Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Helensburgh (Scottish Gaelic: ''Baile Eilidh'') is a town in Argyll and Bute, Scotland. It lies on the north shore of the Firth of Clyde and the eastern shore of the entrance to the Gareloch.

Helensburgh was formerly in Dumbarton District, but was re-allocated under local government reorganisation in 1996. Prior to 1975 it was part of the former Dunbartonshire.


Helensburgh was founded in 1776 when Sir James Colquhoun of Luss built spa baths on the site of Ardencaple Castle, which dated back to about 1600. He then had the seaside resort town constructed to the east of the spa on a formal layout in the style of Edinburgh New Town, and named it after his wife Helen. A ferry service he arranged across the Firth of Clyde to Greenock was successful in attracting residents who could commute from jobs there to attractive homes in the new town. Helensburgh became a favourite place of residence for shipping tycoons and tobacco merchants from Glasgow. At one point the small town had one quarter of Britain's millionaires living there.

In 1808, Henry Bell bought the public baths and hotel, which his wife superintended while he continued his interest in early steamboats such as the nearby Charlotte Dundas and the North River Steamboat which Robert Fulton had just introduced at New York City. To improve hotel trade, he had the paddle steamer Comet constructed and in 1812 introduced Europe's first successful steamboat service, bringing passengers down the River Clyde from Glasgow to Greenock and Helensburgh. The Clyde steamer trade developed rapidly, and Helensburgh pier and Craigendoran pier at the east end of the town both became major departure points. From 1858 holidaymakers were brought to the resort and the steamers by the Glasgow, Dumbarton and Helensburgh Railway terminus built in the centre of the town, and in 1894 a second railway station was opened higher up the hill on the West Highland Railway to Fort William.

Helensburgh born coal miner Charles Harper emigrated to New South Wales (now a state of Australia) and became the first manager of the Metropolitan Coal Company before being killed in a mine accident in 1887. In that year, the company took over the mining lease on an area south of Sydney known as Camp Creek. When the coal mine opened the following year, the town was named Helensburgh, possibly named after his birthplace or after his daughter Helen. The two Helensburghs are now sister cities.

In 1903, Charles Rennie Mackintosh built the Hill House for the publishing tycoon Walter Blackie. The house, in Colquhoun Street on the north edge of town, is one of the best examples of his style, with startlingly modern interiors incorporating furniture which he designed. It is now owned by the National Trust for Scotland and is a popular tourist attraction.

The baronetcy of Helensburgh

The Raeburn Baronetcy, of Helensburgh in the County of Dunbarton, is a title in the Baronetage of the United Kingdom. It was created on 25 July 1923 for William Raeburn. He was head of the firm of Raeburn & Verel, Ltd, (a shipping company) and also represented Dunbartonshire in the House of Commons as a Unionist.

The town today

Helensburgh today acts as a commuter town for nearby Glasgow, with a population at the 2001 census of 14,626, and also serves as a main shopping centre for the area and for tourists attracted to the seaside resort. Helensburgh is also influenced by the presence of the Clyde Naval Base at Faslane on the Gare Loch, a major local employer. The town is a popular destination for day trippers.

The town is served by three railway stations, Helensburgh Upper on the West Highland Line, Craigendoran, on the North Clyde Line and Helensburgh Central, the terminus of the North Clyde Line.

The seafront has an indoor swimming pool, an esplanade walk, a range of shops, cafes and pubs, and sailing facilities including Helensburgh Sailing Club. At Rhu, just beyond the town boundary, there is a marina.

The streets are built on a gentle slope rising to the north east, and at the brow of the hill a golf club has views looking south out over the town to the Clyde, and to the north across nearby Loch Lomond to the Trossachs hills.

The paddle steamer Waverley calls in to Helensburgh pier during summer sailings. Until April 2012, a regular passenger ferry service ran from Helensburgh pier to Kilcreggan and Gourock, (until 2007 the historic ferry Kenilworth was used on this route); Craigendoran pier fell into disuse in the late 20th century.

In a 2006 survey, Helensburgh was shown to be the second most expensive town in which to buy property in Scotland.

The town is situated close to Faslane Naval Base, Faslane which is the site that houses the British nuclear deterrent fleet of Vanguard class submarines. The base is only six miles away from the town. Around 520 people are employed directly by the Trident programme, many of whom commute to Faslane.

Helensburgh is home to a number of annual events, with the local branch of Round Table running an annual fireworks display on Guy Fawkes Night and hosting a Real Ale Festival at the Sailing Club.


Sports are well represented with various football, rugby, cricket, athletics, netball, hockey, curling, bowling, golf, sailing and fishing clubs amongst others active in the town.

