Two Castles – One Name: Johnstone or Easter Cochrane Tower

The three-storey stone tower which lies in Johnstone Castle housing estate is one of the few surviving castles in Renfrewshire. It is also the most confusing. To understand it, we need to ignore modern place names and go back 400 years to two estates, Johnstone and Cochrane, one on each side of the Black Cart Water.

The first estate, on the north side of the Black Cart, in Kilbarchan Parish, was what we will call ‘Old’ Johnstone estate. Old Johnstone was traditionally owned by the Wallace family. They had one of the biggest castles in Renfrewshire, which is sketched on Timothy Pont’s surveys in the 1580s. In the early 1600s, Old Johnstone was purchased by a branch of the Houstons of Houston, who became the Houstons of Johnstone. They became important in Kilbarchan parish and had a family aisle in Kilbarchan Kirk.

The second estate lies on the south side of the Black Cart, in the Abbey Parish, known as Cochrane Estate. In the early 1500s, Cochrane was split into Easter and Wester Cochrane. The part of interest to us is Easter Cochrane, which included the lands of Quarrelton, Hag, Greenend and Cartside. At its heart was a tower house called Easter Cochrane. By the late seventeenth century, Easter Cochrane was owned by an old Renfrewshire family, the Porterfields, who sold it to the Houstons of Johnstone. This made the Houstons owners of estates on both sides of the Black Cart in this area. In 1730 ‘Old’ Johnstone was purchased by McDowall of Castle Semple, on behalf of his friend James Milliken, a sugar planter about to return from the Caribbean. On his return, Milliken demolished the old castle of Johnstone, building Milliken House nearby, and renaming the lands north of the Cart as Milliken Estate, after himself.

Thereafter, George Houston of Johnstone concentrated his efforts on his remaining estate of Easter Cochrane, south of the Black Cart, which was rich in coal and lime. Easter Cochrane tower became Houston’s residence, and adopted the ‘Johnstone’ name, effectively switching the name ‘Johnstone Castle’ from the north to the south of the Black Cart, from the great castle which had stood on what was now Milliken estate, to the more modest tower which survives at Easter Cochrane. The switch of the Johnstone name from the north to the south of the Black Cart was reinforced when Houston of Johnstone commenced the planned town of Johnstone on Easter Cochrane land from the 1780s.

The earliest sketch of Easter Cochrane tower was on Pont’s survey of the 1580s. By the 1730s, John Watt showed it as a central tower with two wings, a walled garden to the rear, and a long tree lined avenue heading north. To the south was the steading or fermtoun of Quarrelton. The tower was surrounded by coal and lime pits, and a reservoir on the Craigbog Burn, which powered a water powered engine to drain the mines. By the 1770s, Houston had converted this engine from water to steam power and the reservoir became an ornamental pond, then disappeared.

The house was altered and extended several times, including alterations in 1812 possibly by architect James Gillespie Graham. By the Victorian period, the old tower had turned into a grand castellated mansion, which retained the ‘Johnstone Castle’ name. The surrounding area became landscaped parkland, with only the numerous old coal pits to hint at the source of Houston’s wealth. Careful study of surviving photos of the mansion reveals the old tower still embedded in its heart. By the 1940s, the castle was in the centre of an army camp, surrounded by rows of corrugated huts. The camp had various uses, initially holding Polish soldiers, then as a prison of war camp, and finally as housing for returning British servicemen. By the 1950s the mansion was in ruins and demolished. The part comprising the old tower was saved, leaving it as it stands today, but with the ‘wrong’ name.

The story doesn’t end with this tower. A short distance to the west stands a prominent hillock, ringed by old estate paths, now hidden by woods. In the 1730s this mound was named ‘Castle Hill’ – perhaps the predecessor of Johnstone Castle, alias Easter Cochrane?

In September 2006, Renfrewshire Local History Forum carried out a small excavation at Johnstone Castle as part of Scottish Archaeology Month and Renfrewshire Doors Open Day.

Johnstone Castle excavation 2006

Johnstone Castle excavation 2006









© 2012 Stuart Nisbet

Midtown Limekiln, Howwood

Lime has been used since early times for mortar, harling and plaster. From the second half of the 18th century, as advances were made in agriculture, lime was also in great demand as a fertiliser. The land around Howwood and Corseford contained seams of coal and lime. This provided the raw materials needed for the lime industry.

