Carron House

When Carron Company came to the district in 1759 the area on the north bank of the River Carron around the present-day Carron House and the old estate of Abbotshaugh on the south side were in the possession of James Goodlatt Campbell of Auchline.  Goodlatt Campbell was the grandnephew of James Goodlatt, the last Laird of Abbotshaugh.  The nearby port of Quarrel Shore was owned by Thomas Dundas of Carronhall.  It was already a busy harbour with goods being landed there from Europe for onward transport to Glasgow.

One of the founding partners of the Carron Company, Samuel Garbett, decided to establish a “chymistry work a little eastward of said harbour” to produce oil of turpentine and in August 1763 obtained a feu charter from James Goodlatt Campbell of the Lands of Fulderhaugh.  To oversee the construction of this Pitch House and to manage the production work he brought in his son-in-law, Charles Gascoigne.  The business was known as “Samuel Garbett & Co.”  Gascoigne and his wife took up residence at Kinnaird House and Samuel Garbett stayed with them on his visits to Carron.  At the time the only building at Fulderhaugh was a small cottage on the east side of the Fulderhaugh Pow.  The new works were erected 300m to its south opposite a ford across the river to Abbotshaugh.

“Carron Harbour 13 June 1763.


As I intend erecting a building on a farm belonging to Mr Campbell lying near to Carron harbour, and shall have to carry stones from the quarry at Kinnaird, I beg leave to have the privilege of your coal road leading to the harbour for that purpose and shall think myself liable to any damage I may do thereon.

    I am,


Letter to Thomas Dundas of Fingask.

Initially Carron Company relied upon private ships to get its goods to the markets down the east coast.  Carronshore had numerous ships owned by the skippers there, together with local investors, and the vessels were contracted when required.  On 10 November 1763 Carron Company took over the lease of the harbour at Quarrel Shore.  The scale of operations grew and the company found it difficult to maintain the reliability of the shipping service as the vessels were also used by other concerns, and for smuggling ventures.  Costs increased in line with the greater demand for shipping.  Gascoigne started to commission vessels for this purpose and before long he was handling a large portion of the freight.

Gascoigne always conducted business on a grand scale and was not content with hiring ships for the trade to London.  Not only did he acquire ships for Samuel Garbett & Co but he arranged for their construction at Fulderhaugh.  In 1763 he had a dry dock dug between the Pitch House and the cottage and brought in Walter Duncan as the shipbuilder.  Within a year they had built the Glasgow, a ketch of about 100 tons.  She proved to be a reliable and fast ship.  The following year the Paisley was built at the yard.  After an interlude when the workforce was deployed on infrastructural projects the Stirling was launched in 1767 followed by the Forth in 1768.  All four of the ships were similar, with accommodation for passengers as well as cargo and competed well with the “contract ships” of Bo’ness and Leith.  A wood yard, carpenter’s yard, rope walk and a block house (for making block and tackle) helped to build further ships and to maintain those already in service.

Garbett and Gascoigne quickly realised that the shipping aspect of their business was bringing in a good profit and was capable of growing.  For Garbett there was the added advantage that it facilitated the Carron Company in its work.  In 1764 they therefore proposed to the Carron Company

to erect a spacious and convenient Wharf on the banks of the Carron near their Turpentine Works, sufficient to admit ships of 100 tons burden commodiously and to give Carron Company a perpetual liberty of loading and unloading coals and their own goods there for the annual rent of 1/1 a year on condition that Carron Company will not permit any of their coals to be loaded or unloaded on the lands which are now the property of Mr Callendar.” 

John Callendar owned the lands of Westerton to the east.  The new wharf, known as Carron Wharf, was duly constructed adjacent to the existing cottage where the water flowing out of the pow helped to keep it clear of silt.  The stone for the wharf came from the quarry adjacent to Carronhall House and was led along the coal road from Kinnaird to Carronshore.  It jutted out slightly into the river, thus allowing ships using it to remain afloat for longer.  A large crane or derrick was placed on the wharf to permit large items to be transferred to and from the ships.

On 3 January 1765 the Carron Company subleased the harbour at Quarrol Shore to Gascoigne on behalf of Samuel Garbett & Co, reserving certain quays, wharfs and a small portion of the adjoining ground for their own use.   Gas­coigne now had a monopoly of trade in this part of the river; the only exception to this monopo­ly being the granary on the east side of the Quarrel Pow.  He raised the shore dues and promoted the use of the Carron Wharf at the expense of the Harbour which was soon bypassed by a wagon way.  Gascoigne had always referred to his anchorage as Carron Har­bour and now he changed the name of Quarrel Shore to Carron Shore, often abbreviated to simply Carron.  He also acquired the lease of all the other houses in the small settlement there.

Illus 2: Advertisement from the Edinburgh Evening Courant.

Gradually the shipping side of the business of Samuel Garbett & Co took up most of its attention and so in 1767, with the majority of his time occupied elsewhere, Samuel Garbett appointed his own son, Francis, to be its chairman and the company assumed the name of “Francis Garbett & Co.”  Gascoigne may have seen this as an affront, but his father-in-law had already brought Gascoigne into the Carron Company as a shareholder and he was able to devote his energy to it.  The need for the presence of Francis Garbett on the ground was probably the developing plans to improve the navigation of the river.  They planned to make a cut across one or more loops of the meanders in order to straighten its course

to allow vessels of the burden that usually go between Bo’ness and London, to come to Fulderhaugh.”  

That same year, 1767, the lands of Abbotshaugh were disponed by James Goodlatt Campbell to Francis Garbett and Charles Gascoigne.  Between then and 1773 the two large loops to the east of the Pitch House were duly cut with Carron Company contributing £50 towards the scheme.  By this action the river moved faster along the shorter course and was therefore self-scouring.  It did, however, reduce the value of the fishing rights.  Flood banks were built on either side.  That on the north was given a walkway so that the boats could still be tracked if required.  The River Carron was classified as an inland waterway with rights of navigation.  This permitted the crews of the ships to walk along the banks to pull their vessels when there was no wind or it was adverse.  Tracking, as it was called, was always done by people and not by horses as that was not permitted.  Often, young boys from the neighbourhood were given pocket money for this task.  The old courses of the river were filled in and the land added to Abbotshaugh.

Carron Company, led by Gascoigne, lost no time in promoting the beneficial affect:

“That when we settled in this country in the year 1760, there was but little commerce passing on the river Carron, which was at that time an inconvenient navigation.  That we have considerably improved the river at our own expence.  That we have built large and convenient wharfs and warehouses for the accommodation of trade; and, in consequence of these improvements, there hath, for several years past, been a great resort of business.  The last year there were upwards of 12,000 cargoes, amounting to 40,000 tuns, upon our own account, and about 153 cargoes, or 450 tuns, upon that of other people.  That we have expended considerably above 100,000 l. Sterling upon establishments on the banks of the river, and employ many more than a thousand people in this country” .

(Scots Magazine 1 November 1768)
Illus 3: Map of Carronshore and Carron Wharf as it would have been c1780: p – polls of posts for the vessels to tie up to. Changes to the roads to Fulderhaugh made by Gascoigne: A-H road often obstructed by cannon, etc; F-F first road to brewery; S-S second road; T-T third road.

Between the Carron Wharf and the Pitch House more industry sprouted up.  There was a timber yard, a dry dock, and a brewery, with their appendages.  Together these were sometimes referred to as “the Fulderhaugh Company.”  Gascoigne had built a small industrial empire at Fulderhaugh for Francis Garbett & Co, independent of the Carron Company of which he had become a managing partner.  In 1769 he persuaded his relatives to invest heavily in improving the facilities at the Carron Wharf.  Francis Garbett & Co built a complex around a courtyard

entirely for the Purposes of Trade.  Some Apartments in it served for a Dwelling House to Mr Gascoigne one of the Partners, and who was also the Manager for Carron Company.  The rest of the Building was pretty extensive, comprehending a Number of Warehouses, a Counting House, and other Offices necessary to the Concern…  In short, every Building, and every Operation, upon the Spot itself or its Neighbourhood, was calculated for the sole Purpose of carrying on Trade and Navigation on the River.” 

