daily through wind and wet to Fordyce, as no fewer than 37 boys are doing at the present time.   The people of no other town in the country would submit to such a mis-arrangement for a single week.  Coming town-wards, in “The Aird” the visitor may still recognise some old landmarks, but will find that most of them have undergone some retouching from the hand of improvement.   In that part of the town an improvement, which adds much to its appearance, was commenced by the late Mr. Forbes, Commercial Hotel, and has since been completed by his sister, Miss Forbes.   The building – a substantial two-storey house – extends in a line with the hotel so as to leave only a narrow opening to the path leading down to the Links.  It has closed up an ugly blank, and much improved the view from the Aird, and also from the whole of the south side of Seafield Street.

If the long absent visitor is coming from the west, he will be equally surprised and gratified by the changes which have been made in his absence.  He may miss his old familiar acquaintance “Baker Watson’s yardie” – by some designated the “Cock’d Hat”, from its triangular shape and small extent – but, as he journeys on, a large share of his attention will be directed to the many transformations which he will see have taken place around and beyond the Loch of Portsoy, which he will find is not exactly what it was; and right before him he will find that there is something between him and the “White House”, as Nile Cottage was often called when it formed the western extremity of the town.   On his right the handsome and well enclosed U.P. Manse could hardly fail to interest him; while on his left the tall and apparently slender spire of the Free Church would be to him an object of still greater interest.  To say nothing of the elegance of the Church itself, much of which is due to the advanced taste of the former incumbent, the Rev. W.W. Peyton, and we must notice an improvement of more recent date, namely, the very elegant Gothic porch, which has been erected at the entrance to the manse.  It is not, we understand, of local design or build, but came from Glasgow, where it was constructed by the Rev. Mr. Boyd’s brother, to whose good taste it does much credit.  Equally elegant are the two gas lamps, which have been erected on the pillars of the gate forming the entrance to the Free Church, to light the footsteps of the members of that Church Zionwards.

But enough for the present.  If time permits, we may take up the broken thread of our narrative in our next.


Banffshire Reporter, Saturday, April 2nd 1881: -

OUR “WEST END” – The census so soon to be taken, may not show that Portsoy has gained a large increase in population within the last decade, but still the difficulty which some may have experienced in getting houses, and the general rise in rents, which has taken place on the present occasion, does not indicate that there has been any decrease.  If the town has not greatly progressed in one respect, it has not certainly lagged in another.   If the march of improvement has not been “at the double” it has at least been steady.   So much so, that were a “native” who had been absent for a few years, to revisit the place, he would perhaps be agreeably surprised to see the improvements which have been made, more especially at our “West End.”

Taking up, the thread of a former article, we may notice, in the first place, the very important improvement which Mr. Kissach, teacher, has effected on the old Grammar School-house, which he has transformed into as handsome and as commodious a residence as is to be met with in the town.     In the Durn Road, Mr. A. Burgess has a good sized house in course of erection; and, if report speaks truly, the railway station will be transferred to that neighbourhood when the extension to the west takes place.     The property which belonged to the late Mrs. Geddes, and which was so long occupied by her, will be exposed for sale on the 12th. and whoever becomes the purchaser will find very ample scope for improvement, as the ground would afford a number of first-class building sites, which are in high request.  Though outsiders may fancy that our New Town Hall Company Ltd., is non est, such is not the case.  The company is regularly formed and registered, and in due time the New Hall idea will take shape, and will form one of the most conspicuous features of our “West End”; nor would it be easy to find a finer site for a public building of any sort.  In connection with it, one or two first-class shops are likely to be made, and if the railway station is transferred to the Durn Road, their proximity to it will cause these shops to be in request.

Coming but a few paces down South High Street, we find another improvement in the course of being made.   The Rev. Mr. Jobling of the Episcopal Church, on Monday last accepted offers for making certain alterations on the property recently purchased by him from the trustees of said Church, and which originally belonged to the late Mr. Adam Wilson.  The long row of tiled houses on the south side of that property is to be heightened in the side walls and divided into four handsome slated cottages having attic bedrooms.   The room next the street is to be transformed into a shop; but the alterations at that end cannot be got on with until the present tenant of the house next the street vacates it at the term.    These cottages will give a greatly improved appearance to that part of the street, and so great is the demand for houses that these are nearly all let.   The contractors will thus have tight work to finish within the time specified.   They are – for mason work, Messrs. Rae and Gray; carpenter work, Mr. W. Charles; slater work, Mr. James Watson.   The total cost of the whole of these alterations will be very little short of £300.  It is to be hoped, however, that Mr. Jobling may find these cottages a sure and profitable investment, which is no more than is due to his enterprise.


Banffshire Reporter, Saturday, August 6th 1881: -

JOHN LEGGE’S WELL  – A day or two since, Mr. P. Christie, merchant, and Mr. Cumming, shoemaker, took a turn round the town, in order to obtain subscriptions for the purpose of putting our famed local “spa”, John Legge’s Well and the footpath leading down to it, into a proper state of repair, of which repair both path and well stood in much need, more especially at this season, when visitors come from a distance to ramble round our romantic braes, to inhale the health-giving sea breeze, and few of whom fail to visit the well.    The appeal made by the two gentlemen named met with such a hearty response that they soon found themselves in possession of the requisite cash.  It is understood that the improvement will be superintended by Mr. J. Brown, Hill Street.


Banffshire Reporter, Saturday, August 13th 1881:  -

JOHN LEGGE’S WELL  – The pressure on our time and space this week is so great that we cannot notice the improvements which have been made at this romantic place of public resort so fully as we would wish to do; but they are now all but finished, and will well repay a visit.    The path leading down to the well has been fully divided into terraces, each of which is supported by Caithness crib stone.  Seats of the same have been erected in different places: the water from the well is conducted through a metal pipe to the beach; and the place in front of the well has been filled and gravelled.   The bog betwixt the well and the green has been drained and a dry pathway formed.   All that is now wanted to complete the work so well begun is a rail down the side of the path; and we believe that a few additional subscriptions will be very acceptable for that purpose.

We learn that the completeness of the improvements is due to Colonel Moir, who gave orders to have the work done right, at whatever cost.   The only mistake we notice is that the conduit is too small for the volume of water that will at times rush down the side of the path, and were the water allowed to overflow there, it would very soon undo much of what has been so well done.  Men, who gave of their time and attention for the public good, deserve a return, and we would suggest that the improvers should be entertained to a picnic, for which the place is now admirably adapted.   These improvements bring to the front, the necessity for baths, which would be a great attraction to visitors.

(Note: – John Legge’s Well is situated just west of Portsoy’s open-air swimming pool)


Banffshire Reporter, Saturday, May 5th 1883: -

HOUSES FOR FISHERMEN  – Yesterday afternoon, the Portsoy Harbour Board took estimates for the transformation of the old cooperage, east of the Watch- house, now occupied by Mr. D. Caird as a feed store, into a number of dwelling houses, to replace houses, in the old Seatown, required for harbour purposes, presently occupied by fishermen and others.  Out of a large number of offers, the following were accepted: – mason work – Mr. Gray; carpenter work – Mr. George Singer; slater work – Mr. Milton; plaster work – Mr ——.     The total amount of the offers is over £560; but, as there will be houses for 12 families, the contracts must be moderate.

