History of The Big Beach House

Whilst researching the History of The Big Beach House we put an ad in the local paper the Arran Banner and received a call from the grand daughter of the person who built the house. She is now 80 years old. Her grandparents were married in the house, she was christened in it and her daughter was also married there!

The house was built in 1904 by Alexander Reid and the name Ter-a-gram (Pronounced like Telegram) is carved on the front. The front part of the house was once used as a Post Office and it’s height above sea-level is marked on some old maps.

He built a row of large boarding houses along the shore front and some higher up the hill in Whiting Bay. He called most of his houses unusual names. Ter-a-gram is actually the name of his wife Margaret spelled backwards. Another house further down the row was called Nia roo which was “Oor ain” (our own) backwards!

The house became the Cameronia when it was purchased by Mr Cameron. It was run as a public house and a boarding house. In more recent times there was also a Chinese restaurant upstairs.
A brief history of Whiting Bay on the Isle of Arran

Some say Whiting Bay was so called because of the amount of whiting fish caught, a herring fishery also ran from here. At one point it had the longest pier in Scotland.

In Whiting Bay the Giants’ graves – neolithic tombs from 4000 years ago lay in the forest along with Viking forts. At Kingscross Point, a dun or fortified farmstead has been found dating back the better part of two thousand years. Kingscross was used by Vikings as a settlement and burial site, and it has been suggested that the bay to the south was named after them, with “Viking Bay” later becoming corrupted to Whiting Bay.

in 1263, the Vikings of King Haco’s fleet anchored before the Battle of Largs. Arran, according to Irish tradition, was also the home of Manannan mac Lir, the God of the Sea.

Feb 1307 – Kingscross also achieved a footnote in history when it became the place from which Robert the Bruce sailed for Ayrshire in February 1307, en route to regaining control of his kingdom from the English.The pier in Whiting Bay was built in 1901 and became the longest pier in Scotland. It was dismantled in 1964.

The transformation of a group of tiny settlements into the Whiting Bay we see today began with the establishment of a ferry to Saltcoats in 1790. This was followed from the 1830s by the arrival of steamers from Glasgow and elsewhere in the Clyde Estuary. Clearance of Arran’s inland crofting areas from the 1830s produced a demand for more accommodation on the coast, here and elsewhere on the island.

Of all Arran’s villages, Whiting Bay seems to have attracted the most upmarket clientele, and the result was a succession of fine villas being built along the landward side of the road running behind the bay. Meanwhile, a golf course was established in 1895, as were tennis courts, a bowling club and a putting green.

The building of a new pier in 1901, which allowed steamers to land passengers directly rather than via flit boats, only confirmed the growth of the village. During the war a special boat called to take the lads off to war. A village hall was added in 1926.

As late as 1953, the main ferry serving Arran from the mainland called at Whiting Bay as well as Brodick, but the change to a Brodick-only service in 1954 led to a decline in the fortunes of Whiting Bay and the closure of the old steamer pier in 1957. Today the village pier is a very modest affair, projecting out from the shore close to the line of tiny shops backing onto the sea in the centre of the village.

Whiting Bay is still a great place to take a holiday and you can try reading the names of the houses and see if they make any more sense backwards!