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Map of Newtonmore village

OS grid reference : NN715995

Council area: Highland

Country: Scotland

Sovereign state: United Kingdom

Postcode district: PH20

Newtonmore (Scottish Gaelic: Baile Ùr an t-Slèibh) is a village in the Highland council area of Scotland. It is located in Glen Banchor and has a population of around 1000. The village is only a few miles from a location that is claimed to be the exact geographical centre of Scotland. Newtonmore railway station is managed by First ScotRail and is on the Highland Main Line.


Early Settlement

Archaeology in Glen Banchor has uncovered evidence of prehistoric settlement. There is a burnt mound on the south bank of Allt Coire Shiaraidh near the remains of the old township called Dail an Tullaich. There is a ninety-five foot long mound or burial cairn which has not been excavated, so there is no data on the purpose or date of this artefact.<ref> (accessed 245th June 2014)</ref>

About 900 metres from Shepherd's Bridge on the west bank of Allt a' Chaorainn, on the summit of a 397 metre elevation, is the remains of a double palisaded enclosure. This feature is also the site of a prominent landmark known locally as Johnny Blair's Garden.<ref> (accessed 245th June 2014)</ref>


In Pictland, the river would often give its name, or that of a feature of it, to the glen or part of it, through which it ran.<ref> (accessed 25th June 2014)</ref>

Glen Banchor, therefore, is named after the long bend in the river at the Luib, above the village - A Beannachar is a horn-shaped reach of a river bank and was a favourite place for siting a monastic cell, or monastery.<ref> (accessed 25th June 2014)</ref> There was a chapel in Glen Banchor dedicated to St Bridget of Kildare (gaelicised as Cladh Bride), whose saint's day is 12th February.<ref> (accessed 25th June 2014)</ref> There was a long standing convention that there would be no grinding at the mill on that day. The present church in Newtonmore, built in 1960, is also called St. Bride's.<ref> (accessed 25th June 2014)</ref>

By 1841 there were eight townships in Glen Banchor, the ruins of which can still be seen marked on OS maps - Easterton, Westerton, Dalvalloch, Dalchurn, Lurgan, Milton, Croft Couneach, and Luib.<ref> (accessed 25th June 2014)</ref>

Construction of the Village

Newtonmore is a relatively recent village, and before the 19th century there are no records of a settlement there. However changing transport routes led to the creation of the village. Following construction of the new Spey Bridge in 1756, the bulk of the traffic by-passed Ruthven, where a ferry had to be used to reach Kingussie. <ref> (accessed 25th June 2014)</ref>

With the new road joining the Drove Road from Laggan to Fort William, 4 or 5 houses were built along the north side of the new road between the River Calder and Allt Laraidh.<ref> (accessed 25th June 2014)</ref> Due to land clearances in the wider area people moved to the growing hamlet and constructed dwellings. The settlement was originally known as 'Strone-muir'.<ref> (accessed 25th June 2014)</ref>

Coming of the Railway

The Highland Railway arrived in Newtonmore in 1863.<ref> (accessed 24th June 2014)</ref> Before this the village had already become an active centre for trade due to its location at the meeting of the drove roads from Perth, Fort William and Inverness.<ref> (accessed 24th June 2014)</ref>

The railway opened up the Highlands as a fashionable holiday destination, especially for the wealthy. Newtonmore was promoted as somewhere where healthy Highland air and water could be found.<ref> (accessed 24th June 2014)</ref> The construction of the Highland railway north of Perth was costly and difficult, with substantial natural obstacles to overcome.<ref> (accessed 24th June 2014)</ref>

Nineteenth Century

Queen Victoria as a young woman

Over the years, the village continued to grow in popularity as a holiday destination and as a venue for 'sporting' recreation. The large local estates encouraged the gentry to come and indulge the fashion for Huntin' shootin' and fishin'.<ref> (accessed 24th June 2014)</ref>

The Royal seal of approval was given to the area by the frequent visits first of Queen Victoria, then latterly of King Edward VII. Queen Victoria passed through, and often stayed in, the area. On one occasion, the Royal party broke their journey and stopped for the night at the then staging inn at Dalwhinnie. When they asked for supper they were extremely disappointed to be served "two starved chickens".<ref> (accessed 24th June 2014)</ref>

Despite this episode, Victoria was said to have been considering the area for her Highland retreat. However she eventually chose Deeside due to a perception there were less midges present there in summer.<ref> (accessed 24th June 2014)</ref>

It was during this period that many of the large houses in Newtonmore were built, initially as 'shooting lodges', by wealthy visitors from the south.<ref> (accessed 24th June 2014)</ref> Grouse and Stag shooting, along with fishing for trout and salmon are still a big attraction and continue to bring revenue into the area.<ref> (accessed 24th June 2014)</ref>

World Wars

As was the case with much of the Highlands, the First and Second World Wars had a devastating effect on the economy of the village. The loss of so many of the male population so depleted the workforce that a lot of traditional sources of employment collapsed and were lost.<ref> 25th June 2014)</ref> The main source of income, tourism, drastically declined. Agriculture also suffered through lack of a workforce, especially crofting. <ref></ref>

Post War Depression and Depopulation

Lack of employment led to many younger residents leaving to seek work. One effect of this was that the Glasgow Police Shinty Team was almost totally comprised of men originally from the Highlands.<ref> (accessed 25th June 2014)</ref> The village and surrounding area suffered from depopulation. Following the Second World War, economic pressures and then changing fashion led to the abandonment of many of the 'gentry' holiday homes in the area and with them the retinues of staff which they had employed. <ref> (accessed 25th June 2014)</ref>

The A9 Bypass

The Old A9 passing through Newtonmore

In the late '60's and early '70's the most influential factors in the area were the development of the new A9 road and the continuing efforts being made by official organisations to attract more of the modern light industries.<ref> (accessed 24th June 2014)</ref> The new road led to a significant reduction in traffic through the village. The road did lead to a reduction in trade in the village, however. <ref> (accessed 24th June 2014)</ref> The village benefited from the initiatives of the Highlands and Islands Development Board in the years following the building of the bypass, such as through establishing small light industries. <ref> (accessed 24th June 2014)</ref>

A number of tourist attractions were developed in the village such as the Aviemore Mountain Centre. However the village economy has continued to suffer the effects of passing trade being diverted by the bypass.<ref> (accessed 24th June 2014)</ref>


Train at Newtonmore Station

Newtonmore is served by the main Perth- Inverness railway, which originally opened in 1863.


Newtonmore Shinty Team
  • Shinty - The town is renowned for having a shinty team, Newtonmore Camanachd Club, which plays at The Eilan next to the River Calder.
  • Walking - Newtonmore calls itself the "Walking Centre of Scotland", referring both to its geographical location and to the great walking opportunities locally, like the Wildcat Trail.
  • An extension to the Speyside Way could soon add Newtonmore to a Long Distance Route and it will become the new end to this trail.
  • Golf - Newtonmore has a golf course on the banks of the Spey.
  • Bowling - The club is open to visitors. It has regular competitions with other clubs in Badenoch and Strathspey and with clubs from Perthshire and Aberdeenshire.
  • Mountain Biking - Lots of trails in the local forests and tracks on the surrounding hills.
  • Fishing
  • Shooting