NS4175 : Gatepost detail

taken 5 years ago, near to Bellsmyre, West Dunbartonshire, Great Britain

This is 1 of 2 images, with title Gatepost detail in this square
Gatepost detail
Gatepost detail
The gateposts are shown in context in NS4175 : Dumbarton, Old Overtoun Estate Gateway and NS4175 : Gateway, West Dunbartonshire Council Offices. Of the two larger posts, the one on the right bears a plaque on the side facing the main road: NS4075 : Plaque for Overtoun Gates.

The gateposts are category-B listed; according to their listing text, they were built in 1895, and they are the work of the Glasgow architect James Thomson. My further comments below are observations of my own, not taken from the listing text.

The gateposts are at the foot of an avenue leading to Overtoun House; its lower portions (more precisely, the parts below NS4175 : Campbell Avenue, High Overtoun) now pass through housing. For the upper half of the avenue, see, for example, NS4175 : Pedestrian access to Overtoun Estate and NS4176 : Avenue to Overtoun House.

NS4276 : Overtoun Bridge is part of the same avenue. The bridge was completed, and the entire avenue opened, in 1895, the year in which these gateposts were built: see NS4276 : Date stone on Overtoun Bridge and NS4276 : Overtoun Bridge (detail).

The present picture shows a detail from one of the larger gateposts (both of them are carved alike). The carving on this side (the south-west side, which faces the main road) is part of the armorial achievement of Lord Overtoun; compare NS4276 : Armorial achievement on side of Overtoun Bridge, where the same elements the coronet (small crown), and the details below it can be seen, executed slightly differently, on the side of the bridge.

The opposite side of both gateposts bears a different carving, a raised arm with the hand holding a laurel wreath: NS4175 : Gatepost detail. This carving is also a detail (specifically, it is the crest) from the arms of Lord Overtoun: in NS4276 : Armorial achievement on side of Overtoun Bridge, the same crest can be seen appear above the coronet. The coronet itself has six pearls (four visible, two more implied behind), indicating the rank of Baron: in this case, Baron Overtoun of Overtoun.

The building beside these gateposts, shown on the right in NS4175 : Dumbarton, Old Overtoun Estate Gateway, was originally a lodge for Overtoun House. I noticed that the Overtoun crest (arm with hand holding a laurel wreath) also appears on NS4274 : Clyde View, Milton, which leads me to believe that that building, which is a little over 2 kms from these gateposts, was originally another lodge for Overtoun House; it is not far from the foot of Milton Road, which is today the way by which most vehicles reach NS4276 : Overtoun House.
Avenue to Overtoun House

The official opening of the avenue took place on the 7th of June 1895. The avenue begins at a lodge (NS41007570) beside what is now the A82 (Stirling Road), and leads uphill, through what is now an area of housing called High Overtoun; this section survives as a footpath. The path meets Campbell Avenue at NS41597583; from there on, the avenue survives in a more recognisable form. Just before reaching Overtoun House, it leads across Overtoun Bridge (see Link for the bridge and Link for Overtoun House). A date stone on the bridge records the opening of the avenue, but the event took place two days later than the date inscribed there.

The following account of the official opening of the avenue is drawn from the Lennox Herald issue of June 15th 1895, but I have added several explanatory remarks and links:

On "Friday last" (the 7th of June, rather than the 14th; to this day, the newspaper is dated a few days after its time of publication), a garden party marked the opening of the new avenue, and the laying of the last stone of a new bridge. The new avenue is 1 miles long, and "leads from the High Glasgow Road, equidistant from Crosslet Lodge and the entrance of Garshake Brae. ..."

"About halfway up, the avenue spans and skirts for a distance the deep and bosky [meaning "wooded", "covered in trees and bushes"] glen of the Garshake Burn, and here a very heavy piece of embankment, measuring about 50,000 cubic yards, had to be formed, and through it the Garshake Burn is conveyed by a culvert 10 feet wide by 164 feet long" (that culvert is the one that is now known locally as the Witch's Tunnel: see Link for pictures).

At the top, the avenue spans the glen of the Overtoun Burn by means of Overtoun Bridge: see Link where the relevant passage is quoted in full. That bridge is there described as being in Scottish Baronial style, using a white freestone drawn from a quarry Link on the estate.

"At the entrance of the avenue a handsome lodge is being constructed of the same material and in the same architectural style. Mr H E Milner, C.E., Westminster, laid off the drive and prepared the general plans. The contractors were Messrs John Paton & Co, Glasgow. Mr James Thomson, architect, F.R.I.B.A., Bath Street, Glasgow, designed the lodge and entrance. ... The whole work has been faithfully superintended by Mr Castleton."