The building will be of more than one storey.  The doors of the lower flat will, as now, front to the west; those of the upper flat to Schoolhendry.  The building, which will be about 90 feet long, while it will be a great and much needed improvement in its locality, is likely to prove a very profitable investment for the shareholders of the company.

Just now, so great is the demand for low-rented houses that the Parochial Board are driven to the necessity of providing some, as they have some half-dozen paupers for whom they do not yet know where they are to find houses at Whitsunday.


Banffshire Reporter, Saturday, September 1st 1883: -

HARBOUR BUILDINGS – The building which has been erected by the Portsoy Harbour Company to compensate for houses in the Old Seatown which they required to clear away, has been roofed and slated.  It has a very imposing appearance as seen from the shore, being on that side three storeys high.  It is meant to accommodate eleven families, each of which will have a self-contained house, and a door to themselves.


Banffshire Reporter, Saturday, April 26th 1884: -

PORTSOY CHRISTIAN INSTITUTE  – It will be seen that we today publish a list of the subscriptions obtained for the purpose of assisting in the erection of a proper building for the use of the Portsoy Christian Institute; and a glance at the list must satisfy anyone that these subscriptions have been given with true Christian liberality, and are alike creditable to those by whom they were given and those by whom they have been asked for.   They amount as will be seen, to the handsome sum of £265.  But, handsome as that sum is, we doubt if it will be sufficient to meet the outlay, which, including the purchase of the property, must be very considerable.

As most of our readers are already aware, the committee, after looking at several other sites, purchased from Messrs. Wm. Murray & Son the building so long occupied as the General Assembly’s School, and the dwelling house to the east of it therewith connected.  Both buildings have for some time past been undergoing a complete transformation, according to plans by Mr. J.C. Grant, Durn Road, and when finished will be well adapted for the purpose for which they are intended.  What was the school-room will form the principal hall, and the floor of it having been lowered from three to four feet, it has of course added considerably to its height, and it now looks to be a far more lofty and spacious apartment.  To accomplish this alteration the walls had to be under-founded.    In what may be termed the new part of the erection, betwixt the old school and the street, above which it is but slightly raised, there is a cheerful, well-lighted apartment, which we understand is intended for a reading room and library, but of this we are not quite certain. As regards the library, which is now a very efficient one, and contains a large number of the best works in every department of science and literature, great praise is due to the Rev. Mr. Boyd, who has hitherto acted as librarian, and over and above may be said to have been its nursing father. The room above the one referred to, is intended for a smoking room; but we shall be able, perhaps, to give a more exact account when the various apartments are finished.

The old house, with the pigeon-hole looking windows, which was the residence of the schoolmasters, or their tenants, has been completely gutted out and modernised, and is to be inhabited by Mr. Innes, inspector of poor, who, as we have been informed, is to have charge of the whole premises.   It is also stated that the meetings of the Parochial Board are to be held in the main hall, which will be doubtless be used for many similar purposes.   The whole building may be ready for occupation by Whitsunday, but at present there appears to be still a good deal to do.

Note: – The site on which the building stood was at this time part of Schoolhendry Street.   It was later re-named Institute Street.


Banffshire Reporter, Saturday July 5th 1884:  -

CHRISTIAN INSTITUTE – The Portsoy Christian Institute was opened on Wednesday last (July 2nd.).  William Ferguson, Esq., of Kinmundy performed the opening ceremony, delivering on the occasion an address full of sound advice to young men.  Sheriff Scott-Moncrieff and Provost Williamson Banff also delivered addresses.  (Extract from a lengthy report).


Banffshire Reporter, Saturday July 26th 1884: -

BUSINESS ANNOUNCEMENT – The newspaper and printing business, belonging to Thomas Anderson, has been sold to Messrs. George and Marcus Calder.


Banffshire Reporter, Saturday, May 16th 1885: -

CLEARING THE SEATOWN   – Several of the old houses at the Seatown, situated on ground belonging to the Harbour Company, have been demolished during the week, in order to make room for curing purposes.

Most of the buildings have reached such a state of decay that their removal at no distant date would have been found to be absolutely necessary, so that the absence of them from the vicinity of the harbour may be said to be a decided improvement.

A large quantity of wood and tiles used in their construction was disposed of by roup on Wednesday evening, Mr. James Badenoch acting as auctioneer.  Good prices were realised for the wood, which of course is serviceable for nothing but fire-wood.


Banffshire Reporter, Saturday, May 28th 1887:  -

THE STAR INN – Today the Star Inn will be vacated by Mrs. Bruce who has occupied the premises for upwards of 40 years.


Banffshire Reporter, Saturday, June 4th, 1887: -

PORTSOY TOWN HALL COMPANY – The transfer of Mr. Minty’s Hall at the Square, to the Portsoy Town Hall Company has at last been accomplished.   The company means to take action at once and the prospectus will be issued in the course of a few days.


Banffshire Reporter, Saturday, August 27th 1887: -

ST. STEPHEN LODGE OF FREEMASONS – THE OPENING – Under the above name, a new lodge of Freemasons was formally constituted here on the evening of Monday (22nd. July).  In June last, in connection with the local Jubilee celebrations, a number of the craft resident in town and district turned out in full regalia to take part in the demonstration.  Previous to this a movement had been on foot with the view of forming a lodge, and their appearance in public on the occasion referred to was considered a fitting time to bring the matter to an issue.  Accordingly the brethren, after taking part in the procession, met and considered the advisability of taking such a step.   The meeting was harmonious, and it was unanimously resolved to form a lodge, a committee being appointed to see to preliminaries.

All were enthusiastic – and enthusiasm being one of the most powerful engines of success, they were not long in bringing the matter to a point which assured success.  The Grand Lodge was communicated with, and the charter of the St. Stephen Lodge, No. 746, reached Portsoy on the 5th. August.  Arrangements were at once made for constituting the lodge, and the 22nd. August was fixed upon.  On this becoming known, a number of influential gentlemen in town and district signified their intention of joining the order.

The interesting event took place in Mr. Minty’s Hall, and came off in a manner highly gratifying and creditable to all concerned.  No lodge ever came into existence more auspiciously than has done the St. Stephen, and evidence of a prosperous future being in store for it is not awanting.  Those initiated on Monday night numbered fifteen, and several who intended coming forward were unavoidably absent.   Others have also intimated a desire to become members, so that the Freemasons are likely soon to become a numerous body in the district.

Deputations were present from St. John’s Lodge, Banff, and St. James’ Lodge, Macduff.   The Lodge was opened in due form, after which the initiative ceremonies were performed by Past-Master John Chalmers, Banff, and Brother Gray, Macduff.  The candidates having been favourably reported on, all were impressively initiated into Freemasonry.  All masonic business having been transacted, the Lodge was closed about ten o’clock, and after a short interval the brethren sat down to partake of a sumptuous supper, purveyed by Brother Cruickshank of the Station Hotel.  In the absence of the Right Worshipful Master James Hunter, who was absent from home on business, Brother Macdonald, Kindrought, occupied the chair. After ample justice had been done to the meal the usual loyal and Masonic toasts were given and received with much cordiality.  The Right Worshipful Master proposed “The Sister Lodges of Banffshire,” coupled with the name of Brother Thom, who said he was highly honoured in being asked to return thanks on behalf of the sister lodges of Banffshire, especially as the lodge at Macduff was about the youngest of the sister lodges.  He was certain the St. Stephen Lodge would become one of the most flourishing in the province.  He was much pleased to take part in the proceedings that evening, because he was desirous of advancing the cause of Masonry.   He was not satisfied with the position of the Provincial Grand Lodge, and asked the newly-formed lodge to join in and endeavour to have it placed on a more satisfactory basis.

