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The New Inn  

was the fashionable place to stay when Peterhead was a spa town. Its reputation deteriorated as the clientele became more colourful, including a group of rich and dissolute young men who formed the “Five Bottles Club”. This was Peterhead’s answer to London’s notorious “Hellfire Club”, famed for the drunken and outrageously immoral behaviour of its aristocratic members. Around 1840, local courtesan “Lady” Belle Imlah began to hold court at the inn, attended by her “semi-nudist colony of voluptuous attendants”. Lady Belle was reputed to be the confidante of all of the professional men in town, which may explain why her enterprise was not promptly closed down. In the 18th century, brothels were ironically referred to as “holy ground”. The New Inn became known locally as the “Hallelujah Lobby”. When the last stage coach rolled out of Peterhead in 1861, the writing was on the wall for the New Inn. It closed and turned into housing, which eventually became a notorious and unsanitary slum. In 1931, the Town Council bought the building and demolished it, replacing the Hallelujah Lobby with the modern and comfortable homes its  residents deserved.

       The Town House in Broad Street was the seat of local government in the 18th and 19th Century. The Bailies (the equivalent of magistrates and town councillors) met there and it served as the courthouse. But the Town House had its own secrets – at a time when import duty on every day goods such as tea, molasses and brandy was very high, many otherwise law abiding people bought their supplies from smugglers who imported the goods secretly to avoid paying tax. Some of the  Bailies were said to have been involved in this trade, and their contraband was allegedly buried under the sandy floor of the Town House to escape the attention of the Government’s hated Excise men, who enforced the taxes.

Now, Broad Street is predominantly a commercial  centre. But underground lies a mystery. Hidden beneath the car park is a huge cave, supported by pillars. The only access is through a tunnel from one of the nearby buildings. What’s it for?   Nobody knows....

Broad Street in the late 1800’s

Broad Street in the late 19th century