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Bute, Rothesay, Craigmore, Ardencraig Road, Tor House

Boundary Wall (19th Century), Detached House (19th Century), Gate(S) (19th Century), Gate Pier(S) (19th Century)

Site Name Bute, Rothesay, Craigmore, Ardencraig Road, Tor House

Classification Boundary Wall (19th Century), Detached House (19th Century), Gate(S) (19th Century), Gate Pier(S) (19th Century)

Alternative Name(s) Clifton; Lochiel House; Tor Castle

Canmore ID 143443

Site Number NS16NW 21

NGR NS 10565 65009

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


Construction (1856 - 1857)

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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