Reid’s Palace Hotel

Thanks for Elisabeth for tagging me in this story taken from the Facebook page The Words and Works of Frank Beattie

The Facebook page is for all those that have interest in Kilmarnock history.

Many might know the story, especially if you have stayed or visited.

Wednesday feature

Reid’s Palace Hotel
Now that travel restrictions are being relaxed, many folk are thinking about where to go for a holiday. One place that attracts many folk is the island of Madeira.
Here you will find what is classed as one of the world’s finest hotels… Reid’s Palace Hotel.
This is perched on a hillside in Funchal, the main city of Madeira, some 400 miles off the Portuguese coast. And it was founded by a man fro Ayrshire.
William Reid was born in Riccarton on September 1, 1822 in Riccarton, the don of a farmer.
William was one of twelve children and his education was to learn the basics of reading, writing and arithmetic. But William was not a healthy child. It was felt that he was too weak for ordinary work, which in Riccarton meant working in the mines, weaving or hard labour on the farm.
The doctor advised that William’s health could be helped by a prolonged stay in a warmer and drier climate.
Of all the options that presented themselves only one seemed viable. William’s father gave the young lad as much as he could afford and sent him off to seek his fame and fortune in foreign climes.
William set off with £5, a lot of money then, but not enough for any length of time.
William set sail for Spain, Portugal and eventually arrived on the island of Madeira. He worked his passage as a cabin boy, doing all sorts of odd jobs during the voyage.
On arrival at Madeira he knew he was where he wanted to be. The place looked like paradise.
Still only 14 years old, but despite the difficulties over language, he found work in a bakery. The work was hard, the hours were long and the pay was poor.
But William followed in the best Scottish tradition of being thrifty with his money. He lived frugally and saved what he could from his earnings. Having arrived on Madeira with his £5 still intact, he gradually started to add to it.
His health began to improve and William started to plan how he could start his own business.
After ten year working in the bakery, he left established himself as a wine merchant. Madeira wine was popular and soon William’s business was prospering.
Before long William was looking for others ways to expand the business.
Tourism was growing and William started running hotels. Finally he planned to build the biggest hotel on the island, but more than that, William wanted the Reid’s Palace Hotel to be classed as one of the best hotels in the world.
Tragically, William died, shortly before construction work was completed, but the hotel, now 120 years old, is still classed as one of the finest hotels in the world.


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