BY THE LATE JAMES EDGAR
(A Paper read to the Members of the Hawick
Archaeological Society on Tuesday, 31st January, 1933)
As far as I am aware, there has not been contributed to the Society's Transactions any paper regarding the well-known roadside inn situated midway between Hawick and Langholm, and its historical associations. Some reference to Mosspaul may, therefore, not be without its local value and interest.
I can find no record as to the date when the old inn was built, but Dr Carlyle of Inveresk, in his autobiography, states that in 1767 he stopped there in company with some friends for refreshments. In the old days of imprisonment for debt Mosspaul occupied rather an unique position. The house itself, and the byre were in the county of Roxburgh, while the stables, hay loft, etc., were in Dumfriesshire. Consequently, a person wanted for debt in Roxburghshire could stay in the house, and on receiving warning of the approach of the officers of the law, defy them from his snug retreat in one of the hay lofts. It is recorded that there was one farmer in the district who was wont to take advantage of this peculiar situation.
The name Mosspaul is understood to be of ancient origin, and it is mentioned in the Charters of the Earl of Home in the beginning of the 17th century. According to the statistical account of Ewes parish, prepared by the Rev. Robert Shaw in 1835, a chapel existed at Mosspaul before the Reformation, and its ruins, it was stated, could be traced at that time. The lands around Mosspaul in olden times bore the name of Penanngo, this name surviving in Penangus Hope, the present-day name of the glen in which runs Mosspaul Burn. The lands of Penangus were, along with Caldcleugh, gifted in the 14th century to the monks of Melrose by William, Earl of Douglas, for masses to be said, especially for the soul of William Douglas of Lothian, who was buried before St. Bridget's Altar in Melrose. The surrounding lands belonging to the monks, and they having a chapel adjoining, is supposed to give a clue to the origin of the name Mosspaul - the moss of St. Paul's chapel. There can be no doubt that in those early times the lonely chapel of Mosspaul would be regarded as a welcome resting-place and retreat to many a foot-sore and weary pilgrim.
Here it may be surmised the children of the mosstroopers would be baptised, and here also within the walls of this plain and primitive building many of the marriages begun in hand-fasting would receive the sanction of the Holy Church. In a manuscript account of the parish of Ewes, which adjoins that of Teviothead, in which Mosspaul is situated, written in the beginning of the 18th century (Macfarlane's Geographical Collection), the following occurs:"There is a tradition that friars were wont to come from Melrose or Jedburgh to baptise and marry in this parish, and these friars being in use to carry the mass-book in their bosoms, they were called by the inhabitants 'book-a-bosoms.' "
*Sir Walter Scott describes the customs of handfasting in chapter 25 of "The Monastery," where he makes Avenel derisively say:-"We Borderers are more wary than your inland clown of Fife and Lothian - we take our wives, like our horses, upon trial. When we are handfasted we are man and wife for a year and day - that space gone by, each may choose another mate, or, at their pleasure, may call the priest to marry them for life - and this we call handfasting."
THE FIRST LANDLORD
Mosspaul Inn at one time was said to be little more than a "butt-and-ben," and continued to be so till about the beginning of the 19th century. The first landlord of whom any record can be traced was Thomas Gray, whose name appeared in a list, in 1803, of those who were prepared to defend their country against the threatened French invasion. He was a member of the 1st Battalion of the Roxburghshire Volunteers, and rode to Hawick along with Major Robert Elliot of Arkleton on the night of the False Alarm, the evening of the 31st January, 1804, when the beacon fires on the Border hills flashed the erroneous intelligence that the French had landed.
Gray and James Ruickbie, the keeper of the Toll Bar at Colterscleugh, were congenial friends, and being separated by only a few miles, would no doubt have many social and convivial evenings together in their respective houses, for in those days practically all the Toll Bars sold liquor. Ruickbie was a noted Border poet, and believed to have been the first local bard to have published a volume of his verses. He is understood to have issued three of four editions, one of which was printed by Robert Armstrong in Hawick in 1815, the year of the battle of Waterloo.
One of Ruickbie's effusions was addressed to Gray after his return from a visit to his old friend, when he had been much impressed with the additions and improvements which had been carried out at Mosspaul, a second storey having been added to the old building. Ruickbie's poem was as follows:
Tam, the storm baith loud and fierce is,
Ever since I left Mosspaul,
Yet accept my two-three verses,
Now I'm in a tift tae scrawl.
