Saturday, 16 April 2016

Wemyss Bay railway station, Inverclyde.

You'll all be pleased to know (including myself !! ) that this is the last post in the South West Scotland series. There's no need for me to remind anyone that it has taken me over 1 year to post about 1 weeks travel.
It may seem a bit unusual to talk about a railway station but this is one of my favourites. In the past I have only visited the station by special charter trains but there were too many people about to capture the place properly. Having arrived by car, visited Rothesay and Mount Stuart by the ferry, it seemed an ideal opportunity to photograph it late in the day between the ferry arrival / departure times.

Tower  GJC_017642

Wemyss Bay railway station first opened in 1865 with the extension incorporating the pier being designed by Glasgow Architect James Miller and completed in 1903.
The 19th century Industrialists of Glasgow opted to escape the city by living to the west of the conurbation and along the Clyde coast. With the rich history of shipbuilding in Glasgow, Clyde steamers provided the means of reaching the new found holiday destinations of Dunoon and Rothesay.
The Steamers initially sailed directly from Glasgow to Rothesay with options of Dunoon and Largs. In 1841 a rail route was opened from Glasgow to Greenock that reduced the journey times significantly by an hour to the destinations of Largs and Rothesay. The ferry service from Glasgow still ran many years later, but due to river pollution, only the poor used it with economy fares. On a similar theme, there were concerns about the wealthy having to pass through the poorest part of town from Greenock railway station to the dockside.

To the ferry  GJC_017591

... variations on a theme ... 

Curve  GJC_017608

There were operational difficulties between rival railway companies who  owned the boats and large financial losses resulted. It was necessary to have a dedicated railway station / pier terminal to improve the situation and an extension to Weymss Bay (for Rothesay) was built in the late 19th century.

Train  GJC_017594

The 10 mile branch to Wemyss Bay that opened to passengers on 15th May 1865 was most unusual in that it was designed to carry passengers first and not freight.

Entrance  GJC_017619_edited-1 (1)

The formative years were not easy due to all the different rail and ferry companies not agreeing on a variety of operational issues.

Posts  GJC_017606

Steamers ran complex routes and were often late causing trains to miss their paths on a single railway line network. Competition from the later Gourock extension and pier caused some disagreement due to platform rights at the brand new Glasgow Central station.

Centrepiece  GJC_017601_edited-1 (1)

The enlarged and updated Wemyss Bay station created a statement of railway grandeur that defied other terminus rivals on the Clyde coast.

Windows   GJC_017580

The station underwent a major restoration programme and was completed in 1994.

Station GJC_017610

Time to allow the sun to set on my South West Scotland travels ...

Ferry lines  GJC_017645

Sunday, 13 March 2016

Mount Stuart, Isle of Bute.

Having visited The Isle of Bute on several occasions previously on charter boats and long distance rail day trips, there was never enough time to visit both the town of Rothesay and Mount Stuart house. However on this occasion as I was based in Ayrshire, the opportunity presented itself to do both, using the regular ferry service from the mainland.

Lion  GJC_017430

The Bute family have lived on the island for many centuries and descended from the kings of Scotland. You may remember from the previous post (Rothesay) how the ancient family lived at the Castle in town but due to successive raids from invaders, they chose the peace of The Old Mansion House across the street.

Back view  GJC_017433

This change proved unsuccessful to one of the successive residents and the more roomy grounds of Mount Stuart was chosen as the new permanent home.

Back Door  GJC_017441

The Original Mount Stuart was built in 1716 and has allowed four generations of the Bute family to live here before an accidental fire destroyed the central part of the house in 1877.

Mount Stuart House  GJC_017422

The rebuilding programme of the Gothic revivalist structure by the third Marquis of Bute began in 1880 using his family inheritance from South Wales coal money. Work continued for many years and remained incomplete at the time of his death in 1900. Finance of buildings like this in the twentieth century took a hit as the world moved on in many ways but the 6th Marquis of Bute began a programme to complete the building in the 1980's.

Door  GJC_017424

Unfortunately he wasn't able to enjoy the finished product as he passed away before completion. It is believed that the house was the first home in the world to have a heated indoor swimming pool and the first in Scotland to have central heating, electric lights, passenger lift and a telephone. Due to the enormity of the task, a temporary railway had to be constructed from Kerrycroy village to the house to transport all the necessary building materials.

On a personal note, some of the internal decor was the most amazing I had ever seen. The standout features were the Gothic church and the main marble hall reaching to the sky or rather 80 ft over several levels. The tower window including studded diamonds reflected light and various colours onto the walls beneath.

The marble hall was constructed from a variety of Sicilian and Italian marble along with Granite and Sandstone, drawing its inspiration from History, Astrology, Art and Mythology  It was a little unfortunate that photography was prohibited but I have copied a link here to give you a flavour as Google image stills don't do it justice.

Rock Garden  GJC_017440

Whilst the house itself is stunning, so too is much of the 300 acres of grounds in which it sits.

Augusta Column  GJC_017444

There are many walk ways and avenues throughout the grounds that connect the key features of the site. The Augusta Column in one of the avenues was built in honour Augusta Dowager Princess of Wales in 1772 by The 3rd Earl.

Rear arch  GJC_017425

There are three gardens of note namely the Rock Garden, The Wee (small) Garden and The Kitchen Garden, each exhibiting their own unique features.

Garden  GJC_017427

The Rock Garden behind the house could also be classed as a water garden due to the stream running through it creating a series of ponds.

Rock Garden Path  GJC_017438

The designer of the 2 acre Rock Garden, Thomas Mawson, also created a dramatic "Stations of the Cross" garden walk, part of which featured a statue of Christ as a centre piece, which was later removed to the family chapel by the shore.

Pavilion Kitchen Garden  GJC_017452

The Pavilion in The Kitchen Garden was bought by the 6th Marquess of Bute following its exhibition at the 1988 Glasgow Garden Festival and then moved to Mount Stuart. It contains plants from around the world.

Kitchen Garden Hedges  GJC_017448

The 5 acre Kitchen Garden is unique in its design having only one wall, the other three having been replaced by shelter providing trees. Until very recently it was a traditional Kitchen garden providing fruit and vegetables, but now it is mainly used for decorative purposes with hedges that are used to divide it into further sections.

Entrance view   GJC_017413

It was time to return home and back to the 21st century of the exit via the newly built visitor centre. This in itself provided a spectacular photographic moment although not quite a Gothic Revivalist structure externally that you could be thinking of ....

Visitor Centre  GJC_017453

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