Geilston Hall, Cardross

M013 Geilston Hall, Cardross

Address: Main Road, Cardross G82 5PA
Date: 1889–90; 1911–14
Client: Mrs Tucker Geils (client for first phase)
Authorship: Authorship category 4 (Office) (Office)

Colour photograph of Geilston Hall from S.E.

Origins

A wooden drill hall for the Cardross Volunteers was built on this site in 1863–4 by Major Joseph Tucker Geils (1808–1871) of nearby Geilston House. 1 On 7 March 1889 the hall burned down, and John Honeyman & Keppie were promptly employed to replace it with a stone building, paid for by Major Geils's widow, Mrs Tucker Geils. 2 John Honeyman was involved in the Volunteer movement as a founder member of the 1st Dunbartonshire (Helensburgh) Artillery, and the commission may have come via this connection. 3

It has been suggested that a rough plan of a military building in one of Mackintosh's sketchbooks, probably drawn around this time, may be an initial idea for Geilston Hall. 4 However, the subject of the sketch has recently been identified as the Coplaw Street Drill Hall in Glasgow, designed in 1884 by John Bennie Wilson (1848–1923), an architect who had been articled to Honeyman. 5

Progress of the commission

Full dates are not given in the job-book entry, but the first mention in John Honeyman & Keppie's cash book is on 3 July 1889, when fares for visiting Cardross twice are recorded. 6 Work must have been well under way by this time, because by the end of the month the building was 'sufficiently advanced to show that the design by Messrs. Honeyman & Keppie is a very beautiful one', and a temporary platform had been erected on the lower part of the tower, 'on a level with the lintel of the principal door', for the laying of a commemorative stone by Miss Catherine Geils on 30 July. 7 Most of the contractors were paid on '11 August' – presumably the following year. 8

Exterior and interior

Parallel to the main road, but set well back, the Tudor-style hall is long and low with a square, two-storey battlemented tower at its W. end. Walls are of snecked yellowish sandstone rubble, stugged, with smooth ashlar dressings; the back is random rubble. Windows in the tower and E. gable are mullioned and transomed, but the hall is mostly lit from large areas of glazing in the slated roof. Openings in the form of arrow slits provide ventilation. Inside, the open timber roof has arch-braced trusses supported on corbels.

Colour photograph of Geilston Hall from S.W.Colour photograph of arrow-slit vent at Geilston Hall

Doors in the base of the tower and in a buttressed porch at the E. end have plaques above, with the name and date of the hall and the inscription 'In memoriam J. T. G.': the lettering with its exaggeratedly elongated serifs is the only feature of the building that suggests Mackintosh's possible involvement.

Colour photograph of inscription over W. door of Geilston HallColour photograph of inscription over E. door of Geilston Hall

Alterations

Between 1911 and 1914 Honeyman, Keppie & Mackintosh made minor alterations to the hall, the largest payments being in connection with heating and painting. A folding partition by Peace & Norquoy of Manchester was also installed at this time.

A second, smaller hall is attached at the N.E. corner. It must be later in date, possibly mid-20th century.

Notes:

1: Arthur F. Jones, Cardross: The Village in Days Gone By, Dumbarton: Dumbarton District Libraries, 1985, p. 80; Donald Macleod, Historic Families, Notable People, and Memorabilia, of the Lennox, Dumbarton: A. Lawrance, 1891, p. 60.

2: Arthur F. Jones, Cardross: The Village in Days Gone By, Dumbarton: Dumbarton District Libraries, 1985, p. 80.

3: David Stark, Charles Rennie Mackintosh and Co., Catrine, Ayrshire: Stenlake Publishing, 2004, p. 30.

4: James Macaulay, Charles Rennie Mackintosh, New York: W. W. Norton, 2010, pp. 82–3. The drawing is in the National Library of Ireland, 2009 TX, p. 19.

5: Information from George Rawson.

6: The Hunterian, University of Glasgow: John Honeyman & Keppie / Honeyman, Keppie & Mackintosh / Keppie Henderson cash book, 1889–1917, GLAHA 53079, p. 3.

7: Helensburgh & Gareloch Times, 7 August 1889.

8: The Hunterian, University of Glasgow: John Honeyman & Keppie job book, GLAHA 53059, p. 100.