Since I left your bonnie biggin',
Snug and bien, genteel and tight,
Frae the grun'-floor tae the riggin'
Ilka thing looks unco bright.
Ev'ry plan displays invention,
Finished by a skilfu' hand,
Ilka neat and shining mansion
Minds me o' the promised land.
Hallans, sleekit owre wi' plaister,
Glintin' a' as white as snaw.
Worthy o' its noble maister,
Kitchen, passage, rooms, an' a'.
Dinna here expect a lecture
On the beauties o' ilk room;
Quite unskilled in architecture
At this task I'll no' presume.
Only let me just remind you,
Never let it steal your love;
Cast its grandeur a' behind you,
Mind the bonnie house above.
Think it was but built for lodgers
To refresh an' tak' the road;
You and I are just like sodgers,
Billeted in oor abode.
Ruickbie belonged to Innerleithen, and according to one authority was a miller to trade, and to another, a weaver. However, after he left Colterscleugh he removed to Hawick and became landlord of the Harrow Inn, a property which occupied part of the site in the High Street on which the Royal Bank is built. He enjoyed the friendship of many notable persons, such as the Ettrick Shepherd, Professor Wilson, Allan Cunningham, Thomas Campbell, Henry Scot Riddell, and others. He died in 1829 in his seventy-second year.
Ruickbie was latterly still more closely associated with Mosspaul, as one of his daughters was married to Gray's successor - Robert Govenlock, who was landlord of Mosspaul Inn from 1816 till his death on 12th June, 1861, at the age of 73 years. About three years later the licence was allowed to lapse, the opening of the railway between Hawick and Carlisle, in June, 1862, and the withdrawal of the mail coaches, having made the road practically deserted.
MAIL COACH GUARD
Robert Govenlock, who was landlord of Mosspaul for the long period of forty-five years, was a man of commanding appearance and distinctive personality. He was said to have been brought up at Phaup, where his father was a shepherd. He was for several years a guard on the mail coach, and a picturesque personage in his official uniform of scarlet coat, top boots and hat trimmed with gold braid. The mail coach carried eight passengers - four inside and four outside. The guard was seated on the top of the coach, at the rear end, with accommodation for the mail bags, while in front of him were ensconced a pair of pistols and a blunderbus in case of attack by highwaymen. Nine and a half hours were allowed for the journey of the coach between Edinburgh and Carlisle, the distance being scheduled as 95 miles.
After Govenlock, who was familiarly known as "Gloomy Winter," became landlord of Mosspaul, further additions and improvements were made, three sides being added to the stables, which completed the large square of stabling to the west of the inn, the site of the present bowling green which faces the front entrance to the hotel. For many years the old inn was the scene of much bustle and activity, for at one time several coaches ran daily, and these all pulled up at Mosspaul for a change of horses, the passengers generally at the same time partaking of solid or liquid refreshments. The stabling was extensive, consisting of forty-two stalls in addition to a number of loose boxes, and it is said that he had always twenty-four horses ready for the road.
Govenlock and his wife were well known to travellers, and their kindly disposition and homely manners made them extremely popular amongst all who had occasion to visit the inn or pass a night beneath its comfortable roof. It was said that Mrs Govenlock was especially noted all over the countryside for her kindness and hospitality. She spent most of her time in the large and roomy kitchen, her favourite seat being a settle beside the great fireplace, and it is recorded that it used to be a regular custom with the shooting tenants of Lymiecleugh staying in the house to adjourn to the kitchen in the evenings after dinner and be entertained by the quaint old-world stories of the landlady.
Like her husband, Mrs Govenlock was tall and of fine physique. She had seen very little of the outer world, but nevertheless was happy and contented with her sphere in life. As can be imagined, she led an extremely busy existence, and in her days travel was only indulged in by the rich and well-to-do. When pretty well up in years she was proceeding to Hawick one day with the coach when some would-be wits among the passengers sought to amuse themselves at the expense of the plain, homely old woman. Engaging in conversation, one of the strangers remarked to her, "You'll been in London, of course?" Quickly came the reply, "Eh, no, never as fer as that, sir." "But you must have seen the sights of Edinburgh, at least?" he continued. Promptly came the same answer-"Never sae fer, sir." Trying to draw her, the questioner continued, "But, bless me, my good woman, have you never stirred all your life till now?' In no way disconcerted, she quietly replied, "Hoots, aye, aw was yince at Denholm "
THE "ENGINEER'S" LAST RUN
Mr Govenlock was one of the original proprietors of the coach called the "Engineer," which was started in 1825 and continued to run till 1862, when it was withdrawn from the road on account of the opening of the railway between Hawick and Carlisle. The last run from Hawick to the South was made on Monday, 30th June, 1862. For some time previously the run had only been to Scotsdyke, and later to Rowanburn, the branch railway line between these places and Carlisle having been opened for traffic. The final run which, unfortunately, Mr Govenlock did not live to participate in, was made an event of outstanding importance. The departure of the coach from the Tower Knowe was witnessed by a large concourse of spectators. The team of four horses bore silver-mounted harness, and Mr William Crozier, landlord of the Tower Hotel, one of the old mail coach drivers, handled the reins. The company, numbering about a dozen, were accompanied by Bandmaster Teal and Sergeant Bunyan of the 5th Roxburgh Volunteer Band, who discoursed cornet selections on the way.
