Vernacular Building in Eaglesham

Text © Copyright Kenneth Mallard, December 2009
Images are under a separate Creative Commons Licence.

Eaglesham history articles

Eaglesham - the story of an 18th century planned village
The Darvel to Eaglesham weavers trail

Vernacular Buildings

The definition of vernacular buildings is, according to The Scottish Vernacular Building Working Group, smaller traditional buildings, which use local materials and methods.


Until the 18th century, Scotland's villages were little more than settlements loosely organised around fermtouns. Settlements that had a church were known as kirktouns and those with mills were milltouns. In 1769 Alexander Montgomerie, 10th Earl of Eglinton, began the work of developing the old kirktoun of Eaglesham into a planned village. However it was his brother, Archibald, 11th Earl of Eglinton, who largely saw Alexander's plans through to completion as Alexander was shot on his estate near Ardrossan in 1769. The Earl planned his new village with two ranges of houses built around the Orry, an area of common land intended for the common good, about one-third of a mile in length, interspersed with trees and divided in the centre by the Linn Burn or Kirkton Burn. Tacks were offered on 900 year leases on condition that a house was built on a tack within five years otherwise a fine of five pounds, equivalent of eight to ten years rent was imposed, or eviction as a last resort. The Earl granted permission for tenants to quarry stone and were given sand from his estate to assist with the building of houses. At the rear of the houses is a rood (one quarter of an acre) of garden ground.

As the fermtouns were swept away and replaced with larger farms leased to individuals, many displaced workers became weavers or tradesmen. Handloom weaving rapidly became the main industry in the village with 63 silk-looms at work by about 1790. Many of the buildings were single storey weavers' cottages with workshops. Following the establishment of a cotton spinning mill in the village in 1791, this branch of weaving was all but extinct and had been entirely replaced by the weaving of cotton goods. As the Orry cotton spinning mill expanded during the 19th century, more housing and services were built to accommodate rising number of incomers seeking work. Handloom weaving carried on in the Village for many years and came to an end around 1900. Christine Robertson Brown, a native of Eaglesham born in 1891 noted in her book 'Rural Eaglesham' that 'Jeanie Kego, Mary Wallace, elderly maiden ladies and old Thomas Waterson of Montgomery Square were the last handloom weavers in Eaglesham'.

The assortment of vernacular buildings collectively give Eaglesham its unique character and its survival today can be attributed to the Allan Gilmour the younger's refusal to allow a railway to cross their land, the outbreak of hostilities in Europe during World War II and the successful campaign in the mid-twentieth century to restore and preserve the 18th century village achieving conservation status for the village as a whole. Many of the buildings are grade 'B' and 'C' listed but as a whole the village is 'A'-listed and of outstanding beauty.

Weavers' houses

The weavers' houses were built by individuals. The cottages were mostly single storey thatched cottages, some perhaps one-roomed although there were two-storey weavers' houses such as one in Montgomery Street which contained a four loom shop and kitchen on the ground floor and a room and kitchen above.

Village houses

As well as single storey cottages, many of the village houses are two-storey buildings. Some of the houses would originally have been thatched and later slated. A number of the houses are asymmetrical in appearance, the owners often preferring to place door and window openings to suit an internal layout rather giving a symmetrical appearance to the building's fašade.

Features of vernacular building in Eaglesham


Doorpieces and doorways

A doorpiece is the term which is used to describe the architectural treatment of the setting of opening for a door. An overdoor is the name given to any pedimented features above a doorway. Types of doorpieces include:


A horizontal beam which spans an opening.


Stones larger or better than those of which a wall is composed and used to form the corners of a wall or at a door or window opening. If quoins project above the surface of the adjacent wall, the quoins are best described as raised. If the edges of the quoins are sunken (chamfered or grooved) they are described as rusticated.


A nepus gable is a wallhead gable on the front of a building surmounted by a chimney and containing a window opening to allow light into an attic space. A timpany gable is similar to a nepus gable but does not contain a window opening. Also referred to as tympan or timpani or tympani. The chimney flue will heat the outer wall.


A dormer is a window projecting vertically from the pitch of a roof and with a roof of its own.


A skewput is the bottom stone of skew or slope at a gable. Skewputs may also be rolled or scrolled. Also referred to as a gable springer.


The majority of windows to be found on the front elevations of buildings in Eaglesham are traditional sash-and-case windows. The sashes slide within a frame and are counterbalanced by weights suspended on a sash-cord. The box which contains the weights and cords is known as a sash-box. These windows were popular in Georgian times and allowed ventilation without drafts.


1. Weavers' cottage, 50 Montgomery Street built in 1774. Single-storey cottage, formerly two weavers' cottages, with rusticated quoins. Was probably originally thatched. The cottage has a lintel inscribed "James Kego & Jean Mitchell 1774". James Kego, a handloom weaver, was born in Eaglesham on 7th November 1731 to James Keagow and Margaret Borland and married Jean Mitchell from Carmunock on 14th June 1765. They had a son James who was born on 30th March 1766. Handloom weaving was the main industry until the establishment of a cotton spinning mill in the village in 1791.

