Hayfield House

Hayfield House was built in the very late 18th century on the Lands of Dalderse.  Its neighbour, Forganhall was built in 1784.  It was a large house which in 1849 contained eight rooms and attics (Falkirk Herald 12 April 1849, 3).  By 1805 Captain Falconer, Adjutant of the Eastern Battalion of the Stirlingshire Volunteers, was living there.  His wife died there on 16 November 1808.

Illus 1: Extract from Grassom’s Map of 1817 (National Library of Scotland).

In 1813 Hayfield was occupied by Dr John Bowie of Biggar, physician.  On 2 July 1811 he had married Mary Hay, the eldest daughter of John Hay of Carron.  It therefore seems probable that it was John Hay who commissioned and named the house.

At around this time several stone cottages were constructed in the grounds of Hayfield fronting the road that ran alongside the canal which was known as Bankside.  These single-storey dwellings were small but well-built, suggesting that they were for artisans.  This coincided with the construction of the Falkirk Iron Works on the south side of the Forth and Clyde Canal and there may have been a connection.  Their presence, however, made it difficult in the future to sell Hayfield House as a genteel residence.  A little further west was a large granary or storehouse.

Illus 2: The Forth & Clyde Canal looking east. The tall chimney of Hayfield House can just be seen above the cottages to the right of the granary. C1900.

Hayfield House was put up for sale or to let in April 1849 at which time the proprietor was James Towers, wright, Grahamston (Falkirk Herald 12 April 1849, 3).  It is not known how it came into his possession but it was part of a larger portfolio of property in the Grahamston area (in 1857 James Towers established the well-known brickworks that took his name).

Hayfield was still on the market in February 1850 when more details were provided in the advertisement:

“That beautiful and sweetly situated VILLA of HAYFIELD, with Orchard, Garden, and Shrubbery, lying on the north side of the Forth and Clyde Canal, and within 15 minutes’ walk of the town of Falkirk and Port of Grangemouth; and which comprises 3 Roods 9 Poles, or thereby, of the finest rich loamy Kerse land.

The Mansion-House is built in the modern style of Architecture, and is genteel, substantial, and commodious, and contains a Dining and a Drawing-Room, Parlour, and four bedrooms, besides Kitchen and Attic-Rooms; also, a Wash-House, Stable, and Byre.  The superior holding of the Subject is merely fractional; and to ensure a Sale, the Property, including the Orchard, Garden, and Shrubbery, will be exposed at the low Upset Price of £400.

Further, if wanted by the purchaser, a Small Field adjoining this delightful Property on the west, may be had at a valuation” .

(Falkirk Herald 14 February 1850, 1)

It is probable that the property was purchased by Messrs Kennard of the Falkirk Iron Works with a view to future expansion of the foundry and in February 1852, the house was let as two flats.  The upper flat consisting of three rooms and a kitchen, with attics and out-door conveniences. It was taken by Rev Gilbert McCallum of the Falkirk Evangelical Union Church in Bank Street.  After he left the church the contents of the flat were sold off:

“ELEGANT FIRST-CLASS FURNITURE FOR SALE.  To be Sold by Roup on FRIDAY the 26th day of December 1856 within the House occupied by the Rev. Mr M’Callum, Canal Bank, near Bainsford.

THE HOUSEHOLD FURNITURE, comprising – a Handsome Mahogany Pedestal Sideboard, with enclosed doors; 2 Sets of Mahogany Stuff-bottomed Chairs, 2 Mahogany Loo Tables, Mahogany Sofa in Haircloth; Mantelpiece Mirror in Gilt Frame, a First-rate Rosewood Pianoforte, Easy Chair, Timepiece with Glass Shade, a Handsome Mahogany Elizabethan Bed, fine Crimson Damask Curtains and deep Fringe; an Elegant Mahogany Three-Door Wardrobe, Basin-stand with Marble top; Round Bedside Table with Marble Top, Dressing Table, 2 Feather Beds, Mattresses, large Dressing Glass, Cane Chairs, a large Winged Bookcase, Rosewood Writing Desk, Moderator Lamp, French Bed, Double Basin-stand, Dressing Glass, Kitchen Range, Grates and Fenders, Table, Chairs, and other Kitchen Articles; Screens, China and Crystal, and a variety of other articles.