Brother Thom proposed “The Health of the Newly Initiated Members,” which was suitably responded to by Brother Clark, Portsoy.

Brother Paterson, Portsoy, rose to propose “The Health of Past-Master John Chalmers,” who had done much in the cause of Masonry, and had initiated more members into the craft than anyone in Banffshire.

Brother Chalmers suitably replied.  He wished the Lodge success; and he had no doubt it would flourish like other lodges.  New lodges starting up showed that masonry was flourishing.

Brother Gray, Macduff, proposed “Success to St. Stephen’s Lodge,” expressing the hope that it would soon be seen working in thorough good order.

The Right Worshipful Master replied.

Brother John Sutherland, Portsoy, gave “The Strangers,” and Brother Stephen, Macduff, responded.

Several other toasts were proposed, including the health of Brother Hunter, R.W.M., and Brother Macdonald, who had on this occasion performed the duties of the Chair.

The company thereafter separated, after having enjoyed a pleasant evening.


Banffshire Reporter, Wednesday October 5th 1887: -

DEATH OF COLONEL MOIR, PORTSOY – The death of Colonel James Moir took place on Monday night at his residence, Portsoy, at eight o’clock some two months after he had a stroke of paralysis.  He breathed his last at the ripe old age of 75 years, and may be said to have slept peacefully away.

Col. Moir was born in May 1812 at Grandholm, up Donside, where his father was employed as a machinist at the Grandholm Mills, of which Provost Hadden was then proprietor.  From here he went to Aberdeen, where he was employed as clerk in the office of the London Shipping Company.  From Aberdeen he went to Turriff where his stay was of short duration, for in 1834 we find him coming to reside in Portsoy at the aged of 22; and it is with his career from this date that we have more particularly to deal.

He came here to manage the extensive business of Mr. Peter Morrison, brother of the late Mr. Alexander Morrison, merchant, Turriff.  He had early shown great aptitude for business, and with this was combined a sanguine and enthusiastic temperament, which enabled him to overcome many a difficulty which to others might seem insurmountable.   In choosing a commercial life he had entered a field of labour where he was destined to make his mark and to prove himself of great usefulness.  It is but the truth when we say that in order to write anything like a memoir of Col. Moir would be to write a history of every movement that has taken place in town and district for half a century back, for during all those years there has scarcely a movement of any note taken place of which he was not the originator, guiding spirit, or at least a staunch advocate.   We shall endeavour to notice a few of the leading events which his name will always be associated.

Before proceeding further, however, it may be mentioned that shortly after coming to reside in Portsoy he married his employer’s sister, Barbara Morrison, then widow Donald.  This lady died in September 1870.  He subsequently married Miss Adelaide Huntley Findlay, daughter of Colonel Findlay, Nairn.   His second wife also predeceased him, having died in February 1881.   He leaves no issue.

He was a great pedestrian in his day, and for years is said to have walked between Portsoy and Turriff regularly every Saturday.

On the death of Mr. Morrison, Colonel Moir succeeded to the business, which he carried on very successfully till the time of his death.   In connection with his business, he is said to have been the first to import Peruvian guano into this county.  He had only been in Portsoy for about four years when he was chosen by the North of Scotland Banking Company for the position of manager of a branch opened by them there at that time.    The Company were fortunate in their selection, for a large business soon sprang up under him, and eventually the branch was submerged into a full agency, of which he continued the principal.  The business of the Bank thereafter continued to make satisfactory progress.  He was kind and considerate in his dealings with men of business, and did not with-hold pecuniary assistance in deserving cases.

In the fishing and agricultural industries he took a great interest.  He was lessee of the salmon fishings on the Deveron and at other places.  In the shipping trade he was also largely concerned, being owner of several vessels, besides holding shares in steamers.

Of the Portsoy Horticultural Society he held the position of president since its formation some twelve years ago; and at the annual exhibitions of the Society he was a keen competitor.  Out of respect for his memory, a concert in aid of funds of the Society which had been fixed for Friday evening has now been postponed till Friday, 14th. October.  In animals and birds, of which he had a choice collection, he also took great delight.

On the formation of our local Volunteer company in 1860 he was appointed Captain of the battery, a rank which he held until December 1865, when, on the recommendation of the Lord Lieutenant of the County, he was gazetted Lieutenant-Colonel of the “Banffshire Battalion of Volunteer Artillery.” His promotion proves him to have been a most enthusiastic volunteer.  On his retirement from the captaincy he was presented with a handsome snuff box, which he treasured with pride.  In 1873 he retired from duty with the rank of Hon. Colonel in recognition of his long and valued services in connection with the volunteer movement.   However, although he resigned, he continued to interest himself in the movement, and on special occasions never failed to appear among them in uniform, the last occasion being on the 19th. of June last, when the Portsoy Volunteers mustered for church parade, on which occasion an eloquent sermon was preached by the Rev. Mr. Gibson in the Established Church.

Deceased was also a Commissioner of Supply of the County, and for many years discharged the duties of Justice of the Peace in the parish of Fordyce.

Of the Portsoy Harbour Committee he was a director, and previous to its formation took an active if not principal part in the steps which led to the reconstruction of the harbour.

Some twelve years ago he, along with Messrs. Morrison, merchants, Turriff, undertook the erection of the Glenglassaugh Distillery, a concern which has now assumed gigantic dimensions.

The Portsoy Gas Company may be said to have entirely owed its existence to Col. Moir. He was the principal shareholder of the Company, over which he presided as Chairman.

To Col. Moir is due the honour of having introduced the sixpenny telegraph rate.   Entirely at his own expense he, in 1868-69, opened up telegraphic communication between Portsoy, Buckie and Portgordon, and over this system messages could be sent at the low rate of sixpence.  This wire was disposed of to Government at the time the railway telegraphic system was taken over.

Of the advantages derivable from railway communication he was thoroughly cognisant.   He took an active and prominent part in getting the Strathisla Railway extended to Portsoy.   He was deputy chairman of this Company.  Not content with giving Portsoy railway communication southwards, he took upon himself the task of endeavouring to get a Parliamentary Bill passed for the construction of a line westwards along the coast.  In this he was successful.  Financial difficulties, however, blocked the way, and thus after power had been obtained to proceed with the work the bill was allowed to lapse.  He still continued to advocate the claims of a coast railway, and he has lived to see the work accomplished and giving satisfaction.

He was personally interested in the Banffshire Journal, being a shareholder in the concern up till the time of his death.

In the providing of a new town hall for Portsoy he was much interested, and he allowed himself to be placed at the head of the Town Hall Company, Limited, which had this object in view.  The Company were so far successful that estimates for improving the present building were advertised for, and a settlement was on the eve of being come to when Colonel Moir came forward and presented a site to the town for the erection of a suitable building.