All along the route people turned out to have a farewell look at the coach as it passed. At Northhouse the party were joined by Mr John Fenwick, Mr Crozier's predecessor as landland of the Tower, and long one of the proprietors of the coach, and Mr Robert Govenlock, farmer, Teinside, a son of the old landlord of Mosspaul. At Langholm the company dined sumptuously at the Crown Hotel in the evening, and returned to Hawick by train next day.
One of the best-known characters associated with Mosspaul for something like half a century was Jamie Ferguson, who was looked upon as part of the establishment. Jamie had been first engaged there as a post boy, and then as a strapper, and he performed his duties for the last time that memorable Monday. It is said that, as the coach departed for Langholm, Jamie stood in the middle of the road gazing wistfully at it until a turn in the roadway obscured his view. Then he stood for a while, silent and motionless, as well as sorrowful, for with a tinge of sadness he felt that his occupation was gone. Not only had the railway run the coaching traffic off the road, but the carriers and Canonbie coal carters as well. Jamie, it was said, was only once entrusted with the reins, and never again, for in some way he "couped" the coach. The "couping" of the coach, it is needless to say, was regarded as a very serious affair by the proprietors. The accident occurred at Langholm, and on receipt of the alarming news Mr Govenlock at once drove off from Mosspaul to the scene of the disaster. The Langholm folks anticipated a lively meeting when "Gloomy Winter," who was a somewhat stern master, encountered Jamie, but they were disappointed. Jamie was waiting his arrival outside the Crown Hotel in the midst of a curious crowd. "How did this happen, Jamie?" enquired Mr Govenlock in an unexpectedly mild manner. "Deed, maister," answered Jamie in a very crestfallen spirit, "aw dinna yen; she hitet an' shy'd an' juist gaed owre. " "Aye, aye, Jamie, ma man," replied Mr Govenlock, "aw kenned it wadna be your fault-but come away in." What took place behind the closed door never transpired, but care was taken that Jamie was never allowed on the box again.
As may be inferred, in the depth of winter and in the midst of severe snowstorms, there were many dangerous and exciting episodes in connection with some of the journeys in the bleak and exposed portions of the road, particularly between Linhope and Langholm, One such occurred on a morning in February, 1854, when the mail coach left Carlisle under the charge of William Crozier. The morning was cold, and thin snowflakes were flying about, but the weather did not seem altogether unpromising, though as the coach preceded on its journey the snowstorm began to increase in violence. The Cross Keys at Canonbie had been left behind and the Hollows just passed, when a man was encountered in the middle of the road holding aloft an axe as a danger signal. The coach was drawn up, and in answer to "What's wrang now?" the forester replied, "Ye canna gang ony further, Maister Crozier, there's at least a score o' trees blawn doon and lying across the road, so ye maun juist wait till we make a clearance." Crozier was reputed to have been a man of quick decision, and as he was near Irving House, the residence of the Duke of Buccleuch's chamberlain, he drove into the courtyard there. The passengers and the driver and guard were hospitably treated, and their half-frozen limbs thawed before a blazing log fire.
In about two hours it was announced that the road was cleared, and accordingly the coach proceeded on its northward journey. But Crozier began to calculate that their troubles were not yet over, as they should have met Jamie Govenlock and his coach on the southward journey about Sorbie. But even at Langholm there were no tidings of him, and Crozier, with his intimate knowledge of the road, began to speculate that Jamie would be stuck between Linhope and Mosspaul. And he had been right, for after a slow and perilous run between Fiddleton and Mosspaul he reached the old inn to find Jamie, a son of the landlord, standing in the doorway calmly smoking his pipe, and ready to inform them; that he had left his coach snowed up near Linhope. He advised Crozier not to ventured farther, but to make himself and his passengers as comfortable as possible in the hotel. But Crozier was not easily daunted, and he resolved to make an heroic attempt to reach Hawick that night with the mails.