A partnership between the Houstons of Johnstone and McDowalls of Castle Semple established large scale lime works at Corseford in 1775. This important site had a limestone quarry and adjacent coal mines. Two types of limekilns – clamp kilns and draw kilns – were used in the West of Scotland at this time. The Houstons’ lime works favoured clamp kilns as these were more economical to build. A clamp kiln was simply a u-shaped hollow dug into the hillside. Alternate layers of lime and coal were kept burning together in the clamp kilns for about two weeks to produce powdered lime. Lime works operated at Corseford for over one hundred years until 1886, when the Corseford Coal and Limestone Pits closed.

Midtown Limekiln, Howwood

Midtown Limekiln, Howwood

The other type of kiln, the draw kiln, was a substantial stone built structure. Although draw kilns were common in Renfrewshire in the nineteenth century, today the Midtown Draw Kiln, near the Skiff Woods above Howwood, is the only upstanding draw kiln in Renfrewshire.

The draw kiln was a more sophisticated type of kiln although the method of production was in not radically different. Alternate layers of coal and lime were burned on the top of the structure. The fire was kept burning continuously for a whole season. Because the fire was above ground level, the burnt lime dropped down into a draw hole where it could be collected with relative ease. The draw kiln had the advantage over the clamp kiln because batches of lime could be produced and collected for distribution every two days.


Interior of Midtown Limekiln

Interior of Midtown Limekiln

Midtown Limekiln was built into the edge of a large limestone quarry and mine, and has three draw holes enclosed within an arched chamber. The arched chamber was large enough to accommodate a horse and cart, allowing the lime worker shelter from the elements when drawing off the lime and when loading the lime on to carts for distribution.

The work force at Corseford’s clamp kilns worked out in the open in all weathers and the workers must often have been cold, wet and very filthy! It would seem preferable to have been a lime worker at the Midtown Draw Kiln with its more sophisticated method of production and its shelter for at least some of the working day.

Further information can be obtained in articles by Stuart Nisbet in Renfrewshire Local History Forum Journals, Vols. 9 and 10.

© 2012 Helen Calcluth (from research by Stuart Nisbet)


The following article was written by the thirteen year old grandson of our Vice-President. It is completely his own work. We were so impressed by Aidan’s research skills that we felt his article on the history of Paisley merited publication. It is gratifying that the younger generation are showing a keen interest in local history research.

By Aidan Shearer

Paisley is the largest town in Renfrewshire. It is situated on the northern edge of the Gleniffer Braes. Sitting on the banks of the White Cart Water it feeds into the River Clyde. The name Paisley may come from the Brythonic Passeleg ‘basilica’ meaning ‘major church’ recalling an early undocumented importance.

It is believed that Saint Mirin founded a community on this site in the 7th Century. Long after his death a shrine to him was made and the abbey became a popular destination for pilgrims. In 1163 Walter Fitz Alan (first High Steward of Scotland) issued a charter for a priory on his land in Paisley. Around 13 monks came down from the Cluniac priory in Shropshire to found the community. It was made an abbey around 1219. In 1307 Edward I of England had the abbey burned down and it was rebuilt later in the 14th Century. William Wallace is believed to have been educated in the Abbey when he was a boy. Robert II was born and buried there. Marjorie Bruce (mother of Robert II), all six High Stewards of Scotland and the wives of Robert II and III are also buried there.

Saint Mirin was born in 565. He was an Irish monk and was also known as Mirren of Benchor (Bangor) Merinus, Merryn and Meadhran. His feast day is celebrated on 15th September. When he was a young boy his mother took him to Bangor Abbey in the north east of Ireland where he was placed under the care of St Comgall. When St. Regulus had made himself known in St Andrews he appointed many men to go and bring the gospel to Scotland and one of them was St Mirin.

From roughly 1800-1850 weavers in Paisley became the foremost makers of ‘Paisley shawls’. Unique additions to their handlooms and Jacquard looms permitted them to work in five different colours when most weavers were producing shawls using only two. The design became known as the Paisley Pattern.