The principal Articles have been but a short time in use, and were furnished by one of the first houses in Glasgow,

William Christie, Auctioneer. .

(Falkirk Herald 18 December 1856, 2)
Illus 3: Ordnance Survey Map showing Hayfield House (unnamed) with an oval carriage drive to the south and a bridge over the Bainsford Burn to the north. Surveyed in 1859 and published in 1891 (National Library of Scotland).

The 1859 Ordnance Survey Map shows Hayfield House as a two-storey central block with short single storey wings to either side.  It was probably similar in appearance at this stage to nearby Kersehill House, with symmetrically disposed windows and a central porch.  To its south a carriage drive led to Bankside and included a turning circle.  Behind the house a service drive crossed the Bainsford Burn by a wide bridge and immediately turned west.  After 100yds or so this drive entered Hayfield Place where tenements housed iron foundry workers.  Inevitably the stream to the south of these dwellings was used to dispose of sewage and became a nuisance.

By the beginning of 1870 Hayfield House had been let to a single tenant – Robert Taylor.  In February it was again advertised in the Falkirk Herald for either one or two tenants.  Robert Orr was the next tenant.  However, as the Falkirk Iron Works was able to acquire land to its east it was decided to dispose of Hayfield House.

“The Commodious and Substantial VILLA of HAYFIELD on the North Bank of the Forth and Clyde Canal, near Grahamston, Falkirk… with GARDEN and LAND adjoining, extending to 3 Roods 13 Poles, or thereby.  The House contains 2 Public Rooms, 7 bedrooms, with Kitchen and other conveniences.  There is an excellent supply of Water on the Premises.  Present Rental £40.  The Feu-duty is nominal.  Entry at Whitsunday 1875”. .

(Falkirk Herald 13 February 1875, 1)

John McDuff, late of the Scots Greys, died at Hayfield on 9 March 1879, aged 43 years.  Totally unconnected to his death, the Bainsford Burn was culverted from the Carron Company’s Basin at Burnbank to just beyond Hayfield, in November of that year.The 1881 census shows that James Liddell, managing partner at the nearby Abbot Foundry, was in residence with his family and a servant. He died in August 1884.

ForenamesSurnameRelationStatusAgeOccupationWhere Born
JamesLIDDELLHeadmarried37Iron Founder MasterPennycuick
Mary A.LIDDELLWifemarried29Iron Founder Master’s WifeFalkirk
JohnLIDDELLSon4 mFalkirk
MaggieSHIRRAServantunmarried21General Servant (Domestic)Falkirk
Table: 1881 Census for Hayfield House.

 A succession of tenants with connections with the Falkirk Iron Works suggests that Hayfield House had not been sold in 1870.  The tenants included John Dougall (died there 18 September 1886 aged 71; his wife, Jane Kemp died there on 24 November 1910); Robert Miller (died 10 May 1887 aged 66); Matthew Russel (died 24 June 1889 aged 61); 1890s – John Fitzpatrick a draughtsman and Archibald Nicol; 1897 – Archibald Nicol senior, Hugh Nicol and George Nicol, moulders; Mary Ferguson (widow of Robert Millar); 1899 – Joseph Fletcher and George Cellars, iron-turners; William Duff (died 22 December 1898); 1905 – Francis Brown, moulder, and Walter Paisley, labourer;   1912  Robert Colquhoun, brick builder with the canal department of the Caledonian Railway Company (died April 1912); William Steven (died 12 August 1913 aged 32).  1915 – Robert Murray, engineer (in 1927 he retired having served with the Falkirk Iron Co for 50 years); Pte Alexander Cameron of the Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders (killed in the war) and AB Hugh Cameron RNVR; 1918 – James Scott, foundry labourer and then chauffeur; 1924 – William McTear, pipe-moulder.  Many of the latter names are preserved in the local court records!

In March 1927 planning permission was granted to the Falkirk Iron Company Limited for the construction of twenty houses at Hayfield and Hayfield House was demolished.  The dwellings were in five flatted blocks, four of which contained four three-apartment houses, and the fifth had four dwellings of two rooms each.  The cost was put at £7,800.  They were subsequently taken over by Falkirk Town Council.

SMR 2214       Hayfield House                       NS 8923 8139


Love, J.1925Local Antiquarian Notes and Queries. Volume 3.

G B Bailey (2021)