The Hill House, Helensburgh

M207 The Hill House, Helensburgh

Address: Upper Colquhoun Street, Helensburgh G84 9AJ
Date: 1902–4
Client: Walter W. Blackie
Authorship: Authorship category 1 (Mackintosh) (Mackintosh)

Colour photograph of School Room window at The Hill House

1902
'Early spring': The Blackies feu the site of The Hill House. 1
March: Drawings made for submission to Helensburgh Dean of Guild Court. 2
9 April: Drawings approved on behalf of the Trustees of the late Sir James Colquhoun, by factor William Russell of the Luss Estates Office. 3
3 May: Tenders for mason and joiner work accepted. 4
9 June: Drawings approved by Helensburgh Dean of Guild Court. 5
November: Drawings for stables and gardener's cottage made for submission to Helensburgh Dean of Guild Court. 6
17 November: Drawings for stables, etc., to be amended following objection by Burgh Surveyor. 7
24 November: Drawings for stables, etc., approved by Helensburgh Dean of Guild Court. 8
1903
5 January: Mackintosh writes to Hermann Muthesius that the house is roofed, but the windows are not yet fitted and the walls will not be roughcast until May. 9
1904
March: The Blackies move into The Hill House. 10
October: The Hill House photographed by H. Bedford Lemere. 11
1905
March: Photographs and description published in Deutsche Kunst und Dekoration. 12
7 March: Final payments to mason and measurer. 13
1907
December: Views of exterior, hall and bedroom included in the Fourth Exhibition of the Pittsburgh Architectural Club (752, 753, 754). 14
1912
September: Mackintosh makes notes for redecoration and refurbishment of the house. The notes fill nine pages in his Sketcher's Notebook, one of which is dated 4 September 1912, another 6 September 1912. 15 Probably at this time the white drawing room ceiling is repainted in a dark colour. 16
1928
11 June: Plans by R. Wemyss submitted to Helensburgh Dean of Guild Court on behalf of W. W. Blackie, for addition of a bedroom and bathroom to gardener's cottage. 17
1953
14 February: Death of Walter W. Blackie at The Hill House. 18
July: The Hill House to be disposed of by Blackie's executors. The National Trust for Scotland is approached with a view to acquiring it. 19 The house is finally bought by T. Campbell Lawson.
1971
September: The Hill House to be sold by T. Campbell Lawson. 20
1972
19 January: Meeting to discuss the possible acquisition of the house by the National Trust for Scotland, with representatives from the Glasgow School of Art, the National Trust for Scotland, the Scottish Development Department, the University of Glasgow and the University of Strathclyde. 21
By July: The Hill House purchased by the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland, who have appointed Gillespie Kidd & Coia architects for conversion of service and bedroom areas into flats, to generate rental income. 22
1973
February: Plans made by Gillespie Kidd & Coia for conversion of service wing into four flats. 23 From these, it appears the original uses of some rooms had already changed before the conversion. Externally, the plans involve the creation of a new entrance at the base of the conical-roofed stair-tower.
19 March: Plans by Gillespie Kidd & Coia submitted to Helensburgh Dean of Guild Court on behalf of the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland, for alterations to 'two upper floor flats at The Hill House'. 24
March: Survey drawings of The Hill House made by S. Scott, G. Fraser and A. Leith for the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland. 25
1974
'The repair of the roughcast, the reconstruction of the boundary walls, the screen wall, the wrought iron gates and the missing chimney on the west gable are among the most immediate works to be undertaken' by the trustees of The Hill House. 26
1978
Top-floor flat in service wing taken over by the Landmark Trust. 27
1982
31 May: National Trust for Scotland takes over responsibility for The Hill House from the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland. 28
1983
Commencement of a two-phase programme of 'repair and restoration', lasting from 1983 to 1986. All work carried out by Stewart & Shields Ltd of Helensburgh. 29
1984
Closed for major repairs. 30
1985
By this date the National Trust for Scotland has carried out the following remedial works: 'ground floor construction and School room roof have been strengthened'; dry rot has been eradicated; dining room and music alcove have been 'repaired'; a number of gables in the service wing have been stripped internally and relined; 'all the gable wall and chimney heads have been rebuilt to incorporate damp proof courses'; 'all the roofs have been reslated'; the gable parapet above the dining room and one of the courtyard gables have both been restored; the parapet to the main staircase 'has been rebuilt to its original height and two chimneys have been put back again'; the N.E. gable of the kitchen wing 'has been refaced externally in brick rendered'. Repairs to roughcast and windows and external doors have not yet been carried out. 31
1988
Appointment of Page & Park Architects to continue the programme of external repairs. 32
1989
Summer: Work carried out by the National Trust for Scotland includes securing damaged areas of roughcast with carbon fibre rods and repainting the exterior 'in a uniform grey colour ... chosen after research and examination of the original harling to try and determine the grey requested by W. W. Blackie. [The new colour] matches the earliest render colour.' At the same time, two lengths of retaining wall in the garden have been dismantled and rebuilt, and the boundary wall repaired. The library ceiling has been replaced. Original stencilled decoration in the White Bedroom has been uncovered. Smoke detection and fire alarm systems have been installed. Car and coach park formed on land acquired outside the property boundary. 33
1990
Lamp standards erected on kerbside. 34
2004
Spring: Funding being sought from Historic Scotland for renewing roughcast and exterior repainting. 35
2012
July: Extensive report on The Hill House produced for the National Trust for Scotland by Andrew P. K. Wright, focusing on past and present problems with the roughcast, and the future conservation of the house. 36

Notes:

1: Walter W. Blackie, 'Memories of Charles Rennie Mackintosh – II', Scottish Art Review, 11, no. 4, 1968, pp. 6–11, p. 6.