St. Mirren F. C. was founded in 1877: Nickname – The Buddies or the Saints: Ground – St Mirren Park: Chairman – Stewart Gilmour: Manager – Danny Lennon: Highest win – 15 – 0 against Glasgow University Trophies won: First Division – 4: Scottish Cup – 3: Challenge Cup – 1: Victory Cup -1: Anglo Scottish Cup Winners – 1: Summer Cup – 1: Epson Invitational Tournament – 1 and Renfrewshire Cup – 54

Places of Interest
Renfrewshire House – headquarters of Renfrewshire Council.
Thomas Coats Memorial Church – largest Baptist Church in Europe.
Dooslan Stane – was a meeting point for the weavers unions in the south of Paisley. It is the congregating point for the Sma’ Shot parade which takes place on the first Saturday of July.

Famous People
Archie Gemmill – Footballer: Gerard Butler – Actor: Paolo Nutini – Singer/songwriter: David Tennant – Actor: Fred Goodwin – Banker: Owen Coyle – Manager of Bolton Wanderers: Paul Gallacher – Footballer: Jamie Langfield – Footballer: Derek McInnes – Manager of Bristol City: Paul Lambert – Manager of Aston Villa.
Former President of the United States of America Ronald Reagan’s maternal great-great grandparents (Claude Wilson and Margaret Downey) were married in Paisley.

© 2012 Aidan Shearer

We are still waiting for an article from his Granny!

Robert, 3rd Lord Semple

Robert, 3rd Lord Semple, (c. 1505-1573) was known as The Great Lord Semple. He lived in unsettled, violent times and was involved in on-going local feuds, battles between Scotland and England and religious conflict within Scotland engendered by the reformation. As a young man, Robert fought in numerous skirmishes with local families. These often entailed criminal offences such as reiving, spoliation and even murder, but perpetrators as influential and powerful as the Semples were seldom called to account.

After the death of King James V in 1542, Mary, his six day old daughter, became Queen and Scotland was ruled for some years by regents. Robert Semple was a staunch supporter of the House of Stuart and frequently attended court. A Catholic by faith, he seems at times to have found it politically expedient to give some tacit support to Protestant views. In 1544 Robert had a violent skirmish with two monks in the Paisley Abbey because he wanted ‘adequate cautioners’ (verification of authenticity) for the relics and ornaments held in the St Mirin Aisle. However, this action was not regarded as untoward, apparently, for in April of the following year he was granted by charter the Bailliary of Regality of Paisley for defending the monks of Paisley Abbey from heretics and tyrants.

Another more serious incident occurred in 1550, when in a heated argument at a gathering of nobles in the house of the Regent in Edinburgh, Robert Semple, who was said to have been supporting the new religion, became so incensed that he drew his dagger and stabbed William, 3rd Lord Crichton of Sanquhar, through the heart. With help of influential friends his death sentence for this murderous offence was reduced to a contract to pay compensation to Lord Crichton’s family.

On the international scene, conflict between England and France led Henry VIII to declare war on the Scots to force a marriage between his son Edward and the infant Mary Queen of Scots. The ensuing war was known as The Rough Wooing (1543-1550). In 1547 Robert fought at the Battle of Pinkie and, despite a rescue attempt by his friends, was taken prisoner by the English.

In the 1550s Robert, now 3rd Lord Semple and a staunch supporter of Mary of Guise, decided to build a fortified tower where his family and retainers could find refuge from the threat of marauding local or government attackers. This defensive structure, known as the Peel Tower, was built on a small rocky island on Castle Semple Loch. In October, 1560, the 2nd Earl of Arran, besieged the Semple castle. Held up for a week by violent storms, the Earl eventually set up his artillery and attacked the castle. The next day, the gatehouse tower fell and the castle was surrendered on the following day. Semple’s son was taken prisoner and the Semple Castle and Peel Tower were occupied by Arran’s forces.

