By Billy Scobie
It has been at the centre of much controversay in recent times, but my generation knew it as the Woodbank Hotel. In medieval times it was a tower house which stood in the Stuckrodger Estate. Curiously, given talk of “haunting”, the name is thought to have come from the Gaelic meaning “Hangman’s Hill”.
Since the early 1600s the building has been inhabited by many families. Lindsay, Scott of Dalquhurn textile works (who converted it into its mansion house form), Horrocks, Campbell, Findlay, Gilmour of Levenbank textile works, Lt. Col. Sir George Ramsay Maitland D.S.O., David Rowan. A William Campbell converted Woodbank to a hotel in 1937. A dozen years later it passed to James Munro Jack. In the 1950s Esso Petroleum used Woodbank as a training school for their UK managers.
Famous guests included Prime Minister Sir Anthony Eden, actor Anthony Quayle (“The Guns of Navarone” etc), and the Swinging Blue Jeans.
In 1980 it was taken over by Andrew Hamilton and it became known for a time as “Hamilton House”. In 1996 the building was gutted by fire.
This venerable and elegant mansion, once residence of lairds, merchants, industrialists and colonels, visited by a prime minister and haunt of the rich and famous, now stands ruined in solitary silence, like the grey ghost of a grand old lady.