Banff and Macduff

The town of Banff is built close by the coast adjacent to the west bank of the estuary of the river Deveron, one of the great rivers of Scotland famous for the beautiful valley through which it flows, and for the salmon that spawn in its upper reaches. In contrast to the other towns of Buchan, Banff was favoured as a holiday resort at which the gentry and nobility gathered in the Summertime, and consequently, the town centre retains a number of fine town houses built in the 17th to the 19th centuries. The town itself has an air of greater urbanity than either Peterhead or Fraserburgh.

Close to the town, surrounded by its policies, stands Duff House, a truncated baroque palace, never completed because of a dispute between the architect, William Adam, and his client, William Duff of Braco, who became the Earl of Fife. The original design of the house included a central block, with a pair of single-storey quadrant-curved wings each terminated with a pavilion, partially enclosing a forecourt. The dispute arose because Duff claimed that Adam was overcharging for carved stonework and refused to pay. The dispute continued for years and was said to have killed Adam; it prevented the completion of the building as planned, leaving only the central block completed, though even this lacks some elements of the planned external decoration. The interior of the house was not fitted up, and Duff never lived there. It is said that Duff would not look at the house, and had the blinds in his carriage drawn down when he drove past it.

The neighbouring town of Macduff located at the coast on the eastern side of the Deveron Estuary has a large and thriving harbour and shipyards nearby. The commercial activities to do with the sea, primarily fishing and servicing the offshore oil-installations are located here: in contrast, the harbour at Banff has been remodelled into a marina for recreational use.

(Revision date: Friday 16th March 2012)




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