1-2 Agnew Crescent, Stranraer. DG9 7RF. Tel: 01776 702421.
The Commercial Inn stands at the corner of Agnew Crescent and King Street.
Stranraer is a beautiful place situated on the shores of Loch Ryan, and around the clusters so much of historical interest and antiquity, where the vandal hand of civilisation has not yet tampered with its rugged grandeur, has no rival in Scotland, that was in 1895…
The climate was recommended by medical authorities, while the pure bracing ozone is wafted direct from the Atlantic ocean. Stranraer is a convenient centre for many of the most interesting spots in Galloway and Wigtownshire. Within walking distance of Lochnaw Castle, Corswail House, Cuthorn Castle and Soulseat Loch, on the banks of which stand the ruins of the famous abbey of that name, built in the twelfth century and occupied by the monks of that period. In the centre of the town you have the old castle, built in the sixteenth century, and once the residence of Graham of Claverhouse. The locals in Stranraer are so familiar as the starting point for the short sea passage to Ireland via Larne; but beyond this it is yearly becoming a favourite resort for summer visitors.
Mr James MacKenzie landlord of the Commercial Inn. 1895.
The Commercial Inn was the favourite resort for residents and visitors alike. This was no doubt in a large measure due to its charming situation; but another and no less important factor in its progress is that unexceptional manner in which it has been conducted since the business was taken over by Mr James MacKenzie, who ad re-arranged it as a hostelry, which stood at the head of the pier and just removed sufficiently from the main thoroughfare to keep it reserved. The front of the building looks out upon the bay and there are few hotels in Scotland that can command a view to equal it; while from an hygienic standpoint nothing better could be desired.
On entering the Commercial Inn, the extreme right of was the bar, the lower flat contained a comfortable sitting-room, a long, well lit bar, and the bar parlour. Some idea of the extent of the bar can be formed when it stretched all the way to the other entrance on the right. Passing upstairs the visitor enters the beautiful dining room, furbished with oak and upholstered in golden plush. A piano occupied the place at the head of the room, ready to be called into requisition on state occasions and various pictures adorned the walls. On this flat, too, was the kitchen and pantry, an arrangement that tends to expedite the waiting at tables. There was also a spare bedroom on this landing. The principal accommodation for boarders would be found in the flat above, where large and airy bedrooms look out on the far reaching seascape with Loch Ryan head and Ailsa Craig in the distance.
Mr MacKenzie had new napery, linen and upholstery work brought in when he took over the hotel, departments in which, during his experience as a ship’s steward, had gained a complete knowledge. At the rear of the hotel was a wonderful garden, outhouses, stores and a capital beer cellar.
James MacKenzie started his early life as a ship’s steward in the Anchor liner “Circassia,” thence he changed to the Orient Line, under which he made no less than twenty three trips to Australia. He also served in the Inman and City Lines and latterly in the steam yacht “Myrtle” (Donald Currie & Co.,) Setting down on shore, he was for a time in charge of his brother John’s grocery business in Glasgow; but, eager to make a start for himself in the world. When the Commercial Inn came on the market in 1894, he offered and obtained a lease of it and entered the hotel business.
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