On the 7th of June 1895, a hot day, the last stone was laid by Lady Overtoun when the guests had assembled at the eastern end of Overtoun Bridge [the end nearest Overtoun House]. Lord Overtoun asked the company to join in singing the 100th Psalm. The Rev Wm Ross, Cowcaddens, invoked blessings on the work completed and on the family of Overtoun. The Rev John McNeill delivered a brief address, couched in humorous form. The Rev J E Sommerville afterward read the following statement regarding [the lands of] Overtoun and the new bridge and approach. The statement (quoted below in full) was deposited in the memorial stone of the bridge:

- - - -

"The estate of Overtoun was bought by James White in 1859 from Gabriel Lang, and he subsequently bought Priestyard and Crosslet. In 1860 he began building at Overtoun. The mansion home stands about 360 feet above the sea, and was completed early in 1863. The architect was James Smith, Glasgow; mason: Thomas Brown; joiner: George Ferguson; plumbers: Wallace & Connell. The family left Hayfield, where they had long resided, and took up their abode at Overtoun on the 11th June, 1863. James White died at Overtoun on 8th March 1884, aged 72. Mrs White died at Overtoun 18th January 1891, aged 79. His son, John Campbell White, who married in 1867 Grace Eliza McClure, resided at Crosslet for some years, and came to reside at Overtoun after his mother's death. In 1892, he bought from the Rev Mr Dixon Swan the adjoining estate of Garshake, which his father had negotiated for some years before, but difficulty connected with the entail of Garshake prevented the purchase being then carried through."

"In May 1893, Her Most Gracious Majesty Queen Victoria raised John Campbell White to the peerage under the title of Baron Overtoun of Overtoun. In June 1893 he began to construct the new avenue through Garshake and Crosslet in order to provide a new access to Dumbarton. The engineer of the new avenue and designer of the bridge is Mr H E Milner, of London. The contractor for the culvert and embankment and for the new bridge are Messrs John Paton & Co, Glasgow; architect of the new lodge, Mr James Thomson, of Glasgow; the builders, Messrs John Paton & Co; and the joiner, Mr George Ferguson. The avenue is a mile and quarter long. The bridge is built entirely of stone taken from the quarry on the estate, where it was brought about three-quarters of a mile on a light railway, and the bridge is deeply founded upon the rock on both sides of the stream."

"This last stone of the bridge was laid by Lady Overtoun on Friday 7th of June 1895, in the presence of a large gathering of friends, and there is deposited herewith a copy of the Glasgow Herald, 7th June; Glasgow Daily Mail of 7th June; Dumbarton Herald, 5th June; Western Supplement of Oliver & Boyd's Almanack for 1895; and also the following current coins: d, 1d, 3d, 6d, 1s, 2s, 2s6d."

"Every home is builded by some man, but He that built all things is God Heb iii. 4"

There were also deposited photographs of Lord and Lady Overtoun.

- - - -

The final stone itself was laid by Lady Overtoun using a silver trowel provided by the contractors. Music was then provided on the lawn tennis green by the band of the training ship Empress and a company of pipers (for the Empress, see NS2684 : Memorial for boys of Cumberland and Empress).

[A chapter, headed "The Whites of Overtoun", in Dr I M M MacPhail's book "Lennox Lore" (1897) discusses the family. Lord Overtoun himself was known for his charitable works, his association with the Temperance movement, and his promotion of Bible Classes. On the other hand, just a few years after the opening of the avenue described above, his character would come under sustained attack in a series of articles, from March to May 1899, in a publication called "The Labour Leader"; the criticism was founded largely upon the terrible working conditions of those employed in White's chemical works at Shawfield (the "chrome works"; potassium dichromate was manufactured there). The extent to which Lord Overtoun himself was aware of these conditions is debatable, but the apparent dichotomy in the man who was a firm Sabbatarian, opposing, for example, the Sunday opening of the People's Palace, even while the Shawfield workers (who were nicknamed "White's canaries" on account of the colourful toxic dust that coated them, or "White's dead men" on account of their blanched faces) had to work on Sunday, is one that is explored by Sydney Checkland on pages 293295 of Volume 1 of the "Dictionary of Scottish Business Biography, 18601960".]

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NS4175, 112 images   (more nearby search)
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Date Taken
Friday, 15 January, 2016   (more nearby)
Monday, 1 February, 2016
Geographical Context
Historic sites and artefacts 
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Primary Subject of Photo
Architect (from Tags)
James Thomson 
Subject Location
OSGB36: geotagged! NS 4100 7571 [10m precision]
WGS84: 55:56.8824N 4:32.8674W
Camera Location
OSGB36: geotagged! NS 4099 7571
View Direction
EAST (about 90 degrees)
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The Crags Circular Path 

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