A Brief History

Strathpeffer owes its growth and popularity to the discovery of sulphurous springs here in the 1700s. Dr Thomas Morison from Aberdeenshire widely publicised the healing powers of the waters in the early 1800s. The springs were originally in the open but were later fenced off before a more permanent building was erected in late 1818, in time for the opening of the 1819 ‘season’.

 

With the strong support of the then Countess of Cromartie, the village developed as a Victorian spa resort, its accessibility greatly enhanced by the opening of the Dingwall and Skye Railway in 1870 and then later the Strathpeffer branch in 1885. Grand hotels and substantial Victorian villas were built to accommodate the steady stream of visitors who came to take the waters.​ These improved facilities meant that Strathpeffer could compete with other spa towns in Britain and Europe. Until World War I the village was a major international visitor destination but thereafter its popularity declined. It continued to attract visitors between the wars but on the outbreak of World War II the spa buildings and many of the hotels and villas were requisitioned by the armed forces. The lower pump room building was not derequisitioned until 1948, by which time it had fallen into some disrepair.

The baths complex was demolished in 1952 but the Upper Pump Room, next to the Pavilion, still remains.It now houses a range of interpretive displays, which reveal the history behind the development of the Spa.

 

 

 

In the late 1950s, due to the rise in popularity of motorcar and coach travel and to changes in tourism trends, Strathpeffer once again became a destination in its own right.

 

 

In the 1960s and 1970s the Pavilion was a venue for popular weeknight cabarets and weekend dances, of which many locals retain fond memories.  The village has once again re-established itself as a holiday destination with the renovation of the Pavilion, Pump Room and Gardens.