A historical perspective, drawn from the Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland: A Survey of Scottish Topography, Statistical, Biographical and Historical, edited by Francis H. Groome and originally published in parts by Thomas C. Jack, Grange Publishing Works, Edinburgh between 1882 and 1885.

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Lossiemouth, a small coast town in Drainie parish, Elginshire, at the mouth of the river just described, and by rail 5½ miles NNE of Elgin, of which, as well as of a considerable part of the district, it is the seaport. It consists of three different villages, Lossiemouth proper, Branderburgh, and Stotfield. There is a port of ` Lossy, otherwise of Spynie, ' mentioned in the Chartulary of Moray in 1383, but it was very probably farther up the river than the present site. It was then as now the port of Elgin, and the reason of the mention is a dispute as to the rights of the bishop and burgesses. The bishop seems to have prevailed, and the mouth of the river became a pertinent of the estate of Kinedder, and thus remained till near the end of the 17th century. In 1698 the town of Elgin feued from the then proprietor of Kinedder, Brodie of Brodie, about 80 acres of bare gravel and sand, at a yearly feu-duty of £2, 1s. 7d., and a harbour was constructed; and streets and cross lanes, all at right angles, were regularly laid out round a large central square, in which is the sadly dilapidated town's cross. The feus measure 120 by 180 feet, and are held at a very low rate. They were, so long as the old harbour remained, readily taken off, though since the erection of the new harbour many of the fishermen prefer Branderburgh, and the earlier village is now known, sometimes, as the Old Town. The original harbour was within the mouth of the river, and cost £1200 previous to 1780, but the entrance was very inconvenient on account of a bad sand-bar, which could not be got rid of, notwithstanding the effort made- to increase the scour of the river by the erection of another pier on the opposite side of the river in that year. As business by and by increased-particularly the herring fishing, which was first tried in 1819-the accommodation became very insufficient, and in 1834 a Stotfield and Lossiemouth Harbour Company was formed for the purpose of making a new harbour at Stotfield Point, away from the mouth of the river and the bar altogether. This was a rectangular basin, mainly cut in solid rock, and protected by a breakwater on the N. The work was carried out between 1837 and 1839, and the rubbish was flung on the shore. The stones thus thrown down have been gradually carried westward by a strong in shore current that sets in that direction. and now extend along the shore for fully ½ mile, forming a ridge- 40 feet wide at the base and about 10 feet high. The harbour was again enlarged, deepened to 16 feet at spring tides, and otherwise improved in 1852, when railway comnunication with Elgin was first opened, and during the next eight years trade again increased, and such large numbers of herring boats began to fish from the place, that the directors of the company-now the Elgin and Lossiemouth Harbour Company-extended the breakwater to the SW, and, at a cost of £18,000, formed- a large new basin, intended entirely for boats. The herring having, however, gone off the coast, the number of boats frequenting it has fallen from 120 about 1868 to some 30 at present, so that the operations have not been at all a financial success, and the curing stations are mostly deserted. The rising-ground W and SW of the harbour is known as the Coellard Hill (124 feet), and along the slopes of this since 1830 the village of Branderburgh has sprung up, Colonel Brander of Pitgaveny, the late proprietor of the ground, having, in that year, built a house there for himself-the first, and for seven years the only one erected-close to the present entrance to the boat basin at the harbour. The change of harbour favoured the rise of the new village, and within the next thirty years the number of inhabitants had become early 1000. This village is also regularly laid out, with the streets at right angles and a large central square. To the W and N of the square the houses belong to fishermen, and are substantial and mostly very tidy buildings. To the S there are a number of villas occupied by the business men connected with the place, or belonging to the inhabitants of Elgin, who make this a summer resort. Stotfield is along the coast to the SW, and contains a number of villas used as summer residences. It has a boat-building yard, and, close by, the rocks [See Elginshire] contain galena, efforts to work which to profit have been made on many occasions, from 1790 downwards, but hitherto without success, though a shaft was sunk in 1876-77, and stamping malls subsequently set up. To the E of this is the Branderburgh Baths, containing a swimming bath and other accommodation, the water being pumped from the sea. Originally constructed by a joint stock company in 1873-74, they have since been sold, and are now in private hands. The beach below Stotfield, in Stotfield Hythe, forms excellent bathing ground, and is much resorted to by visitors. The village was, on 25 Dec. 1806, the scene of a sudden and terrific gale, in which almost all the fishermen belonging to the place were drowned within sight of the houses. There are fine views of the Sutherlandshire and Ross-shire hills, both from Stotfield and the Coulard Hill. The Established church at the W of the Old Town, with 300 sittings, was erected in 1848, and is a chapel of ease for the parish of Drainie, which in 1792 was in what the writer of the Old Statistical Account evidently thought the happy position of having ` no lawyer, writer, attorney, physcian, surgeon, apothecary, negro, Jew, gipsy, Englishman, Irishman, foreigner of any description, nor family of any religious sect or denomination except the Established Church. ' In the beginning of 1884 it was proposed to erect near the town a new church for the parish of Drainie. The Free church (l844), with 500 sittings, is a short distance to the N. The original U.P. church was further to the E, and was the oldest church in the village; but a new one was erected in 1881. The Baptist church dates from 1870. Lossiemouth school, close to the Free church, was originally built as a General Assembly school, but on the passing of the Education Act was handed over to the school board of Drainie. Funds are being raised for the erection of a town-hall. The industries are mainly those connected with fishing and shipping, and there are quarries of good sandstone along the edge of Coulard Hill. From these large numbers of specimens of the reptiles found in the ` Elgin Sandstones ' have been procured. They are noticed in the article on the county of Elgin. A lifeboat has been stationed here since 1866. The Police and General Improvement (Scotland) Act was adopted in 1865, and an excellent water supply was introduced in 1877 at a cost of £4340. The supply is taken from an excellent spring in a deep well to the E of Lossiemouth proper, from which it is pumped by steam to a circular iron reservoir, containing over 6000 gallows, on the top of the Coulard Hill, and thence distributed over the place. There is frequent railway communication with Elgin by the Morayshire railway, since 1881 a branch of the Great North of Scotland railway system. The principal imports are coal, salt, timber, pavement, and slates, and the principal export pit-props. Pop. (1831) 580, (1861) 2285, (1871) 2620, (1881) 3497, of whom 1831 were females, whilst 1888 were in Branderburgh, 1129 in Lossiemouth, 277 in Seatown, and 203 in Stotfield. Houses (1881) 655 inhabited, 16 vacant, 4 building.—Ord. Sur., sh. 95, 1876.

An accompanying 19th C. Ordnance Survey map is available, or use the map tab to the right of this page.

Note: This text has been made available using a process of scanning and optical character recognition. Despite manual checking, some typographical errors may remain. Please remember this description dates from the 1880s; names may have changed, administrative divisions will certainly be different and there are known to be occasional errors of fact in the original text, which we have not corrected because we wish to maintain its integrity. This information is provided subject to our standard disclaimer

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