A sasine was obtained from John Callander of Westerton to Charles Gascoigne of the Lands of Westerton, dated 10 September 1770.  Locally the warehouses were known as granaries and that nearest the wharf was sometimes referred to as a magazine because it stored munitions from Carron prior to shipment.  Again the quarry at Carronhall was plundered – without payment.

Gascoigne was in charge of the accounting for Francis Garbett & Co and clearly manipulated the finances to build himself a mansion of some comfort and pretension.  The extract quoted above was the official view taken from an enquiry into the rights of navigation on the river and more particularly of access to the grounds of Fulderhaugh.  Its new owner was trying to exclude the public and stop the time-honoured system of tracking.  He was evidently flabbergasted by the official view and responded:

If, by mentioning the House,  it  is meant to insinuate, that it was merely fit to accommodate the Person  employed, Mr Gascoigne, for the Purpose of his Shipping Trade, and consisted  principally of  Warehouses; the Fact is completely otherwise;  for it is one of  the  best Houses  in  the Country, containing no less than thirteen Fire Rooms  upon  one Floor,  and  must have been built with the View of being a  country Residence.”

The truth is that the estate presented a curious and unique combination of the two functions.  The stately home of Carron House existed within an industrial estate!  It was not unusual for an owner to live cheek by jowl with his works. 

Illus 4: Plans of Carron House as built in 1770. Solid lines indicate walls still there.

The buildings were arranged around a central courtyard measuring approximately 67ft square.  The dwelling occupied the whole of the east wing and most of the south wing.  At the junction of the two was a tall two-storey block which extended 11ft beyond the south front.  It was matched by a block on the south-west corner which carried similar architectural motifs but which served as a warehouse and was known as “the granary.”  This block was wider than the domestic wings but extended north for less than half of the west wing before it narrowed and stepped down to be continued as a less well-built structure.  At this point a pend or transe led into the courtyard.  The north wing was also low in height and was made of brick.  These lower ranges were intended for use in the shipping trade.  Altogether the buildings measured 108ft 6in from west to east by 120ft from south to north.  The main elements of the south and east wings were about 26ft in breadth.  The main walls are generally 2ft to 2ft 3in thick.

The granary was strategically located at the south-west corner of the complex.  Here it provided balance to the south façade and was the first part of the building to be approached from the road along the north bank of the river from Carronshore – the route followed by the wagon way.  It measured 52ft 8in by 32ft 6in.  In the middle of each of the west, north and east walls of this block there is an original doorway, 6ft wide with an elliptically arched head.  The fact that the eastern one was subsequently blocked by the south wing of the house suggests that the granary initially stood alone – but not for long.  It was probably the warehouse boasted about in the Scots Magazine in November 1768.

Illus 5: The Granary looking east.  1991.

The three-storey west façade of the granary was well balanced but largely utilitarian.  The walls were of random rubble with dressed margins.  The roof was slated; composed of three hipped ridges aligned W/E.  The roof and floors were supported internally on cast iron columns.  Central to the block was the gateway with a wide low-arch with a keystone.  On the two floors above this was a loading door.  To either side of these were square windows arranged more or less symmetrically.  The southern corner was chamfered and here there was another ground floor gateway with a loading door on the floor above it

Illus 6: Carron House with the granary on the left looking north-east. 1991.

The south façade of the Granary was completely different and was designed to balance the block on the east end of the whole frontage.  It was of three bays.  The central bay was set back slightly and had large rectangular windows on two floors with a tiny round light above for the attic storey making it appear to be a two-storey block.  The dressed margins of these features were plain.  The bays to either side were blank with a setback margin on their inner sides and a more prominent broader rusticated pilaster on their outer sides.  The blank centres were harled with a self-coloured red render.  All of this was topped by a simple moulded eaves course.

The corresponding block on the south-east corner was of the same height and also possessed the two blank flanking bays.  The central bay, however, had a Venetian window on each of the two floors extending across its entire width – that on the first floor being taller.  The central part of the ground floor window served as a door.

Between these two blocks was the recessed central section, set back 11ft.  It is of two storeys, the same height as the wings, but the wall is completed with a cornice and blocking-course.  The centre of the recessed portion is slightly advanced and finished by an ashlar pediment.  In the tympanum of the pediment there is a small round window, key crosswise.  On the first floor the central bay contains three tall rectangular windows, with one window to either side.  This arrangement was reflected on the ground floor.  In front of the recessed part of the façade, and in line with the ends of the clasping wings, there is an arcade of five round-headed arches forming the open side of a single-storeyed loggia 9ft 9ins wide internally.  This is built of rusticated V-jointed ashlar and also has its central three voids slightly advanced.  Originally there was a parapet wall on the front of the loggia with square “battlements.”  Keystones are used extensively throughout this façade.

Illus 7: Carron House looking north-west, c1957. (RCAHMS).

The east wing was also of two storeys and at its southern end was a canted bay window, the southern splay of which balanced the chamfered corner of the granary.  The wing stopped short of the north wing which was made of brick and was used as the offices for Samuel Garbett & Co.

The principal rooms were on the first floor.  That in the south wing was 40ft by 20ft in size, with a height of 15ft, and served as an elegant dining room.  The end windows provided access to the handsome balcony, 50ft by 10ft.  Below the dining room was a large room measuring 32ft by 21ft 6in, flanked on each side by a wide passageway giving access to the veranda.  The drawing room occupied the upper floor of the east wing with the large Venetian window at its southern end.  It measured 29ft by 22ft and was also 15ft tall.  On the floor below it was the low parlour of same size and figure, only not so high.  The principal bedrooms were 18ft by 15ft, and 10ft high.  The public rooms and principal bedrooms all had marble hearths and chimney slabs.

To the north of the quadrangle and parallel with it was a brick row of 16 rooms for those working at Carron Wharf – a strange juxtaposition of the wealthy and the working classes.  More residential rows were located near the dockyard and the pitch house and are included in the following valuation:

“Rental Value of Fullershaugh:
Carron-house, offices & c possessed by Mr GascoigneL5000
Ware-house, crane, wharf and shore dues4000
Kitchen garden and pleasure ground in Mr Gascoigne’s
natural possession, measuring 2 acres, 1 rood,
11 falls, at L5 per acre
The orchard and piece of ground by the pitch-house in
Mr Gascoigne’s natural possession, also measuring

10 acres, 2 roods, 2 falls, at L2.5s per acre
The dock-yard, containing 3 roods, at 40s Sterling per acre1100
The brewery possessed by Hill and MitchellL3000
Other two houses possessed by do.300
A house possessed by Walter Duncan700
24 rooms in one row, at 15s Sterling each1800
6 rooms in another row, at 16s each4160
16 rooms in one building on the north side of Carron-house, at 15s each1200
The old turpentine house500
This beside an old block-house and an old pitch-house, considered of no value.”

Further accommodation for the workforce, including sailors and miners, was built in the village at Carronshore along the east side of Main Street.  The new housing lay on the north side of a new access drive to Carron House across Wattys Green.  This was needed because the coastal road with its waggonway was very busy.  Cannon often lay strewn across it in front of the Granary ready for loading and further on ships were tied up to the poles with the ropes stretching across the road.  The new avenue was used by the workmen going to the brewery as well as the Gascoigne family and its guests.  However, this field belonged to Thomas Dundas and had been formed without his permission.  He got the road closed and sued for the damage caused to the hedges and the ditches that had been filled in.  Its course can still be made out by the line of trees.  An alternative access was made from the north to Bothkennar Road once the land had been acquired from the Westerton estate.

In order to improve the quality of the iron that it was producing for its cannon the Carron Company leased various iron ore producing areas in Cumberland and employed a considerable number of sloops to bring the ore to its works.  They were engaged ad hoc, but many of them found regular employment in the trade.  To encourage the skippers to make the long return trip round the north of Scotland, the Carron Company arranged for supplies of grain to be made available at Carron Wharf:

Granaries are prepared at Carron Wharf for the reception of any quantity of grain, consigned to Francis Garbett & Co of Carron Wharf or Gilbert Hamilton, merchants in Glasgow.

(Edinburgh Advertiser 7 February 1769).

