When approaching Kippie Lodge, via the drive and through its beautiful canopy of trees, you cannot dismiss its gorgeous alluring views. You are instantly taken to a place of grandeur and relaxation. So of course, one cannot help but feel an impulse to find out more about the lodge’s vast history.
Today, Kippie Lodge, situated within the beautiful Milltimber area of Aberdeen, is a sports and country club owned by its members and overseen by an elected committee. It comprises, amongst many other features, a nine-hole golf course, driving range, dome-covered tennis courts, squash courts, swimming pool, a beauty salon, and 3 studios. The Lodge itself is very family-oriented but additionally boasts an adult-only restaurant/bar.
The lodge’s history is ample so let’s take a tour into Kippie’s yesteryear.
Kippie Lodge: The Beginning
Arthur McKinnon, a renowned local architect designed Kippie Lodge to be used as a private residence. Commissioned and built by a timber merchant in the 1930s the lodge was one of Mr McKinnon’s last projects before he passed away in 1937.
It wasn’t until 1971 that a gentleman by the name of Jack Pillow first had the idea of opening a club for the thriving oil industry. He formed a committee and the search was on to find 2 possible locations to host what was then to become the “Aberdeen Petroleum Club”. These were Norwood Hall and Kippie Lodge.
Of course, the favourite, Kippie Lodge was chosen and opened on the 18th of March 1973. With its gorgeous open space, relaxing atmosphere and beautiful views (for miles might I say) it became a status symbol for staff and members alike.
An Ever-Changing Country Club
Over the years, the club has morphed to keep up with the ever-changing world around it. The first major change was spurred on by a decline in the oil industry around the late 1970s. This triggered the need for plans to be drawn up and extensions to be added that included a new dining room, kitchen, lounge bar, and sports facilities.
To help attract members and a more diverse clientele, 1982 came with the arrival of the sports complex. New members began to join for sports alongside the many popular social attractions within the club such as Friday/ Saturday Dinner Dances and of course Sunday Lunches.
“Back in those early days we hosted grand lunches every day of the week for Aberdeen’s oil men. We had a live band every Friday and Saturday which mostly played Country Western music. Every Friday was fish night with a grand buffet of Lobster and other shellfish. There was a second bar in what is now the Snooker Room, called The Dirty Bar, which had a less stringent dress code.”
Former employee Irene Ross worked at the grand opening of Kippie
Did you know that Studio 1 in the sports complex used to be where the catering operation was housed?
Irene also recalls how raw steaks used to be laid out in the hallway where you could choose which one you would like as you came in the door!
The Braemar Suite was used as the main bar/restaurant and what is now the Crathes Bar (pictured above) was split into three smaller rooms which were used for various social events.
Kippie: The Social Evolution
The 1990s saw the biggest change in Kippie’s history. The Club was given an added ‘boost’ with the decision to extend the Sports Complex with a £150,000 extension.
The then chairman Tony Dawson oversaw the operation stating in a Kippie Newsletter:
“I am sure the members will see this latest extension as a major step forward. I firmly believe the club is on a roll in terms of growing membership with a greater family involvement. We are delighted at how many youngsters use the amenities, it gives the club a real family atmosphere.“
Janine Walker opened the Hair and Beauty Salon in 1997 as the department’s Assistant Manager after an extension of the Sports Complex. Our current Hair and Beauty Manager, Cath Guyan, joined Kippie in 1999 and has since developed both salons with new treatments and therapy rooms.
In January 2003 work was completed on the changing rooms within the complex giving members more space and updated facilities. The gymnasium was extended through to what is now remembered as the old aerobics area and the purpose-built Aerobics Hall was unveiled (more on Aerobics in a moment).
In November of that same year, Kippie planned to open Scotland’s first ‘air bubble’ over its tennis courts. The project was part of the club’s phased development to improve the range and quality of the Sports Complex. The huge inflatable dome covers two synthetic all-weather carpeted courts and allows ‘all year round play’. The area known as “The Dome” is currently used all year long.
Also in 2003, with a brand new look and extended facilities, the Hair and Beauty Suites reopened and included new treatments such as CACI and IPL.
Kippie’s Aerobic Studio (told you) runs a variety of classes and with the introduction of Les Mills (group fitness programs) in 2010, Kippie continues to provide its members with current and motivating classes.
At the Lodge, social evenings continue to be held throughout the year such as Quizzes, theme days and evenings, Family Friday Night Fun Nights (FNFN) and much more.
Kippie has matured into a club that offers ‘something for everyone. I for one am excited to see what is in store for the future.
Kippie’s Noteworthy Events, Achievements and Success Stories
Lets take a look now at those noteworthy moments from years gone by. Here are some of my favourite and for some, a good old trip down memory lane.
Alan Lamont joined Kippie in 1984
In 1984 Kippie employed Club Tennis
Professional Alan Lamont who
is still working with us.
Kippie Creche Cottage Opens its Doors
The original Creche Supervisors, Beth Maxton, and Morag Aitkenhead seen
with their willing little helpers moving very important equipment
into the cottage.
New Covered Bays on Golf Range
The new (now not so new) covered bays on the Golf Driving Range. Can you spot the Kippie Golf Pro at the time Dave Thomson giving a lesson? Maybe he is teaching our current Golf Pro Keil Beverage a thing or 2 as a nipper!
Kippie’s Celebrity Visitors
Celebrities such as Allan Stewart, Jimmy Logan
and Andy Cameron were frequent
visitors of the club throughout the 1980s. We are going to dive deeper into our famous Kippie celebs in a future article.
With the Sports Complex expanding so did Kippie’s sporting success stories. Members under the APC name were winning trophies for successes in Squash, Tennis and Racquetball. The APC Golf Association was also going from strength to strength. Competitions were regularly held at the club for members whether it be swimming galas or the longest drive at the driving range. Here’s a spotlight on few famous sporting faces that were Kippie members over the years.
David started his swimming lessons at Kippie. He went on to represent Scotland at the 2002, 2006 and 2010
Commonwealth Games. David also was in Team GB for the 2012 London Olympics.
Robbie began his swimming at Kippie and went on to represent Scotland receiving a Gold Medal at the 2010 Commonwealth Games. Robbie was also involved in Team GB at the London Olympics.
When Shaun’s family joined Kippie his passion was tennis where he
was coached by Alan Lamont. However, it was his football talents that got him recognised as he went on to play for Celtic and Scotland.
Investors in People
With the transfer of the catering facilities from the Sports Complex to the Lodge, the expansion of the gymnasium and the opening of the purpose-built studio, Kippie Lodge was becoming the club to be seen in. Furthermore, Kippie was the first Sports and Leisure Facility in Scotland to gain Investor In People status.
Kippie’s 9-hole Golf Course
In November 1996 work began on creating Kippie’s 9-hole golf course. Work was completed in 1998 and its official opening took place in May 1999.
The Ratification of the Kippie Golf Course by the Scottish Golf Union
In 2001 The Scottish Golf Union measured and ratified the course and allowed APC members to obtain a handicap and play in APC 9-hole golf tournaments.
Kippie Lodge, over the decades, has gone from strength to strength with its ever-changing face. The club has been known for its class, admired for its reach and provided fun for all the family throughout the years. It has a vast history of entertainment, sport and a great social atmosphere. It’s an attraction for people from all walks of life in the 21st century.
If you would like to know more or see the club first hand you can do so by booking a tour here.
Come back soon and check out more of our articles at kippielodgeblog.com