Station Hotel

In 1881 there was a newspaper announcement in the Aberdeen Free Press, declaring that a new hotel was to be built at Muir of Ord. The architect was John Robertson of Inverness and the site was on the estate of Lord Lovat, behind the railway station. The new hotel was to be a two storey building, with dressed front, oriel windows and porches. Entering by the main door, leading to a spacious vestibule on either side of which are other rooms. On the left hand side a large coffee-room with folding doors to allow it to be divided into two parlours. At the end of this room was a restaurant and taproom. A back wing contained the kitchen and sculleries and upstairs there was one parlour and ten bedrooms. By 1884, when the hotel was up for sale, it was advertised as being frequented by Farmers and other residents of the district, especially during the monthly market. There had also been a seven-stalled stable, coach house, stable loft and corn room attached. Part of the hotel had been adapted for a general shop or store.


Duncan McIver (1882-1885)

The license granted to Mr Duncan Maciver, Muir of Ord, on the 18th April, 1882, by the Justices of the Peace for the retail of liquor, was unanimously confirmed.

M MacKenzie (1885)

John Forbes(1890-1896)

John was born around 1853 in the Inverness area. He was 38 at the time of the 1891 census and was living at the Station hotel with his wife Agnes Bannatyne from New York. It is unclear where they married  but they came to Muir of Ord in 1890 from the Mason Arms, Dingwall.

1891 Census: All staff born in Urray

Catherine McDonald               26                    Servant

Isabella Fraser                             22                     Servant

Alexander Downling                19                    Servant

John died in 1896 and the license was transferred to his wife. Agnes remarried in 1898. Her second husband was Alexander Mackintosh an assistant estate factor.


M MacKenzie (1885)


Alexander MackIntosh (1898-1905)

Upon marriage, the Alexander and Agnes remained at the hotel until 1906 until they moved to the Royal Station Hotel, Forres in 1906. Agnes died at Struy Inn in 1914.

1901 Census: All staff born in Kilmorack (Urray)

Bella McPhail                          20                    Servant)

Maggie Fraser                         21                    Cook, Domestic

James Lobban (1905 – 1908)
James Lobban was originally from Turriff Aberdeenshire. At the time of his marriage to Eliza Angus in 1864, he was recorded as a farm servant.
Moved from the Commercial Hotel, Dingwall where he has been since 1895. Previous to that he had been a tenant of a public house on Batchen Lane in Elgin. The longest place James and his family ever stayed was land Street, Keith from 1875-1895. The couple had four children but none of them were living with them by the 1901 census where they had six members of staff living with them at the Royal Hotel on Hill Street.
James and Eliza took over at the Station hotel in 1905 with Eliza dying the following year. James remarried widow Catherine Stephenson in 1908 and the couple moved to the Shore Inn, Fortrose. They may have been at the Avoch hotel for a short time, but they had moved to the Dores Hotel by the 1911 census.
James died at Dores in 1930.

John Mackenzie (1911)

John Mackenzie moved to the Station Hotel with his wife Colina and daughter Christina in 1911, from the Strontian Hotel on the Ardnamurchan peninsula where Christina had also been born. Both John and his wife, Colina were from Gairloch and had married in 1906 at Grantown on Spey. Sadly, John became unwell and his tenure at the Station Hotel also finished in 1911.

1911 Census: Staff were born at Dingwall, Fodderty and Urray

Jessie Mackenzie                    15                    Nurse (Domestic)

Jessie Munro                           23                    Hotel Waitress

Bella Stewart                           18                    Kitchen maid


Duncan Matheson (1911- 1915)

Donald MacDonald (1920)

Donald MacDonald was born at Nigg in 1870. By the time he was 20, he was one of fourteen servants working at the Sutherland Arms Hotel at Lairg where he was recorded as being a waiter. He is almost unfindable on the 1901 census, but may have been a gardener working on an estate at Lhanbryde, Moray, which is entirely possible as his father was also a gardener.  He married Isabella Pirie of Forres in 1903, where he was recorded as being a hotelkeeper and a spirit merchant on the birth of his first child in 1905 and a publican in 1906. Their next three children were born at Dingwall and Conon Bridge.

The family had moved to the Conon Hotel in 1910 and were still there in 1913 when Donald’s father died. The trail runs cold during the war years, however by 1920, the MacDonald family had bought the Station Hotel in Muir of Ord. A stay that was to last for over thirty years. In 1940, the hotel was once again up for sale. Donald died in 1943, shortly after he learned of the death of his youngest son. Isabella continued to run the hotel well into the 1950’s with the building coming up for sale again in 1951. The post war years saw the hotel being used for several local weddings and social functions including Burns Suppers. Isabella died at the hotel in 1955, aged 83 years.


MacDonald Children:

Isabella was born at Forres in 1905 and died the same year.

Jane Anderson was born at Forres in 1906. She was married in 1935 at Inverness to Alexander Fair and she died at Edinburgh in 1983.

Donald Low was born at Dingwall in 1908. He was married in 1939 to Margaret Forbes, daughter of William Forbes of Forbes Grocer’s and Bakery, Muir of Ord. At that time, Donald owned the Ord Arms Hotel. He died suddenly in 1951, aged 42 years.

Duncan Fraser was born at Dingwall in 1910. He joined the bank. He was married in 1945 to Margaret Muriel Morris at Gloucester. By 1946, the couple were living at ‘The Moorings’ in the village. He died in 1971. 

James Alexander was born at Conon Bridge around 1914. He trained as a motor mechanic with MacKay Brothers, Dingwall, before joining the R.A.F. in 1940.Joned RAF 1940. He was killed following an accident in 1943. He was reported to have been amongst the best test pilots at that time. The fact that James is buried in the family plot at Urray, which indicates he died in the UK.

It is believe that the British Transport Commission took over several hotel  after 1948 but this requires further research. The hotel did return to private ownership possibly around 1981 and the hotel closed in 2000. The building has now been converted into private homes. 

Page created on 26 June 2024

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