Carron Company, and Gascoigne in particular, promoted the building of the Forth and Clyde Canal.  They had revived earlier suggestions of an artificial navigable route across the waist of Scotland and were represented on the committee to set up the canal.  The first surveys started from an assumption that the canal would enter the River Carron and this was one of the reasons for removing its awkward loops.  One of the early reports by Brindley and Yeoman took the line from Burnhouse, near what became Camelon Bridge, around the north side of Merchiston House through Langlees to meet the river opposite the Pitch House.  This would have been ideal for Carron Company.  However, the engineer who finally designed the canal, John Smeaton, preferred an entry into the river much further east at what became Grangemouth and not surprisingly was supported in this by the landowner there, Lawrence Dundas.  Carron had become a victim of its own success and as a result of the increase in shipping on the river it was seen as congested.

Undaunted, Gascoigne opposed the necessary parliamentary bill for the canal and as a compromise at the close of 1767 he proposed a separate branch leading from the canal  at Bankside, Bainsford, to their works.  The Canal Company accepted and agreed to pay for it and subsequently the parliamentary bill was passed.  Construction work began, but by 1771 it was obvious that the Carron branch was going to be a low priority.  To facilitate matters the Carron Company suggested that it would make the cut itself at an estimated cost of £10,000 and charge this to the Canal Company taking repayment in the form of lock dues as they became payable.  This was rejected and Carron Company resorted to legal action – to no avail.

In preparation for the construction of the branch canal Gascoigne had already purchased Abbotshaugh estate and some of the land to its west on behalf of Francis Garbett & Co.  In 1771 he came to an agreement with Carron Company to sell it the land required “for  making  cuts from Stenhouse dam to the Great Canal or other parts  of the river and for wharfs thereon, tow paths, etc. at £3.7.6 Sterling per acre.”

However, the empire that Gascoigne had created was built on a house of cards.  The extravagant expenditure on the house was unwarranted but was only one small part of a complex web of financial dealings which saw subsidiary companies lending money they did not have to Carron Company.  The collapse of the Messrs Fairholme, the bankers for Francis Garbett & Co, brought this house of cards crumbling down.  Abbotshaugh estate, including the land needed for the branch canal, which had not been staked off or confirmed, was granted in August 1772 to the Trustees of Messrs Fairholme.  Francis Garbett and Co went into liquidation with huge debts that almost ruined Samuel Garbett.  It was only with difficulty that Carron Company survived.

The shipping interests of Francis Garbett & Co continued to operate but the company was run by trustees until 1778 when the war with France caused them to sell the ships.  Gascoigne, the arch-manipulator, persuaded his cousin, the Honourable William Elphinstone, to buy the ships on a promise of continued business with Carron Company.  The shipbuilding yard does not seem to have survived the upheaval.  There is a dearth of ships known to have been built at Carronshore in the 1770s and we must assume that when it began again under new ownership in 1780 that the head of Quarrel Pow in the centre of the village was being used.

Between September 1775 and January 1776 Abbotshaugh estate was legally transferred to the Trustees of Messrs Adam and Fairholme with power to sell parts thereof to raise funds.  At the end of July 1781 Ludovic Grant, the principal Trustee, was still trying to sell the assets at Abbotshaugh, the Mungals, Gairdoch and Fulderhaugh.  In 1782 Carron Wharf was sold and the shipping concern moved to Grangemouth.   The Wharf, including the house and estate was purchased by John Ogilvie, who was then styled Ogilvie “of Gairdoch.”  According to some sources he got it for a very reasonable price, though he probably came to regret it.  In fact he paid £11,055 in for the Fulderhaugh properties in November 1783, slightly more than the valuation.

John Ogilvie had connections with Pocknave and was a factor for the Dunmore estate.  He clearly saw the quadrangular complex at Fulderhaugh as a mansion house with appendages and started to remove the more overt signs of trade.  As an entrepreneur himself he probably retained some elements for his own business use.  The name changed from Carron Wharf to Carron House.  It was probably John Ogilvie who completed the quadrangle by building a second bay window on the east frontage at the north-east corner.  The ground floor of this extension has two narrow vaulted rooms which appear to have been for a wine cellar. 

The Pitch House was converted into estate offices and an octagonal doocot was built on the courtyard.  Its walls were of brick with stone string courses and an eaves course punctuated by pigeon holes, some of which were blank.  A timber glover on the low-pitched roof supported a weather vane.

Illus 8: Carron House doocot.

The crane in front of the house was removed and the wharf fell ominously silent, though sailors continued to rent accommodation in the brick rows.  Further up river the port at Carronshore remained busy.  Indeed, it became busier than before because it now had to cope with the trade displaced from Carron Wharf.  The lease of the harbour had reverted to Carron Company and it slowly developed the Shore Head – the western bank of the river between the Quarrel Pow and the ferry at Buckies Lodge.  So sailors still passed in front of the Carron House whilst tracking their vessels, much to the annoyance of the new owner.  As one partial witness said, he

bore it for some Years, though with great Impatience, frequently quarrelling and disputing with the Shipmasters and Mariners.  Carron Company,  who wished of all Things to keep on good Terms with him as  a  Neigh­bour,  were constantly teased with his Complaints of the Sailors; but as  con­stantly endeavoured, by every Means in their Power, to procure him Redress, and to prevent any just Cause of Complaint, in future.”

Carron House was a grand house by any standards, but it was not the only large house on the estate.  Other houses existed at Gairdoch and Abbotshaugh and so it is not surprising that in 1785 Ogilvie put Carron House and its self-contained grounds on the north side of the river up for sale:

“CARRON-HOUSE, &c. FOR SALE, To be SOLD by private bargain, CARRON-HOUSE and Offices, with the Garden, Orchard, and Pleasure Grounds, on the banks of the Carron, about half a mile north of the great canal, and within two miles of Falkirk, a good market-town, which is twenty-three measured miles west of Edinburgh, and where the great post-roads pass west and north to Glasgow and Stirling, & c.

Carron House is a handsome building, large and commodious, fit to accommodate any gentleman’s family.  It is also particularly adapted for trade, as the wharfs, quays, and warehouses, lately used by the Carron Shipping Company, remain entire; and a number of neat brick-buildings, at a small distance, continue occupied by seamen and ship-builders.

The gardens, orchard, and pleasure grounds, are laid out in the best manner; the fruit trees, and shrubbery well grown up.  The gardens are inclosed with high brick-walls, well lined with great numbers of fruit-trees of the best kinds, particularly by a large store of the finest sort of peaches.

If agreeable, a purchaser may have about seventy acres English measure, or more, of very rich land adjoining to the garden and orchard, and stretching along the banks of the Carron, (without intermixture of any other grounds), at a reasonable purchase price, or at a fair rent.  The soil is of the richest kerse land, and not inferior in quality to any in Scotland.

The apartments of Carron House are spacious and elegant; the dining room is forty feet by twenty, and fifteen feet high, with a handsome balcony in front, fifty feet by ten, supported by five plazas, and forming a veranda below.  The drawing room twenty-nine feet by twenty-two, and fifteen feet high, with Venetian and bow windows, and the low parlour of same size and figure, only not so high in the roof.  The principal bedrooms are eighteen feet by fifteen, and ten feet high.  The public rooms and principal bed-rooms, have all marble hearths and chimney slabs.  The offices are large and convenient, every way suitable to the house.

Mr Tait, writer to the signet, Shakespeare-square, Edinburgh, will settle a bargain; and the servants in the house and the gardens, will show the house, garden and grounds.

N.B. The description is made full for the benefit of strangers, and to save unnecessary trouble to all.  The proprietor is resolved to accept of the purchase price at the late judicial sale, for the house, gardens, and orchard; with addition of what necessary repairs he has paid since.

The Lands of Gairdoch and Bonny Meadow, adjoining to the house, and offered as above to be sold, (in all about 70 acres English), are freehold of the King; and, if desirable, the proprietor can sell as much more superiority of Crown lands, as will entitle the purchaser to a freehold qualification in Stirlingshire.”

(Caledonian Mercury 7 May 1785, 1).

There were no takers.  Stuck with this huge mansion Ogilvie started to take a more aggressive approach to his industrial tenants and neighbours. 

Ogilvie employed his servants to spy on shipping from behind his pigeon-house.  They noted the direction of the wind from a weather-vane on top of it and how the vessels were being tracked.  This was the reason for the court case in which it was found that the men had the right to track their vessels from either bank of the river.