In politics he was a staunch Liberal, and was a strict follower of Mr. Gladstone in every detail.

He was a rigid Churchman.  In Portsoy E.C. he never held office, however, as a manager, although often urged to accept the position of elder.  In everything pertaining to the interests of minister and church he took a lively interest.  He contributed liberally towards the extensive improvements recently carried out on the church; and otherwise extended his practical sympathy at times and in ways known to few.  His last public appearance may be said to have been when he opened the E.C. Manse bazaar in July last, which proved a most successful undertaking.

By the death of Colonel Moir, Portsoy has lost a good citizen.  He was kind and hospitable to rich and poor alike.  His was a heart which could sympathise with affliction or distress in whatever form it existed, and it was to him a genuine pleasure to have it in his power to do a good turn to a needy brother.  The remark of a gentleman to us yesterday was – “He was my best friend on earth.”

The funeral, which is to be a military one, has been fixed for Saturday at 12.30 pm.


Banffshire Reporter, Wednesday, December 21st 1887: -

BUSINESS CHANGES HANDS – The extensive general business so long and successfully carried on by the late Colonel Moir has been purchased by our townsman, Captain James Wood, Hill Street, Portsoy.


Banffshire Reporter, Wednesday, March 7th. 1888: -

BANKRUPTCY ROURT – FAILURE OF JAMES PATERSON & CO., PORTSOY – On Monday – before Sheriff Hamilton- Grierson – in the Court House at Banff, Mr. James Paterson, aged 33, sole partner of the firm of James Paterson & Co., fishcurers, Portsoy was examined in bankruptcy.

Mr. Paterson declared that he had a financial interest in the sailing ships, “Pioneer” and “Flower”.  The state of his affairs showed  – Total Assets,  £1,284: 1s 10d; preferable claims, £208 3s 6d; ordinary claims £3,840 13s 11d; deficiency, £2,764 15s 7d.  (Extract from a lengthy report).


Banffshire Reporter, Wednesday, October 10th 1888: -

PURCHASE OF THE MILLS – The meal and manure mills at Portsoy belonging to Messrs. John Allan and Son have now been secured by Mr. John Ewing, Mill of Durn, Portsoy, the purchase price being £740.


Banffshire Reporter, Saturday, Sept.10th. 1887: -

RETROSPECTIVE AND PROSPECTIVE – There are indications that Portsoy has not yet reached the height of its prosperity.  Old residents, however, tell us that the trade of the town was more prosperous in the past than it is now or is ever likely to be.  They talk with pride of the “good old times” when Portsoy was unmolested by visitations from the “iron horse,” and even when he did make his appearance here, but was content to go no further, fortune still continued to smile.  But now that communication has been opened up to the west, the view taken by those who enjoyed the luxuries of the “good old times” is not a favourable one.

As a town, what advancement has been made during all those years of vaunted prosperity?   Substantial evidence is wanting of anything great having been accomplished.  Within quite a recent period, however, during which time a deal has been heard of depression in trade, the town has undergone a wonderful change for the better.  There have been considerable improvements carried out, although much still remains to be done.  The erection of harbour works is not of a remote date; only a few years have elapsed since our excellent water supply was introduced; and the lighting of our streets by means of gas was only quite recently accomplished.  Other improvements, if of less magnitude, at all events of equal importance, have been undertaken and carried out within the past few years, and had there existed a local governing body there would doubtless have been more such improvements to chronicle.  Then, apart from what may be termed public improvements, private enterprise has been at work and beautified the town considerably, architecturally and otherwise.   Within the last decade, and particularly the latter half, quite a number of buildings of ornate and substantial construction have been erected.

For the sake of illustration we will refer to a few of those which have come into existence.    To begin with, it may be mentioned that we are likely soon to have a flourishing “West End”.   In the direction of Durn – a most desirable situation – several houses have been or are presently in course of being erected.   Close by the bridge which crosses the railway line at this point two neat cottages have been erected.   A little to the east of these a handsome villa of considerable dimensions is being built for Mrs. Geils, and is now in a fair way towards completion.   Across the railway line, and almost opposite Roseacre Villa, another building is coming into form which seems to combine in its construction various styles of architecture.   It is being built for J.C. Grant.   Further on, and in close proximity to Durn House grounds, a site has just been taken off for the erection of a manse for the esteemed minister of the Portsoy Established Church, the Rev. A.M. Gibson, operations at which will be commenced at an early date.   We also learn with pleasure that others are likely soon to follow the example thus set before them of building residences in this locality.

Coming back to Seafield Street, several new buildings will be found there, some of very recent date, notably that neat cottage opposite Sunnybank; that shop, with dwelling house above, opposite the Established Church; and the large dwelling houses added to the property of Mr. Robert Milne.  In Hill Street three fine cottages have been erected.   In Cullen Road another new cottage was occupied for the first time last term.   Mr. Macfarlane is presently making additions to his property in Church Street.   Opposite stands the new business premises occupied by Mr. Alex Farquhar.  A little further up, the Christian Institute stands as a lasting testimony of the energy, enthusiasm, and enterprise, and enterprise of the Portsoy Young Men’s Christian Association.  While speaking of Church Street, it may be mentioned that another erection is said to be in contemplation.

In Schoolhendry Street, a handsome cottage is nearing completion, while close by stands the new provision store of Mr. Kemp.  The improvements and erections at the Seatown and Harbour are too recent to need but passing notice.  In place of the small cottage which stood on the property of Mr. John Sutherland, in South High Street, one of large and handsome construction has now been erected.    At Lochside, Messrs. Macdonald Brothers have erected premises of considerable dimensions.  A little distance from these premises stand those of Mr. Ingram, with new coach-house and stabling between.  In Seafield Lane new shambles have been erected.  Lately a large classroom was added to the Public School.  Several of our churches have been fitted up anew in the most improved style.

There are prospects of a new town hall, although it has to be admitted that the scheme is at present in a state of suspended animation.   But for this scheme, which is of course by far the best, Mr. Minty’s Hall would have undergone a complete renovation.   Other instances could be referred to, but these will suffice to show that Portsoy has made rapid advancement within the past few years, and there is evidence to show that the spirit of enterprise manifested in the past will not be allowed to lie dormant in the future.   For the proper development of resources of town and district more scope is necessary; and to this subject we may at some future time have occasion to refer.  There are still bright days in store for Portsoy – if those who have duties to perform on behalf of their fellow men stand by their post and play their part well.


Banffshire Journal, Tuesday, March 25th 1890: -

TOWN HALL FOR PORTSOY  – On Tuesday last, a deputation consisting of Provost Clark and Baillie Grant, representing the Police Commissioners, and Mr. John Peterkin and Mr. George S. Begg, two of the directors representing the Portsoy Town Hall Company, waited upon Mr. Alexander Watt, Solicitor, Banff, the agent for George Moir, Esq., Windsor, Ontario, the heir at law of the late Colonel Moir, Portsoy, with reference to the Colonel’s intention of presenting to the town the property at the corner of Seafield Street and South High Street, for the purpose of erecting a Town Hall thereon.

