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Lossiemouth in Moray

Welcome to Lossiemouth
sea air and golf in Moray.....!

Lossiemouth

Lossiemouth is a seaside town in a very attractive setting, which lies at the mouth of the River Lossie on the Moray Firth coast of Scotland.   Lossiemouth can be reached by taking the A941 road from Elgin, which is the administrative and commercial capital of Moray.   Lossiemouth had a resident population of 6,873 in 2001 according to the census of that year, but the population will have grown considerably in recent years as Lossiemouth, in common with many areas in Moray, has become a very popular place to live. 
 
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Formerly a busy fishing port, until the decline of the fishing industry in Scotland, Lossiemouth or Lossie as it is affectionately known to locals has been re-invented as a resort town, utilising its excellent situation on the Moray Firth to attract tourists and pleasure sailors.   This is not a total re-invention, as Lossiemouth was a popular Victorian Spa town, and some of the houses towards the west beach at Lossiemouth were built by wealthy merchants of the time for using as holiday homes.   Known now as the  "Riviera of the North", due to the closeness of the gulf stream and the exceptionally warm and relatively dry climate for the latitude, Lossiemouth has become popular once again and is attracting visitors from all over the world.
 
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Lossiemouth is on the Moray Coastal Trail which is a signposted walk from Forres and Findhorn to Cullen and which passes through most of the important ports and places of interest between these points, along the coast.  Lossiemouth has two beaches.   Both of these beaches at Lossiemouth are long and golden and are ideal for a coastal walk or a family day out.  

The east beach at Lossiemouth is accessed by way of a footbridge over the mouth of the River Lossie.  There are sand dunes along the first section of the east beach which were created artificially in the early 1900's by placing disused railway carriages behind the beach.   These dunes are an attractive feature, although their main purpose was to provide shelter to Seatown and that section of the River Lossie.   A fantastic view of this beach at Lossiemouth can be had from on top of the hill at Prospect Terrace.  
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 lossiemouth_lighthouse_at_covesea_from_the_clubhouse.jpgThe west beach at Lossiemouth is accessed by a narrow road near the golf course.  There is a car park at the beach.   This beach at Lossiemouth also affords beautiful views along the coast to the west and to the Covesea lighthouse, which was built by Alan Stevenson.   The first mainland light was shone from this lighthouse near Lossiemouth in 1846, at which time it was manned, and the lenses were turned by a clockwork mechanism.   The lighthouse is now fully automatic and is operated from the Northern Lighthouse Board's offices in Edinburgh.   Holiday accommodation is available at the old lightkeepers cottage near Lossiemouth, with bookings taken through the National Trust for Scotland.
  
There has been a settlement in the Lossiemouth area for over 1,000 years, although the town of Lossiemouth as we know it today is a more recent merger of the three communities of Stotfield, Seatown and Branderburgh.
 
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The early growth of the communities in the Lossiemouth area was due to a requirement for an alternative port for Elgin after the original port at Spynie ceased to be viable due to silting up over a period of time.   The sea loch at Spynie has now been drained totally, and the land reclaimed for farming.   The Spynie area is best known today for the ruin of Spynie Palace, which was built  around 1404 as a residence for the Bishops of Moray.   All of these historical details are expanded in our Lossiemouth history section, below.
 
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Lossiemouth is famous as being the birthplace of Britain's first Labour Prime Minister, James Ramsay Macdonald, 1866 - 1937.   He was born, in Lossiemouth, the illegitimate son of Anne Ramsay, a maid servant and John MacDonald, a farm labourer.   He was brought up in his Grandmother's house which can still be seen in Lossiemouth today.
  
 Lossiemouth Attractions and Amenities 
  
Day's out in Lossiemouth are enhanced by the variety of ice cream shops, cafes and restaurants in the town.   There are many other local attractions and amenities in Lossiemouth, such as various shopping facilities, the Lossiemouth swimming pool and a small theatre.
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Lossiemouth hosts a championship standard golf course at the Moray Golf Club, which was founded in 1889.   There are two courses at the club.   The first, established in 1889, is agreed to be one of the finest links courses in Scotland and was designed by Old Tom Morris.   The second, dating from 1979, reflects it's designer's (Sir Henry Cotton's) passion for precision golf and is a tighter but equally rewarding course.
 
