Muchalls - A Health Resort!


The most noticeable objects from the (Muchalls) hotel are the Villa of Rockville, belonging to John Williamson, Esq., situated in tastefully laid out and well kept grounds, and, at a higher elevation, Stranathro Cottage, a pleasant residence, from the terrace in front of which a magnificent sea view is obtained. Other cottages are scattered about, and the Government buildings, used as a station for the Coast Guard, are a prominent feature of the group. Kept in a perfect state of order and cleanliness, and occupied by picked men, all of whom have seen service afloat, they convey a sense of security to the neighbourhood. About half-a-mile to the westward are seen the Episcopal Church of St Ternan, of which the Very Rev. Wm. Hatt, Dean of the Diocese, is Incumbent, the Parsonage, the Post Office, Merchant's Shop, &c., and further still, the handsome Parish Church of Cookney, erected some years ago through the exertions of the Rev. James Taylor, the learned and respected Clergyman, and others deeply interested in the district.

The village of Stranathro, hid by the Coast Guard buildings, was until lately occupied almost entirely by fisherman, and sent five boats to sea - the crews numbering in aggregate about thirty men. It is an object of interest, being the first of a series of villages, with which the coast is studded, to be raised from a condition quite unfit for human habitation to a state of comfort and sanitary excellence. The position of this village, past and present, was fully described in a paper "on the sanitary condition of the population engaged in the fisheries on the North-east Coast of Scotland," prepared by request and read before the Health Department of the National Association for the Promotion of Social Science, held at Aberdeen in 1877, by the writer of this article, under whose direction and supervision the works had been carried out. These were undertaken by the Land Committee of Dr Milne's Trustees, then Proprietors, and were of a radical nature, including the rebuilding of almost the whole village, the remaking of roads, introduction of water, and a thorough system of drainage.

A complete change in the conditions regulating the great Fishing Industry, which has of late years taken place, was then manifesting itself, and the old practice of curing haddocks on spits in the corner of the living room was giving way to the modern system of wholesale manufacture at the large ports. The introduction of Steam Trawlers and Liners, bringing large supplies of deep sea fish, concentrated the trade in these ports. Fish came to be sold by auction and consigned by the purchasers, in a fresh state, to the southern markets, or by curers as "Findon Haddocks." Thus the migration of fishermen from the villages to Aberdeen or Stonehaven became a matter almost of necessity, and was hastened by the dislocation of crews consequent on the secession of individual members. It therefore happened that, after everything possible had been done for the comfort of the Stranathro fishermen, they found themselves obliged, by force of circumstances, to leave their model village and take up their abode in less commodious but, for business purposes, more convenient quarters. Their houses, left empty, were soon filled by landward tenants, and in one or two instances, by Aberdeen merchants, who anxious to breath fresh air and look out on the ever-changing sea, fitted them up in a suitable manner. For a few months in summer all available accommodation is quickly secured, both in the village and elsewhere, every apartment in the Hotel is engaged, and it only remains to provide additional house-room to have it immediately occupied.

Before leaving the interesting subject of the fishing population, and as Muchalls is being noticed in its relation to health, it may not be out of place to quote the concluding paragraph of the paper mentioned previously as having been read before the Social Science Congress.

"A better class of houses and proper sanitation arrangements have had a marked effect on the character, energies, and social relations of the fishermen on the East Coast. It is interesting to observe the anxiety often expressed that, as each succeeding home is erected, it should in some detail, excel that which preceded it. A taste of home comfort is, with every man, a powerful rival to the public house, and a strong incentive to industry and frugality. I am satisfied that, as their material prosperity has increased, intemperance has sensibly decreased among our fishing population."


Muchalls on the Kincardineshire Coast - A Health Resort
By William Paul

Muchalls - A seaside health resort