Grantown is considered one of the first planned towns in Scotland, built by The Good Sir James Grant in 1765. (It was one of 150 similar developments in Scotland at the time). 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 road . He 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 visited by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, who arrived from Balmoral in a horse-drawn carriage and stayed at The Grant Arms Hotel. We don’t think there have been any subsequent visits by monarchy however King Edward VII (1905) and George V (1925) spent time hunting at Tulchan Lodge, Advie, 7 miles to the East of Grantown, so they may have popped into town for a pint.
Grantown’s war memorial, was designed by Alexander Marshall MacKenzie and unveiled by the Countess of Seafield on 18 September, 1921. 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. Grantown is still home to Clan Grant but Castle Grant is now in private ownership.