Illus 9: The Stone Screening Wall from the modern riverside footpath.  In the centre is an early ashlar pier, extended in similar ashlar, then in large rubble to the right and finally in small rubble to the left beyond the Fulderhaugh Pow.


A form of privacy was eventually reached by a succession of barriers that started with a set of ashlar pillars and finished with the construction of a stone wall parallel with the river bank at the point where the tracking bank came nearest to the house – though it did obstruct the view from the house.  

Illus 10: Plan of the grounds of Carron House, c1785.

Illus 11: Lime Avenue on the eastern edge of the Policy grounds, looking north.

Ogilvie also made improvements to the grounds.  In 1804 there was an excambion of land between Colonel Thomas Dundas of Fingask and John Ogilvie of Gairdoch which gave him possession of the field known as Wattys Green to the north of the coast road from Carronshore.  The coal rights were excluded from the land to be transferred by Dundas, and he was not to work coal within 100 yards of Carron House, nor under the garden walls of the offices.  A low estate wall was built along the south side of the field to keep the public out and a line of trees planted alternating two sycamore trees with one lime tree.  Lime trees were used exclusively along the northern and eastern boundaries of the policy grounds, in places forming a perimeter avenue.

The boundary between the houses at Carronshore and Wattys Green was replaced with a 10ft tall stone wall capped with an ornate course of iron slag.  A wide gap was left where Gascoigne’s northern road had entered the field, but this was soon narrowed and eventually blocked.

Ogilive may have considered reopening the north avenue from Carronshore.  He had a grand triple gateway placed across its line immediately north of the quadrangle.   From the north-west corner of that building a stone wall enclosed an outer court, and beyond that it was continued as a garden wall of brick curving to the north-east to form the north side of a small orchard and a walled garden.  The previous entrance appears to have been at the junction of the stone and brick walls and would have given access to the brewery.  This was blocked up and a new opening made c20m to the north. The gate has a central vehicular entrance with pedestrian ports to either side.  The central opening is 10ft 3in wide and the lateral ones 3ft 4in.  The piers are square, the inner ones showing alternating bands of ashlar and rusticated work with shell-ornament, while the outer ones are plain except for moulded arrises. All are capped by a moulded cornice above a frieze and necking, the friezes being decorated with a fret pattern or floral devices.

Illus 12: The Gateway
Illus 13: Alternating ashlar and shell ornament capped by key-worked cornice.

It was probably Ogilvie who developed the avenue from Bothkennar Road thereby avoiding the squalor of Carronshore. A small lodge was installed at the boundary with the Lands of Westerton – the North Lodge. Its slightly sinuous course led to the new gateway and then across the small orchard. In front of it was another simpler gateway whose tall slender piers echoed those at the entrance to the west drive. Here they gave access to the walled garden. Through its iron gates an eastward glimpse was caught of the broad vista reaching out through the garden and the trees beyond into the far distance. The visitor to the house, however, veered off to the south and a third gateway that led them to the sudden reveal of the east façade.

An ornate stone summerhouse/conservatory was built against the centre of the north wall of the walled garden. It is 35ft long and projects 8ft 4in from the wall. Its front consists of an arcade of five round-headed arches, the central one of which formerly housed a panelled door with a glazed fanlight while the others were fitted as large windows. The arcade is of ashlar, 2ft thick, and the rest of the walling is of brickwork, 1ft 4in thick. The archways are 4ft 9in wide and are separated by piers 1ft 8in wide. The arcade carries an entablature comprising a moulded architrave, plain frieze, moulded cornice and low blocking-course. The keystone of the doorway is carved with a five-petalled floral ornament.

There were other estate roads. The road that led to the doocot and offices then curved to the north where it lay on the old river course. A stubbly stone wall followed the curves of the old river bank with a ditch between it and the road forming a ha-ha. At the northern end of the extinct river loop the road continued in a north-easterly direction to Back Row which was used as a home farm. From there the road ran to a junction with the main road north from Kerse Bridge to Airth opposite to Newton Avenue. Here the East Lodge controlled access and over the following decades the small village of Skinflats developed around it.

Illus 14: Summerhouse with detail of central arch.

As a heritor John Ogilvie was prominent in church affairs and the maintenance of local roads. He was also concerned about law and order. He was in contact with a network of other landowners and often these people took the initiative in the protection of their property. One example of this was an affiliation to stop the pilfering of doos from the pigeon houses:
29 March 1812. John Ogilvie, Carron House, to Graham of Airth Castle.

“As I understand the late mischievous practice of shooting & killing pigeons is again generally resorted to, I beg leave to send enclosed 2 advertisments of the afeiliation for pre¬serving pigeons some years ago – which I would request of you to order one of them to be put on the church gate on Sunday – and the other at the miln of Airth, – or public smithy & c – as I have directed here for Bothkennar Kirk & smithys – and Lady Eleanor Dundas has done the same over the Carronhall es¬tates.
You will observe that your worthy mother subscribed the first association, which was afterwards joined by several other proprietors of pigeon houses (some of them since dead) and prosecutions for examples was at the time made by Mrs Higgins, who I presume will approve of the present measure…”

In 1798 John Ogilvie of Gairdoch executed a general trust-settlement containing the special conveyances of his lands and buildings in order to pay his creditors and for the payment of certain specific annuities, legacies, and other donations. Amongst these was the Ogilvie Meal Trust to be used in the purchase of meal in times of scarcity and high prices for re-sale at moderate prices to the labouring poor of the parishes of Airth and Bothkennar. The purchase and resale of the meal was to automatically kick in once the prices had reached a certain level.

The 1798 disposition named Ogilvie’s cousin, John Walker, cabinet maker in London, as his heir. After Walker’s death, in 1808, his son was named in his place:

“On considering that Carron House, with the grounds around, on the north of the river, are appointed by my trust-deed to be sold, as well as the property on the south of Carron, for paying of all my debts, and legacies or donations granted or to be granted; and that it may be proper and necessary to keep the house as at present, with the gardens and pleasure-grounds, in proper order for a sale, and the furniture to remain in the house for such convenient time as the trustees may appoint; and that I wish that John Walker, my cousin in the Renfrew Bank, Greenock, his father being now dead in London, may get possession of the estates of Pocknave and Orchardhead at the first term of Martinmas after my decease; and now intending that said John Walker should get the furniture of Carron House, and farming stock, & c, formerly meant to be sold for benefit of the trust-estate; Therefore, I request my said trustees, under my trust-deed of 11th auigust1798, to grant to the said John Walker, my cousin (as soon after my decease as they can find convenient to dispose of Carron House, & c as above stated), all the furniture of every kind in Carron House,” with certain exceptions, by way of legacy, and otherwise…”

(Dickson et al 1834).

John Ogilvie died in 1818 and shortly afterwards John Walker, now of Orchardhead, took his surname. The trust sold land in Grahamston, including the granary and sawmill (used by Robert Melville) on the Forth and Clyde Canal, to pay off some of the debts. However money was still owed to the Bank of Scotland which brought a process of ranking and sale which included Carron House:

VALUABLE ESTATES IN STIRLINGSHIRE, To be SOLD, THE following LANDS and MANSION-HOUSE, lying in the parishes of Falkirk and Bothkennar, and county of Stirling, viz-

The LANDS and ESTATE of ABBOTSHAUGH and DALDERSE, consisting of the FARMS and LANDS of ABBOTSHAUGH MAINS, CARRONSIDE, COBLE BRAE, NETHER MUNGAL, LANGLEES, DALDERSE and DALDERSE CORN MILL, and MILL LANDS. These lands are situated between the Forth and Clyde canal on the south, and the navigable river Carron on the north, and pay upwards of L1600 of yearly rent. There is reason to believe that the lands abound with coal. From the situation of the lands in a rich and populous country, part of them within half a mile of the market town of Falkirk, a considerable increase of rent may be expected. All the leases will expire in one, three, and four years.

