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Carnoustie - A Brief Look At Carnoustie To The Early 20th Century

The area now known as Carnoustie once formed part of the lands of the church of Barry, granted to Balmerino Abbey in 1229. The Barony was gifted to Sir Philip de Valiniis, Lord High Chamberlain, about 1172. The barony came into the hands of the Maule family in 1224.

Carnoustie Town Chambers
Carnoustie Town Chambers

Part of Panmure estate were sold off in 1792 to a former employee, Major Philip, who called his new lands Carnoustie estate. Philip had made a fortune in India and returned to live the life of the landed gentry. In 1797 Major Philip granted the first feu from the Carnoustie estate to Thomas Louson, considered to be the father of the town of Carnoustie. Philip saw the commercial potential of feuing and offered inducements to other settlers. The village was attractive to new settlers and soon flourished. The new settlement was at first contained within Barry parish but later spilled over the Lochty Burn into Panbride parish.

The small village steadily grew into a town owing to the growth of industrialisation in the early 19th century. Its proximity to Dundee, a few miles along the new railway line, was a great boast to the town development as it enabled middle class families to settle in the town and commute to their offices in Dundee. Carnoustie was home to a wide variety of industries including the Winter family's boot and shoemaking factory, golf club makers such as Simpson's, the Panmure Jute Works, the vitriol works, Anderson-Grice engineers and more recently D. J Laing construction and MacKays jam factory. The work available in the town attracted growing numbers of people seeking work. By the early 20th century the population had grown to approximately 4,500. The village was steadily growing into a town. This led to a steady growth in the building trade and in the establishment of shops on the High Street. In 1895 Carnoustie was able to implement improvements with the establishment of its own Town Council. They began the work of installing kerbs by the roadside, laying down paths in concrete, adding street lighting and improving the water supply.

Donkey on Carnoustie Beach
Donkey on Carnoustie Beach

Carnoustie was also a thriving holiday resort on account of its beneficial fresh sea air and its fine golf courses. The town promoted itself as the Brighton of the North and its heyday lasted from the late 19th century to the outbreak of World War Two. The railway line brought in holidaymakers and daytrippers from all over Scotland, and indeed all over the world. The richer visitors would stay at the elegant Bruce Hotel on the links while others stayed in rented rooms or houses. Many Carnoustie residents moved out of their homes in the summer in order to let them to visitors. Carnoustie's attractions as a holiday resort were promoted vigorously by the Town Council and included the massively popular Pierrot open air concerts, sea bathing, the Pavilion Theatre and sporting activities. Carnoustie's excellent golf courses were the most popular attraction for the male visitors. Holiday clubs were established to allow access to the courses for holidaymakers. In the 1920's Carnoustie produced many professional golfers who emmigrated to the USA, sharing their skills worldwide. Carnoustie has also staged a number of Open Championship tournaments.

The popularity of Carnoustie as a holiday resort bean a slow decline after the Second World War, the attraction of its beaches eroded by package holidays to warmer destinations. The popularity and reputation of its golf courses continues to grow.

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