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Bute, Rothesay, Skeoch Wood, Bathing Place

Bath House (20th Century)

Site Name Bute, Rothesay, Skeoch Wood, Bathing Place

Classification Bath House (20th Century)

Alternative Name(s) Bathing Station

Canmore ID 143435

Site Number NS06NE 63

NGR NS 08363 65549

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number AC0000807262. All rights reserved.
Canmore Disclaimer. © Copyright and database right 2023.

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Administrative Areas

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

Site Management (17 March 2010)

Inter-war bathing station with changing rooms, toilets and other facilities set below road level and with extensive terraces down to the sea. A curious entrance pavilion protrudes above the roof deck. The architect, Thomas Beveridge, was also responsible for the Rothesay Indoor Baths, built in 1933.

The site may also have been previously utilised as a bathing station: the Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland, 1882-1885, by Francis H. Groome, notes " On the opposite side of the bay, in front of Skeoch Wood, are the ladies' and gentlemen's bathing places erected by the burgh. They have dressing rooms with attendants, and are screened from view by stone walls."


Characterisation (26 July 2010)

This site falls within the West Bay 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

Restricted by the rocky hill and Skeoch Wood to the north/north-west, West Bay Area of Townscape Character takes a linear form running along the shoreline, with two parallel streets leading into the centre of Rothesay. The area then stretches inland, with a more random form around Chapel Hill due to the topography of the area, before finishing in the south-west in a formal layout of semi-detached houses surrounded by the Ballochgoy Area of Townscape Character.

Ivybank on Westland Road (Chapel Hill) is the earliest building in the area, dating from c.1800, though St Bride’s Chapel, which was repaired in 1440 and demolished by the Town Council in 1880, was much earlier. By 1825, when Wood’s map of Rothesay was prepared, much of Argyle Place, Argyle Street and the southern half of Argyle Terrace were in existence, though some of the buildings displayed on Wood’s map were subsequently replaced by later buildings.

West Bay is composed of a mixture of plot sizes, mostly medium to large. Layout of plots is fairly regular in the north and south portions of the area, which has a higher density than Rothesay’s outlying areas. However, the northern section of the area is more dispersed with larger garden areas. Despite the lack of development around the central Chapel Hill section, it still appears densely packed and enclosed, due to both the topography and the situation of buildings and boundary walls here.

Rothesay was still a popular tourist destination well into the 20th century, as seen by the continuing expansion during the early 1900s, with the building of the bathing station designed by Thomas Johnston Beveridge in 1930, and the Pavilion by James & James Andrew Carrick built in 1938 in the West Bay area. Further housing was built in the area, including the gabled, part half-timbered Academy Terrace on Academy Road in c.1905.

More recent development and infilling in the area has been in the form of a handful of bungalows and two-storeyed houses at the northern end of Academy Road, and a cluster of three- and four-storeyed blocks of flats on Argyle Street at Nos 1-22 Regal Place built on the site of Alexander Cattanach Jnr and Thomas Bowhill Gibson’s 1937-8 Regal Cinema (demolished 1995), Nos 1-6 Rosebank and St John’s Place, all built in the 1990s/2000s.

Present Character

While there has been some redevelopment of plots, particularly on Argyle Place, much of the underlying plot structure of the West Bay Area of Townscape Character survives unaltered. The area comprises a mix of cottages, semi-detached and detached properties, as well as tenements (historic and modern), giving a broad range of character which is typical of such an urban setting.

Most of the properties along Argyle Place are good examples of urban vernacular buildings. Many have the appearance of grand villas in single ownership/occupancy. However, closer inspection of the rear elevations of these properties shows that they are subdivided into flats to maximise occupancy levels on the plot, as evidenced by the traditional curved stair-towers projecting to the rear.

Located behind high stone boundary walls, Ivybank is a good, relatively unaltered example of a late 18th/early 19th century Georgian villa, with slightly bowed sash and case windows with unusual Y-tracery glazing pattern to the top sashes. Adjacent properties of Ivy Lodge, Clan Villa and Alexandra Cottage, formerly stables, were originally part of the Ivybank estate.

The narrow southern arm of the area gives the impression of being planned to some degree, with rows of one-sided mid-19th century terraces (Alma, Inkerman, Havelock, Lilyoak, Ballochgoy) stretching up the hill. Although the individual houses are not of a uniform style, the plot sizes and layout of the terraces suggests some element of planning, taking advantage of the topography of the area to offer views across the town.

While the majority of the area is 19th century and residential in character, there are major 20th century developments which serve as prominent reminders of Rothesay’s heyday as a top tourist seaside destination, even into the first half of the 20th century. The scale of Thomas Johnston Beveridge’s concrete and tiled bathing station dating from 1930 demonstrates how popular sea bathing was in Rothesay during this period. The Pavilion, built in 1938 after the father and son architects’ practice James and James Andrew Carrick won a Scotland-only competition, is a renowned example of the Modern ‘Internationalist’ style. Built in ashlar-style artificial stone, this flat-roofed building has a fully-glazed bowed southern wing and extensive lying-pane glazing across the front of the building to take advantage of the views across the bay. The significance of the building in terms of its design and its relatively intact condition is demonstrated in its Category A listing status. The building was erected to provide space for dances and other events for visitors and residents alike during the 20th century, and is currently (2010) the subject of a proposed refurbishment scheme to bring it back to its former glory, both architecturally and functionally.

Information from RCAHMS (LK), 26th July 2010


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