Dr Sheila Sedgwick is a local historian who has written several articles on aspects of the history and folklore of Royal Deeside. In 1998 she wrote an article on the development of Ballater in the 19th Century. This article is re-produced in the attached pages. A few minor changes have been made in order for the article to be divided up into sections suitable for presentation on the internet. Some of the material overlaps with other articles in this history section and some links have been included.
On this page a brief outline of the formation of Ballater is given. Since its beginning just over 200 years ago Ballater appears to have two periods of rapid expansion. The first was between 1850 to 1880 after Queen Victoria bought Balmoral Castle and the the railway arrived in Deeside. The second has been ongoing since about 1990 as many people see the town as a fine place for a holiday and for retirement.
A village is born
The land on which Ballater stands and the land to the east around Tullich once belonged to Farquharson of Inverey, but the last laird, James, wishing to possess land on Donside, exchanged property with the Farquharsons of Monaltrie, who were at the time based at Crathie. At the time of the Jacobite rising of 1745 the laird was Francis Farquharson of Monaltrie, the ‘Baron Ban’,. He raised troops to fight for Bonnie Prince Charlie but was captured at Culloden, imprisoned and then exiled in England for nearly 40 years before being allowed to return.
Just before 1745, an old woman suffering from scrofula or tuberculosis of the lymph nodes, was said to have had a miracle cure. Elspet Michie had been bathing in and drinking water from the Pannanich wells. When Francis Farquharson returned from imprisonment in England he developed the Spa. At the same time he built himself a new home, Monaltrie, in the shelter of Craigendarroch. Visitors flocked to the Spa and they need accommodation. But there was little land on the south side of the river suitable for building, the nearest suitable land being the flat plain where Ballater now stands.
The ferry just could not cope and a bridge was built over the Dee in 1783. A 'Centrical Church', replacing those at Tullich and Glen Muick, was erected on the bare moor and feus were granted for the land in 'Ballater' by Francis, and later by William Farquharson of Monaltrie. The whole area by the Dee, known as Sluievannachie, was at that time covered with heather and broom and was a public resting place for droves of cattle on their way to southern markets. On the north west corner of the moor was a ford for cattle to cross on their way to Mount Keen or the Capel Mounth.
Ballater would not have come into being but for Pannanich Wells, "-beinn an acha", the hill beside the river. Surprisingly, in a Kirk Minute Book there is a copy of the regulations to be observed at the "Spa" and a price list. There was a certain amount of local employment, caring for guests and their horses. (Years later, the famous John Brown, subsequently servant of Queen Victoria, worked at Pannanich as an ostler.)
Ballater developed slowly at first and when Queen Victoria came to the throne in 1837, Ballater was still a little village, 'far from the madding crowd'. But after she and Prince Albert had bought nearby Balmoral Castle and the subsequent arrival of the railway in 1861, Ballater expanded rapidly. In 1840 Ballater had 271 residents: by 1871 the number had risen to 694, with 154 inhabited houses. When Queen Victoria died in 1901 it was a prosperous centre with a population of 1256, attracting visitors from all over Britain and even further afield.
|Top of Page|
|Introduction||A History of Royal Deeside||The Deeside Railway||The Old Military Road||Old Kirkyardst|
|Queen Victoria and Royal Deeside||John Brown, Loyal Servant||Francis Farquharson||Lord Byron, poet||Alexander Gordon|
|Macbeth and Braemar||Braemar Gathering and Highland Games||History of Braemar||Clan Farquharson||Bridges of Ballater|
|19th Century Ballater||History of Dinnet area||Aboyne History||Aboyne Wartime Poetry||Aboyne Great War Records|
|History of Dinnet||History of Tarland||Scott Skinner, the Strathspey King||Glen O' Dee Hospital||Brunel's Bridge|
|AA Box 472|
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