Corrie: It’s been called the prettiest village in Europe and has been both inspiration and home to many artists. Elegant sandstone villas and sturdy sandstone cottages face out to sea, while the mountains of Arran rise majestically behind. It’s a beautiful village, one full of history and character, but which only really came into being as we know it today during the major social upheavals of the 19th century. When the surrounding land was cleared of small farming communities, the inhabitants of these areas had to leave their homes and find work elsewhere. Some went to the growing industrial cities of the central belt of Scotland, others emigrated to new lands such as Canada. But some were fortunate enough to be able to take up quarrying and fishing in the new village along the shore, Corrie.
Transport improved and slowly but surely the the famous Clyde steamers made access to the beautiful islands of the Firth of Clyde quicker and easier. Tourism grew and the villages of Arran became a favourite haunt of the growing urban middles classes from mainland Scotland. Then World War Two brought a new wave of visitors when large numbers of children were evacuated from Glasgow and sent to the relative safety of Arran. Some found the contrast between town and country too much and went back to the mainland – despite the risk of bombing. For others it was the start of lifelong connection to Arran and Corrie in particular.
Life is never static and Corrie is a good example of this. For different people it’s meant different things. The artist Joan Eardley loved it, as did the Sandeman family. For the author and illustrator Mairi Hedderwick it was the beginning of a lifelong love of Scottish islands. While the family of the founders of the great publishing house of Macmillan started life there too. And it’s a place we can make our own connections with today as well.