The deputation was courteously received by Mr. Watt, to whom they explained the position of matters, and the public feeling on the subject, when Mr. Watt suggested that they should, through their agent, Mr. James Young, solicitor, Portsoy, put their views and wishes in writing, in which he would have the pleasure in submitting to Mr. George Moir, Colonel Moir’s heir, for instructions.

The deputation agreed to do so, and thanked Mr. Watt for undertaking to lay the matter fully and fairly before his client.   The situation is very central and a very desirable one for the purpose, and it is confidently expected by the inhabitants in Portsoy that Mr. George Moir may generously see his way to give effect to the intention of his respected ancestor.


Banffshire Reporter, April 6th 1892:  -

PROPERTY MARKET    – We learn that Mr. John Duncan, draper, has acquired from Mr. Watt, solicitor, Banff, agent for Mr. George Moir, heir-in-law of the late Col. Moir, the large property in Seafield and South High Street presently occupied by Mr. Duncan.   The property has a large frontage and occupies one of the best sites in Portsoy.


Banffshire Reporter, Wednesday, June 22nd 1892: -

NEW COASTGUARD STATION AT PORTSOY – These extensive buildings have now been completed.   The station is fully equipped, and everything has been put in thorough working order. The buildings occupy a prominent position on an eminence between the east and west harbours, and directly opposite the entrance channel.  For situation no better site could have been secured for a Coastguard Station.  A splendid view is obtainable to land and seawards.  The greatest part of the ground has been in possession of the Admiralty since 1872, when it was purchased from the then Earl of Seafield, and there was added to it in 1874 a portion of the feu in Schoolhendry Street which belonged to the late Mr. George Taylor.

Altogether the ground which will now be styled the Coastguard Station is three-fourths of an acre in extent.  A right-of-way passes through it at the lower end, and this in nowise detracts from the fine appearance which has now been given to the locality.  At the highest point of the ground the flagstaff has stood and the colours waved for long; but Portsonians abroad will find on revisiting their native town that a very great change has taken place at the Lodging Brae.   The buildings, which run east and west, are built of beautiful blue stones from Dunniedeich, dressed in blocks, with freestone facings from Morayshire.   Everything is of the most substantial and improved order, and for the convenience and comfort of the chief officer and men nothing has been lost sight of.

The front of the building is to the south, and the separate dwellings of the men are entered by a porch.   Each dwelling contains a parlour, three bedrooms, and a kitchen, with all necessary out-door conveniences and accommodation.  The chief officer occupies the west end of the building, which contains parlour, sitting-room, four bed-rooms, kitchen and scullery, besides outside premises, such as wash house etc.  The buildings are also provided with a complete sewerage system, combining all the latest improvements.  The watch-house is situated on the north side, and from its door a wide expanse of sea can be seen to east, west and north.

Right opposite the watch-house, on a terraced embankment, the indispensable flagstaff has been erected.  It is 60 feet in height, with proportionate crosstree and rigging to match.  This we are told is the highest flagstaff in Scotland.  Around the base of the flagstaff the different points of the compass are represented in artistic style by means of cement and stucco and a slight application of paint.  This ornamentation owes its existence to the efforts of the Mr. Keating, the chief officer, as does also the nicely laid-off ground along the embankment.  In the carrying out of these and other improvements Mr. Keating was heartily backed up and assisted by his men.  The whole area now presents a remarkable tidy appearance.

And this is only what might have been expected at a place where everything goes on like clockwork from day to day.  If anything connected with the whole undertaking deserves an ill word, it must be in regard to the paling which encloses the ground along the footpath already referred to.  It is scarcely in keeping with the buildings.  The gib-shaped piece of ground to the seaward side of the footpath is also Admiralty property, and has been laid out and enclosed for the bleaching and drying of clothes.  It only remains to be added that a substantial iron rail has been placed along the brae to the foot of the pathway; and now that these improvements have been carried out, it will be a much frequented locality.

A  boathouse 20 feet by 10 feet, is to be erected opposite the lighthouse.


Banffshire Reporter, 1st. March 1893:

PORTSOY ROPEWORKS DESTROYED BY FIRE: – About noon on Wednesday an alarm of fire was raised at the Portsoy Ropeworks at Backgreen occupied by Mr. James Nicol.  The fire originated in the heckling-room, which is situated in the main building at the east end of the works.  As there was a large quantity of inflammable material stored away in this part of the premises the fire spread very rapidly, and in a few minutes the whole building was enveloped in flames.  The efforts put forth to check the progress of the fire proved unavailing.   Almost the whole stock of material on hand and the working tools in the heckling-room and sail loft were destroyed.  Fortunately the business books and papers were secured before the flames reached the office, situated at the basement to the east of the building.

A large number of people soon gathered round the scene of the conflagration, but after a little effort had been put forth in trying to subdue the flames, it was evident that the entire building was doomed.  The fire continued to rage with great fury, and the afternoon was well advanced before the work of clearing away the debris could be proceeded with.  Unfortunately the stock was not insured, so that the loss sustained by Mr. Nicol must be considerable.  We understand the building was insured.


Banffshire Reporter, Wednesday, April 4th, 1894: -

ST. COMB’S HILL AND WELL – St. Comb’s Hill and St. Comb’s Well, upon which considerable alterations and improvements have been carried out of late, were opened to the public on Sunday last.   Both the Hill and Well are situated within the ground owned by the Portsoy Burial Ground Trustees.   Several years ago the Trustees acquired additional land from Lady Seafield for the purpose of extension.  The work of extension was completed last year and was referred to in those columns at the time.  Only about one-half of the ground has been set apart as a place of burial, but the whole has been enclosed, partly with a stone and lime wall and partly with concrete.

At a meeting of the Trustees held in the early part of last year it was suggested by Mr. John Sutherland, druggist, and Mr. James Guthrie, draper, that the hill and adjacent ground lying to the west of the old place of burial should be beautified and improved for the benefit of the public.  While not inclined to do anything as trustees, liberty was readily granted to Messrs. Sutherland and Guthrie to carry out such improvements as they thought fit, provided they did not encroach too far on the ground lying to the south of the hill.  These terms were accepted, and steps were immediately taken to have the work carried out.   Subscriptions in aid of the scheme came to hand from many parts of the world, with the result that before 1893 closed, the hill and its surroundings had undergone a wonderful and pleasing transformation.

Formerly, owing to their filthy condition, these parts were simply unapproachable.  It is at least thirty years since this well of historical fame was in use; in fact, its exact position was unknown to the present generation, the spot having got covered over with rubbish.  Being of a very soft nature, the water was used principally for washing clothes, but also for domestic purposes.

A fine sea view is obtainable from the hill along the top of which a nice walk has been constructed.   The summit of the hill has been heightened and broadened, and it may be mentioned, as showing the extent of the work undertaken by Messrs. Sutherland and Guthrie, that over 800 loads of earth, &c., were made use of for this purpose alone.  A walk also runs along the north side of the hill, which is reached near the entrance to the grounds by a flight of concrete steps.   Along the whole extent of the west wall which encloses the Trustee’s property a splendid promenade has been formed, and it is intended to place seats between the buttresses ranged along the wall here – and the privilege to do so is to be given to the young men of the town.