2: Lochgilphead, Argyll and Bute Archives: Helensburgh Dean of Guild plans, BH/10/1902/15.

3: The Hunterian, University of Glasgow: drawing of S. elevation of The Hill House, GLAHA 41857 (M207-001).

4: The Hunterian, University of Glasgow: John Honeyman & Keppie / Honeyman Keppie & Mackintosh job book, GLAHA 53061, p. 257.

5: Lochgilphead, Argyll and Bute Archives: Helensburgh Dean of Guild Court Book 1, BH/9/1, p. 204.

6: Lochgilphead, Argyll and Bute Archives: Helensburgh Dean of Guild plans, BH/10/1902/27.

7: Lochgilphead, Argyll and Bute Archives: Helensburgh Dean of Guild Court Book 1, BH/9/1, p. 207.

8: Lochgilphead, Argyll and Bute Archives: Helensburgh Dean of Guild Court Book 1, BH/9/1, p. 207.

9: Berlin, Werkbundarchiv, Museum der Dinge: Hermann Muthesius Estate, letter from Mackintosh to Muthesius, 5 January 1903.

10: Walter W. Blackie, 'Memories of Charles Rennie Mackintosh – II', Scottish Art Review, 11, no. 4, 1968, pp. 6–11, p. 8.

11: Swindon, English Heritage Archive: HBL01/03, Bedford Lemere day book 5.

12: Fernando Agnoletti, 'The Hill House Helensburgh', Deutsche Kunst und Dekoration, 15, 1904–5, pp. 337–59.

13: The Hunterian, University of Glasgow: John Honeyman & Keppie / Honeyman, Keppie & Mackintosh job book, GLAHA 53061, p. 258.

14: Pittsburgh Architectural Club, [Catalog of the] Fourth Exhibition, Carnegie Institute Galleries, Pittsburgh, 1907.

15: The Hunterian, University of Glasgow: Sketcher's Notebook, GLAHA 53015/11–17, 19–20.

16: Anne Ellis, 'Recovery of the original drawing room scheme, The Hill House', Charles Rennie Mackintosh Society Newsletter, 65, Autumn 1994, pp. 5–7.

17: Lochgilphead, Argyll and Bute Archives: Helensburgh Dean of Guild plans BH/10/12/1928.

18: Glasgow Herald, 16 February 1953, p. 6.

19: The Hunterian, University of Glasgow: The Hill House building file, copy of letter from A. McLaren Young to the National Trust for Scotland, 15 July 1953.

20: The Hunterian, University of Glasgow: The Hill House building file, copy of letter from A. McLaren Young to R. D. Cramond, Scottish Development Department, 29 September 1971.

21: The Hunterian, University of Glasgow: The Hill House building file, note of a meeting held at Strathclyde University School of Architecture, 19 January 1972.

22: The Hunterian, University of Glasgow: The Hill House building file, letter from Gillespie Kidd & Coia to A. McLaren Young, 13 July 1972.

23: Edinburgh, Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland: DBD/24/8–12.

24: Lochgilphead: Argyll and Bute Archives, Helensburgh Dean of Guild Court petition 19/1973.

25: Edinburgh, Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland: DBD/24/2–3, 13–15.

26: Charles Rennie Mackintosh Society Newsletter, 5, Autumn 1974.

27: Andrew P. K. Wright, The Hill House, Helensburgh: Evaluation of Condition and Significance, July 2012, p. 67.

28: William Nail, 'News of The Hill House Helensburgh', Charles Rennie Mackintosh Society Newsletter, 40, Summer 1985, p. 6.

29: Edinburgh, Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland: Quinquennial survey of Hill House, Helensburgh, inspected in January–March 1987 by the Boys Jarvis Partnership, 19 Woodside Place, Glasgow, G3 7QL, MS/503/3.

30: Charles Rennie Mackintosh Society Newsletter, 36, February 1984, p. 1.

31: William Nail, 'News of The Hill House Helensburgh', Charles Rennie Mackintosh Society Newsletter, 40, Summer 1985, p. 6.

32: Brian Park, 'Cracking up: Hill House', Architects' Journal, 195, 13 May 1992, pp. 41–3.

33: Philip A. Schreiber, 'Restoration at The Hill House', Charles Rennie Mackintosh Society Newsletter, 53, Spring 1990, p. 7.

34: Frank Arneil Walker and Fiona Sinclair, Buildings of Scotland: Argyll and Bute, London: Penguin, 2000, p. 296.

35: Charles Rennie Mackintosh Society Newsletter, 86, Spring 2004, p. 25.

36: Andrew P. K. Wright, The Hill House, Helensburgh: Evaluation of Condition and Significance, July 2012.