Ronald Bremner died from multiple cancers on December 1, 2001. Born in 1941,
during the second world war, to hoteliers Jean and Willie Bremner, Ronald Bremner
was their only son. When Bremner's father died, his son took on the running of the
Drumnadrochit Hotel and oversaw the building of a new motor inn section which opened
Bremner was always a topnotch sportsman, playing rugby, tennis, table tennis and
golf to a high standard, according to his former partner Tony Harmsworth. Bremner
and his wife Libby were tennis doubles' champions of Inverness, Scotland, and his
table tennis was to international standards. He loved golf and played to a short
handicap. Gary Campbell notes, Bremner was a scratch golfer at age 18 and many felt
that had he not followed his parents into the hotel trade, he could have been a pro.
In 1979, Bremner met Harmsworth who coordinated a darts championship for Bremner
which saw several international players making the trip to Drumnadrochit on a weekly
basis. Harmsworth did this in order to get Bremner's ear over an idea he had for
a Loch Ness Exhibition.
Within a short period it was agreed that Bremner would finance the exhibition and
provide the buildings to the rear of the old Drumnadrochit Hotel, and Harmsworth
would produce and run the exhibition. Harmsworth continued to work for Ronnie until
1990, improving the original exhibition. Then the exhibition planned its move into
the derelict Victorian hotel building and the services of Adrian Shine were obtained
as a consultant to the center. The lack of a written contract resulted in a misunderstanding
which was forever to drive a wedge between Bremner and Harmsworth, and a cloud would
remain over their relationship to the end - although it did mellow finally.
In the beginning, there were happier times. Bremner, in 1980, joined Harmsworth who
designed and co-founded the concept, while Bremner provided the finances and buildings
for the Loch Ness Monster Exhibition. Thus Bremner became the owner of the Loch Ness
Center at Drumnadrochit, Scotland.
For Bremner, the new exhibition became a positive asset which provided security for
Bremner and his family. He went on to franchise out the hotel and shops leaving the
exhibition as the core business.
More recently Ronnie Bremner and his son, Robert ("Robbie"), developed
the business further with the assistance of the local Enterprise company into one
of the finest visitor attractions in Scotland. Their resources together with Adrian
Shine's services as consultant created one of Scotland's more innovative educational
Bremner, reports Harmsworth, had a very generous heart and this was not always obvious
to people who did not get to know him properly. Harmsworth remembers one occasion
when a villager came to Bremner in desperation late on a Friday to get a check cashed
to get matters arranged after his son had been killed in a road accident. This person
was an aging father of a large family and was never particularly flush. Bremner wandered
off into the bar of the hotel with the check, brought back the money (a substantial
sum) and handed it to the villager together with the original check. Yet on another
occasion, notes Harmsworth, he would throw a fit if a car park attendant was under-employed
for 30 minutes! This was the nature of the man and it always made him a difficult
person to "read."
During my visit to the Center, in 1999, for the occasion of the first Cryptozoology
Symposium to ever be held at Loch Ness, it was obvious that Bremner's efforts,
as well as those of the nearby younger rival site, had gone a long way in making Drumnadrochit
the epicenter of cryptozoology.
In the last few years Ronnie Bremner and wife Libby moved to Edinburgh leaving Robbie
Bremner to run their interests at the center. This semi-retirement gave them both
some quality time together. However, the cancers overwhelming Bremner were unexpected
and extremely fast moving. Towards the end, Bremner deteriorated quickly.
Tony Harmsworth reflects that Bremner's passing is the end of an era at Loch Ness,
but no-one can deny the impact of the exhibition center on everyone in the tourist
industry at Loch Ness today. Bremner is sure to missed by the people of the glen.
On December 6, 2001, at 2:00 PM, local time, Ronald Bremner was buried at Kilmore
cemetery, Drumnadrochit, Scotland, in the village's largest funeral in sixty years.
The funeral was a moving event with best friends, Ronnie Young and Bobbie Davidson
recollecting their years of friendship. Robert and Michael Bremner spoke briefly,
and Adrian Shine read a text by David Bremner and spoke of Ronnie's involvement at
Loch Ness and his dreadful habit of losing the keys to anything and everything.
Ronald "Ronnie" Bremner is survived by his legacy of import to the tourism
of Loch Ness, by three sons, Robert "Robbie" Bremner, the present manager
of the Loch Ness Center at Drumnadrochit, Michael and David, and by his wife Libby
Bremner, co-owner of the Loch Ness Center.
[Photograph is courtesy of Tony Harmsworth, and specific details thanks to Harmsworth
and Gary Campbell.]