Font Size

100% 150% 200%

Background Colour

Default Contrast
Close Reset

Cove, South Ailey Road, Craig Ailey

Villa (19th Century)

Site Name Cove, South Ailey Road, Craig Ailey

Classification Villa (19th Century)

Alternative Name(s) Craigailey

Canmore ID 197942

Site Number NS28SW 47

NGR NS 22213 81361

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
Canmore Disclaimer. © Copyright and database right 2019.

Administrative Areas

  • Council Argyll And Bute
  • Parish Rosneath
  • Former Region Strathclyde
  • Former District Dumbarton
  • Former County Dunbartonshire

1995 Threatened Buildings Survey

Craig Ailey, erected in the year 1850, is situated on the extremity of the point found at the junction of the Loch Long and the Firth of Clyde at a height of about 80 feet above the sea and 200 yards distant from the beach. This prominent position, coupled with picturesque massing against the sky, meant that the building was highly visible when viewed from passing steamboats. The house faces South and commands an extensive and lively prospect embracing the whole range of the Firth of Clyde and its busy traffic, from Gourock on the one hand and the opening of Loch Long on the other, to where it is closed by the distant islands of Bute, Cumbrae and Arran.

From the stair landing a trap-stair conducts to a belvedere or smoking room in the upper floor of the tower. The base is built of large rough stones set on end, suggestive of a repetition of the stratified cliff, near the back of which the house is placed. The external walls are of rubble boulders irregularly coursed and carefully pointed with a mixture of lime, smithy ashes and oil, the joints being drawn with a key and afterwards painted with white lead. The rubble is of schistose rock found in the immediate neighbourhood of the site. The freestone of the dressings is from Gourock on the opposite shore of the Firth. The exterior woodwork is of Quebec red pine, the structural woodwork of Quebec yellow pine and the internal woodwork of selected American yellow pine.

Key features of the interior include the deeply recessed doors on the ground floor with lyre motifs set in the archways above; a tight turning stair with decorative cast iron balusters; spider's web glazing to the cupola over first floor landing; and a segmental arched buffet recess in dining room

Craig Ailey was built at a cost of £1,154-16-6 and is referenced in Blackie and Son's 1868 volume 'Villa and Cottage Architecture: select examples of country and suburban residences recently erected with a full descriptive notice of each building'. It is considered a good example of the capabilities of the Italian Style and how that style may be made to combine with mid 19th century requirements, such as large and numerous windows, oriels and balconies.

Outside, the main gate piers are blocky square rusticated piers with recessed arched panels. These panels are infilled with quartz at lower level whilst the the upper panels are jettied on stylised machicolation, mirroring the upper stage of belvedere tower. The low pyramidal caps have ashlar domed finials on deep dentilled cornices. There is a pedestrian gate to the left which has a round gatepier of quartz pebbles with a sandstone fluted neck and domed cap. The cast iron gates have a design of swirling lines and floral paterae motifs.

A stable block lies to the north east of the house adjacent to the former kitchen garden and drying green. This is a modest rectangular one-and-a-half storey building originally containing a coach house and stable. It is now a separate residence and all original fittings have been removed.

Information from RCAHMS (STG), 1995

Architecture Notes

NS28SW 47 22213 81361

Designed by Alexander Thomson, 1850 for John McElroy who feued and developed much of the Cove and Kilcreggan area. A two-storey, asymmetrical, rectangular-plan, gabled Lombardic villa. Constructed in whinstone and sandstone rubble.

Information from Historic Scotland Listing document.


Photographic Survey

Craig Ailey was visited in 1995 (and again in 2004) when it was noted that there had been very little alteration to the interior, with original woodwork surviving throughout the house. The only major alteration observed was that the kitchen court is now a jacuzzi.

Information from RCAHMS (STG), 1995, 2004


MyCanmore Image Contributions

Contribute an Image

MyCanmore Text Contributions