Research Output

Narratives of health and hospitality: Strathpeffer Spa c.1866 – c.1946

  This paper examines the history of Strathpeffer Spa (the UK’s most northerly spa) between c.1860 and c.1946 using a range of printed primary and archive sources. Drawing upon Hansen’s (2012) work in business history it demonstrates the value of a cultural and narrative approach as a means of understanding the development of a distinctive hospitality-based community. Strathpeffer Spa was founded for the business of health, with the entire village dependent upon the spa and engaged in the provision of hospitality for those who came to ‘take the waters’. From c.1866 a powerful ‘health narrative’ dominated the village community. At the heart of this was an emphasis on Strathpeffer as a destination devoted to the requirements of ‘health seekers’ and ‘invalids’, and where meeting the needs of this particular clientele was paramount (Fortescue-Fox 1896). Hospitality at Strathpeffer was, thus, medicalised into a prolonged health-giving experience, a narrative that was created and sustained by key members of the community, and which became deeply embedded in the fabric and purpose of the village. Although the emphasis on this ‘health narrative’ proved initially to be successful, in the longer term it became a contributing factor in Strathpeffer Spa’s declining fortunes. The value of a narrative approach for understanding the sustainability of hospitality-based communities is discussed.

  • Type:


  • Date:

    01 June 2018

  • Publication Status:


  • DOI:


  • ISSN:


  • Library of Congress:

    GV Recreation Leisure

  • Dewey Decimal Classification:

    338.4791 Tourist industry

  • Funders:

    Edinburgh Napier Funded


Thomson, E. (2018). Narratives of health and hospitality: Strathpeffer Spa c.1866 – c.1946. Hospitality and Society, 8(2), 111-135.



history, hospitality, tourism, culture, narrative, Scotland

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