Like most citizens of Crieff , I am pleased that the Crieff Community Trust are making strenuous efforts to save the rapidly deteriorating Drummond Arms in the centre of the town . The Community Right To Buy legislation is a useful tool that has been added to the statute books and has already proved successful particularly with the crofting communities and of course nearby Cultybraggan.
The present Drummond Arms is a comparatively modern building being Late Victorian having been designed by David Rhind and built between 1872 and 1874 . The building which predeceased it was The Drummond of Perth which was noted in the post Jacobite era as a popular social centre for the local gentry of the time . Prior to this Bonnie Prince Charlie held a war council in all probability in premises to the rear of the Drummond whilst staying at nearby Ferntower House en route to the disaster that was Culloden .
The present state of the building is due to the total neglect of the last two decades. A feasibility study and cost analysis was carried on the building a year or so ago by Crieff Hydro , the town’s largest employer , into the possibility of the conversion of the building into flats . They chose not to proceed . The practicality of developing the Drummond for community purposes remains, as yet, to be answered . It my well be that a façade retaining frontage with a purpose built interior is the solution but that is for the professionals to consider in due course .
Crieff recently hit the headlines when it emerged that air pollution by traffic in the centre of the town had reached crisis point and we understand that the local authority have now designated the area an Air Quality Management Area .History really told us of this eventuality many moons ago . A Public Enquiry was held in 1958 by the old Perth County Council into a proposed relief road or by pass for the town . The then Planning Officer James McGavin stated that unless this was implemented it would result in total traffic chaos within twenty years ie 1978 .Some fifty six years later , the good citizens of Crieff are blighted by unacceptably excessive traffic on the A85 . This is the main east to west trunk road for Central Scotland which literally bisects the town and destroys much of the ambience of what in by gone days was known as the Montpelier of Scotland . Surely the time is nigh to act without further prevarication.
History is not kind to the heritage of Strathearn . We have lost in the last hundred or so years great buildings such as Abercairney, Ferntower and Inchbrakie . We have neglected the protection and publicising of one of Scotland’s great abbeys Inchaffray at Madderty . We have on our doorstep the oldest Roman frontier in the World namely the Gask Ridge . We have unearthed a fascinating Neolithic past in the excavation of the Cursus on the site of the Strathearn Campus . Both these have seen tremendous archaeological investigation by dedicated teams . As an area very much dependent on tourism we must ensure that a positive approach be adopted to saving what we can and developing the future .