MHG55626 - Spa Buildings, The Square, Strathpeffer


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Type and Period (1)

  • SHOPPING PARADE (Built, 19th Century - 1841 AD? to 1850 AD? (at some time))

Protected Status

  • None recorded

Full Description

This row of shops dates back to the 1840s (Murray 1985). Though externally little altered, internally the layout of the shops has changed considerably. On the OS 1st and 2nd edition maps (1876, 1906), the Post Office was located at the west end of the block, though it is now at the opposite end. It originally had a clock above the front window. In a postcard, dated 28 Sep 1909, 14 staff are lined up in front of the PO (Uncles 1998, 27). Next door to the PO was George Souter (Stationer), then T Wellwood Maxwell (Pharmacy).
Mr Wellwood Maxwell had a darkroom in the flat above the pharmacy and his photographs, in the possession of Mrs M. Spark, include several of the Spa Buildings. These photographs date from between 1900 and 1910. The earliest of these, dated c. 1900, shows that it was occupied by (from west to east) the Post Office; T Wellwood Maxwell, Hughan and Co., Fishmongers, Hughan and Co. Grocers and W. Mackenzie and Sons, Provisions and Wine Merchant. Later photographs show different names above the shops. One shows, from west to east, the PO, H. Beaton ‘Stationer and Tobaccanist’, T. Wellwood Maxwell, J. E. Adams, ‘fishmonger’, and D. F. McLeod, ‘Italian Warehouseman’.
Another shows that the former PO at the west end was occupied by A. Cross, ‘Draper and Clothier’, with the Pharmacy next to it and then A. Humphries and Co. (the rest of the block is not visible).
In one photo, there is a chimney facing the front of D. F. McLeod’s shop at the very east end of the block. This was removed during renovations in the 1970s and replaced with a door.
Duncan Finlayson remembers the shops from the 1920s. Again from west to east they are:
1) The end shops which changed uses frequently, but included a Ladies’ woollens shop run by Mrs MacDonald of Croftcrunie and a hairdresser at the back run by Muriel MacDonald. Later Miss Agnes Fraser who had run the newsagent took over the woollen goods. It then had a variety of occupants.
2) A. & M Fraser Newsagent, Stationer, Books and Tobacconist, run by sisters Agnes and Molly Fraser, and later their nephew Donald.
3) Pharmacy run by T. Wellwood Maxwell and then Mr Barnie.
4) Adams fruit and vegetable shop, run by Mr & Mrs Adams and sister-in-law Mrs Johnstone.
5) The current double shop was joined in his time, and included a grocery, but mainly the bicycle repair and parts run by Mr & Mrs Humphrey.
6) D. F. MacLeod, Grocer, and later in the 1930s the shop passed to Mr Smith he thinks. The entrance was at the corner on the eastern side. Domestic quarters were behind the shop at shop level and upstairs.
See attached documents for Duncan Finlayson’s memories of the shops and the people who ran them in the 1920s.
The date the Spa Pharmacy opened is not known, but it was there in the 1890s, when taken over by Mr T. Wellwood Maxwell. Prior to that Mr Wellwood Maxwell had been the manager, and a messenger boy is known in 1883. The prescription books go back to the 1890s. The pharmacy was originally two shops: a butchers closest to the PO (then at the west end of the block) and a pharmacy in the other, but they were knocked together, probably in the 1890s. The dished butchers slab was found under the most westerly window sill when the two shops were renovated in the 1980s. The pharmacy was taken over by Sandy Barnie in 1936 and was sold to William Bolton (Margaret Spark’s father) in 1958. Margaret Spark sold the pharmacy in 2001.
In a sales prospectus for the Strathpeffer Estate, dated 1949, the shops from west to east were respectively a wool shop (Miss M. A. Fraser), a Booksellers and Newsagents (also Miss M. A. Fraser), the Spa Pharmacy (Mr Alexander [Sandy] Barnie), a Fruit Shop and Grocer (Mr J. E. Adams) and a Licensed Grocer and General Merchant (Mr J. George Smith).
Miss Agnes Fraser with her sister Molly originally ran just the Booksellers and Newsagents, but later also took over the wool shop. She was still running the wool shop into the late 1960s or early 1970s. Miss Fraser drank a bottle of spa water a day. Her nephew, Donald, ran the booksellers and newsagents (‘The Paper Shop’).
Up until the 1980s the building was green and white, not black and white - and Miss Fraser resisted the loss of the ‘Spa colours’.
The flats above the shops were accessed by a door at the east end of the block. There was a row of sheds at the back of the shops, used as a sweet factory in the 1950s.

Information from Duncan Finlayson, Margaret Spark, Kitty Campbell, Jennifer Haslam, and Fiona Newton, ARCH Remembering Strathpeffer Project, 2011.

Messrs John D. Wood & Co., 1949. Strathpeffer, Ross-shire. The Holiday Resort of the Northern Highlands. Part of the Strathpeffer Estate. For Sale by Auction as a Whole or in Lots
Murray, D., 1985. Victorian Strathpeffer. A walk around this unique highland village. Inverness
Uncles, C. J., 1998. Easter Ross and the Black Isle. Ochiltree: Stenlake Publishing. <1>

Sources/Archives (1)



Grid reference NH 48351 58205 (point) (GPS derived)
Map sheet NH45NE
Geographical Area ROSS AND CROMARTY
Civil Parish FODDERTY

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