Pitlochry Gazetteer entry from 1895

Black spout

From the Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland (New Edition) edited by Francis H Groom and published in 1895 by William McKenzie of London

This is a direct reproduction of the entry on Pitlochry, from this most remarkable six-volume reference on Scotland – possibly the most comprehensive and useful guide to Scotland ever produced.  Although it describes the Pitlochry that George Forbes new and decided to make his home, it is striking how little has changed.  Of course the physical features are the same and hiring markets and gas works have gone.  But there are still two distilleries and a manufacturing tweed merchant and the structure and station of the Highland Railway have survived a turbulent century unscathed.  The rifle volunteers practice range is still evident, now a private house opposite the entrance to The Observatory.  And the hydros have now become simple hotels – albeit still occupying commanding positions.


“Pitlochry, a prosperous village in Moulin parish, in the western parliamentary division of Perthshire, is situated on the left bank of the river Tummel, and has a station on the Highland railway, six and three quarter miles SE of  Blair Athole and 12 and three quarter miles NNW of Dunkeld. Partly from its position, in the midst of and near most romantic and picturesque spots in Highland scenery, and partly from its healthy situation and salubrious climate, the village annually attracts a large number of tourists, visitors, and invalids. Its development, which, as the which as the census returns show, has been considerable, is entirely; due to its two qualifications of picturesque situation and healthy climate. In the immediate vicinity are BEN VRACKIE (2757 feet), the pretty little waterfall known as the BLACK SPOUT, the village and castle of, MOULIN, the Falls of TUMMEL, the junction of the Tummel and the Garry, the Bridge of Cluny, and the Pass of KILLIECRANKIE; while only a few miles off are BLAIR ATHOLE, Falls of BRUAR, Loch Tummel, KIRKMICHAEL, ABERFELDY, DUNKELD, and other celebrated spots. A considerable number of houses for letting purposes have been built of late years, and Pitlochry has long ranked as a favourite summer resort. Thc most important provision for visitors has been the erection of two hydropathic establishments, the Athole and the Pitlochry.

The village consists mainly of one street, built along either side of General Wade’s highroad between Dunkeldand Blair Athole, but at the little bridge ,which spans a small burn tributary to the Tummel near the centre of the village another road leads uphill to several newer and shorter rows of houses. Till lately, Pitlochry had no Established church nearer than Moulin, though services were conducted in what is now the public school. But in 1884 there was erected, on an elevated site, a neat chapel of ease in the Norman-Gothic style, which cost £2000, and accommodates 468 persons. On an eminence E of the church is a Celtic cross (1889) to Dr Alexander Duff (1806-78), first missionary of the Church of Scotland to India, and afterwards of the Free Church, who was born in a neighbouring farmhouse. The neat Free church, on the slope overlooking the main street, was built to supersede the older structure raised at the Disruption in 1843, about a mile to the N, and afterwards used as a school. At the SW end of the village is the Gothic Episcopal church of the Holy Trinity (1858; enlarged, 1890; 200 sittings). A Baptist church, with 300 sittings, was erected in 1884.

The Athole hydropathic establishment is a very large and striking building, and occupies an elevated site to the S of the town, commanding a lovely and extensive view. It was built in 1875 at a cost of over £100,000, and it is surrounded with tastefully laid-out grounds, extending to between 30 and 40 acres; access is obtained to it by an avenue which gradually ascends from the lodge on the level of the public road, and in it accommodation is provided for about 250 visitors. The Pitlochry hydropathic establishment was opened in 1890, and commands all extensive view of the surrounding country.

Pitlochry has a post office, with money order, savings bank and telegraph departments, branches of the Commercial and Union banks, and the Bank of Scotland, a savings bank, two hotels, and a gasworks. The railway station is both handsome and commodious; lawn tennis courts were opened in 1883; and a pretty fountain has been erected in the town to the memory of Colonel Butter, yr. of Faskally, who died in 1880. There are also the Atholl Horticultural Society, a company of rifle volunteers, a bowling club, reading and refreshment rooms, and recreation grounds; while in 1894 the first steps were taken towards the erection of a public hall and of the Barbour Institute buildings.

Though at one time spoken of as a centre of trade for Perthshire N of Strathtay, Pitlochry has but little commerce. There are fairs for cattle and horses on the Saturday before the first Wednesday of May, and on the third Wednesday (o.s.) of October; and for sheep on the third Tuesday of August. There are two distilleries, two sawmills, and a small tweed factory. An addition to the water supply was introduced in 1892 from Altassen Burn at an expense of; about £3000.

Pop. (1841) 291, (1861) 334, (1871) 510, (1881) 777, (1891) 1136, of whom 647 were females and 287 Gaelic-speaking. Houses (1891) inhabited 211, vacant 17, building 4.

Though now possessing comfortable and elegant houses, Pitlochry at no distant period was a mere rude Highland village, with only some two or three slated houses. Prince Charlie, on his way to Culloden, is said to have occupied what was at the time the mansion- house of the Pitlochry property.

The parochial registers, whose first entry is dated 1707, mention that owing to the presence of the rebel army in 1745-46, public worship was suspended for several Sundays.

The modern prosperity of the place dates from about 1845, when the Queen visited Blair Castle. Sir James Clarke, the royal physician, was struck by the character of the air and climate of the place, and began to prescribe to his patients a residence at Pitlochry. It is related that on one occasion one of the neighboring landowners went to London to consult Sir James Clarke, and was assured of a cure if he spent some time at Pitlochry or its neighborhood! Sir. James Simpson, of Edinburgh, was also convinced of the wholesomeness of the air of Pitlochry.”

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