WHISKY THE REWARD
His plan was to leave the luggage behind him, and lead the fresh horses to the scene of the buried coach, while the other coach should try to reach Carlisle under Govenlock's charge. Fortunately, there were about a dozen carters, whose carts were also embedded in drifts, carousing in the kitchen, and Crozier offered to treat the inn to a bottle of whisky if they would turn out with spades and shovels and endeavour to extricate the coach. A second bottle was promised by one of the passengers, with the result that the men marched in a body, knee deep in the snow, to the scene of the embedded coach, and at once commenced operations with vigour and determination, knowing that two bottles were at their call when they returned to the warm and comfortable kitchen. Crozier and old Jamie Ferguson followed after an interval with the fresh horses bearing the mail bags strapped on their backs. The coach was in due course cleared, turned in the direction of Hawick, and the horses attached. With the prospect of, a comparatively clear road in front of them, the journey was resumed. The snowstorm had ceased, and as darkness set in a keen frost developed. The Tower Hotel was reached at half-past seven, nearly six hours behind time, a crowd surrounding the coach eager to ascertain the cause of the prolonged detention. Needless to say, travelling by coach had its dangers and hardships as well as its pleasures.
Many distinguished personages from time to time enjoyed the homely comforts and simple fare of old Mosspaul. Returning home from their tour in Scotland in 1803, the poet Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy halted at Mosspaul, and in her diary Miss Wordsworth says:- "At Mosspaul we fed our horse; several travellers were drinking whisky. We neither ate nor drank, for we had, with our usual foresight and frugality in travelling, saved the cheese cakes and sandwiches which had been given us by our country woman at Jedburgh the day before." They had spent the previous night in the Tower Hotel along with Mr (afterwards Sir) Walter Scott. The Wordsworths had been accompanied in their drive from Jedburgh by Mr Scott, and on the following morning, Friday, 23rd September, 1803, before breakfast, the distinguished trio walked to the Vertish Hill, where Miss Wordsworth says:- "We had an extensive view over the moors of Liddesdale and saw the Cheviot Hills. We wished we could have gone with Mr Scott into some of the remote dales of this country, where in almost every house he can find a home and a hearty welcome." On reaching his home at Grasmere Wordsworth wrote to Scott regarding the delightful trip, remarking "the whole of the Teviot and the pastoral steeps about Mosspaul pleased us exceedingly." And there can be little doubt but that Sir Walter himself, in the course of some of his tours into Liddesdale with his staunch and loyal friend, Shortreed, would occasionally partake of the good cheer provided by "Gloomy Winter" and his kindly and hospitable spouse.
The great statesman, William Ewart Gladstone and his wife, in their young days, frequently spent a night at Mosspaul when travelling to Scotland, and it was said that the swallows which nested under the eaves of the old building were a source of great delight to them on their visits.
THE WISP CLUB
Intimately associated with Mosspaul was the renowned Wisp Club, which took its name from the hill which rises immediately behind the hotel to a height of 1950 feet above sea level. The Club, which was composed of the principal large farmers in the district, was formed in the spring of 1826 at a meeting held at Mosspaul, and it was resolved that the members should dine annually on the Friday after Dumfries Spring Horse Market and record the average prices obtained the previous season for one and twoyear-old Shorthorn and Galloway cattle, all descriptions of Cheviot and blackfaced sheep, and their respective wools produced in Scotland south of the Firth of Forth.
The resolutions adopted by the Club were:
(1) That the price of the above articles shall be fixed by a majority of votes, and to avoid altercation, every gentleman must, when called upon, without any preliminary remark, put a value on the respective articles as given out by the Secretary of the Club.
(2) That no person after 1828 will be admitted a member of the Club unless regularly proposed and voted in by two-thirds of the members of the Club present, and that no person will be considered worthy of this Society unless he be able to drink ONE bottle of AQUA (whisky).
(3) That any member who wishes to withdraw from the Club must, previous to the annual general meeting, formally give notice to the secretary, which will be equivalent to his resignation, and that two shillings will be exacted from each member absent, which will go to a fund intrusted to the charge of the treasurer of the Club.
(4) That one of the members of the Club shall, from his holy walk and pious demeanour, perform the clerical duties of the meeting; that William Aitchison, Menzieu, shall officiate as secretary, and Robert Govenlock, Mosspaul, as treasurer.