What may now be termed the pleasure grounds are entered by a neat ornamental gateway, and directly opposite a pathway, along which shrubs are to be planted, leads down to St. Comb’s Well, the water supply from which has been covered over in a substantial manner with a dome-shaped stone and lime erection, in which the rich geological resources of the district are shown forth to advantage.   A concrete basin with rubble bottom has been formed in the centre of the building and the water passes into it through a tiny “tap”.   There is also an overflow pipe.  There are a couple of recesses formed for holding drinking vessels. The amplest sitting accommodation has been provided, a seat of masonry having been formed all round, with wooden top.  Above the entrance outside a niche has been left for the name of the well and date of restoration.

The ground lying to the south of the hill has been let on lease to Mr. James Kemp, and is nicely enclosed with wire netting and wooden standards.   Along the base of the hill at the old burial ground a road has been formed leading from the main entrance.  Other improvements remain to be carried out, but the funds have meantime got exhausted. We believe, however, an appeal is about to be made to the public; and should the necessary funds be forthcoming it is intended that further improvements will include the placing of a temple or some other suitable erection on top of the hill.  It may be mentioned that a list of those who have or may yet subscribe to the fund in aid of the scheme will be published later on.

The public must be deeply indebted to Messrs. Sutherland and Guthrie for being the means of providing them with such a pleasant resort – where, too, they can sit and gaze thoughtfully on the last resting places of those who have played their part on the stage of time and gone the way of all the earth, or sigh,

“For the touch of a vanished hand,
And the sound of a voice that is gone.”


Banffshire Reporter, Wednesday, March 18th 1896: -

NEW POLICE STATION – Tenders have been invited for the building of a new Police Station in Shillinghill.


Banffshire Reporter, Wednesday, May 2nd. 1900 :-

NEW BUILDING – Contracts have just been let for the erection of a cottage at Seatown by Henry McDonald.  The following were the successful contractors: -

Mason work  – Mr. W.K. Gray, Kinaldie; Carpenter Work  – Mr. Findlay Slater, Portsoy;

Plaster work  – Mr. John Rae, Portsoy; Slater and Plumber work  – Mr. George Strathdee, Portso


Banffshire Reporter, Wednesday, October 17th 1900: -

DAMAGE TO NEW BUILDING – During the severe gale a large proportion of the gable of a new dwelling house in course of erection at the Seatown for Mr. Henry McDonald was blown down.


Banffshire Reporter, Wednesday, September 18th. 1901: -

BANFF DISTRICT COMMITTEE – NEW HOSPITAL AT PORTSOY  – At a meeting of the Banff District Committee, held in the Courthouse, Banff, on Saturday – Mr. James Campbell, Old Cullen, presiding – the Hospital Sub- Committee submitted a report on the question of representation on the proposed Joint Hospital Board.  They had recommended that each of the burghs, with the exception of Buckie, should send one representative.  Buckie, on account of the largeness of its population, should send two, and the District Committee should send five members.  This scheme had been submitted to the various Town Councils, and had been approved of by them.

The Chairman proposed that the District Committee also approve of this scheme, and that their representatives should be as follows: – Rathven – Mr. Wilson; Deskford and Cullen – Mr. Campbell; Fordyce – Mr. Forbes; and Gamrie – Mr. Hutcheon.

The Clerk then read a letter from the Countess Dowager of Seafield offering the most suitable site near Portsoy for the building of the hospital, at a nominal rent of 1s per annum.  Letters were also read from the medical officer and the sanitary inspector highly approving of the site.

The Chairman said it was a most difficult matter to choose a site for an infectious diseases hospital.  Everything, however, had been taken into consideration, and the proposed site was in every way the most suitable one.  The drainage would be carried down direct to the sea.

A letter was read from the town clerk of Portsoy stating that there might be some difficulty with regard to the water supply of the hospital.

The Chairman, however, stated there was a supply close at hand, and that this question had been well considered along with the others.

Mr. Sutherland, Portsoy, said that they were all very grateful for the generous and handsome act done by Lady Seafield.  No one would think of offering any objection to the site, and a great many difficulties indicated by the Provost of Portsoy had been satisfactorily settled.  The Town Council of Portsoy were willing and very desirous to do anything in their power to further the object which Lady Seafield and Mr. Campbell had in view.  The water supply was, it is true, rather small, but they would be prepared to leave that matter to be equitably adjusted by the Joint Board.  The Town Council would give them a share of the water they had, but he did not think any of the local authorities would like to involve Portsoy in a heavy capital expenditure for what was not for Portsoy itself, but for half of Banffshire.

It was explained that, if they thought it necessary, the Joint-Committee could alter the site.

On the suggestion of Mr. Duff, it was agreed that, in the event of any other bodies joining in the hospital scheme, or of any serious displacement of population occurring, the committee should have the power to make any change they thought proper in the representation on the joint board.

Mr. Duff then said it would be graceful for the committee to put on record their appreciation of Lady Seafield’s kindness, and to let her know that they feel she has shown her sympathy with this scheme in a most liberal and generous way.  (Applause)

This was heartily agreed to.

The Chairman intimated that Mr. Kelly, architect, Aberdeen, who was at present doing some work in the county, was preparing sketches of the proposed building.

The Clerk was instructed to report the proceedings thus far to the Local Government Board.


Banffshire Reporter, Wednesday, August 26th 1903: -

LOCAL NOTES   – To the south-west we have the Hill of Durn, famous for its fine siliceous quarry, used in gilding china.  In the vicinity are the House of Durn and Roseacre Villa.  The former was built by one Robert Wilson, the latter by Robert Knight, a corn dealer.


Banffshire Reporter, Wednesday, August 26th. 1903:  -


Extracts from an interesting article, in reference to Portsoy as a health resort, which appears in the current issue of the “Christian News.”

“The town of Portsoy, situated about midway between the royal burghs of Banff and Cullen, claims no allegiance to any laws of architectural beauty or symmetry, but strikes one at first sight as exhibiting a frank confession that cosiness and utility have been the ruling influences in originating – we dare not say planning – the streets and alleyways of this erstwhile prosperous seaport.  While there is carried on what looks like a fairly energetic business in the curing of the homely herring, still it is now coming to be looked upon as one of the numerous northern watering places which have a desire to cater for the attraction of summer visitors.  The well intentioned efforts of our railway companies have contributed very materially and sensibly to the fulfilment of this desire, and they deserve credit for the generous encouragement afforded to prospective visitors.

Like the leafless oak in the fable, the persevering inhabitants cheerily warble this hopeful motto, “Once we were, and we shall flourish again,” for not so long ago Portsoy was the northern railway terminus from which by means of the lumbering stage-coach, passengers to such important towns as Banff and Cullen were transferred to their destinations.   In more distant times, too, Portsoy could boast of a blue -blooded aristocracy dwelling amongst its people who helped to make others happy by spending again the earnings which their joint labours had achieved.   These were the roaring days when a stubborn Ogilvy held high his proud head as Thane of the Boyne.

