HM Insights

Lauren's Lockdown Diary – Exploring Elgin the Wright Way!

Lauren Wright is a Partner based in our Elgin office. During Lockdown, she entertained and enlightened us with a virtual tour of the city for those who weren't able to visit or had never been there before. She may even have shone a new light on Elgin for people who thought they knew a little about it!

So, for the inside track on Elgin, here are the highlights of Lauren's lockdown diary …



28 March – On one of her regular runs,Lauren shared a glimpse of the town with colleagues, and the diary was born!

Nice few reps up & down Lady Hill in Elgin! 

31 March - What is a Dandy Lion?

Today’s Elgin landmark is the Dandy Lion situated on Elgin High Street. Half lion, half mermaid

It was designed by local schoolchildren just a few years ago hence it’s a bit of a random design.

Ordinarily, adults/parents usually say “oh that’s lovely!” in respect of art drawn/made by children (their own or others) but ask almost anyone in Elgin of any age what they think of this statue and they’ll tell you that they think it’s awful and an eyesore (I don’t mind it, it’s different... )

1 April – The start of some great historical titbits

Today’s Elgin point of interest is The Little Cross just at the very end of the High Street.

This cross was erected in 1733 and was originally a much bigger structure with a spiral staircase leading up to it. But it fell into disrepair and started falling apart. It was later restored in 1867 and the original sundial from the top is now in Elgin Museum which is the building on the left in the picture below. The replica sundial you can see now was added in 1941.

The Little Cross marked the boundary between secular Elgin and the religious chanonry.

I had to research this myself today, please don’t think I’m an impressive fountain of knowledge. However on Elgin ghost tours, it is often rumoured that this is the cross where witches were tried for having powers of black magic … but that’s just a rumour!

2 April – Crosses and pubs!

Yesterday I showed you The Little Cross and today’s Elgin landmark is The Muckle Cross! This is situated in the middle of the high street.

“Muckle” up north means “large.” This used to be called the Mercat Cross and was originally erected in 1792, then later restored in the 1880s. The lion on the top of the cross is the original that was recently restored in 2017 at a cost of £45,000.

It is understood that this was the town’s old market cross where town criers would make announcements from at the top of the spiral staircase which is located inside the structure.

Not to be confused with The Muckle Cross pub in Elgin which is the local Wetherspoons!

4 April – The Golden chippy!

Today is a different type of Elgin landmark …!

So in Glasgow you have Harper Macleod HQ in the Ca’d’oro Building ... in Elgin we have Ca’dora! Probably the most well known and longest established chippy in Elgin!

5 April – Remembering the fallen

Tonight’s tour of Elgin brings us to the Elgin War Memorial, which is located in the middle of the High Street.

The statue that you can see shows the male figure holding a torch in one hand to symbolise peace and a lowered sword in the other hand to signify victory.

The High Street in Elgin is now pedestrianised, which was controversial and didn’t go down well with everyone.

Around the time of pedestrianisation, bones were found as the ground was being dug up. It turned out that bodies were buried under the High Street, presumably due to the close proximity of St Giles Church which you can see behind the statue.

On ghost tours of Elgin, it’s often claimed that beneath the High Street, there are mausoleums.

6 April – The beautiful game

Tonight’s instalment of “Exploring Elgin the Wright Way” (Thanks for the tagline, Megan!) takes us to Borough Briggs, home of Elgin City FC’s football ground.

Elgin City FC is the most northernly football league stadium, which opened in the 1920s and has a capacity of approximately 4,500.

Elgin's most famous player was ex-Celtic Lisbon Lion Jimmy Johnstone, who ended his career at Elgin in season 1978-1979.

The club was granted league status in 2000 from the Highland League.

In season 2012-2013, Elgin City FC were scheduled to play Rangers at Borough Briggs. Elgin City FC just kept printing tickets for the match - they printed 1,100 more tickets than the ground could hold and sold them all. The football club was denied a safety certificate, had to reschedule the match (at which rescheduled match Rangers won 4-2) and were fined £25,000.

7 April – Mill musings

Tonight’s stop is Old Mills in Elgin, which is located just a short walk from the town centre.

Once known as Kings Mills, the mill dates back to around 1790. It was used to make flour I think.

Old Mills was fully restored and operational in the 1990s. It was beautiful and the wheel you can see would turn through the water beneath it. There used to be tours of Old Mills and once a Teddy Bear’s Picnic where they served porridge made using the produce from Old Mills.

However, Old Mills was sold in 2002 and has fallen into a state of disrepair. The locals are furious that such an iconic building has been allowed to end up in such a sad state.

The site has turned into a dumping ground. At one point, there was a derelict blue double decker bus parked there that was used to grow mushrooms but it was set on fire. 