Remains of the south wall of the Peel Tower today

Remains of the south wall of the Peel Tower today

However, in 1567 after the murder of Darnley, Queen Mary’s husband, Lord Semple changed sides. He fought against the Queen’s forces at the Battle of Carberry Hill in that year and at the Battle of Langside in 1568, when Mary was defeated and subsequently fled to England. He was appointed Commendator (the secular equivalent of Abbot) of Paisley Abbey and was a member of Regent Moray’s secret council. However, after Moray was murdered in 1570, Semple was captured by the Hamiltons and imprisoned in Argyll for a year in the custody of Lord Boyd.

peel tower1Robert, the Great Lord Semple, died around 1573, most probably at Castle Semple in Lochwinnoch. Although no evidence of his burial stone exists today, a drawing of part of a complete stone (c.5 x 2 feet) which lay in Lochwinnoch Churchyard in the late 19th century shows the Semple Arms and the initials of Robert, 3rd Lord Semple and his first wife Isabel Hamilton. No date or other inscription appeared on the stone. The Great Lord Semple certainly was strong, influential and powerful and could endure hardship – but was he really ‘Great’?

© 2012 Helen Calcluth

RENFREWSHIRE A Scottish County’s Hidden Past

The book launch by Derek Alexander of ‘RENFREWSHIRE a Scottish County’s Hidden Past’ was held in Waterstone’s in Braehead on the 14th of June. Derek Alexander and the late Gordon McCrae, are co-authors of the book. In his address at the book launch Derek read some excerpts from the book and expressed his hope the book would encourage others to look for Renfrewshire’s ‘hidden past’.

renfrewshireDerek is the Head of Archaeological Services for the National Trust for Scotland and has been an active member of Renfrewshire Local History Forum for many years.

Gordon was a noted local historian and studied archaeology at Liverpool University. Past students of Paisley University (the University of the West of Scotland) will remember him as its Depute Librarian.

Gordon was a founder member of Renfrewshire Local History Forum in 1988. His passion for local history and archaeology and unbounded enthusiasm is almost legendary. He organised and led numerous Forum field trips round the county, liberally sharing his extensive knowledge – and boiled sweets! His sudden death in 2005 was a tragic loss to the Forum. This book has been dedicated to his memory.

The book covers archaeological sites in Renfrewshire, East Renfrewshire and Inverclyde from the Palaeolithic to Early Modern Times. The archaeological sites are set within their historical context and the book is illustrated by more than one hundred maps, plans and illustrations.

Many local sites, in or near the villages where the Gryffe Advertizer is distributed, are covered in the book. These include, among others, Castle Semple Estate and the Collegiate Church at Lochwinnoch, Whitemoss and Barochan Roman forts near Bishopton, the excavation at South Mound in Houston, the late Bronze Age homestead at Knapps, Duchal Castle near Kilmacolm, the mote hill on Old Ranfurly Golf Course in Bridge of Weir, a moated manor and enclosure near the Wallace Monument in Elderslie, the crannogs in the Clyde at Langbank, Elliston Castle and the Midton Lime Kiln at Howwood, and excavations at the Old Churchyard and the Weaver’s Cottage in Kilbarchan.

For those interested in the seeking out archaeological evidence for the history of Renfrewshire, ‘RENFREWSHIRE A Scottish County’s Hidden Past’ is an excellent resource. For the many walkers who roam around our local area, the information in the book will provide additional points of interest in their walks. ‘RENFREWSHIRE A Scottish County’s Hidden Past’ (published by Birlinn Ltd.) can be obtained from Renfrewshire Local History Forum as well as from commercial booksellers.

© 2012 Helen Calcluth

Little Kaimhill Cottages

by Bill Speirs, Johnstone History Society

Pencil Sketch of Little Kaimhill Cottages before they were demolished

Pencil Sketch of Little Kaimhill Cottages before they were demolished

Kaimhill Cottages were built on the site of the former farm steading of West Kaimhill. Both cottages were built in a style common to the agricultural cottages in 19th century Scotland. They were situated in an acre of ground between Kaimhill and Coalbeg Farms to the north of the road from Locher Bridge to Crosslee. The main building consisted of two cottages abutting each other, with various additions built on at later dates.

The original occupant of the first cottage to be built was John Barr, late of the adjacent farm of Coalbog. Perhaps making a career change from farmer to builder, James Barr ‘seized’ (took possession of) in June, 1801, an acre of ground with the houses thereon being part of the lands of Kaimhill called Coalbog. These old farm buildings may have been deemed only suitable material for dismantling and for re-use in the construction of the improved steading buildings then being erected.

