The much admired Traill Pavilion on Montrose’s beach front undertook a career change on Monday when a new tenant signed a lease with Angus Council.
The doors of the building on Traill Drive were opened to customers looking for light lunches, ice creams, teas and coffees.
Jane Watson, who owns Mum’s of Montrose tearoom on Castle Place, has taken over the local landmark and turned it into Auntie’s Parlour cafe.
She said: “I’m aiming to make Auntie’s Parlour a homely and comfortable cafe in a grand setting.”
The building is beautiful, painted in ice cream pastel colours with stunning plasterwork and stained glass windows in rainbow hues.
In recent years there has been much controversy over the change of use of the building, which in 1913 was opened as a resting place and shelter for the folk of Montrose visiting the beach.
The building is listed and has until now lain mostly empty except for the toilets, which have been at times operated by the council but only for limited days.
The Pavilion was paid for by a bequest from the Traill family and it was not intended at the time to be used for any trade, but Mrs Watson said: “That’s historic bunkum. One hundred years on and things change. Shame on anyone who wants to prevent this stunning building being used.”
She explained: “People have said to me they remember buying Twix and other chocolate bars way back when there was a pitch and putt facility here. That was trading of sorts.”
The Montrose Society celebrated the centenary of the Pavilion two years ago by recreating the excitement of its opening. Gable Endies turned out in hats and clothing of the time and even recreated the original photo of the opening celebration outside the building.
Sandy Munro, president of the society, said: “The Traill Pavilion was built 102 years ago to house toilet facilities and I remember going in there barefoot to shelter from the wind. Nobody had cars in those days so it was a welcome respite from the weather.
“I wish Jane well in her new business.”
The lease comes with a few conditions, most importantly she cannot erect new signs which might change the look of the listed building.
At present Mrs Watson says a steady stream of happy families are using the place for its toilet facilities. She is happy to receive them, although there is a 30p charge for this service. However, she will refund the charge if the customers order food or drinks at the cafe.
Local businessman Dennis Laidlaw, owner of Madison’s cafe in Montrose, had been awarded the lease for the Traill Pavilion in summer 2014, but withdrew his offer because of difficulties with the fabric of the building and front door security, as well as getting final agreements on the wording of the lease.
The building went back on the market this May.
Henry Pinder, who owns and runs the amusement centre, Beach Cafe and ice cream kiosk adjacent to the listed building, says he is surprised the council have agreed to lease the Pavilion as a tearoom.
He said: “We have had to work very closely with the council and follow regulations to the letter in order to operate here. That Pavilion is only meant to be for public toilets.
“I know there is a lot of red tape to cut through before the place would be acceptable as a cafe.”
The Traill Pavilion opened on August 8, 1913, after brothers John and David Traill, who were born in the burgh but left to pursue successful business careers, generously gifted £2,000 to the people of Montrose.