KINNAIRD'S TEA GARDENS, ABERDOUR,
(Kinnaird Worldwide Family#24)
"Click on the photos to expand for a better picture"
Aberdour drew droves of visitors with its good beaches and bathing, pleasant walks and scenery. During the summer months, steamers arrive several times a day from Leith with holiday-makers. To accommodate the better-off, superior villas were built along the Shore Road. For the day-tripper or overnighter there were the facilities of the Tea Garden Hotel, which was opened in 1886 by the enterprising Leith businessman, William Kinnaird. It caters for all the needs of the visitor, providing breakfast, dinner and tea as well as cigars and picture postcards. It incorporated the Aberdour Bazaar - the souvenir shop for everyone, as it advertisements proclaimed - selling toys, photos and useful articles for presents. Kinnaird was clearly out to make all the profit he could during the summer season. He had to as in the off-season there was little trade and, as one local writer put it, the Gardens "are a desolation:.
Inside this remarkable building, business appears slack and the waitresses have little to do except tend to Mr. Kinnaird himself as he finishes a very late lunch. High tea is laid, it being just about 4 p.m., but only one party has ventured in. There is quite a contrast between the utilitarian trestle tables and benches (plus the tiled walls), and the sumptuous decor of pot plants, busts, statues, feathers, mirrors, paintings and lamps. The nautical theme of the porthole windows is echoed in the naval hammocks slung above (they were used to provide cheap overnight accommodation).
Time for one last visit to the Tea Room before catching the steamer back to Leith. Customers are instructed by the notices at the back to observe prices on the bills of fare - no chance of credit here however thirsty or hungry you may be!
Jean McCutcheon writes: The Kinnaird Tea Gardens belonged to my great-grandfather. Part of the original building still stands today - it is a ladies dress shop. Where the Bazaar part was is now the local library. As stated, this was strictly a seasonal operation. His main business, "Kinnaird's Tea Rooms" was situated in Kirkgate, Leith. After my great-grandfather died in 1920, my grandfather continued the business, with a bakery also on Easter Street in Leith. He gave up the business in 1931 when he emigrated to Canada. Old Kirkgate was torn down in the 1960's (with objections from the local Historical Society) to make way for a housing development. Great-grandfather, William Kinnaird, was also a politician in Leith.