CARRON HOUSE, on the north of the river Carron, with Gardens, Orchards, and Shrubberies, and the LANDS of BACKRAW of BOTHKENNAR, GREEN-HAUGH, and Others surrounding it, containing about 170 acres of the richest soil in the country, and affording a Freehold Qualification. Carron House is large and commodious, and contains elegant and suitable public rooms. The offices are likewise commodious, and have in the courtyard a large and well stocked pigeon house. In the gardens there are a greenhouse, peach-house, and grape-house, all well stocked. The gardens, orchards, and shrubberies contain about fifteen acres. The lands of Backraw and other lands surrounding Carron House, are partly out of lease, but if let, would, it is expected, yield about L1000 of yearly rent. The purchaser may enter to Carron House and gardens, and the greatest part of the lands, immediately after the sale.
These lands, if not sold in one lot, will be divided into the following lots: 1. The lands of Carronside and Coblebrae. 2, The south inclosures of Nether Mungal. 3. The lands of Langlees. 4. The Mains of Abbotshaugh, exclusive of the Greenhaugh, containing about ten acres; and 5. The lands of Dalderse, and Corn Mill, and Mill Lands.

If these estates are not sold by private bargain, they will afterwards be advertised to be sold by public auction, and should it be wished by those attending to purchase, part of the lands on the north of the River Carron could be added to the lands proposed to be sold with Carron House, and any other proper arrangements can be adopted to accommodate purchasers.
Offers for purchasing by private bargain may be lodged with Messrs Tait, Young, and Laurie, Park Place, Edinburgh, between and the 1st of August next; and the lands, mansion-house, gardens, orchards, &c will be shown upon applying at Carron House.
For further particulars application may be made to Messrs Tait, Young, and Laurie, in whose hands the title-deeds, plans, &c may be seen.”

(Caledonian Mercury 20 March 1819, 3).

The house and lands continued to be advertised until 1823. It was 1838 before the estate of Abbotshaugh came into the possession of Henry Stainton. He was a partner in Carron Company and invested heavily in land, though it turned out that he had been defrauding the company. He lived for most of the time in London and so Carron House was either empty or let during his ownership. Henry Stainton died in December 1851 and the estate became the property of his son, Henry Tibbats Stainton, who also remained in London. By the 1850s Thomas Wood, farmer, had taken on the lease for the lands around Carron House. He stayed in the farmhouse immediately to the west of the house and his stackyard was in the courtyard next to the doocot. He died there in 1869 and was followed by William Marshall. Carron House itself was leased to John Duncan, a market gardener, who was able to make full use of the walled garden. It was described by the Ordnance Surveyors at this time as

“An old mansion house now a farmhouse – a small section of the south-east corner of the building only inhabited, the remainder used as offices. It is three storeys high, slated and in bad repair.”

The inhabited section was in fact a modest new house which had not long been built within the remains of the old quadrangle. It occupied the northern part of the eastern wing, utilising the bay window there and jutting out into the courtyard. The house was relatively plain and was usually rented out.

The house was isolated and had evidently become prey to vandalism and theft. The extent of the deterioration is reflected in the report of a theft of 27cwts of lead from the roof in September 1858. The house was described as “uninhabited, but is rented by Mr John Duncan, market gardener, as a store for vegetables, & c.” Having stripped the roof the four thieves carried the lead to the adjoining wood where they dug four pits and buried it. They covered the pits with leaves with the intention of returning for it at their leisure. Unfortunately for them the following Sunday a young man was passing through the wood with his dog when it drew his attention to newly turned-up soil. The lad discovered the lead and reported it to Duncan at Carron House. The district police constable was informed and so he, along with five or six others, posted themselves in different parts of the wood to watch the approach of the thieves. About half past 12 o’clock at night four men made their appearance, and two of them were seized, the other two escaping in the darkness of the night. James Docherty was an old offender, having been six times previously convicted, and only released from Perth Penitentiary four weeks earlier. The other man was James Thomson. They received sentences of four years and 18 months respectively. (Falkirk Herald 30 September 1858).

Illus 15: 1862 Ordnance Survey Map showing Carron House (National Library of Scotland).

The following year Carron House came into the ownership of William Dawson of Powfoulis, the manager of Carron Company.  The Lands of Gairdoch were sold to repay some of the money swindled by Henry Stainton and fetched £59,000.  1868 saw a fire break out in a sleeping loft at “Carron House farm” occupied by John Duncan.  Its presence was detected early and little damage was done (Glasgow Herald 4 August 1868, 3).  A brief mention in April 1870 mentions

the once magnificent building of Carron House – now in ruins

(Falkirk Herald 23 April 1870). 

The 1862 Ordnance Survey map shows a gin mill, presumably for thrashing grain, attached to the west side of the Granary – it really was a working farm.

A correspondent on local horticulture wrote about this time –

desolation and dilapidated property in its worst form was visible everywhere in the grounds.  What had once been well appointed gardens, large mansion, well arranged offices, and good dwellings of employees at the time of our first visit were as ruinous as the hand of time – one might not be wrong in saying mischievous hands – and total neglect could make them… for about half a century or so the place had been allowed to dwindle into insignificance.  With no resident proprietor the fine old mansion became a dilapidated ruin covered with ivy, or falling away piecemeal” (see appendix).

Illus 16: The 1876-8 south wall of the Walled Garden.

Duncan gave up his tenancy soon afterwards.  William Dawson continued to live at Carron and settled his daughters into Powfoulis (see Powfoulis House for information on the family).   He died in 1874 and in 1876 his eldest daughter, Ann Dawson, married Thomas Brodie who then took the Dawson surname.   Anne and her sister, Dinah, had inherited large fortunes and set about improving the estates at Powfoulis and Carron House.  Soon after the death of their father the sisters, who had a passion for gardening, erected a large expanse of new greenhouses, hot-houses and so on at the walled garden.  

The south wall of the garden was demolished and a new one built about 10m north of the old one in a different style, with alternating buttresses and piers.   At its foot was a long bed of pansies.  Here it flanked the north side of the vista instead of the south as previously, which was now occupied by a very long range of glass houses with pavilion terminals.  In 1877 the head gardener from Powfoulis, Alexander Paxton, moved to take charge of the garden.  Carron House was let to James Clelland who managed the Carronhall Colliery (and then to the next colliery manager, Richard Robertson).

The earlier orchard to the west of the walled garden was converted into a flower garden.  A bank of earth was heaped up against the stone wall bordering its south side and stone steps were inserted at either end of it to provide a long viewing platform and elevated promenade.  It also hid the utilitarian buildings on that side of the quadrangle from view. The census for 1881 records the following people living at Carron House and its associated building:

ForenamesSurnameRelationAgeOccupationWhere Born
JamesCLELLANDHead38Colliery ManagerCadder, Lanark
EllisonCLELLANDWife36New Kilpatrick, Dunbarton
JanetCLELLANDdaughter17ScholarCadder, Lanark
CatherineCLELLANDdaughter15ScholarCadder, Lanark
EllisonCLELLANDdaughter13ScholarCadder, Lanark
RobertCLELLANDson8Scholar Bothkennar
EllizabethCLELLANDdaughter4 Bothkennar
JamesCLELLANDson1 Bothkennar
LillieCOWANservant27General ServantLarbert
Carron House
ForenamesSurnameRelationStatusAgeOccupationWhere Born
MarionGILLESPIEHeadWidow72Pattern maker’s widowDalmeny, Linlithgow
WilliamRAEson in lawMarried32Ship carpenter Bothkennar
MarionRAEdaughterMarried37 Bothkennar
MarionRAEgranddaughter1 Bothkennar
Catherine H.RAEgranddaughter2m Bothkennar
Catherine A.KERRgranddaughterunmarried15joiner’s daughterCumbernauld
Carron House – Wester Lodge
ForenamesSurnameRelationStatusAgeOccupationWhere Born
MargaretGRAHAMheadwidow80SeamstressInverkeithing, Fife
Carron House – North Lodge
ForenamesSurnameRelationStatusAgeOccupationWhere Born
GeorgeCOLLIERHeadmarried39Garden labourerBeath, Fife
JanetHENDERSONmother in lawwidow72Farmer’s widowCarnock, Fife
JanetHENDERSONsister in lawunmarried49Farmer’s daughterCulross
Bothkennar (Pitch Work)
ForenamesSurnameRelationStatusAgeOccupationWhere Born
RobertMCNABHeadmarried64Labourer (retired)St Ninians, Stirling
MargaretMCNABWifemarried54 Bothkennar
WilliamMCNABSon unmarried 24Coal Miner Bothkennar
DavidMCNABSon unmarried 22Dock Labourer Bothkennar
ElizaMCNABDaughter unmarried 18Domestic Servant Bothkennar
Carron House – East Lodge

