Fonab Castle

(Port-na-Craig House)

Located on the wooded hillside above Loch Faskally in Perth & Kinross, Fonab Castle Hotel (also known as Port-na-Craig House) lies opposite Pitlochry and next to the A9 Trunk Road. This four-storey mansion was built in 1892 in the Scots Baronial style and opened as a luxury hotel in 2013, with 23 rooms and 4 suites. The architect was Perth-based Andrew Heiton (1823-94) and the client Lt. Colonel George Glas Sandeman (1839 - 1905), grandson of the founder of George G. Sandeman Sons and Company Ltd, who were cotton merchants but rather better known as importers of wine, sherry and especially port from Spain and Portugal. Sandeman bought the Port-na-Craig Estate in 1890. His house represents a rather more subdued version of the Scots Baronial fashion than that preferred by the master of the style William Burn. Constructed using distinctive Dumfriesshire red sandstone, there is a modest application of crow-stepped gables, with a large corner stair tower to the left of the entrance and a more modest tower corbelled out to the right, both with neat conical slate caps. Inside much of the period decoration remains, with a panelled hall, fine plasterwork, timber and stone fireplaces, and a top-lit billiard room in the attic with a hammerbeam roof.

In 1905, the house and estate were inherited by Lt. Col. Sandeman's son, Captain George A. C. Sandeman, who was killed on the Western Front in 1915, during the First World War, and thus the property passed to a cousin. Between 1915 and 1918 the house served as a British Red Cross auxiliary hospital caring for wounded soldiers. Fonab Castle remained a family home until 1946 when the property was sold to become the unlikely headquarters of the North of Scotland Hydro-Electric Board, and was renamed Port-na-Craig House. The house overlooks Pitlochry Power Station, the last generation plant in the Board's Tummel Hydro-Electric Power Scheme, which was completed in 1962. The Board adapted the house to provide office accommodation and added further low-rise office buildings adjacent. They also built a Tank Room nearby which was used to model proposed hydro-electric schemes in miniature.

B-listed since 1971, the house lay empty for many years and had been placed on the 'Buildings at Risk' register before its conversion to a hotel. Some of the bedrooms and Sandemans fine-dining restaurant occupy a tastefully-designed annexe overlooking Loch Faskally.

The estate is much reduced to the fringes of the house through sale, the flooding of Loch Faskally to form a reservoir and the Scottish Plant Hunter's Garden which lies just to the east.

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