John Barr appears to have worked as a mason for some years and later became overseer at Craigends. He continued in the Cunninghames’ employ till March, 1827, when he retired to his cottage at Little Kaimhill. He died in the 1830s and was buried in Kilbarchan East Church graveyard. His wife, Mary, aged 75, still lived in the cottage in 1841.

The next occupants of the cottage in the first half of nineteenth century were coalminers. John Craig was probably employed in the coal pits being worked in conjunction with the nearby lime works by the side of the Gryffe. About 1845 John McGilchrist, a coal and lime master from Balgrogan, Campsie in Stirlingshire moved to Bridge of Weir and lived in the cottage with his wife and six children He became a local coalmaster, probably operating Kaimhill Coal and Limeworks from then until 1859, when it closed and he returned to Campsie.

The 1861 census for Kaimhill had the first notification of two cottages on the site. One cottage was of one room only and was occupied by James Livingston, a retired farmer aged 82, and his wife and son. The other cottage had two rooms and was occupied by William Woodrow, age 36, a grain miller from Kilbarchan, and his wife and family. Later James Stevenson, a carter from Kilbarchan, and his family occupied the larger cottage before moving to Barnbeth where the Stevensons of Barnbeth ran a potato merchants business from a yard in Church Street in Johnstone until 1881.

By 1881 both cottages had been extended. Hugh Wallace, a mason who had owned a building business in Hill Street, Kilmarnock in the 1860s, moved to Kaimhill in 1873. He is a likely candidate for the person who carried out at least some of the substantial changes to the cottages between 1871 and 1881. Sadly, he died in unfortunate circumstances in 1883. He was last seen in Bridge of Weir village on his way home and is supposed to have had a considerable amount of money in his possession. Some days later his body was found in the River Gryffe near a ford. As he was a prosperous man he is an unlikely candidate for suicide. Perhaps he was making his way home via the ford and lost his footing.

Later occupants of the cottage at the end of the century included George McKenzie, a painter and photographic artist, William Lee, a retired farmer, and Hugh Keith, a railway contractor, who died at Kaimhill in 1925. The cottages remained in the possession of the Keith family for another 50 odd years.
© 2012 Bill Speirs

The Barr Loch Mystery

A walker or cyclist travelling on a winter’s day along the cycle track from Lochwinnoch to Kilbirnie may see on the left of the track (just after it passes Hole Farm, about 2km. from Lochwinnoch) a tall chimney, standing in isolation as if stranded among the encroaching trees near the edge of the loch. What was the building? What was it used for?

barrlochThe first known building on the site appears on the 1857 Ordnance Survey map. The accompanying notes described it as a strong stone building supporting a large waterwheel which helped to pump water from the then-drained Barr Loch. It was built at the expense of Colonel McDowall, owner of the Castle Semple Estate from 1841, so it probably dated from the late 1840s.

When McDowall inherited the estate (which included Barr Loch), the loch was used as meadows for oats and hay. Successive owners of the estate from the 17th century had attempted to drain the loch, but with patchy and often short-lived success. The most elaborate scheme (and that inherited by McDowall) was carried out by James Adam between 1813 and 1815. The waterwheel and pump were McDowall’s attempt to make Adam’s system more effective.

By the time of the next Ordnance Survey map in 1897, the large waterwheel was taken down, probably because of problems with the water supply. It was replaced by a steam engine, and the present high chimney was built. The existing buildings were modified and extended to accommodate these changes. The purpose of the building was still the same – to help keep the loch drained – although the pumping mechanism was changed to a more efficient one.

The other change shown on the 1897 map was the addition of a completely new structure at the corner of the pumping-house. This was a sawmill, with its own source of power (a small, water-driven turbine). It can never have been more than a small estate sawmill, possibly supplying the furniture-manufacturing firms of Lochwinnoch.

The sawmill continued in use until after the Second World War, eventually closing in the late 1940s. The fate of the pumping engine is less certain: Barr Loch continued in its drained state until 1946 (albeit as rough grazing), but then flooded suddenly, to become a loch again. Did the pumping engine survive until 1946 or was it abandoned earlier?

