William Reid 

 


William was born in 1822 and was a late member of a big family living on a small farm with a limited income. He went to school in Riccarton and experienced great problems with a bad chest such that the school doctor pointed out that he had to get out of Ayrshire and seek a warmer climate. At the age of 13 years, and with five pounds in his pocket given to him by his father, William gained a working passage on a ship heading south. Eventually, William arrived in Madeira which he described as heaven. At this time Madeira was not a holiday centre and there were no entertainments or hotels or luxury apartments. He gained a job in a bakery run by a German family and worked and saved the 10 years until at the age of 24 he decided to go into business on his own as a wine merchant. Madeira wine was becoming very popular in Europe and William built a very successful business.

Despite his success, William had always dreamt of building a beautiful hotel on the Madeira cliff tops and when the Madeira wine trade fell on hard times, he bought a villa on the island which he turned into a holiday home for top-class aristocracy. This venture was a great success and he bought more villas and became increasingly wealthy. Eventually, William achieved his complete dream when he built the Madeira Palace Hotel high on the cliff tops overlooking the sea and built to the highest and finest standards for the rich and famous. William died at 66 years old shortly before the project was finished, but his hotel still flourishes and carries his name.