Mansion Houses of Mearns

Mansion Houses in Mearns

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Over the last three hundred years, many  mansion houses have been built in Mearns. Today only a few remain to give testament to a different way of life.

A.Boyd Scott in Old Days and Ways in Newton Mearns, published in 1939 to celebrate the bi-centenary of the Newton Church (Newton Mearns Parish Church) states that there were significant changes in the proprietorship of land in the county (Renfrewshire) between 1772 and 1832, when nearly a third changed hands.

In the Second Statistical Account of 1842 admiration is expressed for the ‘excellent modern mansions’ in the parish.  Christopher North (Professor John Wilson 1785-1854 ) was more cynical. We do not know which houses he had in mind when he remarked on ”modern villas, or boxes, inhabited by persons imagining themselves gentlemen, and for anything we know to the contrary, not wholly deceived in that belief.”  Whatever their motivation persons of means found Mearns a pleasant place in which to live.”

Click here to access a map of the location of the mansion houses.



Barcapel House

Barcapel House was built for Sir Thomas Clement in 1912. but was destroyed by fire in 1965 and flats were later built on the site.

The Clement family owned Netherton Estate which comprised land , some of which forms the 3rd-6th Holes at Whitecraigs Golf Course (founded 1905). From the 1920s houses were built on the Netherton Estate on the opposite side of the Kilmarnock (now Ayr) Road.  Using the names of Scottish castles, the Clement name was used as an acronym in the selection of names for the roads. Craignethan, Lethington. Elphinstone, Methven, Erskine and Neidpath . The seventh road which was not laid out was to have been Thirlestane.




Balgray House

 Balgray House is a late 18th century mansion to which a third storey was added c.1900.and the pediment added in 1935. An earlier house was built by Captain John Pollok who reputedly died at the Battle of Fontenoy which took place on 11th May, 1745, in the war of The Austrian Succession.

In his notes, Thomas C. Welsh states:   “A late 18th century mansion built on site of or adapted from the house of Lockhartside, which dates back to at least 1750. Sir Robert Pollok’s third son John who was given the Balgray estate married Ann Lockhart of Lee (Lanarkshire) and presumably Lockhartside was their residence. The original residence of Balgray is more likely to have been south of Mains of Balgray, though there is a defendable site with some remains south of the present house.




Broom House

Broom house was built in the 1830s by John and Arthur Pollok of Pollok, Gilmour Ltd, a firm established by Allan Gilmour and the Pollok brothers in 1804.

The partners first traded in timber with the Baltic, Scandinavia and Russia and later developed a thriving lumber industry in eastern Canada where, by the mid 1830s, they employed 5,000 men and were said to own over 130 ships, the  largest fleet of wooden hulled ships in the world.

The house is now used as a private school, Belmont House.






Capelrig House

An ‘A’  listed building, this house stands in the grounds of Eastwood High School.  It was built in 1769 by Robert Barclay, a Glasgow lawyer,who had  purchased the estate four years earlier from Mure of Caldwell.

It  was described as ‘a neat , handsome house, three storeys high, rustic covered  with eleven steps of a stone stair up to the front door’. Barcapel Holm Farm situated to the north west is thought to have been the original Capelrig House. Click here for more information.

Picture by permission of Glasgow University Special Collections





Crookfur House

Little is known of the early history of Crookfur House. It was last occupied as a family home by the Templetons, a branch of the family whose carpet factory at Glasgow Green was named the Doge’s Palace.  The present Crookfur Park was part of the estate and during the war was used by local farmers for grazing their cows.  One of the sons piloted a small plane and used it as a landing strip. The cows had to be moved  to allow him to land!

We do know that the house  had a beautiful garden which is very well described in the Horticultural Society Centenary Year Book by Alan MacCallum who was the gardener there between the wars. The house was sold in the 1950’s and for a short time functioned as a country house hotel. It was sold again and while work was being carried out it went on fire and had to be demolished. The estate was sold and “Crookfur Cottage Homes” were built on the site.




Fa’side  House

John Pollok of Craigton purchased the property in 1707 and built a farm house and outbuildings in 1709. Fasyd [spelled thus] is marked on Timothy Pont's map of the Baronee of Renfrew in 1590.

In 1909 Sir Wallace Fairweather purchased the Fa'side property from the Raeside family and in 1911 other adjacent lands from Sir Michael Shaw Stewart.He commissioned the architectural firm of  Burnet and Boston to build Fa'side House.