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RAF Lossiemouth is the largest and busiest fast jet base in the Royal Air Force.   The station is home to three operational squadrons of Tornado GR4s, the Tornado GR4 Operational Conversion Unit and a Sea King helicopter search and rescue flight.   The base at Lossiemouth was built during 1938 and 1939 and in 1940 the station was handed over to Bomber Command.   During the war years the station at Lossiemouth was used primarily as a training unit for bomber crews, although some operational raids were launched; the most important being "The Dambusters" 617 Squadron's successful attack on the Tirpitz, pride of the German battle fleet, on 12th November 1944.   The station at Lossiemouth was handed over to the Fleet Air Arm in 1946 and became HMS Fulmar, RNAS Lossiemouth, from where training operations were undertaken until 1972 when the RAF returned and remain to this day.

 Lossiemouth is heavily dependent on the RAF station for its employment of civilians.   In 2005, RAF Lossiemouth in conjunction with its neighbour RAF Kinloss contributed £156.5 million (including civilian expenditure) to the Moray economy, of which £76.6 million was retained and spent locally.
  
 The Warehouse Theatre in Lossiemouth is one of the few venues hosting live music, theatre & comedy in the North East of Scotland, dedicated to promoting the arts at a local, national & international level.    Not only does this small Lossiemouth venue have a range of theatrical productions throughout the year, they also host live music events featuring a range of artists from the Gaelic, Celtic, Bluegrass, Country Rock or Latin Jazz scenes.
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 lossiemouth_marina.jpgLossiemouth Cruising Club sails from the marina in the once commercially busy harbour at Lossiemouth.  There are regular club and open races held throughout the season both from Lossiemouth and from neighbouring ports.
  
The Lossiemouth Fisheries and Community Museum is housed in a former net mending loft situated in Pitgaveny Quay, Lossiemouth. The museum gives an insight into the Scottish fishing industry past and present, and has the old lenses from the Covesea lighthouse.  It also contains a reconstruction of the first Labour Prime Minister, James Ramsay MacDonald's study from his Lossiemouth home.
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The Lossiemouth Community Centre and Swimming Pool is part of the Lossiemouth High School complex on Coulardbank Road.   The Lossiemouth Library can also be found on Town Hall Lane.
  
 lossiemouth_seatown_and_river_lossie.jpgThere are two caravan and camping sites at Lossiemouth.   Lossiemouth Bay Caravan Park is located near the footbridge at the east beach and at the other side of Lossiemouth, near the west beach, on the road to Hopeman, you will find the Silver Sands Leisure Park.
  
  
 Lossiemouth History 
 
Kinneddar

The earliest settlement around the area which is now Lossiemouth would have been in the area known as Kenedor or more recently Kinneddar.   These lands were for long held by the Bishops of Moray and it was here that they made a home before the great Palace of Spynie was built, resulting in the church becoming the cathedral.  

These indeed were early times, but this area can trace its Christian history back much further and it may be that Kinneddar was the site of one of the earliest Christian churches. Somewhere around the early 10th century a certain Celtic missionary , Gervadus or St Gerardine, took up residence in one of the caves near Lossiemouth on Holyman Head, and established an oratory at "Kenedor".   It is said that many seafarers lives were saved due to the light of St. Gerardine, whose lantern warned of the dangers of the rocks at the Halliman and Covesea Skerries around the headland.   Holyman head was named after the hermit, as are the Halliman Skerries.   Incorporated in the Lossiemouth coat of arms is the depiction of the saint patrolling the beach on stormy nights, ready to help those who had been ship-wrecked.   The hermitage was a place of pilgrimage up to the 16th century. It is said that the hermitage, no more than 4m square, had a Gothic window and doorway commanding a wonderful view along the East Beach and beyond to the lands of Speymouth. The hermitage was destroyed around 1768 when the cliff was used as a quarry.

After the death of St Gerardine in 934, a church was built.   It would have been replaced in 1666 when the parishes of Ogston and Kinneddar were united into a new parish called Drainie.   The Drainie parish church presumably used much of the stone from the old church in it's construction and some of these were retrieved after this newer church was demolished.   The parish church for Drainie was replaced by St Gerardines church at Lossiemouth in 1901 and the old church was finally buried under the RAF station at Lossiemouth during an expansion in 1953.  

Almost all the old Cathedral charters are dated "Kenedor in Moravia".   Bishop Richard is known to have resided in this area, but the castle or palace is said to have been rebuilt by Bishop Archibald (1253-1298)  The castle is presumed to have remained the residence of the bishops for at least another century.   In June, 1383 there is mention of Bishop Alexander Bur passing from his castle at Kinneddar towards the church at Urquhart.


Stotfield

The area of Stotfield dates back to at least the early 15th century, as depicted in early maps, but is thought to pre-date this period considerably.  It is understood that Stotfield or Stotfold (meaning "horse fold" in old English) may have been created by David I shortly after he put down a rebellion by the Mormaer of Moray in 1130.

