Friday, January 30, 2009

Ardrossan 1

Six photos from our visit to Ardrossan in October, 2008

The South Beach

Geoffrey on the promenade
and below, the harbour

You can find hundreds of photos of Ardrossan here
and the Wikipedia page here

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Cardross Part 4

I recently heard from Michael MacDonald who was brought up in Cardross in 'Ruanaich', a white house next to the railway bridge. Below, some of his photos including some beautiful and impressive ones taken around Cardross (click to enlarge).

Michael MacDonald

Michael's childhood home, 'Ruanaich'

Above, Cardross fields in winter and below in summer

Below: Cardross shore

Cardross shore at dusk

Cardross shore at sunset. Greenock/Gourock on horizon

Michael also told me about Percy Sinclair Pilcher (1866-1899) who was a pioneer of unpowered flight. (I must admit I'd never heard of him) His first machine, 'The Bat' flew successfully from a hill at Cardross.
In Michael's words,

"Although not a native, Percy Pilcher made great leaps and bounds (literally) in flight, before the Wright Brothers. He did this on the hill behind the village near my brother in-law's farm, Cairnadrouth." See this link:

I must thank Michael very much for his interest and for allowing me to use his marvellous photos and other information in this continuing and evolving blog about Cardross! His own personal websites can be found below (and more of his photos too) -

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Greenock Esplanade 3

Another batch of photos taken on the Esplanade - this time in the autumn, 2008

The first flashing buoy used to aid navigation and the plaque on the side (below)

The Ocean Terminal at the east end of the Esplanade

My previous Esplanade photos are found below:



Friday, January 9, 2009


October 2008: A brief trip to Helensburgh after our longer visit to Cardross (described in a previous blog!)

Below, the West Kirk in Colquhoun Square

'Cafe 19' in West Clyde Street (which we discovered was a good place for coffee and cakes!)

Looking back towards the town from the pier in the evening

At the end of the day

More about Helensburgh on the Undiscovered Scotland page here

Thursday, January 8, 2009

West Kilbride

We visited West Kilbride late on a rainy afternoon in October 2008. Not much time for anything other than a quick walk around the town and some coffee! Known as the 'Craft Town', we didn't see any crafts on our hasty visit that day; that will have to wait till the next time we go there.

Looking up the main street

The surprisingly upmarket restaurant, "Chu Chus" in the old station building, where we had coffee (and the best, friendliest, service you could find anywhere!)

(Their website is here )

Inside - one of the ornate fireplaces

(The only place where we've been given some butter tablet free on the side too!)

Some gardens near the station - and a small amount of sun (it didn't last long!)

Geoffrey on the bridge above the Kilbride Burn

The Wikipedia page about West Kilbride can be found here

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Cardross and A. J. Cronin Part 3

I have recently been in communication with Douglas Lockhart of Airdrie who actually lived in Rosebank Cottage as a child! His grandfather had bought the house for about £200 and continued a correspondence with A J Cronin for some time afterwards. Needless to say, Douglas has many memories (and a few photos) which he is kindly allowing me to reproduce here – which, I am sure, will be of great interest to many people.

In Douglas’s own words:

“Rosebank has a lot of significance for my family- some happy memories, some not so. We joke that it was haunted - my grandmother spoke often of seeing a 'tall man'!

My grandfather, Duncan Lockhart, who corresponded with A J Cronin

My grandmother

A distant view of my grandparents together in the garden at Rosebank

Rosebank about 1960 - maybe the first colour photo of the house!

“This photo shows me outside the house with my grandmother's labrador, Rannoch. He was a good pal and adored the bagpipes, usually howling along in sympathy. I'm wearing the uniform of the Helensburgh Clan Colquhoun Pipe Band (long gone). The photo was taken around 1961 or 1962, when I was 12 or 13 years old.

Just to the right of the bench you may be able to see a vertical line in the wall - this marks a room that was added to the house by my grandfather. At first it was roofed in corrugated iron, and you can still see the join. It was the posh room, so posh in fact that it was never really used after my grandfather's death. It was known as the 'End Room', and was reputedly the most haunted. I suspect I was told that story to discourage my expeditions there.

The large ornamental flower pots were important to me. I was interested in astronomy very young, and set up my first observatory by driving a post into the leftmost pot in the picture and fixing a set of binoculars on top of it. The binoculars were German Deinstglas instruments, in desert khaki finish as they had been scavenged from the corpse of an officer.

Other war relics: at the east end of the garden is an air raid shelter. My father built this by obtaining a gigantic water tank from the local farmer (Rennie at Geilston), rolling it into a hole in the garden and partially burying it. This was some years before the war started, and the villagers considered him mad. He was assured there would be no war, and even if there were, who would bomb Cardross? He was right of course, and Cardross got bombed more than once (they were aiming for the shipyards on the other side of the river). A large landmine came through the cottage roof and split my granny's big mahogany sideboard in half. Fortunately the landmine was a dud, and the damage to fabric and furniture was repaired, but always afterwards if you mentioned Germans or Germany, granny would scowl and tell the awful story of her sideboard.

The house was divided in two; we lived in end nearest the village and rented the other. The house was sold shortly after my father's death in 1967 and we moved into the village - to Barrs Road.

Taken from the 1901 census it appears that the Cronins had moved to 'Tighanachen Villas'. As the name has apparently been changed years ago, it is believed that this must be the villa adjacent to Cardross Station (shown below)."

Below: a copy of a letter written by A J Cronin to Douglas’s sister, (Mrs McInnis), written in 1979, two years before his death. Mrs McInnis had written to him about his time at Rosebank.

A newspaper obituary of A J Cronin from the Lennox Herald (click to enlarge)

I extend great thanks to Douglas Lockhart for all his help and time given to providing me with so much valuable information for this blog. I am sure there will be many people who would like to know more about him and his own life. His websites are therefore given below:


Airdrie Guitar School

(You can also find Part One of my previous A. J. Cronin blog here

and Part Two here)