Fochabers is a village in the Parish of Bellie, in Moray, Scotland, east of the cathedral city of Elgin and located on the east bank of the River Spey. Around 2,000 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.
Its name may be from Gaelic 'feith' meaning a bog and 'aber' meaning 'river-mouth'. It is pronounced FO-kh-a-brz with the accent on the first syllable; the 'o' is pronounced as in 'got'.
The village owes its existence to Alexander Gordon, 4th Duke of Gordon (1743–1827). During the late 18th century, during the Scottish Enlightenment, it was fashionable for landowners to found new towns and villages, and these can be found 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.
There are two schools in Fochabers, Milne's Primary School (formerly Milne's Institution) and Milne's High School, which currently serves approximately 600 pupils from Fochabers itself and the surrounding villages. Milne's Institution was originally built in accordance with Alexander Milne's Last Will and Testament, using money ($100,000) he left for this purpose.
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 completed in January 2012, at a cost of £31.5m. The project was significantly delayed due to conflict regarding the proposed route, and discovery of a Neolithic settlement on the site of the bypass.