Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Hill House (CR Mackintosh), Helensburgh

I had a week off work back in May this year that I had no idea what to do with it. I did think about going to Venice for a few days to repeat some poorly developed 35mm film photographs back in 2007, but due to a very short notice change of circumstances, I decided against it as it was not affordable at three months notice. As a reserve, Instead of a walking holiday or something to North Wales again, I made up my mind to do a memorable solo trip to Scotland. The weather I left behind at home was grim although it did me no favours on the outward travelling day as is depicted here. I stopped for lunch and a car break at Moffat but it was more of a lesson trying to dodge the rain rather than a photographic architectural one. A teashop in the main street was filled with hungry customers experiencing slow service, so I had to opt for the delights of fighting my way through the hordes of tartans and coach tour visitors in the Woollen mill to reach their coffee shop to prevent delaying my journey.

It was an afterthought as I was passing Helensburgh on the road north, I decided to call in and catch up with The Hill House of Charles Rennie Mackintosh.

Although Helensburgh was once a village that became popular as a result of a ferry service across The Firth of Clyde, it grew in modern times as a commuter town for the wealthy businessmen of Glasgow. It's most famous son was the inventor of the television, John Logie Baird.

As a teenager I recall stopping at Helensburgh next to the River Clyde on the journey to a westerly holiday location. My parents didn't seem to know about this house as it was in the upper part of town.

My fascination with the Glasgow School of Art mentioned in my initial Glasgow post followed by the post of the Mackintosh house in Bellahouston Park continued with this property.

In itself, Helensburgh is not considered a routine destination these days so unless one makes a specific day trip from somewhere local, it's not an obvious choice for distant travelling people like myself. It was unfortunate that I arrived about 4:30 in the afternoon so there wasn't enough time to take the tour that some visitors seem to think is a little overpriced... so just a few sneaky garden pictures.

Hill house was built for a mainly childrens and educational publisher called Walter Blackie between 1902 & 1904. Charles Rennie Mackintosh spent some time in the Blackies former house getting the feel for how they lived in order to create a better design.

Like The Glasgow school of Art, Mackintosh used opposites to enhance his work as the heavy but minimalist exterior is contrasted with the warm, exotically designed interior.

The elements once again reflect the architectural mix of Art Nouveau, Arts and Crafts with the nod towards Scottish Baronial with his unusual Japanese influence that was common to the wealthy architectural travellers of the day. Mrs Macintosh assisted him with some of the internal fabrics. The house was eventually given to the National Trust for Scotland in 1982 with the Landmark trust acquiring the top floor for self catering holiday rental purposes.

My destination for the week was calling as the weather was only bearable for so long ...
Imposing Garden Gate

Looking down the hill towards The River Clyde ... if you can see it !!


  1. It looks a very pleasant area - well worth the visit.

  2. I would love to visit there. I always enjoy your photos, as they are of places I would love to see in person. Beautiful!

  3. Good to see you again.
    It's a town I've passed through and never thought to stop. I'll have to have a look sometime soon.

  4. Isn't that a fantastic garden gate! And I think we need one of those little silo-looking buildings. What is that? It looks like prison to accommodate one prisoner only. Is a stucco exterior common in that area? The house was definitely worth the stop. The fourth photo made me laugh. The face and green mustache were intentional, I'm assuming. There are so many interesting and beautiful places to visit on that small island. Thanks for showing us another one of them.

  5. It looks like a fascinating place to visit. I shall add it to my list of things to do!

  6. I really love shot number four.....
    Looks like an area well worth a visit...

  7. Thanks for an informative article! Ițm glad to see the Art Nouveau elements in your photos.


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