An ancient house beside the harbour, with crow stepped gables, bears above its entrance doorway the date 1696; and the casual visitor will not for a moment question the authenticity of its birth, as it quite looks its age.    The nearest man or woman in the street will enlighten you further that this was the town house of the lord of the manor; while the very considerable ruins of his noble castle are to be seen in a thickly wooded den about a mile or so along the coast.  This palatial edifice goes by the name of the Castle of the Boyne.

Round about Portsoy harbour are several equally ancient structures; some of them possessing capacious subterranean vaults, where in days gone by an active company of unlimited liability gentlemen were in the habit of storing tobacco and other foreign commodities, liquid and solid, which had not been hampered in transit by passing through the conventional formalities of a customs house.   Looking at those old weather-beaten buildings under the brightness of twentieth century sunshine – not much of which, alas, has been seen this summer – we cannot fail to recognise what a quarry of fiction might be hewn out of this old harbour and decaying mansions by a Crockett or Hall Caine; while the modern utilitarians dwelling beside them, and too cognisant of their highly dilapidated condition, would show them no mercy, but would expeditiously raze them to the ground.  And perhaps they would be doing right.

Radiating from the harbour, the visitor has a choice of several streets of modern, well built houses leading up through the town, all of which interlace with one another by means of various crossings and convenient flights of steps in the most accommodating manner.   Many of these houses are built on the gable-end-to-the-street plan; a few still roofed with the picturesque red tiles, but for the most part they are slated.   A goodly number of the house are set down in such a ril-ral manner as to suggest their performance of a game of hide and seek with one another.  No sooner do you pass a house than in a few more steps you find the same domicile squinting  round a corner at you from quite a different point of view.

When we reach the top of the hill by one of the many arteries open to us we find ourselves in Seafield Street – what might be designated the High Street of any ordinary town  – but as the honoured house of Seafield represents the omnipotent in this part, their name has received suitable recognition.   We are now on the main thoroughfare from east to west, where ample provision is made for the worship of God in a quoad sacra Established Church, two United Free churches, an Episcopalian, and, pleasantly situated at the east end of the town, a neat chapel for those who worship according to the Roman Catholic faith.  The time was when there was also an Independent Chapel; the site of which is now occupied as a substantial dwelling house dignified by the title of Chapel House.   A remnant of the faithful adherents still remains to cherish the blissful memories of the past and the great and good work done by that sturdy independent John Murker – a name which is a household word all along this coast.

Portsoy is rather deficient in its beach; but convenient footpaths lead you gently to what little there is of it and the ladies have a very good spot for their forenoon dip.  One portion of the rocks here possesses a very good quarry of serpentine stone, unworked; and if some of the people here would take a run down to the Lizard point they would receive a lesson how the almighty idol of the present day could be extracted from it by means of a very simple turning lathe.  On the top of the cliffs to the east and the west of the town a footpath extends along the coast, well supplied with seats, from which the ever changing motion of the sea can be watched with great interest.

We hold no brief to laud the praises of this health resort.  Indeed the spirit of the inhabitants would resent any special pleading on behalf of Portsoy.  But a few weeks’ stay in the district, and in gratitude for unfailing kindness received from many whose presence we entered as strangers and now leave as friends, we have been prompted to jot down a few crude impressions of this Banffshire watering-place as an encouragement to those mentioned at the beginning of the sketch.”


Banffshire Journal, August 2nd. 1904:  -

CAMPBELL HOSPITAL – Officially opened on 30th. July 1904 by Lady Seafield.       James Campbell, Convenor of Banff County Council presided.    Miss Barlas from Peebles County Hospital appointed Matron.

Note: – Extract from lengthy article in the Banffshire Journal.


Banffshire Reporter, Wednesday, September 1912:  -

ALTERATIONS TO THE MEAL MILL   After doing service for some 45 years the mill stalk is now all but completely demolished and operations in connection with the alterations and additions to the Mills will be commenced forthwith.   The stalk which is 95 feet high is said to be mentioned in the Admiralty charts as a landmark.


Banffshire Journal, March 4th, 1919:

PROPERTY SOLD – There were exposed for sale by public roup in the Station Hotel on Wednesday, shops and residential property which belonged to the late firm of Messrs. P. & J. Sutherland, fishcurers.

The office and dwelling house, 9 Shorehead and two stores at the Dounie was soon secured.   Beginning at £225, bidding rapidly ran up to £260 at which figure it was purchased by Mr. Michael Kelbie.


Banffshire Journal, Tuesday, March 7th. 1922: -

PROPOSED PUBLIC HALL – As an outcome of a recent advertisement by the trustees and managers of the U.F. Church, offering the old East Church, at present unoccupied, for sale, a public meeting of ratepayers was held on Wednesday.   Provost Rae, who presided over a large and representative meeting, said no doubt they had all seen the advertisement of the old United Presbyterian Church for sale.  They all knew about the state of disrepair it was falling into, with broken windows and broken railings, and it was fast becoming an eyesore in the town.

The Town Council were thinking of offering for it for the purpose of making it into a public hall for the town, but before doing so they had called this meeting, which he was pleased to see was such a large and representative one, to find out the mind of the ratepayers on the matter.  They might not be successful in getting it, but they would not move in the matter without the sanction of the ratepayers.  After some discussion, ex-Provost Gray proposed that they authorise the Town Council to make an offer for the building.  This was seconded, and as there were no counter motion it was carried with acclamation.


Banffshire Journal, Tuesday, June 5th. 1923: -

CHANGES AT PORTSOY – There has been an unusual number of changes in business in Portsoy at this time.  The general merchant’s business and Temperance Hotel, carried on by Mr. William Milne, who has now gone to the Waverley Hotel at Aberdeen, is now to be conducted by Mr. Aitken.   Mr. James Reid, who carried on business as a fruiterer etc., has gone to Alford, where he has gone into partnership in a general merchant’s business.   Mr. A. McHattie, a native of Portsoy, has come from London to reside amongst us, and has taken over the bakery establishment so long carried on by the late Mr. John Peterkin and latterly by Mr. James Reid who has left for the south.   The grocery shop on the Square, recently occupied by Mrs. Hogg, has been opened as a butchery establishment by Mr. Alex. Grant from Keith.


10th. November 1923

WAR MEMORIAL  – The War Memorial was unveiled.


Banffshire Journal, Tuesday, September 30th 1924: -

THE NEW TOWN HALL – Mr. Alex. McKimmie was appointed caretaker at the new Town Hall  (expected to be completed early in the New Year.)


Banffshire Journal, Tuesday, August 26th 1924: -

SALE OF MINTY’S HALL   – Captain George Mair, Eden Cottage, the proprietor of the hall in the Square has been in communication with the officials of the Salvation Army for some time and the outcome is that they have agreed to purchase the hall as a meeting place for the Army in the future.


Banffshire Journal, March 19th 1925:

MARTIN’S BRAE AND MARTIN’S BRIDGE  – Mr. Alex. McKay, cattle dealer, purchased the property on Aird Street, so long known as the Martin’s, and giving the name to the brae from the Aird Burn to the turnpike road, locally known as Martin’s Brae.”

Note: – The bridge was also known as Martin’s Bridge. This road has been out of use for a considerable time-it becoming dangerous when part of the road slipped down the bank.)


