Death of former Brechin ‘mine-host’

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A local woman, who ran the Brown Horse Hotel for over four decades, has died aged 86.

Mrs Balharry was born in the Southsea district of Portsmouth in 1924. She was brought up in Amersham and worked as a clerkess with Price Forbes in London, cycling three miles everyday to catch the train to London.

Margaret met her husband William Balharry, a sergeant in the Royal Signals, when he was stationed in Buckinghamshire.

The couple moved back to William’s home town of Brechin in 1945 to get married in the Commercial Hotel, now known as the Northern Hotel.

In 1946 the couple took over the reins at the Brown Horse Hotel which had been in the family since 1896.

Margaret was the driving force behind the business and in 1967 they expanded the hotel, creating a lounge so that ladies could enjoy their hospitality too. A place which soon became a favourite with students. To this day locals still talk about Balharry’s or the Stables as the new lounge is now called.

In 1980 Margaret’s daughter Susan died suddenly, aged 29, leaving behind three young children. From then on Margaret concentrated mostly on their well-being, always being there if they needed her.

During this time she continued to support her husband with the running of the business but more in the background.

They sold the business in 1990 to Agnes and Jack Gentles.

Her son Peter moved to Bermuda to work in 1982 coming home two to three times a year to visit his mum whilst Margaret enjoyed many a trip out to visit him.

Her latter years were spent in the Glens in Edzell formally the Central Hotel.

During this time she shared the experience with one of her life long friends and in their elderly minds often mistook the home for the Central Hotel.

She is survived by son Peter, grandchildren Gavin, Lindsay and Robin and her great grandchildren.

Her funeral took place on Friday, January, with Rev Jane Blackley holding an excellent service.

Jennifer Holland, who was a good friend of Margaret’s daughter Susan, became a good friend of Margaret over the years. She said: “Margaret was one of life’s ladies, immaculately dressed no matter what. She had a great sense of humour and was uncomplaining.

“She was a very dear friend to me and we experienced a lot in the 46 years that she has been part of my life.

“She was a good friend to many. We will miss her very much.”