Dunblane Hydro

Dunblane Hydro
©2022 Gazetteer for Scotland

Dunblane Hydro

A grand Victorian hotel built to take advantage of mineral springs which were discovered nearby early in the 19th Century, Dunblane Hydro lies at the end of an impressive driveway which rises from the Perth Road to the northeast of the centre of the village. Opened in 1878, at a cost of £60,000, the Hydro was the work of the Edinburgh architectural practice of Peddie and Kinnear, using sandstone from Dunmore, Plean and Polmaise quarries. Its rectangular plan features an Italianate clock-tower in the centre of the facade. The hotel provided guests with all manner of hydro-therapeutic facilities, including Turkish and Russian baths together with a means of stimulating bathers by passing an electric current through the water. However, within six years, competition between the Hydropathic Institutions had become so great that Dunblane suffered financial failure and the company which had built it was wound up. The hotel struggled on under new management until the First World War, when it was requisitioned as a military hospital. It was refurbished in 1936, but used again by the War Office during World War II, first as a convalescent home for wounded soldiers and later to house a girl's boarding school evacuated from the South of England. The building was badly damaged by fire just days before it was due to reopen as a hotel in 1946. Reo Stakis (1913 - 2001) acquired the by-then decaying hotel in 1962 and undertook major renovations to make it a flagship of his chain. During this period, the hotel became synonymous with musical entertainment provided by Jim MacLeod and his Scottish Dance Band.

The Hydro was extended to the rear in 1984 and again in 1988, and was sold to the Hilton Group in 1999. Following a major refurbishment, it was re-opened in 2000 by Lord Robertson of Port Ellen (b.1946). Another fire in 2004 brought the need for renovation of the east wing and the hotel was sold to the Stardon Group some six months later.

The main staircase still retains the original fine stained glass featuring 'Jessie, The Flower O' Dunblane' made famous in the song by Robert Tannahill (1774 - 1810).

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