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Bute, Rothesay, Craigmore, Craigmore Steamer Pier

Pier (19th Century)

Site Name Bute, Rothesay, Craigmore, Craigmore Steamer Pier

Classification Pier (19th Century)

Alternative Name(s) Firth Of Clyde

Canmore ID 124778

Site Number NS06NE 45

NGR NS 1031 6549

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
Canmore Disclaimer. © Copyright and database right 2021.

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Administrative Areas

  • Council Argyll And Bute
  • Parish Rothesay
  • Former Region Strathclyde
  • Former District Argyll And Bute
  • Former County Buteshire

Archaeology Notes

NS06NE 45 10274 65616 to 10322 65454

NS 093 655. Remains of Craigmore steamer pier built 1877.

Sponsor: Buteshire Natural History Society

I Maclagan 1995

Craigmore Old Pier [NAT]

OS 1:10,000 map, 1981.


Characterisation (29 July 2010)

This site falls within the East Bay and Serpentine Area of Townscape Character which was defined as part of the Rothesay Urban Survey Project, 2010. The text below relates to the whole area.

Historical Development and Topography

Rothesay’s East Bay began to be developed as part of an early expansion of the town in the late 18th/early 19th century. As with much of Rothesay’s development, the layout of this area was dictated by the underlying topography, with development along the narrow coastal fringe stretching into Craigmore and beyond, and ultimately winding its way up the Serpentine Road towards Roseland.

Due to the nature of the area’s development, the East Bay and Serpentine Area of Townscape Character is linear in form as it stretches along East Princes Street and Battery Place. The southern portion consists of a planned terrace of mock half-timbered Edwardian Arts & Crafts style houses on Minister’s Brae designed by William Hunter and built c.1905, and the long terrace of Victorian villas at Crosshill Terrace in the south-eastern corner of the area. Around the Serpentine, plots are more random to fit around the steep hill and the winding road.

On its northern and southern edges, plots sizes are generally smaller and the density of these sections is higher than the central area around the Serpentine with its large detached villas in extensive garden plots.

There has been very little infilling in the area, apart from a pocket of mid-20th century local authority housing at St John’s Drive in the south-eastern corner of the area, a 1960s bungalow dwarfed amongst the 19th century tenements of Mountpleasant Road, and a handful of late 20th/early 21st century detached houses on the outer reaches of the Serpentine.

Present Character

This area of Rothesay takes much of its character from the layout of its road network. From the coastal Battery Place linking the town centre with Craigmore, to the narrow tenemented Mountpleasant Road, and the Serpentine twisting its way uphill to Common Hill. It is this road which distinguishes the area from elsewhere in Rothesay. Overall, there has been no change to the road layout around the area, and on the whole, there has been little infilling so plots remain as originally planned/developed.

The northern section of the area along Battery Place demonstrates the early 19th century development of Rothesay to accommodate visitors to the town, with a range of detached, semi-detached and terraced houses as well as some later 19th century four- and even five-storeyed tenements. Many of the latter are in typical Glasgow style being built from the same red sandstone found across Glasgow, where so many of the visitors to Rothesay in its heyday hailed from. Some also have the tiled ‘wally closes’ (communal stairwells) found in the city, along with decorative cast-iron balustrades and use of stained glass in internal vestibule doors. Most have large bay windows in the main rooms and have some degree of carved stonework whether shaped pediments above entrance doors or more intricate carving at eaves or on window surrounds.

One of the key features of the East Bay and Serpentine Area of Townscape Character, which is seen across Rothesay as a whole, particularly on those buildings beside or having views of the sea, is projecting bay windows and large windows to take full advantage of both the views and to bring as much light as possible into the buildings.

While most of the buildings throughout the East Bay and Serpentine Area of Townscape Character are fairly typical of their type and time, there is terrace of mock half-timbered Arts & Crafts style houses in Minister’s Brae (Ashlea, Rowanlea, Beechlea, Elmlea, and Oaklea), which are characteristic of their period but unusual for Rothesay. These were designed by local master builder William Hunter and built c.1905 along with the adjacent detached house, Marionslea, which was built c.1900 in the same style for William Hunter himself. This ‘English-style’ was typical of city suburbs and developing towns such as Gullane and North Berwick, and demonstrates the desire for their architects and those commissioning them to appear cosmopolitan and keeping up with the latest fashions in house design.

One of the key features of this area is the mostly original decorative Victorian lamp standards bearing the Rothesay coat of arms. These lamp posts are found along the seafront of the main part of Rothesay’s town centre, and are also found within the Town Centre Area of Townscape Character and West Bay Area of Townscape Character. In addition to these lamps, there is a smaller red lamp post in front of No 4 Battery Place. This is an example of a historic ‘Provost Light’. These lamps were erected in towns across Scotland to denote the residences of Provosts of Town Councils. A pair of lamps were placed on either side of the entrance to the Provost’s house, and remained in place as long as he held office. One light was removed once he retired and remained in place while he lived. This is a rare surviving example, though another exists outside No 25 Wyndham Road, in the Ardbeg Area of Townscape Character.