© 2012 Ian Brough

The Forgotten Past of a Renfrewshire Farm

The village of Kilmacolm is surrounded by farms with names which go back at least as far as the sixteenth century and possibly to early mediaeval times. High Mathernock, on the north side of the Gryfe Water, is one of those farms whose forgotten history involving milling as well as farming is gradually coming to light.

High Mathernock, seen here from its reservoir, replaced the earlier farm  and settlement which were situated much closer to the Water of Gryfe

High Mathernock, seen here from its reservoir, replaced the earlier farm and settlement which were situated much closer to the Water of Gryfe

The modern farm at High Mathernock has stood in its present location since the 1830s and was built in stages by the Shaw Stewart family for the tenant John Lang. Earlier activity at Mathernock, however, took place closer to the Water of Gryfe.

When Timothy Pont surveyed Renfrewshire in the sixteenth century he considered Macharnoch, the waulkmill, and Macharnay (possibly an older name for the nineteenth century Low Mathernock) significant enough to be mapped. All that remains of Pont’s Macharnoch which probably lay just north of Mathernock Bridge is possibly the few courses of stone wall low down on the river bank where, according to folk memory, there was a corn mill. There are two records of a corn mill on the site, one in a record of the Scottish Parliament in 1670, the other in a book about Renfrewshire written in 1782 which states that formerly there was a corn mill there. Further downstream on the other side of Mathernock Bridge lie the probable remains of the waulkmill in the form of a dam to deflect the water course, a partly silted up lade and the remains of walls. The still thriving patch of very old sloe bushes could have used in the dyeing process.

Eighteenth century records show a thriving community at Mathernock involved in a wide variety of occupations. The earliest Kilmacolm Parish Records up to 1745 don’t give occupations. However, in the second half of the eighteenth century we know that people made their living in a wide variety of ways e.g. living and working in Mathernock were a maltman, a smith, millers, farmers, a workman, a weaver, a dyster, a herd, a mariner, a ‘musiciner’ and many others whose occupations were not noted when they married or died. By the nineteenth century, all traces of milling and weaving had disappeared and the people of Mathernock were making their living as farmers and labourers, the principal farmers being the Langs.

Although many field boundaries have been erased by modern farming methods, there remain those which surround an irregular narrow enclosure running down a south facing slope towards the river. The farm of Low Mathernock lay here and before that the fermtoun of Mathernock. The footings and platforms of several buildings can be made out as can the line of the road between Kilmacolm and Port Glasgow, which can be seen on maps from the end of the seventeenth and beginning of the eighteenth centuries.

© 2012 Maggie Hancock and Jennie Hynd

The Printworks at Locher

The site of the Baltic Leather Works at Locher on the old road from Kilbarchan to Bridge of Weir, has a long industrial history going back over two hundred years. Early in the nineteenth century two brothers, William and James Scouler from Barony Parish in Glasgow, brought the skills of their craft to Locher and set up a calico printworks on the site. William, the elder brother, owned the factory and James was the manager. They manufactured printed shawls and handkerchiefs (small square shawls) in their printworks.

James was of liberal persuasion. In 1815 he attended a secret radical meeting held in Kilbarchan. The meeting was deemed to be planning ‘treasonable activities’ against the government. As a result of his involvement, James was smuggled out of the country to the United States where he eventually prospered and established a large successful printworks at Arlington in West Cambridge, Massachusetts. His third son, William Scouler, became a General in the Union Army.

After James left for the United States, the printworks at Locher continued to prosper and William could afford to send his young son, John, to be educated at the University of Glasgow. John Scouler (1804-71) is remembered as the well-renowned Professor of Natural History at the Andersonian University of Glasgow and later as Professor of Mineralogy of the Royal Dublin Society. William and is buried with his wife and his son, Professor John Scouler, in Kilbarchan East Church graveyard.

By the early 1830s John Frame and Son had taken over the calico printworks at Locher. In 1841 the Frames had a workforce of about fifty men and youths in their printfield. However, working conditions for the apprentices in John Frame’s printworks led to poor industrial relations between employer and employee. This resulted in a number of John Frame’s apprentices breaking their legally binding apprenticeship contract and deserting the work place. This was a criminal offence and in August, 1833, two young apprentices, Hunter and Gilmour, were committed to the house of correction. They appealed against their sentences and, on a point of law, were later released. In 1840 a fire occurred at the printfield and the old Kilbarchan fire engine attended the fire. This fire may have heralded the closure of Frame’s operations at Locher.

