Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Grampian Hotel, Dalwhinnie

I'm a great fan of 1930s art deco architecture and here's a fine example which is sadly no longer with us: the Grampian Hotel at Dalwhinnie on the A9 between Perth and Inverness:-


The second floor was a later addition as this earlier postcard from another angle demonstrates:-


The Grampian Hotel stood on the road to the station at Dalwhinnie, just off what was the old A9 through the village by-passed since the late 70s. The hotel was still standing relatively recently as you can see it on Google Earth imagery dated 2005:-


But it had gone by the time the Google Streetview car was driving round in 2008/2009:-


I'm sorry to have missed it. Except for the snippet that apparently Barbara Cartland regularly stayed there, there's frustratingly little information about the Grampian Hotel available online - you'd normally expect the demolition of an art deco building to have generated quite a lot of interest

Anyway, the Grampian Hotel was one of a number of road-side hotels built in the 1930s to capture trade from what was, at the time, the relatively new-fangled but growing craze of motoring. They were a sort of new generation of coaching inns and also a sort of previous generation of motorway service stations and "travel lodges". The A9 itself was considerably upgraded in the late 1920s in response to the growth of road traffic having been little changed since General Wade built it as a military road in the mid 18th century.

Another example of a hotel built in the 1930s in response to the growth in motor traffic is the the Bridge of Orchy Hotel, although this was built in a more vernacular style of architecture:-


A new hotel was necessitated here by the realignment of the A82 between Tyndrum and Glen Coe in the early 1930s carrying it round the east end of Loch Tulla and by-passing the centuries old coaching inn at Inveroran at the west end of the loch. (Happily, in more recent decades the Inveroran Inn has gained a new lease of life from walkers on the West Highland Way which follows the line of the old A82 past its front door).

Some other examples in art deco style are:-


The Royal Stuart Motor Hotel on the old A9 just south of Inverness, like Dalwhinnie by-passed by the new A9 since the late 70s. I remember this when the old A9 still went past its front door in the early 70s on our way to family holidays in Wester Ross - passing it meant we were nearly at Inverness and thus at a significant waymarker on what was at the time a long, long drive from Edinburgh. The RSMH is still very much in business today as the New Drumossie Hotel

As you'd expect, there are some good examples along the A8 between Edinburgh and Glasgow. Going from east to west, first, there's the Maybury Roadhouse in Edinburgh situated at what, in the 1930s, would have been one of the most important road junctions in Scotland - straight ahead on the A8 for Glasgow; middle fork for the A9 to Stirling (this was where the A9 used to begin before it was cut by the building of the "new" runway at Edinburgh Airport in the mid 70s: now it's just the road to the airport cargo terminal); and right up Maybury Road to take you to the A90 at Barnton for Queensferry.

Maybury Junction in 1945
Fittingly, Maybury Road and the Roadhouse were named after the engineer Sir Henry Maybury who designed the road in the late 1920s as part of a scheme to bring Edinburgh's road network up to date for the motor era. The Roadhouse is now a casino:-

Maybury Roadhouse - photo credit Pete Cracknell





Further west on the A8, at Whitburn, there's a building I don't know the original name of except that it's now the Royal Regent Cantonese Restaurant:-


Like the A9, the A8 was also re-engineered in the late 1920s/early 1930s to meet the demands of the new motor age. Although built as a single carriageway, the verges and bridges were built wide enough to accommodate a future upgrading to dual carriageway. In fact this never happened and the M8 motorway was eventually built in the 1960s along a different line but you can see this all in the extract below from Google Earth. The Royal Regent is the building at the top and the 1930s A8 is the road coming in diagonally from top right - note its wide verges and the equally wide "ghost" bridge over the River Almond just left of the roundabout. The M8 runs along the bottom.

Further west still on the old (1930s) A8 before it was by-passed by the motorway is the splendid Newhouse Hotel.


Note the petrol pumps to the right emphasising the establishment's importance to the motorist. The Newhouse Hotel is still in business as a Premier Inn, although recent alterations have masked its art deco features somewhat:-


And finally, back in Edinburgh, another building in the same genre is the Hillburn Roadhouse on Biggar Road (A702 to Biggar and Abington) on the edge of the city in Fairmilehead. Like the Maybury, it was not built as a hotel but as a bar-restaurant catering to passing motorists. More recently it was known as the Fairmile Inn but has been empty and vandalised for a number of years.


Well, I've strayed quite a long way from the Grampian Hotel at Dalwhinnie - and nowhere near a kyle or a Western Isle - but if you know of any other 1930s or art deco "roadhouses", wherever they may be, then do leave a comment.

7 comments:

  1. mikefromwilpshire@yahoo.comJuly 26, 2011 at 11:44 AM

    Hi Neil and Carol
    The Crook Inn, Tweedsmuir dates to 1604 but has a wonderful 1938 Art Deco extension. For pictures see: http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/805025
    Also http://www.ajbhope.net/crook-inn/
    It was under threat of development into apartments but planning permission refused. I do not know whether it has reopened.
    mikefromwilpshire@yahoo.com

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  2. I'm very sad to see this go... I have a wonderful line drawing of the hotel in an architectural book - and always thought I must visit the building at some point. There more on the net about the hotel and some pictures:

    http://www.dalwhinnievoices.org.uk/picture/number38.asp

    http://www.dalwhinnievoices.org.uk/picture/number94.asp

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  3. Nice to see a picture of the old hotel at Dalwhinnie. Used to be a frequent stop for a pint on the way to weekend climbing trips in the Gorms back in the 70's; and before setting off on a walk to Fort William one sunny February! Not what we expected at all.

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  4. Hallo Neil, this morning I was searching for some pics of the Grampian Hotel. When I stumble over your bloc. We cycled along this Hotel several times. And by sheer coincidence present when they tore down this beautiful building. If you are interested let me know, we have 3 pics. 1 it was still standing in august 2002; 2. Tore down in June 2005 and 3 the new situation in 2012.
    By the way the landlord of this restaurant has a book with some pics and history of this remarkable hotel. I had made some pics of it sadly, I can’t find them. But if you contact the landlord I’m sure he will help you. With regards John

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  5. Hallo Neil, this morning I was searching for some pics of the Grampian Hotel. When I stumble over your bloc. We cycled along this Hotel several times. And by sheer coincidence present when they tore down this beautiful building. If you are interested let me know, we have 3 pics. 1 it was still standing in august 2002; 2. Tore down in June 2005 and 3 the new situation in 2012.
    By the way the landlord of this restaurant has a book with some pics and history of this remarkable hotel. I had made some pics of it sadly, I can’t find them. But if you contact the landlord I’m sure he will help you. With regards John

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  6. There is quite a detailed description of the Grampian Hotel in the novel "Conquest in Scotland" by Berkeley Gray (first published 1951) and the author mentions it is "an oasis of modernity", the food "excellent", "service irreproachable". There's more than this but I'm not sure how much space I have here. Pleased to have found this blog. Best wishes from NZ - Valerie.

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    1. Thanks for that Valerie. I don't think you're limited as to space on comments here, so feel free to add more quotes from the book.

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