In the middle ages, Stotfield was primarily a small farming and fishing community.   Fishing became the predominant industry in the area and the community earned a subsistence living for almost three hundred years.   They used small open boats with baited long lines and used their catch to barter with local farmers for vegetables and milk etc.   As time passed, their boats improved and grew in size, but not by much.   Around the beginning of the 19th century, there were twenty two men and boys fishing from Stotfield as well as another two fishermen at Seatown on the eastern side of what is now Lossiemouth.

On Christmas Day, 1806, twenty one fishermen put to sea from the small village of Stotfield.   The day was calm and fair, and boats from most of the fishing villages along the Moray Firth put to sea.   This included the complete fishing fleet of Stotfield which were three boats crewed by twenty one men, and almost the entire male population of the village.   By noon the fisherman were returning to shore and then, in sight of their families, "a violent and tremendous hurricane came from the West and Southwest", and carried the boats out in to the open sea.   Neither men nor boats were seen again, and left behind seventeen widows and forty nine fatherless children.


Seatown

Seatown was established at the end of the 17th century as a result of a requirement for a new port at Elgin.   The existing port at Spynie ceased to be viable due to silting up over a period of time and becoming landlocked.   The sea loch at Spynie has now been drained totally, and the land reclaimed for farming.  The land was finally drained completely with the construction of the Spynie drainage canals designed by Thomas Telford  The Spynie area is best known today for the ruin of Spynie Palace, which was built  around 1404 as a residence for the Bishops of Moray.

The merchants of Elgin saw that a new harbour was required that could berth the larger trading vesels at the mouth of the River Lossie and this area quickly established itself as the new trading port for Elgin.  With the establishment of Seatown as a port for Elgin, and after the disaster at Stotfield, this area became the primary area for fishing around what is now Lossiemouth, although the fisheremen did not generally use the new pier and continued to land their catch on the beach at Seatown.

The new port at Lossiemouth continued to develop, and by 1764 a new pier had been erected.   During this time, a new planned development was laid out in a design which was popular at the time, with streets running parallel to each other with side streets cutting off at right angles.   This was in contrast to the higgledy piggledy nature of the fifty one houses in the original Seatown, and was the beginning of the modern Lossiemouth


Branderburgh

By the turn of the 19th century, the river harbour had become exceptionally busy and it had become obvious that a new modern harbour was required.   The Stotfield and Lossiemouth Harbour company was formed in 1834 to oversee the building of the harbour and the harbour was built between 1837 and 1839.   The foundation stone of the harbour was laid by Lieut. Colonel James Brander, who was the Laird of Pitgaveny and proprietor of the site.   It was from James Brander that the town of Branderburgh inherited its name.   The harbour was intended for merchant sailing ships, but the fishermen started to desert the river mouth for the better facilities offered at the new Lossiemouth harbour.   In 1857, to accommodate the growing fleet of fishing boats, a second harbour basin was built to the west of the original one, by the now renamed Elgin and Lossiemouth Harbour Company.

The building of the second basin was completed in 1860 and coincided with the explosion of the herring fishing industry around Scotland.   This attracted not only new boats to the harbour at certain times of the year, but also onshore related parts of the industry such as curing etc.

The area prospered, and Branderburgh developed, finally joining with Stotfield in the west by the early 1900's.   Lossiemouth as we know it today had taken shape.

The first of the famous Zulu class fishing boats, The Nonesuch, was designed and built by a Lossiemouth fisherman in 1879 and after the First World War, the first modern seine net vessel was also designed in Lossiemouth.   Various developments took place during the 20th. century and Lossiemouth prospered as a fishing port, landing both herring and whitefish.   With the Scottish fishing industry in decline, sadly, the harbour at Lossiemouth holds very few fishing boats any more.   Those that are owned by Lossiemouth fishermen are based at other west coast or north east ports and the harbour at Lossiemouth is now used as a marina for pleasure boats.


The Morayshire Railway

The Morayshire Railway was officially opened on 10th August 1852, in response to the requirement to move goods and people from the busy port of Lossiemouth to Elgin.   It only covered the five miles between Lossiemouth and Elgin, and later to Craigellachie, but was the first railway to be built north of Aberdeen.   It was the Morayshire Railway that persuaded Colonel Brander of Pitgaveney to build the footbridge between Seatown and the east beach to encourage more day tripping in summer months.  The railway closed to passengers in 1964 and to freight in 1966.