The A9 Bypass
In the late ’60’s and early ’70’s the most influential factors in the area were the development of the new A9 road and the continuing efforts being made by official organisations to attract more of the modern light industries.
The main benefit of the new road, apart from the vast improvement in traffic flow south to north, and dramatic improvement in journey times that resulted, was the welcome lessening of traffic through the local villages. Where villages had become choked with summer traffic, parking and crossing the road now became easier.
the_A9_bypass2There was concern in many quarters that the village would die for lack of passing trade, but, although trade did suffer, those visitors who continued to come to Newtonmore found it to be a quieter place, with room to enjoy the facilities and room to park the family car.
One negative effect of the ease of travel in recent years has been in the growth of super-stores, which take much needed-trade from local shops, but Newtonmore still continues to support more shops than would be the case in a village of similar size further south.
The Highlands and Islands Development Board did much in the early years after the building of the by-pass to bring small to medium enterprises to the Highlands, with a strong social bias in its planning, and many small light industrial estates were established throughout the highlands at the time, before the organisation was eventually replaced by the current Highlands and Island Enterprise, with a much narrower remit.
During this period, great strides were made in the provision of leisure facilities, beginning with the introduction of Pony Trekking to the area in the 1950’s, by Cameron Ormiston, using the Highland Garron Pony. His establishment was the first in Scotland.
Tourist attractions like the Aviemore Mountain Resort (then known as ‘The Aviemore Centre’) and Landmark, at Carrbridge were developed, whilst later on Waltzing Waters, and recently The Highland Folk Museum were developed here in Newtonmore.
Today, the people of Newtonmore continue to make dynamic and sometimes innovative efforts to encourage visitors to the village – this community web project is just one example – but looking back over the years since the by-pass, it is undeniable that there are now fewer bed and breakfast establishments, fewer self hotels and fewer shops in the village than before the new road – the promises of better times made by the likes of the council and the development authorities have not been fulfilled.