Promoting tourism on Arran in the 1930s

A packed Brodick beach on a postcard from 1935.

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By Colin Smeeton

Kilmory resident Davie Crossley happened upon an interesting bit of Arran history which he brought in to the Banner office to share with other readers.

The document is from the Isle of Arran Publicity Association, a precursor to the Tourist Board and VisitArran, and is dated February 1934.

In essence the four page leaflet is a request to join the association and to support their work so that they could continue to promote Arran through advertising and in the production of a guide book of which two had already been produced, the first, 6,000 copies in 1930 and the second, 5,000 copies in 1932.

The introduction was written by Hon Secretary Charles H Graham along with a letter from the Hon President, His Grace the Duke of Montrose, who encouraged people and organisations on Arran to support the association.

The Duke in the final paragraph of his missive wrote: ‘It would be lamentable if the Arran folk failed to support their Publicity Association. Summer letting means everything to them and it is largely through your association’s work the island knows so little about the poverty and misery of unemployment as experienced in many other parts of Scotland. Every thinking person in Arran should be pleased to become one of your annual subscribers.’

Included in the pamphlet is a short history of the activities of the association, no doubt leading on from Charles Graham’s opening paragraph in his introduction which said, ‘As the absolute necessity of advertising the attractions of Arran as a holiday resort is beyond question the committee feel that the apparent disinterest shown in this matter by a large number of residents can only be attributed to the lack of information as to the activities and objects of this association.’

The objectives were listed as: ‘To stimulate interest in the Island of Arran as a holiday resort, to publish an official guidebook, to give the island through the medium of public press and otherwise the utmost publicity, to endevour to secure adequate transport services to the island at as low a cost as possible, to collect and provide information useful to visitors’ and interestingly ‘to guard against the possible danger of abuse of the privileges of free access to mountains, hills and glens always enjoyed on the island.’

Local Secretaries of the organisation, broken down into villages were listed as: Brodick, Mr Charles Hendry; Lamlash, Miss Marion Hunter; Whiting Bay and Kildonan, Mr James Shaw; Corrie, Mr A Moles; Lochranza, Mr John Kerr; Pirnmill,  Mr John Anderson, Machrie and Dougarie, Mr Charles Weir; Blackwaterfoot and Shiskine, Mr Duncan Bannatyne; Kilmorie, Slidderie and Corriecravie, Mr Duncan M’Alister.

The first meeting of the Isle of Arran Publicity Committee was held in Lamlash Hall on 19th March 1929 at which Mr Donald McKelvie presided over with representatives from all districts. At the meeting it was agreed that ‘very few of the old families were coming to Arran so that it was absolutely necessary that every effort be made to attract new visitors and also to extend the letting season.’

The following year a press advertisement describing Arran as the ‘Dream Isle’ was issued and, along with the guidebooks, were distributed to principal business houses in Glasgow and Edinburgh as well as in tea rooms and restaurants and hotels and railway stations. Copies were also placed on the mail boats of City Line, Bibby Line, Anchor Line, African Royal Mail, British and African P&O and agencies in India and residential sports clubs in East and West Africa and India. In 1932 5,000 copies were distributed, some in reply to enquiries as well as the Municipal libraries of 45 towns in Scotland and England.

An interesting statistic in the document was derived from placing copies of the guidebook in the offices and clubs of the Automobile Association – which attracted a number of visitors who had previously never been to Arran – these visitors contributed to a figure of 418 cars which were brought from Ardrossan to Brodick on the ferry during the months of June to September in 1933.

To help encourage tourism, a daily record of the sunshine on Arran was published in the Glasgow Herald after an ultra-violet ray measuring apparatus was installed at the Arran War Memorial Hospital. This  apparatus was obtained from the Sunlight League in London.

The pamphlet, while only four pages long provides an interesting insight into the extent of tourism and marketing on Arran from 86 years ago.

Postcards courtesy of Stuart Gough

The TS Glen Sannox which was a regular visitor to Arran pictured in 1926. NO_B09post01

A packed Brodick beach on a postcard from 1935. NO_B09post02

A hillwalker looks over Cir Mhor and Cioch na h-Oighe in 1940. NO_B09post03

A postycard of Low Glencloy and Goatfell from 1933. NO_B09post04

Brodick Road and Marine House in Lamlash in 1933. NO_B09post05