Descriptive Gazetteer Entry for Fochabers

Fochabers, a small town in Bellie parish, NE Elginshire. It stands, 140 feet above sea-level, on the right bank of the Spey, 4 miles above its mouth, and 3 miles E by N of Fochabers station, in Speymouth parish, on the Highland railway, this station being 6¼ miles ESE of Elgin and 11¾ WNW of Keith. Its present site is an elevated gravel terrace in a deep wooded valley, but it stood in the immediate vicinity of Gordon Castle till the close of last century, when, to i prove the grounds of that noble mansion, it was rebuilt on the line of road from Aberdeen to Inverness, about a mile farther S. The ancient market-cross still stands in the ducal park. A handsome three-arch bridge, 382 feet long, that spans the Spey here, was partly swept away by the great flood of 1829, which raised the river nearly 9 feet above its ordinary level. The town has a quadrangular outline, with central square and streets at right angles one to another; presents a neat, well-built, and modern appearance; serves as a business centre for a considerable extent of surrounding country; communicates by coach with Keith and Portsoy; and has a post office, with money order, savings' bank, insurance, and railway telegraph departments, branches of the Union and Aberdeen Town and County Banks, a branch of the Elgin Savings' Bank, a penny savings' bank, 9 insurance agencies, an hotel called the Gordon Arms, a county police station (1869), a reading-room and library, and a gas-light company. Thursday is the day of a weekly corn market; fairs are held on the third Thursday of January and February, the fourth Wednesday of March, the fourth Thursday of April and May, the first Thursday of July, the second Wednesday of August, and the first Thursday of October and December; and sheriff small debt courts sit on the Saturday after the second Monday of February, June, and October. Bellie parish church, on the S side of the square, is a handsome edifice of 1797, with a portico and a spire. Other places of worship are a Free church, a Roman Catholic church (l828), and an Episcopal church, which, built in 1835 at a cost of £1200, was, at a further cost of over £2000, internally restored in 1874. The antiquary, George Chalmers (l742-1825), and William Marshall (1748-1833), whom Burns styles ' the first composer of Strathspeys of the age,' were both born at the old town. Milne's Free School arose from a bequest of £20,000 by Alexander Milne, another native, who died at New Orleans in 1838. Opened with great ceremony in 1846, it is a splendid edifice, finely situated, and comprises a hall (58 by 22 feet), 4 other classrooms, and a rector's dwelling-house. It is conducted by a rector, an English master, an arithmetic and writing master, and a mistress-all appointed by a body of directors, and, with accommodation for 723 children, it had (1881) an average attendance of 336, and a grant of £284, 2s. The town is a burgh of barony, governed by a baron bailie under the Duke of Richmond and Gordon. Pop. (1841) 1135, (1861) 1149, (1871) 1227, (1881) 1189.—Ord. Sur., sh. 95, 1876.

(F.H. Groome, Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland (1882-4); © 2004 Gazetteer for Scotland)

Linked entities:
Feature Description: "a small town"   (ADL Feature Type: "cities")
Administrative units: Speymouth ScoP       Moray ScoCnty
Place: Fochabers

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