Balamory sees red as hotelier paints it black

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The Independent Online

For almost half a century, the multi-coloured buildings on the waterfront at Tobermory on the island of Mull have made it one of the most easily recognisable communities in Britain.

As the setting for the fictional town of Balamory, the skyline of red, yellow and blue buildings are familiar to children around the world and have helped to generate hundreds of thousands of pounds in "toddler-tourism" income for the Hebridean island.

But now a new story is creating a stir in Balamory. The owner of one of the iconic landmarks has repainted it - black.

To the anger of many residents, Robert MacLeod, owner of the yellow Mishnish Hotel, decided to return the building to its original 1960s colour. Mr MacLeod, 54, said it was originally black and had first changed 45 years ago when his father painted it pink, then its familiar yellow.

"When my father painted it pink, it was a real shocker, then he painted it yellow, which was just as much of a shock," said Mr MacLeod, whose family also owns the blue and red buildings on either side. "As it is yellow, the colour goes flat with the salt and the sunlight, so I decided to change it. It is a nice bold black which will make the flower baskets and brasswork stand out."

However, some residents are concerned that changing the colour of the buildings, which feature on postcards and pictures around the world, will have a detrimental effect on tourism.

"I think it is a pity to change the colour of something so world famous and we are mystified beyond measure as to why it is being changed," said Olive Brown, who runs an ironmongery. "It is very strange given that the three colours of the buildings are on millions of postcards, as well as being in Balamory.

"Think what it would be like if someone just decided to change other well-known buildings - it is like taking the towers off Tower Bridge," Ms Brown said.