The Father of Scottish Tourism

Picture of The History Series

The History Series

In this collection of carefully researched blog posts, our resident historian (and wonderful Office Manager) Kay Jackson delves into the stories that shaped our buildings, and the buildings and communities around them.

Vintage image of Fochabers High Street

Speyside Business Centre is a reasonably new addition to Fochabers’ environs, particularly in comparison to some of the fine historic buildings which make up this distinctive 18th Century planned village. Although its features have a more modern architectural character, the Business Centre can boast an interesting past due to the grounds it stands in. This area – the eastern ‘policy’ of the village – formed part of the Gordon Arms Hotel’s extensive orchard and gardens, which included a number of outbuildings and stables for their patrons’ horses. Here, they were able to grow a good deal of the produce required to feed hungry guests. Coaching inns were a vital part of the country’s inland infrastructure, providing a resting point for people and horses. Being as self-sufficient as possible for the hotel kitchen was a definite advantage.

The Gordon Arms Hotel served the carriage trade for many years until the railway brought a new kind of visitor to the area … the tourist! There is one family which became synonymous with the hotel industry during the 18th and early 19th Century. James Edgar Senior was a local farmer but his son, also James, had an enterprising spirit and he eventually took over the running of several key hotels in the area, including Edgars Hotel in Forres, the very grand Gordon Arms Hotel in Elgin and the more rustic Gordon Arms Hotel in Fochabers. James’ interest in promoting the best Moray had to offer by way of quality food, drink and accommodation brought the whole family into the hotel business over the years, helping him run these fine establishments. By far his proudest achievement was in 1897 when he purchased the grand Craigellachie Hotel, which served the great and the good when coming to Speyside to enjoy the magic of River Spey fishing or to go hunting in the nearby hills. He even developed a stagecoach service to transport his guests from the railway station in style.

Many family names of historical interest are celebrated in streets and lanes around Elgin, so I wonder if Edgar Road is attributed to this particular family.

Today’s generation of the family, now far flung across the globe, has paid special tribute to their forefathers by highlighting this important legacy in the Spey Gardens, which form an extension to the Famous Fochaberians Memorial Garden on the banks of the river, quite near to Speyside Business Centre. You can discover a lot more about other famous forefathers of Moray by visiting these beautiful gardens.

Vintage photo of the Craigellachie Hotel in Speyside