Mansion houses in Barrhead
Mansion houses in Barrhead
A good number of mansion houses were built in Barrhead, most by the owners of the various mills, works and factories. Fortunately although some have been lost over the years, many still stand today.
The original Arthurlie House was built by Gavin Ralston, who gained his estate in Barrhead by marrying into the land-owning Pollock family. Gavin Ralston founded the new weaver’s town of Newton-Ralston (Craigheads)
In 1818 (although some sources say earlier) Henry Dunlop, mill master at the Levern Mill, bought Arthurlie House from Ralston. Accounts differ as to whether he altered and extended the house or whether he completely rebuilt it. Henry was related to (possibly a son of) James Dunlop, a mill wright, engineer and entrepreneur who had built four cotton mills in the area, including the Levern Mill, and was key figure in the introduction and development of the cotton industry in Barrhead.
The house remained in the hands of the Dunlop family until 1922 when it was bought by the Hendersons. In 1927 it was bought by Barrhead Town Council and let to tenants. In 1939 – 1945 it was taken over by the army and used as billets (probably for officers) and was converted to a community centre in 1948. At some point a flat was created from the top floor and until recently was still tenanted.
There are a few notable external features of the house that can still be been seen. The bowling club next door inhabits the site of the old walled garden, and still retains the original garden walls, and the carriageways from Springhill Road to the house remain as originally planned.
You can also see a coat of arms on one of walls, which appears to be the generic Dunlop family coat of arms as opposed to anything specific to this particular family. It shows a double headed eagle which represents fair judgement, understanding and strength. The fact that the wings of the eagle are outstretched demonstrates energy, activity and ingenuity and the two heads represent authority to the East and West. The crest also show a right hand holding a dirk or dagger, which means prowess in battle, and there is a helmet with a mantle or cape as well as a motto in a scroll.
- It is said that some of the stones used for building the original house came from a vault elsewhere on the estate which contained a skeleton.
- There is a tunnel which leads from a ground floor cupboard in the house to the Barrhead Dams. The tunnel still exist although the entrance has been filled in. There are a variety of stories about what the tunnels were used for.
- The Arthurlie cross was said to have been first found in the grounds of Arthurlie House, before being moved by Gavin Ralston and re-used as a footbridge over a local burn. It was later rediscovered being used as a gatepost of the house.
Carlibar House, originally belonged to James Dunlop and Sons, who owned a number of cotton mills including Levern and Gateside. The house was eventually sold to farmer Robert Glen and his wife Margaret Pollock Glen in 1871; unfortunately Robert Glen died before they could move in and sadly Margaret Glen lived there on her own for almost 50 years.
Later she inherited a vast fortune from her uncle Robert Craig, “Rhoosan” or Russian Rab who owned large thread mills on the River Neva near Leningrad. She used the money for many charities in the town, including building a district nurses home in Arthurlie Street and the Glen Halls in Neilston, donating the gold chain for the provost of Barrhead, and many other causes.
After she died in 1911, her relative Major Pollock, the Bisley shooting champion, stayed there. After his death the house was acquired by the local council and converted to a community centre until its demolition.