By 1884 there was a large staff on duty to tend to the gardens.  Mungo Temple was then the head gardener and he and his family seem to have occupied the old north wing of Carron House.  George Collier, garden labourer, and his family were nearby.  Three ‘gardener domestic servants’, Robert Hardie, James Nisbet and Charlie Millar, lived at the ‘gardener bothy’ (the offices beside the doocot known as the Pitch Works) and another gardener and two apprentices were accommodated close by.  Mungo Temple became well known in the area and judged at horticultural shows.  He wrote and published several articles on horticulture as well as delivering talks entitled “Hints on several of the fundamental points in horticulture.”  The team of gardeners were experts and whilst Mungo Temple might talk onthe root management of apricots, peaches, plums, cherries, and bush fruits, his assistant, Mr Ireland, would take the subject of melons pots, or Mr Anderson the subject of the cucumber.  Prior to going to Carron House, Mungo Temple had been in charge of gardens at Balbirnie, Impney Hall and then Blenheim Palace.  On his death in 1902 it was noted that

Since Mr Temple has occupied the position of head gardener to Lady Brodie at Carron House the gardens have been remodelled, and having the advantage of considerate and liberal employers in the late Sir Thomas and Lady Brodie he has brought them to a remarkably high degree of perfection

(Falkirk Herald 19 April 1902).

From the 1880s until well into the following century the grounds of Carron House were made available as a picnic or concert destination for Sunday Schools and other charitable organisations.   In June 1887, for example, Carronshore Tonic Sol-Fa Association held a grand jubilee concert of vocal and instrumental music in Dovecote Field.  The Kinnaird and Carron Brass Bands were present and played a selection of airs.  In 1892 the Golden Willow Lodge of Free Gardeners held their annual picnic in the grounds. The company numbered about 500.  There were so many such gatherings that by the end of the century swings and shelters were erected for them in the Dovecote Park.  Even local rambling clubs were welcomed by prior arrangement.  One of these arranged a competition to discover local trees of “phenomenal obesity.”  At Carron House they came upon a tree which had a waist measurement of 21 feet (Falkirk Herald 1 August 1908).

Illus 17: 1897 Ordnance Survey Map (National Library of Scotland).

The gardens were extremely well maintained until 1910 when Dinah Dawson died.  The estate became part of the holdings of the Dawson Trust and continued to be used for social occasions.  In the summer of 1912 James Joseph Stainton Maclaren and his wife of Ratho Park held a garden party in the well laid out grounds of Carron House for the staff and friends of Carron Company.  It was such a success that it was repeated the following year as reported in the local press:

“Carron Company, with their wives, together with a number of outside friends. As the guests arrived at the pretty entrance to Carron House grounds, they were welcomed by Mr and Mrs Maclaren. The gardens, greenhouses, vineries, etc., were thrown open, and the party walked through them, and greatly admired their beauty and the excellent trim appearance of everything.  In passing from one part of the gardens to another the company made their way through lengthy archways of roses, which showed magnificent sprays of bloom, and emitted a delightful perfume.  The rose garden received a great deal of attention, and splendid blooms of the latest and best varieties of roses were observed.  The gardens were a picture of beauty and their condition reflected great credit on Mr Charles Millar, the head gardener.  Dovecote Park, which adjoins, was set apart for the accommodation of the company.  Numerous seats, placed for the most part under the spreading branches of fine old trees, were everywhere to be found, and when the guests felt tired of roaming about they could sit down and rest amidst the beautiful surroundings, and listen to the excellent music which was discoursed by the Kinnaird Brass Band and the Carron Pipe band.  Two large marquees were erected on the grounds, and in these refreshments in the form of dainty teas, together with strawberries and cream, fruits, etc, were provided…”

(Falkirk Herald 23 July 1913).

It would have been repeated in 1914, but by then the clouds of war were already gathering.  In 1917 John Campbell, land steward for the Dawson Trust, moved into Carron House.  He soon became a familiar face in the area and as well as being the chairman of the local branch of the Farmers’ Union he was a county councillor from 1928 to 1935.  His son, Hugh, farmed the lands around Carron House and was noted for his animal breeding.  Organised visits to the grounds were less frequent but still occurred. 

The 1899 OS 6in map shows a boathouse on the river bank to the south of the doocot.  It may have been for pleasure trips for Thomas Dawson Brodie or his wife and sister-in-law and would certainly have been popular at the events held in the adjacent park.  It was still there at the time of the 1921 survey (revised 1914), by which time the offices at the doocot had been converted into kennels for hunts.  In the late 1920s and 1930s the village of Carronshore was extended eastward by the building of Westerton Terrace and houses along the south side of Bothkennar Road by the Council, but Wattys Park remained as a buffer for Carron House.

In October 1942 “B” Company of the 3rd Stirlingshire Battalion of the Home Guard held a drumhead service in Dovecot Park.  Number 8 Platoon (Carronshore) had been given the run of the grounds.  The Home Guard was often seen by the local children conducting exercises in the fields, ‘fighting’ the Poles.  Exercises were usually in the area of the Doocot.  On some of their exercises they used bags of flour for bombs.  Once they hid under the hedge at the bottom of the garden in order to hit a tank as it drove passed.  Crackerjack fireworks also enlivened the proceedings.

A Polish liaison officer, Lt. Kwasny, was billeted with Mr Forrest at Carron House and even had a daytime telephone number – Falkirk 1411.  There was an anti-aircraft gun and a searchlight battery in the field immediately north of Carron House.  The men manning it stayed in huts hidden amongst the trees and had supplies delivered by lorry by the north avenue.  One night the searchlight caught a German bomber in its sights and a stream of tracer bullets followed.  People in the village heard one of the ground crew shout out the order to fire.  There was a series of dull bangs as the AA gun slowly shot away.  Four bombs subsequently fell in a string from Yonderhaugh Farm towards Island Farm.  At one stage there were American soldiers in the camp by Carron House.  They let the kids of the village along to watch American film shows in the big huts.  The beds were moved to one side for the film and used as seats.  For this reason the north avenue was temporarily known as Hollywood Boulevard.  The Americans were sometimes seen at the Dock Bar, chewing gum.

The war put everyone on the edge of their nerves.  Early one morning James Jones and his four-year old daughter were walking down the Avenue at Carronshore towards Carron House (which local people referred to as Campbell’s House) when they were stopped by a man asking the way to Glasgow.  The man had evidently followed the footpath along the north bank of the River Carron from Grangemouth and spoke with a foreign accent.  Jones directed him to Bothkennar Road, where there was a bus stop where he could wait.  Jones then went straight to the police office (almost at the junction of North Main Street and Bothkennar Road) and reported the incident.  Later the police informed him that the man had been arrested and was thought to be a German, but he never heard the final verdict.

Illus 18: 1947 Ordnance Survey Map (National Library of Scotland).

On the death of his father in 1944 Hugh Campbell took over as the land steward. Many still remember when Hunter Cran, rector of Falkirk High School, was resident in the house. Today the house and grounds are in private hands and access is therefore restricted. The doocot can be seen from the footpath that runs along the old tracking path of the river. In 2018 a steel footbridge was constructed over the Carron to open up the cycle network of the area and to link it to the Abbotshaugh Community Woodland and the Kelpies. It is on almost direct alignment with the doocot and was named the Gairdoch Bridge.

