Thursday, 19 February 2009


This famous house is at the top end of the street - Colquhoun Street - where we live. It is called Hill House and is one of Charles Rennie Mackintosh's most famous works. It was designed and built for the publisher Walter Blackie in 1902 – 1904.

Blackie purchased the land in 1902 and after a suggestion from a friend, Mackintosh was appointed to design and build it. Blackie said that it wasn't to be like buildings in the rest of the West of Scotland. Instead, he wanted gray rough cast for the walls, and slate for the roof; and that any architectural effect sought to be secured by the massing of the parts rather than by adventitious ornaments.*

Mackintosh gave minute attention to every detail both inside and out. The kitchen, the larder, the laundry were practically designed for the user and pleasing to look at. A 'unified design'.

On the outside the house is solid and grey looking, rather masculine. On the inside it has the strong Mackintosh style everywhere and is more smooth and feminine in appearance.

Outside appearance in today's sunshine.

Inside: the living room *

Staff were needed to run this house, of course, and here is glimpse of the life of a woman who worked in this house as described by our friend, Bob, in his 2008 Christmas letter:
He says: " I see by the return address that you have moved to the 'fair' city of Helensburgh. I too was once a resident there. We used to live at 27 East Princes Street, between the shunting yards and the gas works opposite (since long gone). At the time there was nothing very 'fair' about the place, this was 1949-53 when we lived there, as it was still during the recovery period after the war when the place was full of sailors and bombed out refugees from the 'blitz' who were housed in barracks and Nissen huts around the town. It was quite a shock for us "Toffs" from ra soo' side o' Glasca' with our inside toilets! While we were there my mother befriended a lady a Mrs Cowan (?) who lived in a gas lit croft at the S.W. corner of Colquhoun Square. I think there is a restaurant there now, and at the time worked in kitchens at "Hill House". I remember visiting her twice there in the evenings when it was quiet, as the house was still occupied we never went any further in than the pantry.

I was told many years later that Mrs Cowan(?) never saw the interier of the other parts of the house until many years later when it had been taken over by the Trust** and even then she had to pay an entrance fee!"


* Wikipedia
** In 1982 the house was donated to the National Trust for Scotland.

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