The area surrounding Old Mills is a nice path for a walk back into the town centre of Elgin.

10 April – The 19th Hole

Starting the tour early today! This is Elgin Golf Club which I know some of you are already familiar with!

The Golf Club is located in New Elgin, which is outside of the town centre. Interestingly, the boundary between Elgin and New Elgin is the railway bridge, and many of you will be aware that HM Elgin is based at the old railway station. Whilst Elgin HM is located on the Elgin side of the railway bridge, it is only just classed as Elgin.

I can’t claim these words to be my own so here is a quote: “Founded in 1906, Elgin Golf Club is widely regarded as one of the finest inland courses in the North of Scotland. Measuring 6,458 yards, with a par of 69 and a standard scratch of 71.”

But what I can claim is that Elgin Golf Club does a really nice pint of Tennents at a very reasonable price.

11 April – A legal landmark

We’re back in Elgin town centre, with a legal landmark today. This is Elgin Sheriff Court! Elgin Sheriff Court opened in 1866 and is located just opposite the HM Property Shop! 

*Warning!* Bit of a dark one today…

Not that this case was dealt with in Elgin Sheriff Court, but Elgin is home to Nat Fraser who was infamously convicted of the murder of his wife, Arlene Fraser, who went missing in 1998.

“Missing person” posters were up all over Elgin at the time, appealing for information, but after six months there were no sightings of her and it was as if she had vanished.

Nat Fraser was convicted of her murder, although no body was ever found. To this day, no one really knows what happened. There was no suggestion that Nat Fraser himself was directly involved in the murder of Arlene, more that someone else had been arranged and instructed to do so.

Nat Fraser appealed all the way to the Supreme Court where his conviction was overturned in 2011 and he was released.

In 2012, there was a retrial at Edinburgh High Court and Nat Fraser was again convicted of her murder. This trial was filmed for the Channel 4 documentary The Murder Trial shown in 2013, which is only the second time that footage from a British murder trial was broadcast on TV.

13 April – DJ Lauren on the decks

Tonight we have Dr Gray’s Hospital in Elgin. As you can see, it has a working clock on the dome - this was taken at 7.40am on Saturday morning, weather a bit dull and the photographer a touch hungover.... 

The hospital was founded by a bequest made by Dr Alexander Gray, who was born in Elgin but worked for the East India Company.

He died in 1807 leaving £20,000 in his Will “for the establishment of a hospital in the town of Elgin for the sick and poor of the county of Moray.”

The hospital opened in 1819 and has been refurbished and extended a few times since.

In my younger days, I used to do some shows on the hospital radio, Wave Radio, which is still operated online. My shows were 7-8pm on Thursdays and Saturdays, in which I would also have to act as a newsreader for the weekly round up and periodically do the jingles for the weekly sponsored businesses. Requests were few (listeners were few...) and I had to be very careful about the songs I played - anything with a medical or drug reference was not allowed! 

18 April – Butteries!

Tonight’s Elgin tour hasn’t taken me very far - just to the local shop!

These are butteries, a delightful North East of Scotland delicacy also known as “rowies”!

These are like flat croissants with more salt in them than croissants. They used to be made with lard so that fishermen could take them away to sea with them as a good energy source and the sheer amount of lard in them meant that the butteries had a long expiration date.

Now they’re made with vegetable fat to make them tastier. Each one has about 300 calories and that’s before you’ve added even more butter, jam or whatever else you want to put on top!

A few years ago, You Are What You Eat’s Gillian McKeith campaigned for butteries to be banned because they were so damaging to people’s health. That didn’t really work out.

Butteries 1 v 0 Gillian McKeith!

21 April - New Elgin Free State

Today we are back in New Elgin on Cemetery Drive.

This is a War memorial that was unveiled on 29th October 1922. Three sides of the statue have the names of those from some Elgin areas who lost their lives in WW1, and the fourth is for those from WW2.

This statue is unusual because it is one of the few war memorials to show the name of a female casualty from WW1 - Mary Fraser who was a nurse in the Voluntary Aid Detachment.

New Elgin is often referred to locally as the Free State, originally because New Elgin was once the place railworkers lived. The town’s rates were more expensive on The Old Station side of Elgin so it was cheaper to live in New Elgin.

28 April – The Wolf of Badenoch

Tonight we revisit Elgin Cathedral, which was one of my first posts of the Elgin tour but I didn’t say very much about it.

Elgin Cathedral is located in the centre of Elgin, not far from HM Elgin! The Cathedral was established in 1224.

In 1390, the Cathedral was destroyed after Alexander Stewart (who was brother of Robert III, King of Scotland at the time) set fire to it. It is alleged that Bishop Bur of Moray would not annul Alexander’s failing marriage to allow him to marry his mistress and he went on a rampage of destruction in a rage.

