Tain Places


Tain Tolbooth

The original Tolbooth was demolished after storm damage in 1703 but its bell, cast in 1630 by a Flemish bellmaker, Michael Burgerhuys, and an inscribed fragment of 1631, survive.  The two-storey tower of the Tolbooth has angle bartizans and is topped by a squat, conical, stone steeple crowned with a weathercock.  The round-arched ground floor entrance was created in 1848-49 when the tower was linked to the Courthouse by Thomas Brown, probably incorporating the 1840s prison cells built by A & W Reid.  The clock faces and retaining parapet were added in 1877.


The entrance to the Rose Garden.
 As part of their 9th Centenary Celebrations in 1966, Tain Burgh Council decided to construct a commemorative garden on what was formerly grounds, lying below the High Street, belonging to the National Commercial Bank. A competition was held for ideas which was won by Geoff Van Weegan. The design and work on the garden was carried out by the Burgh Surveyor's Department. The ground was terraced and four rose bed areas were laid out, separated by paths and surrounding a sun dial (now gone), donated by local contractor, Mr. Alex Morrison. 900 roses (one for each year of the town's history as a Royal Burgh) were supplied and planted by Cocker's, Aberdeen, and the garden was officially opened by the Queen Mother who came to the burgh to open the 9th Centenary Celebrations. Although at first an admired asset to the town, drainage and soil problems and perhaps a decline in maintenance once the old Burgh Council was replaced by a more remote body, have seen a marked deterioration in the garden in more recent times. Plans are in the pipeline for the garden to be redeveloped but await the necessary funding.

Tain Features


The Triangle before surgery.

The Triangle, Cadboll Place
A small triangular open space is situated where King Street and Stafford Street meet. The road on two sides forms Cadboll Place and the third side is part of King Street. The Triangle was renowned for the large old chestnut tree that occupied its centre and a copper beech planted in 1935 to commemorate King George V’s Silver Jubilee. Sadly, during 1999, a large limb of the chestnut tree broke off necessitating further surgery which inevitably changed the character of the Triangle, so it was decided to clear the area under the trees of all the shubbery, resow it with grass and plant daffodils to make a nice show in springtime. Hopefully the chestnut tree will recover in time and regain its former glory.


The Triangle after surgery.


Horse trough, Shore Road

At the top of Shore Road at the junction with Academy Street is an old stone horse trough which was mainly used by horses pulling the carts which collected goods from the railway station and delivered them to the shops and elsewhere. It was presumably placed where it was to refresh the beasts after their long haul up the hill from the station. It fell into disuse when the two horses were replaced by a lorry after the second world war. In more recent times it has served as a flower planter during the summer, supplementing the town's other floral displays.


Layout of The Links.


The Links - looking towards the pond with the children's play area in the distance.

The Links is a large area of recreational open space esconced between the railway and the shore, part of which was created from a rubbish dump. At one end is a football pitch and pavillion used by Tain St Duthus FC. At the other end, next to the old cemetery, is a tree lined path called Robertson Avenue, named after “Shake” Robertson, a local chemist. Between this and another line of trees is the former swing park, now replaced by a small fenced off play area on the other side of the trees. Almost half way between these two lies the boating pond, no longer used. Formerly the links provided a cricket pitch, a pitch and putt course, a putting green, a clay pigeon shooting range and was occasionally used for motor cycle rallying. More recently, the Links have been used by the annual Tain Gala, the annual visit from Hercher’s Funfare and hosted the first Tain Highland Games since WW2 in August 1993. It is a popular place for people exercising their dogs. 


The Links, looking towards the football pitch end.


Gallow hill.

Situated next to the football pitch on the Links, Gallow Hill was indeed, as its name implies, used for public executions. The last one took place in 1762 when, Katherine Ross, a young mother, was hanged for the murder of her child. In more recent times it was surmounted by a flagstaff but that has now disappeared. Today it is still occasionally used for rolling Easter Eggs and, when weather conditions permit, for sledging.


The Alexandra Suspension Bridge.

