Kelvingrove House

THIS fine old edifice is a well known object in the south-western section of the West End Park, and faces east. The lands of Kelvingrove extended to about 24 acres, and included the solum of Royal Crescent and Royal Terrace. Kelvingrove was not their ancient name. They embraced three subdivisions, all adjoining, of the lands of "Nether Newton," and "Woodside Hill."

Nether Newton, in cumulo, comprehended the whole of the low grounds of what is now the West End Park, and stretched eastward as far as modern St. George's and Woodlands Roads; while an old "lone," now Sauchiehall Street, bounded it on the south. The ancient name of this considerable range of property has been so overlaid by modern fanciful ones, applied to various Crescents Places and Terraces, built along its flanks, as to be nearly forgotten, but in one instance it crops out, in "Newton Place."

Woodsidehill lay immediately to the north, and included the whole of the high grounds of the West End Park. It was covered by an old wood of natural growth, and was fenced off from Nether Newton by an ancient fog-encrusted, drystone dyke, running east and west. (1) The ranges of Park Terrace, Park Circus, Woodland, and Claremont Terraces, and other fine buildings adjoining, occupy part of the site of this old wooded eminence. (2)

Now, two of the subdivisions composing the original Kelvingrove lay in the southwest portion of Nether Newton, alongside each other. The Kelvin swept past the westmost, which was named "Woodcraft," indicating that it had been reclaimed from wood, and was then under cultivation. The other subdivision was called "Berrie-dyke," probably from having been in old times remarkable for certain wild fruits. Be that as it may, these two subdivisions of Nether Newton, consisting of about 12 acres, (3) were conveyed, in 1754, by James Campbell (4) of Blythswood, to Alexander Wotherspoon, writer in Glasgow, whose only son, a merchant in Liverpool, sold them, in 1782, to Patrick Colquhoun, an eminent Glasgow merchant.

This gentleman enclosed the lands thus acquired by him, and laid them out in pleasure grounds, with extensive gardens, and other accessories to a country retreat. He also built the mansion now photographed, and a range of offices, naming the whole "Kelvingrove." This new appellation was appropriate, the house having been placed among fine old timber, part of which may yet be seen near the edifice, while the Kelvin flowed, in a graceful curve, close behind. This was about 1783. Kelvingrove was long one of the most beautiful country seats around Glasgow, and as such has been commemorated in well known poetry.

In these old times, Kelvingrove was more than two miles from the then westmost part of the city at Jamaica Street, which was only partially built. What is now Sauchiehall Street was a narrow, unpaved, country road, full of sloughs and deep ruts. It was in fact, an old "lone," between hedges, leading from "Swan's yett" (or gate), near the modern "Cleland Testimonial," westward to Clayslap near Partick, joining the Partick road at the south end of what is now Kelvingrove Street, Sandyford. So bad was this old "Clayslap road," as it was popularly called, that it could not be used for carriages, so that the route from the city to Kelvingrove was through the then incipient village of Anderston, and along the Dumbarton Road as far as Sandyford, whence a turn northwards, along a small bit of the end of Clayslap Lone, led to a handsome gate and lodge at Kelvingrove. This gateway was close to the west angle of the modern Royal Crescent, the ornamental iron posts of the adjoining Park gate formed part of it, (5) and some of the old trees which skirted the avenue long lingered on the west side of "Kelvingrove Street," which is a mere amplification of the old approach to the house.

Mr. Colquhoun, who thus originated Kelvingrove, was a native of Dumbarton, and related to the Luss family. He became one of the leading merchants in Glasgow, and was characterized by great enterprise and intelligence. He instituted the Chamber of Commerce, and the Royal Exchange at the Cross, was sometime Chairman of the Committee of Management of the Forth and Clyde Canal, and was Lord Provost in 1782, the same year in which he became proprietor of Kelvingrove. His numerous excellent publications, and his active exertions in promoting commerce and manufactures, are well known, and need not be enlarged upon.

Sometime after his permanent removal to London, he sold Kelvingrove, in 1792, to Mr. John Pattison, manufacturer in Glasgow, and died in 1820, at the age of seventy-six.

Mr. Pattison enlarged Kelvingrove by acquiring, from the trustees of Blythswood, rather more than 12 additional acres immediately to the north of what had been Mr. Colquhoun's property. This was in 1803, and the addition formed that section of Kelvingrove alluded to in the outset as part of Woodsidehill. It had been separated from Mr. Colquhoun's lots of Woodcroft and Berrie-dyke, by the old drystone dyke already mentioned running east and west, north of which was a wood, giving name to the general range of the high grounds, of "Woodside hill." It was the westmost section of this hill, which Mr. Pattison acquired, stretching north as far as Park Terrace, and sloping westward down to, and bounded by, the Kelvin. Thus Kelvingrove grounds came to consist in whole, latterly, of about twenty-four acres. Mr. Pattison thinned his part of the wood, and otherwise improved his new property. Some of the old natural wood still exists on the slopes below the Russian cannons, and a few wild hyacinths still, after endless digging and delving, put in a feeble appearance every spring.

