Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Drummond Arms Hotel Crieff And Our Neglected Heritage







Like most  citizens of Crieff , I am pleased  that the Crieff Community Trust are making  strenuous  efforts  to save  the rapidly deteriorating  Drummond Arms in the centre of the town . The Community Right To Buy legislation is a useful tool  that has been added  to the statute  books and has  already proved successful particularly with the crofting communities and of course nearby Cultybraggan.

The present Drummond Arms  is a comparatively modern building  being Late Victorian having been  designed  by David Rhind  and built between 1872 and 1874 . The building  which predeceased it was The Drummond of Perth which was noted in the post Jacobite era as a popular  social centre for the local gentry of the time . Prior  to this Bonnie Prince Charlie held  a war council in all probability in premises  to the rear of  the Drummond whilst  staying at nearby Ferntower House en route to  the disaster that was Culloden .

The present state of the building is  due  to the total neglect of the last two decades. A  feasibility study and cost analysis was  carried  on the building a year or  so ago by Crieff Hydro , the town’s largest employer , into the possibility of  the  conversion of the building into flats  . They  chose  not to proceed  . The practicality of  developing the Drummond for  community purposes  remains,  as yet, to be answered .  It my well be that a façade  retaining frontage with  a purpose  built interior is the solution but that is for the professionals  to consider in due  course .

Crieff  recently  hit the headlines  when it emerged  that  air  pollution  by traffic in the centre of the town had reached  crisis point and we understand that the local authority  have now designated the area an Air Quality Management Area .History really  told us of this  eventuality many  moons ago . A Public Enquiry was held in 1958 by the old Perth County Council into a proposed  relief  road or by pass  for the town . The then Planning Officer James McGavin stated that  unless  this  was implemented it  would  result in total traffic chaos within twenty years ie 1978 .Some fifty six years  later , the good  citizens of Crieff are blighted by unacceptably excessive traffic  on the A85 . This is  the main east to west trunk road for Central Scotland which literally bisects  the town and  destroys much  of the ambience of what in by gone  days  was known as the Montpelier of Scotland . Surely the time  is nigh to act without further prevarication.

History is  not  kind  to the heritage of Strathearn . We have lost in the last  hundred or so years great buildings such as Abercairney, Ferntower and  Inchbrakie . We have  neglected the protection  and publicising of  one of Scotland’s great abbeys Inchaffray at Madderty . We have on our  doorstep the oldest Roman frontier in the World namely the Gask Ridge . We have unearthed a fascinating Neolithic  past in the excavation  of the Cursus  on the site of the Strathearn Campus . Both these  have seen  tremendous archaeological investigation  by dedicated teams . As an area very  much dependent on tourism we must  ensure that a positive  approach be adopted  to  saving what we can and  developing the future .


1 comment:

  1. Hello C/Col:
    Came across your blog-site on Old Strathearn info.
    Most interesting,since I lived in that area ( mostly Crieff ) in the late 40's. I went to school at Morrison's Academy and had relatives in Comrie, Auchterarder and other places at that time.
    My grandparents lived in Glenartney ( Trian House ) and shortly after the outbreak of WW2 my sister and I were sent there to escape the bombing and associated dangers of the war. My grandmother also owned a property on Ferntower road - in the rear of the property was a shell of a vintage Crieff tram used as a garden shed. The seats were gone but the sliding door was still in place !
    Cultybraggan ( we would pass it on our way to and from Comrie from Trian) was always a mystery place to my sister and me ( we were aged about 4 and 6 then) - but two of the German POW's were assigned to re-landscape some of Trian's several acres, and redesign the rockery near the house, so we managed some friendly, if speechless, communication with them.
    We were strictly forbidden by our grandmother to talk to , or go near, 'the enemy' while they worked there ! So much for that.
    Crieff was laid out on a Masonic plan with the center being James Square.
    My grandmother's father Alexander Monteath* was one of the City Comissioners My grandmother spent her childhood at Broich House, a Victorian edifice, south of the town with a rather large conservatory - ( still occupied, but too dark and gloomy for my taste ! ) I think he was the original builder* - not sure.
    Perthshire is ( imo ) the most interesting and beautiful area in central Scotland, very classy in a subdued way.
    My grandmother's brother Sir Ruthven Monteath ( d. 1949) built Duchally House, Auchterarder.
    Now sadly, an ugly hotel with time shares - no elegance, although they had the good grace to name the restaurant ' The Monteath" . Can't vouch for the food, though.
    Sic Transit Gloria Mundi !!
    Yours aye .....
    Christian Martin.

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