Banffshire Journal, Tuesday, April 7th. 1931: -

A SALE  – There were exposed for sale on Wednesday the property, plant and stock-in-trade belonging to Messrs. McDonald aerated water manufacturers.  The event created considerable interest and the attendance represented a large area.


Banffshire Journal, Tuesday, September 18th 1934: -

IMPROVEMENTS TO AIRD BRIDGE – At the meeting of Banffshire Road Board last week, instructions were given to the county clerk to send, in the name of the Board, a letter of thanks to Lady Seafield’s Trustees for their grant, free of charge, of the necessary area of ground for the support of the extended and improved Aird Bridge at Portsoy and for branch roads.


Banffshire Journal, Tuesday, October 9th 1934: -

IMPROVEMENTS TO AIRD BRIDGE  – Meeting of Portsoy Town Council Harbour Authority – There was submitted a letter from the County Road Surveyor that in the operations for the widening of Aird Bridge he would be glad to have stones and sand from the harbour if these could be spared.  It was agreed that sand and old rubble from Culbert St could be given and it was remitted to Mr. Strathdee and the surveyor to examine the stones taken from Tom’s jetty and decide on what could be sold and the price.


Banffshire Journal, Tuesday, October 9th. 1934: -

DEMOLISHMENT OF THE “RITCHIES” – The Harbour Authority of Portsoy Town Council agreed that the old building at the Old Harbour head, known as the “Ritchies” should be taken down and the material sold, excepting the lintel with the Seafield Arms, which would be given to Mr. Samson, who had expressed the wish to have it.


Banffshire Journal, Tuesday, January 29th, 1935: -

OLD BUILDINGS – Following a complaint by one of the adjoining proprietors, the Town Council at their last meeting decided to take down the old buildings at the old harbour and a start has been made with men from the Public Assistance office on the house at the bottom of North High Street.   It is regrettable from a sentimental point of view that one of the old landmarks peculiar to the place is to disappear.   It is one of the picturesque buildings of old time with its two arches at the entrance and it must have been of considerable importance in its day.  The history of the house is apparently lost so far as local information is concerned though no doubt the records at Cullen House would provide some facts about it. Artists visiting Portsoy for many years have found it worth while sketching it and there must be many copies of these to be found up and down the country.

The other building built on the “Ritchies” is the oldest in the town and on the lintel over the doorways there is the date 1696.  From old natives it is gathered that it belonged to the Earl of Findlater and was used by that family.


Banffshire Journal, Tuesday May 21st 1935: -

MUNICIPAL HOUSING  – In the matter of housing provision the burgh has a commendable record to its credit in the post war years.  It was one of the first to take advantage of the 1919 Act, which may be said to have inaugurated the era of municipal housing, the first venture being the erection of two blocks of two houses each at the top of Church Street.  Then in 1927 under the 1924 Act, three blocks of four houses each was built at the end of Cullen Street on what is now called Park Crescent.  Also under the 1924 Act, eight blocks of bungalows, with two houses in each block, were erected in 1931, continuing the line of the first three blocks and stretching from the Marble Quarries right up to Campbell Hospital.

At present under the slum clearance Act of 1930, there are under construction three blocks of four houses each, at the Westerwards site (Park Road) and these are now approaching completion.   Thus altogether between 40 and 50 new dwellings have already been provided by municipal enterprise.


Banffshire Journal, Tuesday, October 15th. 1935: -

SWIMMING POOL FOR PORTSOY – At a meeting of the recently constituted Swimming Pool Committee for Portsoy, held on Thursday, Mr. D. Leys presiding, further arrangements were made for putting into effect the scheme for the provision of a pool at Sandy Pots.

The Clerk, Mr. W.D. Christie, submitted a letter from Mr. David T. Samson stating that with reference to the scheme submitted for the laying down of a swimming pool at Portsoy on that part of the sea coast known locally as Sandy Pots, he now granted on behalf of Lady Seafield’s Trustees permission for the erection of two small walls enclosing an area extending to approximately 60 square yards.   Formal entry would be at the term of Whitsunday 1936 and a nominal sum of 5s. per annum would be payable to the Estate proprietors, the first payment falling due on Whitsunday 1937 for the year proceeding.  As was customary in similar circumstances this permission was granted during the pleasure of Lady Seafield’s Trustees.

He would be glad to know if the Committee accepted these terms and conditions, and if they did so, they could have immediate entry so that the work of constructing the walls might be proceeded with.

Mr. Philip said he thought they should accept these terms and conditions, and it was agreed to do so.

Mr. Leys said it had been previously brought up that an executive committee might be appointed for the carrying on of the work, and he suggested that the six gentlemen who had come forward to guarantee the amount up to £300 should comprise this committee.   This was agreed to, and it was decided that Mr. Strathdee be also appointed.  It was agreed that the work be carried out by Mr. W.A. Donald, mason, Bloomvale.  It was also agreed that a meeting be called of all interested in the scheme, when other means of raising money would be discussed.


Banffshire Journal, Tuesday, February 14th 1939: -

FIRE  – One of the most serious outbreaks of fire experienced in the town for some time occurred on Wednesday (8th July) at Park House, No. 3 Durn Road, occupied by Mr and Mrs. John MacDonald.   It was discovered early in the afternoon by a neighbour who saw smoke issuing from the upper part of the building.  The alarm was raised, and a large band of people quickly assembled, willing to render every assistance they could.   The Town’s fire hose was brought into use, but it was soon evident that more fire-fighting appliances were essential and a call was sent through for the trailer-pump from Banff.  When this arrived, with a complement of firemen, a line of hose was run from the main at Seafield Street.

By their concerted efforts, the fire-fighters succeeded in confining the outbreak to the upper part of the house, but the roof crashed in before the blaze was got under control.  The building is adjoined by other houses but, fortunately, the fire was kept from spreading to them.   One of the two bank employees who had lodgings with Mr. and Mrs. MacDonald lost everything except a set of bagpipes and the clothes he was wearing, but the other was able to save his belongings.


The Third Statistical Account of Scotland – 1961:  -

THE MEAL MILL  – In the centre of Portsoy, there is a very modern milling establishment, known as Ewing’s Mill, giving work to a considerable number of townsfolk.    Originally in 1850, this building was used as a bone mill, in 1888 oatmeal was made there and in 1900, fertilisers.  In 1930 the mill was extended and new machinery installed for the manufacture of oat flakes, and again in 1940 further new buildings were added when the production of compound feedings stuffs were introduced.


July 1970.

DURNHYTHE  – HOME FOR THE ELDERLY – Officially opened by Mrs. T.L. Gordon-Duff, Drummuir Castle, Keith.


Thursday, 28th. September 1989: -

MEMORIAL UNVEILED NEAR SITE OF BANFF AIRFIELD  – A Memorial erected to the memory of the airmen who lost their lives whilst stationed at Banff Airfield was unveiled by Group Captain Bill Size, former Commanding Officer of 248 Squadron, RAF, Banff.

One Response to fp 2.2 – Commerce and Buildings – 1880-2000

  1. Doris Slater Finnie

    Thank you for hoards of intetresting informatio0n on the town .I always wondered when Cambbell Hospital was opened- 1904.That was only 31 years before I was born & now there is a possibility of demolishinh it.I pray someone comes along to buy & restore it It should be preserved just like some other old buildings were.

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