Located approximately 32 km southeast of Inverness, Grantown is a planned village, established in 1765 by the local landowner, Sir James Grant.
Grantown is one of approximately 150 planned villages that were established in Scotland between 1750 and 1850. Agricultural improvements that took place during the 18th century, especially the enclosure of farmland, meant that far fewer people were needed to work the land. This led to much social disruption, and many landowners in Scotland created planned villages as a way of promoting trade and industry in their area, and as a means of providing employment to those who had been forced to leave the land.
Sir James Grant laid out Grantown around a large, central square on a site that was well served by two military roads. Leases for building plots were put up for sale in 1765, and Sir James placed an advert in the 'Aberdeen Journal' stating that he would give "Feus or long leases, and all proper encouragement to Manufacturers, Tradesmen, or others, sufficiently recommended and attested, as to Character and Ability, who incline to settle there."
Sir James invested heavily to attract manufacturers of different kinds to Grantown, but by the late 1700s it was clear that these industries were failing to prosper. The settlement found success however as a service centre for the surrounding district, and from the 1860s onwards prospered also from an increase in the number of tourists visiting the area.
This growth in tourism was due in part to the arrival of the railway to Grantown in 1863, which enabled far greater numbers of tourists to visit the settlement. In September 1860 Grantown was also visited by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, whose purchase of Balmoral in the 1840s had significantly boosted the appeal of the Highlands to the British public.
The building with the conical-roofed turret on the High Street, seen on the left of this image, was originally known as the Victoria Christian Institute. The building dates from 1897 and is now the town's Community Centre.
The historian RN MacMillan has described Grantown as "among the best-preserved and most interesting of all Scottish planned villages". Today, it is still a centre of tourism, and has a population of just over 2,000.
This photograph is featured in Then and Now