Helensburgh’s Holmglen had a room with a view where ladies took tea
Holmglen in George Street, the Helensburgh ‘house’ that set people talking. Picture by Kathryn Polley Photography.
By Lizzie Healey
Helensburgh is famous for its fine houses. The Garden City of the Clyde has some beauties, including Cairndhu House and The Hill House, which were designed by top architects William Leiper and Charles Rennie Mackintosh respectively.
There was one little building which caused a great deal of head scratching however.
“I took this [picture] towards the end of another one of my walks around the town,” said Kathryn Polley.
“It’s on George Street and I still don’t really know what it is. Dovecote? Kids den? If anyone knows I’d be delighted to hear about it.”
That set people talking on the excellent Helensburgh Memories site on social media.
Maeve Dixon said: “I’ve wondered that myself. I think It’s part of a house.”
Kate Jarvis said: “Looks like an old signal box, maybe been moved? Share it on Helensburgh Memories someone there will know.”
That set them guessing, and soon the answers began to arrive.
Teresa Faulks said: “It’s in my friend’s garden. It’s where ladies used to take ‘tea’ overlooking the water. Back in the day.”
Mark Homer said: “My mate lived there many decades ago, upstairs was his sisters summer house, downstairs a boys’ den, quite a contrast.”
Kathryn Polley replied: “I love that this is what it was used for. The idea of basically building a tower to get a better view of the sea and meeting up with ladies for tea in it. It’s brilliant.
“I don’t really need a tower as I live on the seafront but I’d love a wee room to escape to every now and then!”
Former head teacher Tom McDonald, pictured left, had all the answers – and little wonder since he lived there for 30 years.
He revealed: “We owned Holmglen, in whose garden this structure is, for 30 years. It is a gazebo. There is a lower storage ‘shed’ and above that a room with panoramic window. There was a gas point which fuelled a stove for tea and so on. The balustrade on top I had to demolish as the wood was rotten.
“The roof is solid lead and has some names etched in it. I also had to create a new set of steps to the middle floor and remove the ladder to the top, again it was in poor condition. There is a splendid view from the window.
“Our children used it as a playroom and we would sometimes sit in there to admire the view. Further back in the garden we uncovered the circular rail of the original gazebo which could be turned to catch the sun.
“I also remember it from my childhood when I thought it was a water tower. It is s real piece of Helensburgh history.”