NS5751 : Weavers' cottages, 50 Montgomery Street by Kenneth Mallard NS5751 : Weavers' cottages, 50 Montgomery Street - inscribed lintel by Kenneth Mallard

2. The Wishing Well, 63 Montgomery Street. Single-storey cottage, possibly a weaver's cottage, was probably originally thatched. The building has contained a tearoom since 1966.

NS5751 : Wishing Well Tea Room by Kenneth Mallard

3. Holmlea 67 and 68 Montgomery Street. Single-storey cottages, possibly weavers' cottages, were probably originally thatched. Holmlea (formerly two cottages tacked in 1791) has a triple keyblock inscribed with a horseshoe over a five-bar gate above the doorway.

NS5651 : Montgomery Street by Kenneth Mallard NS5651 : Horseshoe and gate keyblock by Kenneth Mallard

4. Cross Keys Inn, 1 Montgomery Street was built in 1773 and has a consoled and corniced doorpiece with a plain panelled door. Painted stucco, lined off as ashlar. Symmetrical fašade with dentilled eaves cornice. Above the doorway is the Montgomerie armorial arms panel from Polnoon Castle. This building was converted to private residences after lying vacant since 2006.

NS5751 : Cross Keys Inn by Kenneth Mallard NS5751 : Cross Keys Inn - consoled and corniced doorpiece by Kenneth Mallard NS5751 : Montgomerie Armorial Arms Panel by Kenneth Mallard

5. Single-storey cottages in Polnoon Street. The cottage on the left has two canted dormers to the fašade allowing light into the attic space. The rear extension has a shed dormer. The cottage on the right has a steeply pitched roof and was probably originally thatched. It has plain rolled skewputs. Gabled dormers can be seen to the front elevations of two other cottages in the distance.

NS5651 : Townhead, Polnoon Street by Kenneth Mallard

6. Two-storey house in Polnoon Street. Has two wall dormers to the front elevation.

NS5651 : Quarry Lane from the Orry by Kenneth Mallard NS5651 : Wall dormer by Kenneth Mallard

7. A range of two-storey houses in Polnoon Street with plain frontages. Numbers 1 and 2 once contained a ground floor shop and were converted back to residences in the 20th century. Number 5 has a doorpiece with broad channelled architrave, dentilled eaves cornice and timpany gable.

NS5752 : Polnoon Street by Kenneth Mallard

8. A range of two-storey houses in Cheapside Street. Numbers 1 and 2 were built in 1830 and once contained a post office, butcher and general store and were converted back to dwelling houses in the 20th century. The building at number 3 still contains a ground floor shop and has a shouldered timpany gable lettered "Established 1835" in cast-iron letters. See illustration 21. below.

NS5751 : Cheapside Street by Kenneth Mallard

9. This two-storey house at 11 Polnoon Street was built in 1774 and tacked to James Tassie, merchant. Comprises of a number of different vernacular features such as a gambrel roof; round-topped dormers; scrolled skewputs; three windowed projected elevation; pedimented nepus gable; rusticated quoins; pilastered doorpiece with overdoor and triple keyblocks above window openings. It has a five bay symmetrical fašade. The farmhouse at Wester Kitochside FarmExternal link built in 1783 by Hendry Granger and Tom Lochore for John Reid has many similar vernacular features.

NS5752 : Vernacular building - Polnoon Street by Kenneth Mallard NS5752 : Pedimented nepus gable - Polnoon Street by Kenneth Mallard

10. A range of mostly two-storey houses in Polnoon Street. Mayfield (12 Polnoon Street), the house on the left is plain fronted but has rusticated quoins and simple timber pilastered doorpiece with overdoor. The house next door is described above (illustration 9) whilst the house next to that was originally a single-storey, probably thatched cottage that has had an additional storey added. The original wall head string-course can be seen running across the fašade above the first floor windows and door.

NS5752 : Polnoon Street by Kenneth Mallard NS5752 : Mayfield House - doorpiece by Kenneth Mallard

11. The Eglinton Arms Hotel, 59 Gilmour Street, was built around 1835 as a coaching inn with later alterations and additions. The building features an unusual, three flue, shouldered wall head chimney and Roman Doric pilastered and corniced doorpiece.

NS5752 : Eglinton Arms Hotel by Kenneth Mallard NS5752 : Shouldered wall head chimney by Kenneth Mallard

12. This house in Cheapside Street is a miniature of Polnoon Lodge and was once occupied by the Eaglesham Estate factor. The house has a doorway with pilastered doorpiece, semi-circular doorhead and fanlight and overdoor. A moulded string course runs across the fašade at first floor level. Symmetrical fašade and piended roof.

NS5752 : Cheapside Street by Kenneth Mallard

13. Old Swan House in Polnoon Street has an ornamented consoled doorpiece with plain panelled door, fanlight and overdoor.

NS5751 : Old Swan House doorpiece by Kenneth Mallard

14. A two-storey house at 19 Polnoon Street with consoled, corniced doorpiece with plain panelled door with glass lights and overdoor. This was originally two separate houses but has now been converted into one. A second pedimented doorpiece has been removed.