List of owners and tenants (in green) of Carron House:

James Goodlatt Campbell
1763Samuel Garbett & Co (purchase) – Charles Gascoigne
1773Francis Garbett & Co (son) – Charles Gascoigne
1782John Ogilvie (purchase)
1818John Walker Ogilvie (cousin)
c1838Henry Stainton (purchase)
1851Henry Tibbats Stainton (son)
John Duncan (1850-1860s)
1859William Dawson
James Clelland (c1881-1887)
1874Ann Dawson (daughter) married in 1876 to Thomas D Brodie who died 1896
1903Dinah Margaret Dawson (sister – in liferent)
Richard Robertson (1906)
1910Dawson Trustees
Mr Millar (1912)
John Campbell (1917-1944)
1954JC Brodie & Sons

Sites and Monuments Records

Carron HouseSMR 256NS 8974 8294
Carron House DoocotSMR 19NS 8976 8267
Carron House Walled GardenSMR 658NS 898 830
FulderhaughSMR 1324NS 8975 8267
Fulderhaugh BoatyardSMR 1325NS 8974 8277


Bailey, G.B.1991‘Doocots in the Falkirk District,’ Calatria 1, 33-56.
Bailey, G.B.1992‘Along and Across the River Carron: a history of communications on the lower reaches of the River Carron,’ Calatria 2, 49-85.
Bowman, I.1979‘The Carron Line: part 1, Carron Sail 1759-1850,’ Transport History 10.2, 143-170
Dickson J.W., Dunbar, W.H., Hay, J.W. & Deas, S1834The Scottish Jurist: Containing Reports of Cases Decided in the …, Volume 6
RCAHMS1963Stirlingshire: An inventory of the ancient monuments.
RHPRegister House Plan
RHP1485 – Plan of the Estate of Abbotshaugh and other Lands in the County of Stirling, by William Crawford in 1819.
RHP242 – ‘Ainslie’s plan of the River Carron 1797’
Watters, B.2010Carron: Where Iron Runs like Water.


Report on a visit to Carron House Gardens, written by ‘JRD’ (believed to be James Neilson of Rosehall), in the Journal of Horticulture and Cottage Gardener, 2 September 1888.  For locations (given a capital letters in bold) see the map at the end.

CARRONHOUSE, STIRLINGSHIRE.  While we hear so much of agricultural depression and commercial inactivity, it is refreshing to notice that horticulture is not entirely forsaken or reduced to the level which the forebodings of many have predicted.  In every county to which we have paid visits of late years, and they have been many, sad traces of demolition and pecuniary weakness are too visible.  Many of the finest of old domains, once the glory of the districts in which they were situated, are either let or tenantless, and the gardens, which were once the pride of the proprietors and the joy of the gardeners, are now in great straits, it having been absolutely necessary to reduce labour power and curtail all other expenditure.  Such examples are not of a solitary character, especially in the districts from which the following notes have been gathered.  It is cheering, however, to find, on the other hand, that there are many examples of advancement by enterprising proprietors who are doing much to uphold the status of horticulture and stem the tide of retrogression; some establishments have undergone thorough renovation of late years, and other gardens we know are being remodelled and extended, especially in the glass department; but making an entire new place is often a very simple matter compared with transforming an old one.

It is with much pleasure that we lately visited the fine old seat known as Carron House, situated on the banks of the river Carron, where a complete reformation has taken place since we called there some years ago.  At that time desolation and dilapidated property in its worst form was visible everywhere in the grounds.  What had once been well appointed gardens, large mansion, well arranged offices, and good dwellings of employees at the time of our first visit were as ruinous as the hand of time – one might not be wrong in saying mischievous hands – and total neglect could make them.  But now the change is becoming very complete on the right side.  Liberal expenditure and skill have made a very radical change.  Everything completed, or in the process of manipulation is done in the most substantial and elegant manner.  The present occupier, T.D. Brodie, Esq. of Gairdoch became possessor of this property some years ago, and having extensive estates in the locality, as well as other vast interests in the county of another character, he resolved to renovate the old seat throughout, and being a gentleman so favourably known for liberality and refined taste and sound discernment, the work at Carron House, one may be sure, has not been done by halves.  The ground, park and gardens are said to have been, during the early part of the present century, among the best for high keeping and usefulness in the county of Stirling.  But for about half a century or so the place had been allowed to dwindle into insignificance.  With no resident proprietor the fine old mansion became a dilapidated ruin covered with ivy, or falling away piecemeal, but we have heard that plans for new additions to and renovations of the old residence have been submitted, and probably a residence worthy of the property and proprietors may yet be seen.  The park is being arranged similar to its ancient character.  Many fine old trees are still standing, and well placed they are; additional plantations are in contemplation, but much of this is not required.  Where shelter is not necessary, and game not in request, we think it is wise to allow such excellent land to remain in the hands of cultivators.  Good fences have been erected for protection of trees and shrubs, which have suffered much from prowlers, who, for want of better employment, have used their knives freely in mutilating the bark of the old timber.  It is singular how this propensity for mischief is so widely developed among certain classes.

Entering by the new substantial iron gates to the garden we observe large breadths of choice trees and shrubs planted in the spacious grounds, and judiciously where the remnants of the old shrubberies stood.  These plantations were made evidently at liberal cost two years ago last May.  All are growing in the greatest of luxuriance, none having failed.  Numbers of old Hollies having been skilfully cut in, removing all dead and unhealthy portions, have sprouted out, and are now forming handsome bushes.  In a triangular portion of the garden at entrance [A] was, when we visited the place for the first time, a jungle of Gooseberries, Apple trees, and offensive weeds of every description; but now replaced by an elegant flower garden laid out in beds on grass, and numbers of fine specimen shrubs are planted.

An arrangement to shut out a number of buildings by throwing up terraces and planting on a flat at the top level is very striking and beautifully executed, and the object of observation is very complete.  Tall-stemmed Laburnums, with large heads to remove formality, are on the outer margin of the terrace; then dense lines of Cupressus Lawsoniana, Hollies Hodginsii, Maderiensis, Golden Queen, and others, from 5 feet to 9 feet high, many fine specimens among them.  Then there are Retinosporas and Myrtle-leaved laurels forming a break at a lower level to the first named.  Such a fine feature in a corner, which was at one time as offensive as neglected vegetation could make it, is specially worthy of note.  At an opposite portion of this garden is placed the most handsome summer-house [B] which we have seen, and fills up a large space where it would have been difficult for shrubs or other plants to have lived.  The roof is rough plate glass, and the inside is ornamental wood stained and varnished.  Blinds which may be used at pleasure and a set of ornamental rustic furniture completes a remarkably useful adjunct to a pleasure garden – elaborate, but thoroughly substantial, like all the new erections already completed.

Passing onwards we reach the fine old vegetable garden [C], along the borders of which are splendid collections of Roses, remarkable for clean healthy foliage and profusion of florescence.  Across a walk some 100 yards or more long lines of Pansies are in full bloom [D], and beyond this an avenue through a wood gives an appearance of continuity of the most pleasing character [E].  Every portion of the garden, at the time we took these notes, was closely cropped and a total absence of weeds.  Many old dead and dying fruit trees have been removed, and others cut into form and manipulated at the roots are now a mass of fruit.  Numbers of young dwarfs have been planted with kinds suitable to the climate and district.  Small fruits are an immense crop, especially old Gooseberries, which have been lifted and replanted.  Much of the ground has been raised by means of ashes placed under 3 feet of the soil, a plan acting admirably for drainage of ground which is nearly on a level with the adjacent river.  There are fine old walls, once heated, which have been planted with selections of Apricots, Plums, Cherries, and Pears, suitable to the district.  The trees are in the finest of health, well trained, and many are already loaded with Plums and Cherries.  Cordona fan, vertical, horizontal, and other forms are seen, all equally promising.  Little pruning is done.  The head gardener (Mr. M. Temple, who has been entrusted with the renovation of this place) is very painstaking with fruit tree management, and says that he has very little faith in mutilating branches while the roots are allowed to grow at random.  Most of these young tees have been root-pruned twice, causing a short fruitful growth, with large dark green foliage.  The trees are allowed to fruit the first or second year, and are expected to continue fruiting abundantly whether on the restricted cordon or the larger tree.  A number of Morello Cherries and other varieties which were lifted and transplanted last winter were loaded with fine fruits.  These trees are said to be placed in soil rammed firmly and manured over the surface with Thomson’s Vine and plant manure.