He was known as the Wolf of Badenoch and described by many as one of the most vile and cruel men in Scotland. The picture below of the statue with the mask is the Wolf of Badenoch, this is a recent addition to the town of Elgin.

All that remains is what you can see. There is a small building that is still intact and people can get married there, with space for perhaps about 50 guests.

Directly opposite Elgin Cathedral is the biblical garden. It has 110 plants with biblical references and many statues of biblical characters. It’s very peaceful. It’s open for free from May - September and is maintained by those studying horticulture at the Moray College. 💐

29 April – Hope springs

Tonight is simply a couple of photos of the Field of Hope which is located at the top of New Elgin, not far from the war memorial and the Golf Club.

Every year in the spring, the patch of grass fills up with lovely daffodils! It is an annual colourful tribute to those in Moray who have battled cancer.

The area of grass and the bulbs were donated to Marie Curie by Springfield Properties.

13 May – Dove love

Hey! Tonight we are in the Doocot Park in New Elgin, which is not far from where I live - I walk through the park to get to work!

The structure that you can see is “dovecot” (pronounced by Scottish people as “doocot”), which is essentially a house for pigeons and doves!

This is a category B listed building. The doocot structure has been fire damaged in the past and is a bit green on the outside but the pigeons don’t seem to mind.

Locally in Elgin, some people say “foos yer doos?” Which literally means “how are your pigeons?” although it’s actually a local way of asking someone “how are you doing?”

30 May – Tilting at windmills

Today we’re just outside of Elgin ... I went for a run out towards Birnie, which is a little village outside of Elgin.

The church you can see is Birnie Kirk which is one of the oldest church buildings in Scotland that’s still in continuous use, it was built around 1140.

Then you will see a video of The Cloddach Bridge which is just round the corner from the Kirk, where there is a junction you can take a left turn to Dallas, another small village town. You will see the Dallas windfarm in one of the videos. Although controversial, I do love a windfarm as David Steel will confirm after I kept him talking about it for half an hour on the phone a couple of weeks ago!

You will also see a pig farm where there has been a clear breach of social distancing rules and more than two households mingling. Finally you’ll notice a lamb that demonstrates a clear warning as to why one should not try to cut their own hair during lockdown!!

28 June – Lost in Lossiemouth

Today’s tour is so epic that I’m splitting it into 3 parts!

Part 1:
We kick off today's adventure at Lossie Forest in Lossiemouth which is 6 miles outside of Elgin, and home to 2 lovely beaches - the East & West beaches. Most local people have a preference & migrate to one particular beach out of the two. For me, it’s the East Beach. Primarily because my car keys once fell out of my pocket on the West Beach & the tide almost took them away 🙈🤣
Lossiemouth is also home to one of the RAF bases!
Lossie Forest has a lovely Fairy Wood display at the moment of miniature structures made of wood. 🧚🏻‍♀️
I can’t lie - there were points where I felt like I was starring live in The Blair Witch Project given how silent it was, the rain, and the fact my nose started running at one point
In the video, you will see a red squirrel who saw me and can only have mistaken me for a drowned rat and then scurried up the tree.
Next, we're heading to Lossiemouth East Beach and the surrounding area in the forest and the day after we will be stopping off in Kingston! 😊
Part 2:
Next we're off to the East Beach in Lossiemouth. The easiest way to get to this beach is over the footbridge from Lossie town centre, however this bridge was deemed unsafe last summer and has been blocked off ever since.
No one was really sure who owned the bridge but the Scottish Government have allocated some funding towards a new bridge, but it’s estimated that it could be £500,000 or so to fix/replace.
Access to the East Beach now is via a 1 mile walk through Lossie Forest.🌲🐾
The concrete blocks you can see are anti-invasion cubes to prevent German soldiers gaining access to Lossiemouth during WW2.  If you look closely, you will see that the words “The Unknown” have been painted on some of these cubes. This has been painted on the cubes for a couple of years but is very apt just now.
There are also a number of concrete structures called pillboxes and gun houses where the armed forces could set up their guns to prepare to defend against invasion.
Some of the gun houses have been wonderfully decorated and spray painted with all kinds of modern art. Saying that, there are a couple of odes to Banksy which are really quite impressive.
There’s a random abandoned house at the back of the forest that also appears like something from The Blair Witch Project.
In the thick of the forest lives a buzzard who swoops at runners thinking they are a threat to the buzzard’s nest and young that are about 50-100 feet off the ground in the trees. 🦅🌲 Let me tell you from experience that in Lossie Forest, no one hears you scream.
Otherwise, enjoy the videos of the calming waves and nice views Please do excuse any heavy breathing in the videos, I was running!

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