From the early 1840s Locher Printworks was owned by Hardie, Stark & Co. Before setting up in business at Locher this company, run by three families, had operated as calico printers at Springfield in Neilston Parish in the 1830s. For almost a century it continued to be a ‘three family’ concern, with all the partners being from the Hardie, Starke or Williamson families. Unlike the Frames, they were responsible, caring employers and business prospered.

In the early 1860s the firm expanded and an additional dam was constructed to the east of the old Kilbarchan to Bridge of Weir Road. This second dam was used to supply water for Hardie Starke’s new Locher Bleachfield. By 1871 Hardie, Stark & Co. employed 134 workers at their Locher printworks and bleachfields.

William Edward Hardie, the senior partner from the 1850s played a significant role in the community and was instrumental in establishing the building of the Bridge of Weir Railway of which he was a director. He died in 1885 and is buried with other members of the Hardie, Starke and Williamson families in Kilbarchan West Church graveyard.

By the end of the nineteenth century the calico printing industry was in decline. Hardie Stark & Co. was by then, a relatively small concern and was sold to the Calico Printers Association. Under director George Williamson, the Locher printfield continued to operate for another twenty five years.

Hardie, Stark & Co. was so well thought of that the firm is even mentioned in ‘Habbie’s Dream’, a poem by the Kilbarchan weaver poet, Robert Craig (1832-1901)

And proud was he (Habbie) when printing trade
Wi’ Hardie Stark & Co. was thriving

In 1932 Arthur Muirhead, purchased the printfield at Locher from the Calico Printers Association and established leather works on the site. This firm grew and expanded into Baltic Leather Works, now one of the biggest exporters in Renfrewshire.

©2012 Helen Calcluth

The Harvey Graves in Castle Semple Collegiate Church

by Elizabeth West, Lochwinnoch Historical Society

Castle Semple Collegiate Church

Castle Semple Collegiate Church

Within Castle Semple Collegiate Church near the entrance doorway (front right in the picture) are a collection of graves of the Harvey family who occupied Castle Semple in the nineteenth century. The Harveys were an Aberdeenshire family who, like the Macdowalls a century before, made their fortune in the West Indies. The Castle Semple Estate was bought from the McDowalls in 1815 by John Rae who inherited considerable wealth from the family of his mother, Elizabeth Harvey. On inheriting he took the name of Harvey. When he died in 1820, the estate passed to the family of his elder daughter, Margaret, wife of Major James Lee who came from a prominent Dublin family and had served with the Duke of Wellington. Again, on his wife’s inheritance, James Lee took the name of Harvey. James Lee Harvey’s sister, Anne Lee, lived with her brother’s family, reaching the grand old age of 99. She is buried in the Collegiate Church.

Anne Lee died 15th April, 1874, aged 99.

Anne Lee died 15th April, 1874, aged 99.

The two eldest sons of James Lee Harvey inherited in turn without providing an heir and the estate passed to their brother Henry Lee Harvey in 1883. Henry had married his cousin whose father was the 12th Earl of Buchan; they were a much loved family, remembered by memorial windows in Lochwinnoch Parish Church, Howwood Church and Holy Trinity Church in Paisley. Sadly, their only child, Alice, died aged nine and the graves of Henry, Elizabeth and Alice are side by side at the entrance to the Collegiate Church.

The estate again passed to a nephew, the son of Henry’s sister Margaret who had married her second cousin Charles Farquhar Shand. The Farquhars and the Shands were wealthy Aberdeenshire families who had interests in the West Indies and also in the sugar estates of Mauritius. Charles was appointed Chief Justice of Mauritius and was knighted in 1869. His son, taking the name of Harvey on inheriting the estate, was James Widdrington Shand Harvey and was to be the last laird. The last in this little group of graves is that of Sir Charles Farquhar Shand, his father, who died in 1889.


Sir Charles Farquar Shand (1812-1889)

Sir Charles Farquar Shand (1812-1889)

© 2011 Elizabeth West, Lochwinnoch Historical Society