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Strathpeffer Spa Pavilion

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Strathpeffer Spa Pavilion, 2005
Strathpeffer Spa Pavilion
© Roger McLachlan

Strathpeffer Spa Pavilion lies in the centre of Strathpeffer in Easter Ross, on the eastern side of the A834.

Opened towards the end of the 19th century, the pavilion enjoyed many years of success as an entertainment venue, and was used during both World Wars. Although it returned to public use after the war, dwindling visitor numbers to the area saw it abandoned for some 25 years, until it was restored in 2004.

History

Pavilion and bandstand, 2011
Pavilion and bandstand
© Colin Smith

Built in 1879 at a cost of £2,769, the pavilion was officially opened by the Duchess of Sutherland (First Countess of Cromartie, Anne Sutherland-Leveson-Gower) in 1881. The building served as a grand hall in the Victorian spa village and became the centre of entertainment for locals and visitors, hosting concerts, dances, and cabaret. As a spa village, where the spring water was said to have health giving benefits, many came to drink the water, and those visitors included both royalty and members of high society, referred to as "the Quality" by locals.

Famous speakers at the venue included the prominent suffragette leader Emmeline Pankhurst, the explorer Ernest Shackleton, and the aall hosted performances and lectures given by the Irish dramatist and political thinker George Bernard Shaw.

During World War I, many building in the village were requisitioned by the military, and the pavilion served as a hospital for the US Navy.

The military returned to the area during World War II, once again requisitioning many of the buildings.

The building was returned to public use after the war, but like many of the resorts on the Clyde coast, suffered the effect of cheap package holidays to sunny destinations abroad, and falling visitor number during the 1970s saw it struggle for survival into the 1980s. Although it gained a temporary reprieve when it became the venue for a succession of well-known rock bands, both the hall and the village declined in popularity as a destination. The building lay almost completely unused for some 25 years, deteriorating and with its decorative verandas boxed. However, a fund-raising campaign led to its rescue, and the pavilion was taken over and restored by the Scottish Historic Buildings Trust. It reopened in 2004, at a time when tourism has returned both to Scotland and the local area, and has become a popular venue for art exhibitions, weddings, conferences, and other events.

Buyout proposal

In April 2013, the pavilion's directors proposed that the building might be bought out by the local community, and organised a public event to hear local views on the proposal. At the time, it was owned by the Scottish Historic Buildings Trust.[1]

In 2014, pavilion staff will mark the 10th anniversary of its rescue and refurbishment.

General Manager Andrea Muir said: "As we look forward to our 10th year since re-opening, I feel it is vital that we use this opportunity to take stock and fully engage with our audience. Only by doing this will we be able to devise a clear plan for the future. The reason for conducting this research is to ensure that this iconic and well-loved venue continues to have a vibrant and prosperous future and continues to benefit as many people as possible."[2]

References

1 Historic Building Preservation, Scottish Historic Building Preservation Trust Retrieved April 19, 2013.

2 Buyout plan for historic Strathpeffer Pavilion Retrieved April 19, 2013.

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