Former Police Station Kirkhill near Inverness
There had long been a police station in the Kirkhill/Kiltarlity are west of Inverness - but, as applied throughout Inverness-shire, it was wherever the County Council could find a suitable house. Suitability tended to be based more on cheapness of rent rather than strategic location or comfort for the officer and his family. Thus the station was generally a room within - or a lean-to appended to - the rented house. An officer would be decanted when and if the lease was ended, and it would be make-do and mend in terms of getting carpets etc to fit. There were a few "fixed" police stations, in purpose-built buildings or existing buildings altered to suit, but they tended to be in the larger villages. "one man stations" were rarely "fixed" until after World War One, or even later, when it became apparent that it was both more efficient and more effective to have police stations which were owned by the Force. That way, a strategic location might (hopefully) be achieved and retained. Thus, at or near an important junction - or in a village or town - permanent police stations appeared, In point of fact Kirkhill was one of the later ones to appear, but it followed the same plan as many others in Inverness-shire. The design was that of a standard Council house (or rather half a design) since Council houses were usually built as a pair (semi-detached), whereas the police station would be one half of such semi-detached design, with a small office built on to one side, complete with connecting door through to the house.
Road improvements and re-alignment to the A9 road north of Inverness saw a long straight stretch through the Kirkhill area, by-passing the village of Kirkhill itself.
Therefore a decision was made to place a new station at the side of the A9 on that straight section where no other houses were at the roadside for quite a distance in either direction. The structure was built at right angles to the road - thus this is the imposing view a motorist would get on travelling northwards. One wonders if the intention was to remind motorists to keep a sensible speed, in case the policeman was watching from his office (or house?)
Certainly it gave the impression of being a very lonely location, although there were neighbouring houses not that far up a side road.
The house (and office) was finally opened in March 1966, and Constable Alan MacPhee and his family moved from their previous location within Kirkhill to occupy the new station and house on 10th March. Alan, stationed at Kirkhill since January 1962, would continue to cover the Kirkhill beat until January 1976 when he was transferred into Inverness, where we was duly promoted to Sergeant. A certain young officer was then on secondment to Beauly Section and the Section Sergeant (the late, great Murdo MacRae) decided young Conner would cover Kirkhill beat meantime. Getting married soon, and thus needing a police house, the youngster pleaded with the powers-that-be to be transferred to Kirkhill, but instead another was allocated - and his name was ALSO MacPhee and first initial A also (Archie). His tenure was however somewhat shorter than his predecessor - Archie (like young Conner) was transferred to Kirkwall, Orkney in the summer of 1979.
Since then a number of officers have served at Kirkhill - including one who is now an MSP - but the Station's strategic location diminished considerably with the opening of the Kessock Bridge in 1982. As a result the A9 trunk road no longer meandered along the south coast of the Beauly firth past Kirkhill but headed more directly north across the Black Isle. While that did not exactly make Kirkhill a rural backwater, it was no longer on a trunk road, and the beat officer spent most of his time policing the Beauly section as a whole rather than “working a beat” as in previous times.
Austerity and budgetary considerations meant the force (by now Northern Constabulary) was looking long and hard at its assets, and building maintenance was a considerable drain on its budget. Thus a number of small stations were gradually being closed and disposed of, with the beat officer instead being assigned to the local Section (Sergeant) Station.
Kirkhill Police Station finally closed c.2000 with the officer moving to Beauly. The house and Station have since been sold and are now a private house. Nonetheless, there are many folk of a certain age who automatically take their foot off the accelerator pedal as their vehicle approaches the building ”just in case the bobby is watching!”
Many thanks to retired officer A.K. Macdonald for this photo which he took while stationed at Kirkhill in the 1980s/90s.