The Alexandra Suspension Bridge gives access, by foot only, to Tain beach from the Links near the mouth of the River Tain. It was manufactured in 1902 by Rose Street Foundry, Inverness. It is much used by local people especially dog walkers. Immediately over the bridge is a small round hut (the “Top Teerie”) which provides a welcome seat and shelter.


The Murray Monument and the bust of Kenneth Murray.

The Murray Monument was erected, in 1879 at the cost of £700 (collected by public subscription), to the memory of Kenneth Murray of Geanies who had been a very popular Provost of Tain. Among other deeds, he helped finance the restoration of the stonework of the old collegiate church in 1870. The monument stands in the High Street overlooking what is now the Rose Garden but was formerly the grounds of Commercial Bank of which he had been an agent. It is of Gothic design. Its spire, pinnacles and gables are decorated with crockets and finials. The marble bust under the central arch was sculpted by T S Burnett, a young Edinburgh sculptor.


The top end of Cunarder Lane.

An alternative name for Cunarder Lane in the recent past was 'Lavy Lane' because of the old public toilets (now replaced) situated at the top entrance to the lane. These toilets were referred to as the 'Cunarder' and have since given the name to the lane itself. No one seems sure of the origin of the name 'Cunarder' but it has been suggested it was named after one of the Cunarder Liners being launched at the time the toilets were constructed. It certainly seems a plausible explanation. This lane is on the east side of the Rose Garden and links up the High Street with Kirksheaf Road and Chapel Street. Part way down the lane there is a recess in the wall that borders onto the Rose Garden which resembles a fireplace. It has been suggested that this was perhaps used by unemployed men during the depression years.


The fireplace recess.


The bottom end of Cunarder Lane.


The Rickety Steps

The rickety steps are situated off Ankerville Street just a little way beyond Knockbreck Street and link Ankerville Street to the Kirksheaf Road. The actual steps negotiate the steep raised beach scarp giving way about threequarters way down to a gravel path once the slope slackens off.


The Woody Braes from the golf course.


The Woody Braes from Kirksheaf Road.

A small wooded section of the raised beach cliff on the south side of the Inver/Portmahomack road, where it crosses the slope diagonally on its way down onto the Fendom , is known locally as the Woody Braes although it is shown on an old six inch map as the Little Wood. It is a mixed wood of chestnut, fir, sycamore, lime and beech and the ground is covered with bluebells and primroses in spring. In the past, when children still went out to play, it was a favourite haunt of youngsters for gathering wild flowers and chestnuts and there would always be one or two ropes hanging from branches of the larger trees.


Quebec Bridge from the south side.

 
Quebec Bridge probably took its name from Quebec Cottage located nearby. This cottage was built by a person with the surname Hogg on his return from Canada having fought at the Battle of Quebec. Hogg seems to have come originally from somewhere on the Moray Firth coast. It is not clear why he decided to settle here but he was supposed to have brought a hoard of coins with him from Canada. When he died it was believed that the residue of this “fortune” was hidden somewhere in or around the cottage but has never been found. One legacy he definitely left behind was the name “Quebec” which remains not only in the bridge and the cottage but in Quebec Avenue which lies off Scotsburn Road which led directly to Quebec Bridge before the by-pass was built splitting Scotsburn Road into two sections.

[Information supplied by Ken Mackay, the present owner of Quebec Cottage, June 2001.]


Quebec Bridge c.1920 and after reinforcements in 2001.


Bank House, Tower Street

Bank House is a category B listed two-storey building dating from 1845. The architect, George Angus, constructed it of ashlar sandstone under a pitched and slated roof. It has fine features: moulded architraved windows, deep moulding eaves, cornices, string coursing and a classical pilastered entrance doorway to the front elevation. Internally, the rooms have ornamental moulded ceiling cornices in the main reception rooms, panelled doors with moulded surrounds, deep wall skirtings and shuttered windows.

The property was originally constructed for the British Linen Company (founded 1746) who were active in Tain from the time of their incorporation. In 1969 the British Linen Bank was taken over by the Bank of Scotland who subsequently relocated their Tain branch from the High Street to the Tower Street property. In 1995 the house was sold to Mr Derek Louden, with the Bank of Scotland continuing to operate a branch on the Tower Street site from an adjoining banking hall.
[DWL 26/5/99]
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