The 1709 buildings still stand alongside the 1911 house, built to resemble a traditional Scottish keep.





Greenbank House

Greenbank House was built for Robert Allason, a Glasgow merchant, about 1765.  It had  five owners between 1763 and 1796 when it was purchased by  John Hamilton of Rogerton, East Kilbride from Maitland Hutchison, whose father Alexander, a successful West Indies merchant, had purchased nearby Southfield Estate in  1771.

Greenbank remained in the ownership of the Hamilton family until 1961 when it was bought by Mr William Blyth, who in 1976 donated it and the gardens to the National Trust for Scotland in whose care it remains. 

For additional information on the history of the house click here.





Hazelden House 

Following his marriage in 1818, to Agnes Hay, the daughter of the owner of Netherplace Bleachfield, Patrick Reid built Hazelden House on the site of a previous house. Patrick, a Glasgow lawyer and local landowner, also owned and developed the Hazelden Bleachfield; (see collections/Bleachfields and Printworks/).

In 1839 Patrick emigrated to Australia with his family and sold the house to Allan Gilmour, a partner in Pollok Gilmour Ltd. The demolition of the house in the 1950s is thought to have been necessitated by damage ostensibly caused by theft of lead from the roof. The stables were saved and have been restored to their original condition. They are used as a riding school today.

For additional information contributed by Dr David Hay, a descendant of Patrick Reidon, on the history of the house click here..







Hazeldean was built around 1910 by the Paterson family, well known as the firm which produced Camp Coffee. It was later owned by the Pratt family who bred St Bernard dogs.The house was renowned for its beautiful gardens.









Kirkhill House

Kirkhill House was built for the Mather family in 1873. It remained a family home until the 1960’s when it became the Thomson FoundationTelevision College.

Residential courses in broadcasting and film-making were attended by students from many parts of the world until the College closed in the 1980’s. It is presently used as offices.






Netherton House

Netherton House was built on the Broom estate and was the home of Arthur Clement, brother of Sir Thomas Clement who built Barcapel House. It was situated on the Ayr Road to the south of Whitecraigs Golf Course. The picture shows the house before the road was widened.








Southfield House

“Sufild”  is marked on Timothy Pont’s map of 1590 The Baronie de Renfrew.  The original Fey Right of Southfield was granted by Sir Archibald Stewart of Blackhall to Robert Urie of Millbrae on 30th May 1691.  It was purchased from Robert Urie of Millbrae in 1771 by Alexander Hutcheson, a West Indian merchant. It remained in the Hutcheson family until 1902 when it was  occupied by the Hendersons of the Anchor Line.

The house and its policies, along with the four neighbouring farms of Hazelden Head, Westfield, Eastfield and Langrig was purchased in 1913 by the Corporation of the City of Glasgow to provide  a country home for ‘pre-tuberculous’ children. Building operations were delayed by the First World War, by the end of which Southfield House had deteriorated to such an extent that it had to be demolished.  Mearnskirk Hospital was built in the grounds and opened in 1930.




The original house known as Todhill-Bank, was built in 1710 and the part of the present Capelrig Road running from the old village to the house was known as Todhillbank Brae. Records show that by the late 1890s the name of the house had changed to Todhill.

The newer part of the house was built in 1901 and the architect was John Archibald Campbell. At one time it was the home of Sir John McTaggart a well known Glasgow builder.







Towerwood was built in the early 1900s by the Allan family who owned the Allan Shipping Line. Towerwood was known for its beautiful grounds and traces of the original curling pond and tennis courts can still be seen. Capelrig Tower stands in the garden.

Due to the extensive, speculative house building in the Patterton area, Towerwood is no longer as isolated as it was when it was built.






Croyland (Rysland)

In 1874 towards the end of his career, Alexander "Greek" Thomson designed a villa, which was originally called Rysland  (named from the farmland on which the house was built). The house was built for his friend and colleague John Shields, who had been his next-door neighbour at 3 Moray Place, Strathbungo.

Externally the house is austere with little decoration; internally the rooms are carefully proportioned and this is perhaps the best, in terms of interior proportions, of any of Thomson's villas. Decorations are confined to simple, plaster motifs of Greek derivation. Thomson formed a long, horizontal garden wall to relate the villa more closely to the landscape. This strikingly handsome house is built of Giffnock stone, which Thomson used in many of his villas.




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