NS5751 : Doorpiece - Polnoon Street by Kenneth Mallard

15. Consoled and corniced doorpiece with plain panelled door with fanlight to an otherwise plain fronted two-storey house in Polnoon Street.

NS5752 : Doorpiece - Polnoon Street by Kenneth Mallard

16. Polnoon Lodge in Gilmour Street was originally built as a hunting lodge in the early 18th century by Alexander, ninth Earl of Eglinton. The house has a doorway with pilastered doorpiece, semi-circular doorhead and fanlight and overdoor. A cill course runs across the fašade at ground floor level with a moulded string course at first floor level. Symmetrical fašade and piended roof. A door lintel at the rear of the lodge is inscribed "W.F. 1733 A.D.".

NS5752 : Polnoon Lodge by Kenneth Mallard

17. Moorland Cottage is a single-storey cottage renovated in 1904 in an art-nouveau manner with flat, small panel oriel windows.

NS5651 : Moorland Cottage by Kenneth Mallard

18. The cottage next door to Moorland Cottage is an example of a building that it deliberately asymmetrical.

NS5651 : Polnoon Street by Kenneth Mallard

19. Lynn View, 77 Montgomery Street is a two-storey, symmetrical house. Painted stucco lined off as ashlar; segmented round-headed doorway and cill course running across the fašade at first floor level. The building once contained a ground floor grocery and tea room.

NS5651 : Montgomery Street by Kenneth Mallard

20. Single storey, double cottage at 5 and 6 Montgomery Square. Painted end pilasters and eaves cornice. Volute keyblocks to round-headed doorways, triple keyblocks to window openings, rolled skewputs and three Victorian wall-head dormers to fašade. The cottage was at one time sub-divided into three residences, two on the ground floor and one on the upper floor

21. An asymmetrical two-storey building with ground floor shop 3 Cheapside Street. Painted stucco and curvilinear wallhead chimney.

NS5752 : Cheapside Street by Kenneth Mallard NS5752 : Curvilinear wallhead chimney detail by Kenneth Mallard

22. A range of two-storey houses with plain frontages, at one time containing a shop at the corner of Cheapside Street and Gilmour Street. The house at the corner has a wallhead chimney.

NS5751 : Eaglesham Cross by Kenneth Mallard

23. A two-storey house at 52 Montgomery Street. Painted stucco, rusticated quoins at ground floor with pilasters above. A moulded string course runs across the fašade at first floor level, scrolled skewputts. The house has a steeply pitched roof suggesting that it was probably originally thatched. The ground floor currently contains a shop and previously used as a gallery and butcher's shop. The steeply pitched roof suggests that it may have originally been thatched.

NS5751 : Montgomery Street by Kenneth Mallard

24. Old Toll House, a single storey cottage at Cheapside Street. Harled with margins, was probably originally thatched. Has plain rolled skewputs.

NS5752 : Old Toll House by Kenneth Mallard

25. Cross Keys cottage built in 1783. Single-storey cottage, was probably originally thatched. Harled with margins, plain rolled skewputs. Single windowed addition with piended roof. Interestingly re-development work has revealed a marriage lintel above the door inscribed "R.M. 1708 B.M." The date predates the establishment of the planned village by 61 years. It has not yet been established if the lintel has come from another building or the cottage has its origins predating 1769.

NS5751 : Cross Keys cottage by Kenneth Mallard

26. Pillar House, 20 Montgomery Street, is a two-storey, symmetrical house. Painted end pilasters, doorpiece with detached Roman-Doric columns in antis; ornamented entablature. Painted stucco.

NS5751 : Pillar House by Kenneth Mallard

27. Single storey cottage at 8 Montgomery Square tacked by 1789. Rusticated quoins, rendered with margins. Considerable interior alterations and addition to rear on Kirk Wynd.

NS5751 : Montgomery Square by Kenneth Mallard

28. The Old Schoolhouse in Gilmour Street built by 1789 accommodated the dominie or master. A two-storey house, harled with margins. The old school was next door where the Coronation Buildings once stood.

NS5751 : The Old Schoolhouse by Kenneth Mallard

29. Symmetrical two-storey double house at 21 and 22 Montgomery Street. Ornamented twin consoled doorpiece with plain panelled doors. Painted stucco and painted end pilaster. Has plain skewput.

NS5751 : Pillar House by Kenneth Mallard

30. A plain single storey cottage at 14 Polnoon Street. Harled with margins.

NS5752 : Polnoon Street by Kenneth Mallard

31. Woodend Cottage in Polnoon Street. Consoled doorpiece and overdoor. Two canted dormers and painted stucco. This cottage was restored in association with The National Trust for Scotland and one of the first houses in the village to be restored.

NS5651 : Polnoon Street by Kenneth Mallard NS5651 : National Trust for Scotland small houses restoration plaque by Kenneth Mallard


Appendix I - Bibliography

Online resources

Appendix II - Further reading

Other Geograph articles by Kenneth Mallard

Loch Lomond Steamers

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