Development of Balbeggie village


33. Birchbank                      13. Arran Cottage/Laurelbank

At the end of the 18th Century, the land on which Balbeggie village was to take shape was owned by Andrew Murray of Murrayshall. It was an insignificant place on the Scone to Abernyte road and probably comprised only a few crofts and cottages. One of the largest dwellings was Balbeggie Cottage, to the south of village. In an 1836 sale prospectus it was described in the following terms*:

“The Cottage is a very desirable family residence. The situation is healthy and desirable. The house consists of six apartments, well furnished and oil painted, with grates, ovens, presses etc. The garden is well stocked with fruit trees and bushes and there is an abundant supply of most excellent water.”

But the Cottage was almost certainly in a class of its own. A typical dwelling might have been a ‘but and ben’ longhouse. The tenant farmer occupied the ‘but’ and his servant’s family the ‘ben’. A cottage occupied solely by labourers would often accommodate several families. Sometimes cattle occupied one end of the building. Even in the early 20th Century such a cottage was described in the following terms*: “the father (a shepherd at the farm), mother and six children lived in just two rooms. Water was drawn from the well at the front of the cottage and cooking was done on the fire in the range in the main room ……. The lavatory was at various times located either round the back or at the bottom of the garden by the midden, where all the household garbage was dumped.”

At the end of the 18th Century a new turnpike road from Perth was constructed by private subscription. This led naturally to the piecemeal feueing of plots of land on either side of the new road. The feudal superior stipulated that “a good and substantial dwelling house” be built on each plot. In an effort to improve the amenity of the developing village, the new owners were obliged to build their houses of stone and lime, with slate roofs and fences between adjacent properties. No dumps of wood, coal, manure or anything else were allowed in front of the buildings (it was a common practice to place the midden hole before the front door), which had to be 9ft from the public road.


Inches Feu (West) [6], a half-acre (Scots) plot of land bounded on the east by the turnpike road and on the west by ‘a road leading from the St Martins Road to the St Martins burn’, may have been feued out as early as 1828 to one John Inches, according to John Gwynn*. John Inches was a weaver who was born in Lethendy parish in 1789. He was an established resident of Balbeggie by 1828, when he appeared as a procurator or advocate on behalf of John McGregor and his wife Mary Spence for the purchase of their land at Balbeggie Cottage. He remained a bachelor and probably lived in the same house, along with his 3 unmarried sisters, until his death in 1866. The house was named ‘Inches Feu’ by the 1851 Census Enumerator. In 1857 his life-rent entitlement to stay in the property was confirmed by William MacDonald of St Martins, who had taken over from the Murrays as the owner of the Balbeggie lands. The cottage had 3 rooms with one or more windows and a rateable value of £5 10/-. In the 1861 Census the house was known as No. 26 Coupar Angus Road. The modern dwelling on the site is known as Struan Cottage.

Struan Cottage


Inches Feu (East) [16] was on the east side of the turnpike, opposite Struan Cottage, and is known today as Rowanbank. It is not known when the feu was first occupied. Robert Inches, a Shoemaker, may have settled there when he and his family first came to Balbeggie from Bankfoot between 1812 and 1819 – their son Thomas was baptised in the United Secession Church in 1819. This property was also named Inches Feu in the 1851 Census. The plot probably also accommodated a variable number of tenants, on low rentals. In the 1860s Robert and his wife Ann moved into the smaller one-roomed portion of the L-shaped property, later known as Rowanlea, while their son David Inches, also a Shoemaker (although from 1861 to 1864 he was a Post Office Carrier) occupied the larger part. In the 1861 Census these dwellings were known respectively as Nos. 6 and 7 Coupar Angus Road. In 1891 the property, now known as Garrick Moor Cottage* and no longer owned by the family, was occupied by Jean Inches and her husband James Bannerman. Later, the property was rented out as two separate dwellings. The property was demolished in the 1930s and the site occupied by a petrol filling station, offices and finally by a new dwelling house called Rowanbank.



MacKenzie’s Feu [18] was 3 plots south of Inches Feu on the east side of the turnpike road. It was first feued in 1834 and 2 adjoining cottages built there. David Inches, the unmarried employer of 4 men in his Shoemaking shop lived in one cottage with a servant in 1851. In 1852 the feu is said to have been acquired by Robert Inches, the Shoemaker who also owned Rowanbank, but it passed out of the family in 1871, when it was bought by Rev VG Faithful of Edinburgh*.

The properties became known as Lilybank and Fernbank in the late 19th Century.



Birchbank [33] is situated at the far end of the right of way known as Double Hedges, at its junction with Green Road. Jean Inches, daughter of Robert Inches the Shoemaker, the widow of James Bannerman, died there in 1909.



*from Balbeggie – History of a Perthshire Village by John Gwynn