Scotland’s very own Wild West town - in deepest Aberdeenshire

The wild west town of Tranquility in Aberdeenshire. PIC: Contributed.
The wild west town of Tranquility in Aberdeenshire. PIC: Contributed.
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From a game of poker in the saloon to a shoot out in the woods, it’s as if the frontier days of the Wild West never passed in the little town of Tranquility.

You might stumble across a knife-throwing challenge being held in the street to pass the time or witness the latest hold-up of the bank unfolding.

Gossip may be shared at the general store, which is well stocked with tins and bottles of 19th Century fare.

Life in Tranquility is perhaps all the more remarkable given the town can be found in the back garden of an ordinary home in rural Aberdeenshire.

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Tranquility founder Alistair Baranowski has dedicated the last 12 or so years bringing his Wild West vision to life at his house near Huntly.

The "townspeople" of Tranquility gather for one of their performances. PIC: Contributed.

The "townspeople" of Tranquility gather for one of their performances. PIC: Contributed.

Fascinated by Western films as a boy, he joined a re-enactment group in Aberdeen in the 1970s. After that folded, he mixed with Jacobite enthusiasts - but the draw of frontier country never left him.

The first plank of the saloon was laid in 2005 and today Tranquility has eight buildings, including the general store an undertakers and a telegraph office. A corral, a well and a cemetery complete the town.

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Mr Baranowski, who also set up the Northern Rough Riders re-enactment group, said: “I found a couple of wild west towns, one near Gatwick and the other in Kent, and I just thought I could do something like this. I was running a Post Office and it was getting harder and harder to make ends meet.

Tranquility founder Alistair Baranowski (right) pictured with town members who are expected to dress the part. PIC: Contributed.

Tranquility founder Alistair Baranowski (right) pictured with town members who are expected to dress the part. PIC: Contributed.

“I thought it was time to pack up, find a place in the country and make my own Wild West town.”

Today, Tranquility has around 32 members who meet most weekends in the town for cooking parties, drinks and performances of scripts written by some of the enthusiasts. Members have starred in their own short movies - the ultimate thrill for a fan of the Western genre.

“We prepare a lot of meals together,” Mr Baranowski said. “I like to think we make things that may have been eaten in the day, like a beef stew and a simple dessert, such as canned peaches and rice. Like something a cowboy may have had on a wagon train,” he added.

American accents are adopted by some and members are expected to dress accordingly when they enter the town.

Shoot outs are a common pastime in Tranquility. PIC: Contributed.

Shoot outs are a common pastime in Tranquility. PIC: Contributed.

Mr Baranowski said: “It takes time to get into it and to get all the clothes together. It is like Victoria dress and men would wear high-waisted trousers with braces to hold them up, a collarless shirt and a waistcoat.

“You would wear work boots rather than cowboy boots, townspeople wouldn’t have them.

“Probably around a third of our members are women and one or two of them like the Calamity Jane look but you can get started with a long ankle-length skirt and a shawl.”

Mr Baranowski, who has adopted the role of both mayor and sheriff of Tranquility, said a local farmer allowed Tranquility members to use his woods for shoot outs.

“It’s basically a big game of hide and seek, the good guys hunting down the bad with blank firing guns. If you get within 10 feet of your target they are ‘shot’ - but sometimes a little light hearted argument might break out.”

With its roots in a boyhood fantasy, Mr Baranowski said Tranquility has been a great focus for his retirement.

Inside the Tranquility general store. PIC: Contributed.

Inside the Tranquility general store. PIC: Contributed.

“It is a great way to spend your time and sometimes running the place feels like a full-time job. There is the grass to cut, for a start.

“More than anything, it is a bit of fun where people with the same interests can come together and relax. Our open days are a great success, people love to come here.”

Tranquility will open to the public on July 2 for an Independence Day celebration.

For now, the town gives Mr Baranowski and his friends the space to indulge their interest in the violent and highly romanticised period of American history.

He added: “I admire the pioneering spirit of all and the element of survival in the wilderness. I love the period of the wild west, but of course not everyone survived. I am not sure how I would have got on,” Mr Baranowski said.

“It would have been so hot for one. When I went to the States, I couldn’t have survived without my air conditioned car.”