We now pass to finely kept lawn [F], studded at the outer boundary with fine old cherries, Tulip Trees, Mountain Ashes, Hollies, Walnuts, and others with large trunks of great age.  All small growth has been removed, leaving the clean trunks and gnarled roots standing on the clean grass unimpeded by any young plantation or the hiding up of what makes old trees peculiarly beautiful – viz, the large roots, which have monopolised much of the surface.  Not long since this was reduced to a most obnoxious paddock, all traces of an ancient pleasure ground having been destroyed; an overgrown old orchard of some 6 acres, belted with some splendid Beeches and oaks, has lately been added to the pleasure grounds [G].  A few of the finest of the old Pear and Apple trees have been retained; much of this space is intended for specimen Conifers.  We noticed large breadths of the finest kinds of Rhododendrons, in robust health, making excellent growth; also numbers of Tetinosporas of all the best kinds, Lilacs, Golden Spireas, round-leaved laurels, specimen Hollies, yews, and many others of the choicest of shrubs belting this lawn; but quite clear of the old trees, no cutting up or “dotting,” as some mischievously do, on fine sward, and walks for use only are found here and kept as much out of sight as possible.  We notice thriving herbaceous borders some hundreds of feet long where we distinctly remember having seen a few years since the rubbish heaps and a luxuriant growth of nettles and Dock.  These had it all to themselves at one time, but collecting Peonies, Spireas, Phloxes, Anemones, Pyrethrums, and many of the most useful of hardy flowering plants now occupy this space.

From there we entered a range of very useful span-roofed houses [H], which are placed so that the ornamental ground is divided from the vegetable garden.  This range may be about 300 feet long, erected for forcing fruits and vegetables, but these are now raised in other structures, and the span-roofed houses are mostly filled with plants.  At one end a houseful of young healthy cool Orchids and Ferns mixed, a line of excellent Gloxinias along the margins alternated with Davalias of sorts was very striking.  Other divisions were filled with plants in fine health for winter service.  Azaleas, Camellias, Epacris, Acacias, also Begonias, Libonias, Gardenias, and Bouvardias, Plumbago roses, & c, were well represented in the various compartments.  In an Orchid house for a general collection were numbers of useful species for cutting, many fine Dendrobiums nobile, Wardianum, Jamesianum, and others, a plant of Cymbidium eburneum Dayanum, about a yard across and very healthy, was doing well.  Several dozen good sized Vypripediums longifolium and Sedeni were flowering very freely.  Good plans of C. Lowi insigne Maulei, harrisianum, Stonei, villosum, and others were in fine health, with stiff broad foliage.  A good batch of Cattleyas of good size was in this house, among which we noticed Trianae, Mendeli, Mossiae, and Eldorado.  A consignment of Trianae had lately been received from their native habitats, all starting freely into growth.  A dozen or two were fastened to pieces of cork with a little moss attached.  These were making growth ahead of those in pots, roots over 6 inches long were hanging down.  Several fine plants of Anthuriums were prominent features in this house.  A pair of A. Scherzerianum were about a yard across and flowering freely.  A fine plant of the valuable A.S. Knighti was in fine condition; Calanthes on shelves, with fine foliage; Coelogynes are being increased; Cristata and the Chatsworth variety are valued much for cut flowers.  There seems to be a great demand for this most useful Orchid.  A great grower for sale lately told us that this variety is increasing in value, the demand for it being very great.  Numbers of small plants, such as Dracaenas, Asparagus, Lycopods, Ferns, Dieffenbaubias, Pandanus, & c, are mixed among the Orchids to give effect.

Another house, the gayest on the place, contained a mass of double Petunias, tuberous begonias (double and single), Pelargoniums of all the classes, Fuschias, & c.  A band of Harrison’s Musk along the edges was a very effective mass of yellow hanging down, almost overpowering with its perfume.  This was erected as a Strawberry house, but now is most suitable a supply for the conservatory [K], an old building which was enlarged and had a rough plate glass roof put on.  The inside walls were lined with beautifully stained and varnished wood.  Tree Ferns, Dracaenas, Cordylines, standard Heliotropes, Hydrangeas, Coleus in variety, Pelargoniums, Vallotas, & c, make a very lively show.  Baskets hanging from the roof, and brackets of bronze colour, on which were drooping plants were very effective.

The principal fruit range is at the north side of the vegetable garden [L], and as fine houses as one rarely meets with, finished in substantial and elaborate form, heated admirably, with abundance of ventilation at command.  This range is about 250 feet long, 17 feet high, and 18 feet wide.  Peaches are on the eastern side, and vineries on the western ditto.  The back walls of the Peach houses were loaded, in the earlier compartments, with fine crops of finely coloured fruit.  Nectarines are valued much, and in numbers are nearly equal to the Peaches.  Trellises about 4 feet from the glass are covered with very healthy trees, only planted three years ago.  The soil in which these trees were planted was mostly taken from the vegetable garden, mixed with a quantity of lime rubbish, and a goodly portion of Thomson’s Vine and plant manure rammed firmly, so we were told.  The results are of the most satisfactory character.  Figs of several kinds were a heavy crop on a portion of the back wall of each compartment.  The back walls are cemented, painted, and wired, cleanliness being a speciality here.  The Peaches valued most are Hale’s Early, Early Crawford, Royal George, Bellegarde, Barrington, Dr Hogg, Violette Bative, Belle Bruce, and Sea Eagle.

Nectarines are represented by Pitmaston Orange, Hardwicks Seedling, Victoria, Murray, Violette Hative, Etrugo, and some others.  Passing to the vineries, enormous crops of the fine fruit presented themselves.  For early use large bunches of Black Hamburgh, Foster’s Seedling, Muscat Hamburgh, and Buckland Sweetwater are represented.  The berries of the Hamburghs and a Vine of Madresfield Court, ripening a fine crop, were of large size, and most of them finely coloured.  The soil for the Vines is much the same as for the Peaches, with less lime rubbish and more of the Vine manure in it.  Other soil come-at-able was not used, but surface taken from the old kitchen garden, spread out and well frozen, is the chief portion of the substance.  For succession crops, Muscats, Gros Maroc, Gros Colman, Gros Guillaume, & c, are grown, and such crops as called forth censure; but we were shown that the heavy impost was on supernumerary Vines which have been cropped heavily for three years, and most of them are to be discarded next year, leaving the permanent rods to do their work.  Latest crops to give supplies from February to May are represented by White Tokay, Gros Guillaume, Gros Colman, Alicante, and Lady Downe’s, the latter being valued most of all, retaining its flavour, plumpness, and colour to the last.  A portion of the gardener’s office has lately been apportioned for late Grapes; this spacious room is heated by hot water, and can be used for the Grapes if desired, but during the late winter the heat was seldom turned on.  There are good and spacious erections for storing fruit, Onions, & c, over the workmen’s sheds.  A capital Mushroom house with slate shelves, and spaces with iron sliding doors in which Seakale is forced, packing sheds, and other structures are in a range.  There is also, for the benefit of visitors, ladies’ and gentlemen’s rooms elegantly fitted up and heated with hot water [M].  A tall chimney at some distance takes the smoke from the furnace, and around this is finely planted with specimen Scarlet, Crimson, and White Thorns, double Cherries, numbers of brooms, Rhododendron boxes, & c, forming an undergrowth.  Many large Thorns are in a line; they are very picturesque, and of great age.  Several of the largest Willows which we have seen help to represent the antiquity of this very interesting place.  There are shortly to be erected several other ranges of glass structures for plants and fruits, which will complete a garden establishment worthy of the proprietors, who very justly hold positions of the most estimable character throughout the district.  The gardener’s house [N], mostly new, is an excellent one, and already nearly covered with Ivy to match the ancient character of the surroundings.

This concludes our notes of a very interesting place where much has been done well, skilfully, and in good taste.  Passing outward we were shown a small whitewashed red-tiled cottage, where one of Scotia’s noblest sons spent nine years of his boyhood – we refer to the late Dr Moffat, the famous African missionary, and father-in-law to the late Dr Livingstone.  These names will be held in loving admiration throughout all Christendom as long as the world lasts.  This small obscure cottage added greatly to the interest of our very pleasant outing to Carron House, where we experienced greatest kindness and courtesy.  J.R.D.”

Illus 19: Garden locations mentioned in the 1888 description;
A – triangular garden and terrace.
B – new summerhouse.
C – vegetable garden.
D – pansy bed.
E – woodland avenue.
F – lawn.
G – old orchard of 6 acres.
H – old summerhouse.
K – 300ft length of span-roofed houses.
L – greenhouses along north side of walled garden.
M – gardeners’ office, storage rooms, mushroom house, rest rooms & boiler house.
N – gardener’s house.

G.B. Bailey, 2021