The Freeburn Inn was first built in 1745 and was reputedly was one of stopping places of Bonny Prince Charlie on his way to the ill-fated Battle of Culloden. It was re-built and refurbished in 1895, and was advertised in 1900 as a fine posting establishment with carriage and saddle horses, landaus, wagonnettes, four and two-wheeled dogcarts, gigs, sleighs and luggage vans.
At the time, the property boasted 150 acres of woodland, moors and meadows and was run by Mr A Robertson, who was proud to have had "the honour of being patronised by Royalty, Nobility and Aristocracy"
The Freeburn hotel operated successfully for many years, benefitting from passing trade on the main road and also proud to be located 500 yards from the Strathdearn Station on the Highland Railway connecting Inverness with the central belt. The hotel became a proud landmark for the Tomatin Village, employing many locals and welcoming tourists who also made use of the nearby Golf Course. The name 'Freeburn' is a translation from the Gaelic 'Allt na Frithe', the burn used as the water source for Tomatin Distillery.
Historic images courtesy of Angie Noble, shared to Strathdearn Facebook Group 2010-2016
The building ceased to be a hotel when it was sold in 1967 to the Tarbat Estate Development Company. It was sold again in 1972 to Lord Elphinstone when his life long friend, George Wood became sole management partner of the hotel.
In the 1980's, with the completion of the new A9 trunk road, the Freeburn Hotel was taken over by Little Chef. It became the 4th Little Chef to open on the Perth to Inverness corridor, replacing the Inverness branch, which closed the same time after it was bypassed. Sadly, despite a decent run and a good roadside presence, Tomatin's Little Chef closed in 2005 when the restaurant's parent company hit financial problems.
Images courtesy of Gordon Miller, 1985, shared to Strathdearn Facebook Group
In 2008, the now dilapidated buildings were demolished to make way for an exciting new development of a hotel and restaurant, marketplace and retail units which is set to begin in the near future by developers Tomatin Trading Company.. watch this space!
Angus | Team Melfort