The original members of the Club were:
Alexander Pott, Burnfoot, Langholm. William Brown, Tower Inn, Hawick. James Elliot, Goldielands. Walter Grieve, Southfield. Thomas Lamb, Woodhead. Robert Elliot, Teinside. John Wilson, Hawick. Thomas Davidson, Milnholm. William Aitchison, Linhope. George Aitchison, Linhope. Robert Scott, Eweslees. Robert Govenlock, Mosspaul,William Aitchison, Menzieu. James Osborne, Glasgow (honorary member).
In the following year the following names were added to the roll of membership:
Dr John Douglas, Hawick.
John Pott of Rig.
Henry Elliot, Colterscleugh.
William Elliot, Teinside.
Dr Adam Elliot, Goldielands (honorary member).
Members continued to be enrolled at the meetings, and in 1833 the Rev. Henry Scott Riddell of Teviothead was admitted as an honorary member. In 1839 the meeting was largely attended, 32 members dining under the presidency of Mr Turnbull, Falnash.
THE LAST DINNER
From a report of the annual dinner of the Club, held on 19th April, 1844, which appeared in the "Carlisle Journal," contributed presumably by Mr James Steel, the editor of that newspaper, as he; was present and replied to the toast of "The Liberty of the Press," it is remarked that the members of the Club are mostly pastoral farmers, who may be reckoned among the most substantial men of their class in the counties of Dumfries, Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles, many of them being owners of from 3000 to 5000 sheep. The dinner that year was presided over by Mr David Scott, Priesthaugh, Mr Common, Meikledale, being croupier. The Chairman said it gave him great pleasure to see so many present on the occasion, and nine new members had been added to the long army of names forming the Wisp Club, and he was anxious that their presence should be welcomed by a hearty cheer, such as would be heard at the very top of the Wisp. It is further recorded in the report that "an excellent and substantial dinner was provided by Mr and Mrs Govenlock, and the wine being good and the mountain dew delicious, nothing was wanting in the way of creature comforts to make all happy under the Wisp."
The last dinner of the Club, so far as can be ascertained, was held in 1858, when fifteen members dined, Mr Stewart, Ploughlands, being in the chair.
COMING OF THE RAILWAY
The opening of the railway line through Liddesdale to Carlisle, sounded the death-knell of old Mosspaul, the road, except for gangrel bodies and a few country carriers, becoming practically deserted, and the licence was allowed to lapse in 1864. For some years the old inn was occupied as a private dwelling-house, but eventually it became tenantless and was ultimately unroofed and allowed to fall into decay and ruin.
With the development of cycling a desire arose over thirty years ago for the resuscitation of Mosspaul, and largely through the efforts of ex-Provost Barrie a numerously signed memorial was submitted to the Duke of Buccleuch, the proprietor, stressing the necessity which had arisen for the rebuilding of the hotel in order to meet the wants of the period, and the Duke readily consented to feu the required ground. Accordingly, in January, 1900, a local company was formed for this purpose under the title of Mosspaul, Limited, with a capital of £2000 in ordinary shares of £1 each. The moving spirit in the promotion was the late Mr Adam Laing, solicitor and Burgh Chamberlain, whose intense love fort the Borderland - its beauty and romance, is still remembered by his friends. The directors were:- Robert Mitchell, glass merchant, Provost of the Burgh; John Melrose, engineer; John Ritchie Purdom, solicitor; James Edgar, newspaper proprietor; David Shiel, wine merchant; James S. Turner, coal merchant; and John Turnbull, wine merchant; Mr Adam Laing being secretary.
It may be of interest to make the following excerpt from the prospectus issued.
"This Company has been formed to acquire by feu contract from His Grace the Duke of Buccleuch land at Mosspaul, on the road between Hawick and Langholm, which embraces within its area the site of an inn famous in the old coaching days. The Company propose to erect on the site a comfortable residential hotel, and to carry on business as hotel-keepers therein. The Company has not been formed from any mere speculative motive, but solely in response to a widespread and ever-growing demand on the part of the travelling public for the resuscitation of the old inn. This demand lately took the shape of a memorial to the Duke of Buccleuch, largely signed by all classes of the community, pointing out the necessity which has now arisen for such an establishment at Mosspaul; and His Grace, in answer, has with much liberality afforded the Company every facility fir carrying out its object. The formation if the railway to Carlisle and Langholm gradually brought about the decline and abolition if the old inn, but the ever-increasing cycle traffic has again changed the circumstances, and few roads are now mire frequented than the beautiful stretch if 23 miles between Hawick and Langholm, passing through, as it dies, the mist typical if Birder scenery, and a route crowded with romantic associations if the past.