Information from RCAHMS (LK), 29th July 2010

Characterisation (13 May 2010)

This site falls within the Craigmore Area of Townscape Character which was defined as part of the Rothesay Urban Survey Project, 2010. The text below relates to the whole area.

Historical Development and Topography

As with much of Rothesay, Craigmore Area of Townscape Character is constrained by the surrounding topography, and is largely linear along the coastal strip with Bogany Wood extending up the slopes of Common Hill behind.

The development of this area is the result of the tourism boom of the Victorian era, with a series of planned ‘terraces’ on Mount Stuart Road and Crichton Road consisting of large semi-detached properties built along the coast to take advantage of the sea air and views. These ‘terraces’ were designed by John Orkney (Wimbleton, 1868; Elysium, 1875) and John Duncan (Brighton, 1875-85; Royal, 1877-82; Albany, 1882). The line of development further uphill from the seafront on Crichton Road and Ardencraig Road is a result of Victorian and later development, with late 20th century properties occupying the upper slopes to the south of the area.

One key building in the area is the Glenburn Hotel, built as a hydropathic spa hotel in 1843 to designs by David and James Hamilton, with extensive additions by John Orkney in 1887-8 and rebuilt in 1892-3 by John McLean Crawford. This was Rothesay’s most prominent hotel, offering visitors a range of therapeutic facilities in sumptuous surroundings. Although no longer operating as a spa hotel, the Glenburn is still in use as a major hotel for bus tours, and its elevated position overlooking the bay, with an impressive steep staircase leading through terraced gardens, has not been interrupted by later developments.

Plot sizes in Craigmore are regular and medium-sized, giving a medium density to the area, though this starts to broaden to the south of the area. There has been little infill in the area, though a pocket of late 20th/early 21st century housing exists on the shore as it turns south. These houses incorporate some features which mimic those of the surrounding villas –ironwork, deep eaves and plot size.

Present Character

Craigmore’s raison d’être stems from the huge boom in tourism to Rothesay in the 19th century. The results of this expansion is still clearly visible in the series of terraces (Wimbleton, Elysium, Brighton, Royal and Albany) built on Mount Stuart Road and Crichton Road between 1868 and 1885 extending right down to the boundary with the Montford Area of Townscape Character.

There is good survival of the earliest buildings in the area dating from the early to mid-19th century: Ardencraig House (1825-48), Glenburn Hotel (1843 and later), Tor House (c.1855), However, the majority of the area owes its form to the large scale investment which resulted from the tourism trade from the 1860s onwards. In particular, the unified terraces of semi-detached villas on Mount Stuart Road and Crichton Road, designed by John Orkney and John Duncan between 1868 and 1885.

One of the most distinctive features of Craigmore Area of Townscape Character is the prevalence of architectural details on these villas which are usually found on buildings designed by the architect Alexander ‘Greek’ Thomson: low-pitched roofs and deep eaves, decorative bargeboards with acanthus and sunburst designs, similarly decorated ornate ironwork balconettes and finials. Thomson did design Tor House (c.1855) on Ardencraig Road for a local bookseller and stationer, John Wilson, and the elements of this design were obviously adopted when later developments took place in the vicinity. Rockhill Castle, just south-east of Tor House, was built 1883-91 for the wealthy Clydeside industrialist Ebenezer Kemp, and bears some elements of Thomson’s design features: acanthus sculptures on pediments and gables, large bow-fronted bays overlooking the firth, topped with decorative cast-iron verandah.

An outstanding example of two of the key features of Rothesay’s coastal development, large bay windows and the use of decorative ironwork, can be seen at Nos 9, 10 and 10A Mount Stuart Road. This four-storeyed tenement, called Glenfaulds, was built c.1880 and has an extremely high ratio of glazing to stone on its front elevation. The full-height five- and six-light bay windows have fluted cast-iron Corinthian mullions separating the glazing. The tenement is accessed by a central round-arched doorway, another distinctive feature found on many of Rothesay’s tenements.

Overall, Craigmore has retained its original layout, with little infilling until the late 20th/early 21st century. As such it retains the feel of an affluent suburb to the main town. The mixed development of detached villas and flats at Nos 1-22 Craignethan just off Craigmore Road and Albany Road incorporate some features which mimic their much earlier neighbours, with deep eaves below shallow-pitched roofs, large bow-fronted bay windows, the use of ironwork to create balconies and verandahs (albeit plain rather than decorative) and all set within fairly large plots.

Information from RCAHMS (LK), 13th May 2010


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