Notable residents

  • Martin Alabaster, Royal Navy officer
  • Phil Ashby, Royal Marines Commando officer
  • W. H. Auden, poet
  • William Auld, poet and author
  • John Logie Baird, inventor of the television
  • Henry Bell, introduced the first passenger steamboat service in Europe
  • John Black, football player
  • Bobby Blair, football player
  • James Bridie, playwright and screenwriter
  • Bobby Brown, football player and manager
  • Jack Buchanan, actor, singer, producer and director
  • John Buchanan, Olympic Gold medal-winning sailor
  • John Butt, orchestral and choral conductor, organist, harpsichordist and musicologist
  • Bruce Cameron, Anglican bishop
  • Horatio Scott Carslaw, mathematician
  • Joe Carson, football player
  • John Christie, Church of Scotland minister
  • Morven Christie, actress
  • Andy Clyde, actor
  • Stephen Conroy, artist
  • Charlotte Cooper, Olympic Gold medal-winning tennis player
  • James Copeland, actor
  • A. J. Cronin, novelist and physician
  • Cecil Day-Lewis, Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom
  • Arthur Downes, Olympic Gold medal-winning sailor
  • George Findlay, Victoria Cross recipient
  • Malcolm Finlayson, football player
  • James George Frazer, social anthropologist
  • Tom Gallacher, playwright
  • John Gilmour, World War I pilot
  • Norah Neilson Gray, artist
  • Jimmy Gunning, football player
  • Sir James Guthrie, artist
  • Herbert Guthrie-Smith, author and conservationist
  • John Hammersley, mathematician
  • James Ballantyne Hannay, chemist
  • Jack Hill, football player and manager
  • Sir Stephen House, senior police officer
  • Kenny Hyslop, rock drummer in Slik and Simple Minds
  • Hazel Irvine, television presenter
  • William Jacks, Liberal politician and ironmaster
  • Duncan Airlie James, kickboxer
  • James Jardine, Medal of Honor recipient
  • Billy Jeffrey, football player and manager
  • Deborah Kerr, actress, most notably in The King and I
  • Daniel Lamont, Church of Scotland minister
  • Bonar Law, Conservative statesman and Prime Minister
  • William Leiper, architect and artist
  • Robert Aim Lennie, doctor
  • Robin Lloyd-Jones, author and educationalist
  • Jimmy Logan, impresario and director
  • R. D. Low, pilot and doctor
  • Zachary Macaulay, mathematician and abolitionist
  • David MacDonald, director, writer and actor
  • Alexander Robertson MacEwen, Moderator of the United Free Church of Scotland
  • Helen MacInnes, author
  • Murdo MacLeod, football player and manager
  • Sir Ian McGeoch, Royal Navy officer
  • Bob McGregor, Olympic Silver medal-winning swimmer
  • Michael McIntyre, Olympic Gold medal-winning sailor
  • Lex McLean, music hall comedian
  • Fergus McNeill, author and game designer
  • Moses McNeil, co-founder of Rangers F.C.
  • Peter McNeil, co-founder of Rangers F.C.
  • Charlotte McShane, triathlete
  • Neil Mitchell, musician
  • Tommy Muirhead, football player and manager
  • Neil Munro, journalist and literary critic
  • W.C.W. Murdoch, rugby union player
  • Gary Orr, golfer
  • Derek Parlane, football player
  • Luke Patience, Olympic Silver medal-winning sailor
  • Samantha Poling, journalist
  • Sir William Raeburn, Unionist politician and shipping magnate
  • Gordon Reid, wheelchair tennis player
  • Emma Richards, yachtswoman
  • George Rickey, kinetic sculptor
  • A. E. Robertson, Church of Scotland minister
  • Patrick Rodger, Anglican bishop and ecumenist
  • Randolph Schwabe, draughtsman and painter
  • Louise Scullion, artist
  • Nick Sharkey, football player
  • Gordon Sherry, golfer
  • Max Simmers, rugby union player
  • Madeleine Smith, socialite tried for murder and the charge was found to be 'not proven'
  • Martin Smith, director
  • Walter Smith, football player and manager
  • Peter Such, Test cricketer
  • Fergus Tiernan, football player
  • Philip Tower, British Army officer
  • Alexander Ure, Liberal politician and judge
  • Tom Vaughan, film and television director
  • Adam Cleghorn Welch, biblical scholar
  • Kim Winser, businesswoman

See also

  • List of places in Argyll and Bute


81. ^ Stewart Noble (editor): 200 Years of Helensburgh 1802 - 2002 (ISBN 1 902831 38 1)

External links

  • Helensburgh Heritage Trust
  • Helensburgh Online - Directory
  • Helensburgh Advertiser
  • Helensburgh Heroes
  • The Helensburgh and Lomond Fiddlers

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