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Fochabers

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Fochabers (; Scottish Gaelic: Fachabair or Fothabair) is a village in the Parish of Bellie, in Moray, Scotland, 10 miles (16 km) east of the cathedral city of Elgin and located on the east bank of the River Spey. 1,728 people live in the village, which enjoys a rich musical and cultural history. The village is also home to Baxters, the family-run manufacturer of foodstuffs.

The village owes its existence to Alexander Gordon, 4th Duke of Gordon (1743–1827). During the late-eighteenth century, during the Scottish Enlightenment, it was fashionable for landowners to found new towns and villages; these can be recognised all over Scotland, because unlike their predecessors they all have straight, wide streets in mainly rectangular layouts, a central square, and the houses built with their main elevations parallel to the street. The tenants benefited from more spacious homes, and the Duke, it has to be said, benefited from not having the hoi polloi living in hovels right on the doorstep of Gordon Castle. Fochabers was founded in 1776, and is one of the best examples of a planned village. It is a conservation area, with most of the buildings in the High Street listed as being of historical or architectural interest, as is Bellie Kirk, the Roman Catholic church St. Mary's Fochabers, which houses works by notable craftsmen, and the Episcopalian church, Gordon Chapel, which boasts the largest collection of Pre-Raphaelite stained glass in Scotland.

Electricity was brought to the village in 1906 by Charles Gordon-Lennox, 7th Duke of Richmond supplied from a small hydro-electric generating station built in 1905 in the Quarters district on the banks of the fast-flowing Spey. For a time in the mid-twentieth century, Fochabers was the home of three duchesses - Hilda, Duchess of Richmond and Gordon; Ivy, Duchess of Portland and Helen, Duchess of Northumberland. Between 1893 and 1966 the village had a railway station, Fochabers Town, although after 1931 this was open only to freight.

For nearly three decades, the people of Fochabers campaigned for a bypass, as the village is situated on the A96, the only direct route from Aberdeen to Inverness, and consequently suffers from serious traffic problems. Construction work on a bypass for Fochabers and the neighbouring village of Mosstodloch started on 2 February 2010 and was completed in January 2012, at a cost of £31,500,000. The project was significantly delayed due to conflict regarding the proposed route, and discovery of a Neolithic settlement on the site of the bypass.

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