"Mosspaul, which is about equidistant from Hawick and Langholm, is grandly situated amidst 'the eternal silence if the hills' at the head if the pass to Ewesdale, and in the water-shed between the dales if Teviot and Ewes. It is within easy reach if mist that is famous in Birder story-Gilnockie and Teviothead, with the memory if Johnnie Armstrong; Hermitage Castle, with Queen Mary and Bothwell; the Nine Stane Rig and Lord Soulis; Branxholme and the Scotts, with the scenery if the immortal 'Lay if the Last Minstrel;' Harden, with the exploits if 'Auld Wat;' Hawick and its Moat, with reminiscences 'after Flodden'-in shirt, the while district beloved and wandered over by Sir Walter Scott. Of another interest are the 'Cattail' and the numerous hill forts and prehistoric remains scattered over the district.
"Situated at the bracing altitude if nearly 900 feet above sea level, and in a district strongly recommended by medical men as a health resort, the promoters believe that an hotel possessing so many unique attractions, will have many residents, and will at once become a favourite resort if those in search if health or in holiday."
OPENING OF NEW HOTEL
A considerable number if shares were taken up, and plans fir the new building were prepared by Mr John Guthrie, architect. In March, building operations were commenced, and in Saturday, 7th July, in brilliant weather, the hotel was formally opened in presence if a great concourse if visitors, calculated at about two thousand. Cyclists from all the surrounding districts were largely represented, the number being computed at between five and six hundred. Among the first to drive up to the front door was old Sandy Elder if the Cross Keys Hotel, Canonbie, who, notwithstanding his eighty years, handled the ribbons if his fine four-in-hand in gallant style. Mr Elder was the only remaining link with the Mosspaul if other days, he being the last surviving mail coach driver if the district.
After Provost Mitchell, as Chairman if the directors, had given the vast assemblage a cordial welcome to the revived Mosspaul, a large company sat down to luncheon in a spacious marquee, which had been erected in the grounds. The Provost presided over the luncheon part, and the toast if "Success to Mosspaul, Limited," was proposed by Mr John G. Winning, Branxholme Knowe, who, in the course if an interesting and eloquent speech, said that the stream if human life was again traversing their valley in ever increasing volume, and while there had now been provided the means if rest and refreshment fir the passing traveller, he could nit help thinking, in gazing in their beautiful surroundings, that a better health resort fir the weary dweller in town or city could nit be found, and that there in the breezy and health-giving upland, far removed from the smoke and din if a city life, Mosspaul offered a quiet haven where fogged brain and listless body could nit fail to recuperate.
It may be interesting to mention that the frontispiece if the luncheon card was the reproduction if a sketch by Mr Tim Scott, R.S.A.; entitled "An Unrecorded Vision." In the bottom right-hand corner if the sketch was seen St. Paul sitting in a dreaming attitude, the "vision" depicted being horsedrawn vehicles filled with travellers, cyclists if both sexes, and numerous pedestrians all making fir Mosspaul, which stood in the background. But the seer had been unable to penetrate into the immediate future and catch a glimpse if the motor cars and charabancs which in a few years would crowd the highway, and later become a dangerous menace to the railway systems if the country.
Under different managers the hotel attracted a certain amount if patronage from cyclists, picnic parties, and others, but never sufficient to make it a paying proposition, and in May, 1908, the Company disposed if it to Mr George Michael, who hailed from Banchiry, Kincardine. Under the energetic supervision if Mr and Mrs Michael, aided by the gradual but steady development of motor road traffic, business improved. After conducting the place successfully for over fifteen years, Mr and Mrs Michael left the district, and in November, 1923, the hotel was purchased by Mr and Mrs N. J. Smith from Glasgow. Under the charge of the present owners the best traditions of Mosspaul are being maintained, and by their excellent management they have done much to still further popularise the inn and attract an ever increasing number of visitors.
In 1900 the directors and a number of friends formed the Mosspaul Club, a successor in some respects to the old Wisp Club, the principal features being an annual outing and dinner at the hotel. Dr McLeod was the first president, Bailie A. S. Lawson being installed as chaplain. The dinner, generally well atttended by the members, was held regularly till 1914, when it was interrupted by the Great War. Subsequently the gatherings were resumed, but for some years now the Club has not met.