Mr. Pattison resided at Kelvingrove a number of years, and both he and his sons were well known and enterprising citizens.

In 1806, Mr. Pattison sold the whole property to Mr. Richard Dennistoun, merchant, one of the Dennistouns of Colgrain, a family long connected with Glasgow. Kelvingrove remained in Mr. Dennistoun's family till 1841, in which year it was conveyed by his sons to the late Mr. Colin McNaughtan, merchant in this city. (6) Since his death this fine old place has been acquired by the Corporation, and now forms a large portion of the eastmost section of the beautiful West End Park.

Kelvingrove House has now (mainly by the exertions of Bailie MacBean) been converted into a valuable museum. One wing has been removed, and on its site a large addition built, which dwarfs what remains of the fine old mansion of the Colquhouns, the Pattisons, and the Dennistouns.

(1) The line of this old dyke may be easily traced by the line of banked-up oak trees which runs east and west a little north of Kelvingrove House. These oak trees grow in the dyke. The banked-up elm tree which faces the descent from the upper slopes grew originally in the old Botanic Gardens, and stood afterwards in the back green of Mr. Charles Hamilton's house in Fitzroy Place, and was with great trouble and expense transplanted when the Park was laid out.

(2) Among the earliest, if not the very first, of the feuars on this eminence was James McNayr, LL.D., writer in Glasgow, and first editor of the Glasgow Herald, 1802. He entered the Faculty of Procurators in 1780. The house built by him was long a most conspicuous object. It stood on the very summit of the hill, near the western end of the pleasure ground in the centre of Park Circus. Its proper name was "Woodlands," but people thought it so absurd to erect a house in such an out of the way place that it received the sobriquet of "McNayr's Folly" Dr. McNayr died 8th September 1808, aged fifty. The name of his residence is commemorated in Woodlands Terrace. But this terrace, as it happens, stands, not on the lands of Woodlands, but on the lands of Clairmont. Clairmont House (built by Mr. John Fleming, a well known Bombay merchant, and hence dubbed "Bombay Castle"), long stood in its own beautiful grounds, isolated and conspicuous. People wondered that it should have been built so like a street house. But Mr. Fleming firmly believed that Glasgow would come out to Clairmont, and planned his house for the centre of a row. And it now forms, just as he built it, No. 6 Clairmont Terrace. The old house of Clairmont, the residence of the Blacks of Clairmont, which stood on the flat below, has long vanished. But the porter-lodge to Sandyford Road is still standing, forlorn, out at elbows, and out of place, in the garden of Clifton Place.

(3) Over (or High) Newton, to which Nether Newton was opposed, lay in the immediate vicinity, on the south side of the old road to Partick, now known chiefly as the beautiful eminence of Yorkhill, a modern name. The portion which still retained the name of Over Newton, with the mansion and fine old trees, has been acquired by the town, and laid off for building first-class workmen's houses. This purchase (like the purchase of Oatlands at the other extremity of Glasgow) forms a part of the large scheme for scattering the town, and replacing the house accommodation swept away in the central demolitions.

(4) This James Campbell purchased Nether Newton from Sir John Maxwell of Pollok. Mr. Campbell was an only son, and the last male heir in the direct line of the old Campbells of Blythswood. He espoused Mary, one of the ten daughters of the third and last John Walkinshaw of Camlachie and Barrowfield, a noted Jacobite, who was "out" in 1715. Mr. Campbell died childless in 1767, and was succeeded in Blythswood estates by James Douglas of Mains, nephew of the celebrated Duchess of Douglas, who was one of the Mains family. He took the surname of Campbell, under the provisions of the Blythswood entail. He married one of the ladies of the old Glasgow family of Dunlop of Garnkirk, and died in 1773.

(5) The stone pillars of the north-west or Hillhead gate of the Park formed part of the gateway to Woodlands House from Woodlands Road. This gateway, flanked by tall walls, and with a substantial porter lodge, stood just where Woodlands U.P. Church now stands.

(6) Mr. McNaughtan never lived at Kelvingrove. It was long occupied by Mr. Robert Knox, manufacturer, a brother of Knox the painter, and himself a good draftsman. Mr. Knox was an enthusiastic archer, and made Kelvingrove the scene of pleasant Archery Fetes that some may still remember. His grand-daughter is the wife of our able representative, George Anderson, M.P.

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