One of our regular readers spotted the following on pages 591/2 of George Bain's History of Nairnshire. The book is available for free download here.
An experiment in land cultivation in connection with the Burgh of Nairn is interesting from its economic results. A movement originated amongst the townspeople about the year 1769 for allotments of land. A Trades Society was formed and an application was made to the Council for a long lease of " the uncultivated moorish ground belonging to the community lying to the west of the Auldton Burn or strype that runs down from the Moss of Nairn."A few years later the Council granted a lease of about 141 Scots
acres for a term of five nineteen years at an annual rent of £5 sterling for the first nineteen years, £10 for the second nineteen, £15 for the third, £20 for the fourth, and £25 for the fifth and last nineteen years. The experiment was only a very partial success. The lands were brought under cultivation, but, with one or two exceptions, the houses erected (which fell to the town on expiry of the lease) were miserably poor. The land was starved towards the close of the lease. The Trades Society had virtually become defunct,
but its treasurer managed to gather the amount of rent from sub-tenants. In 1889 the lease expired, and the Town Council resumed possession of its property. A new scheme was started. The lands were disposed of, along with such houses as existed, as perpetual feus, to the highest bidder at a public sale on the ground, the purchaser having the option of redeeming one-half the capitalised feu-duty, or of erecting sufficient buildings in security. The former course generally was adopted. The effect has been most satisfactory. The
best land was taken up, comfortable cottages erected, the land is well laboured, and an industrious community has settled upon it. The average feu-duty was about £4 an acre, half of which was commuted by capital payment. Not a single feuar has failed, although there have been a good many changes amongst the tenants who rented the ground not feued. Market gardening and the letting of the cottages as summer quarters has no doubt aided the experiment, but so far as it has gone it has demonstrated the superiority of
feuing over leasing.