Mossyde, Kilmacolm

M271 Mossyde, Kilmacolm

Address: Cloak Road, Kilmacolm PA13 4SD
Date: 1906–7; 1908–9; 1912–15
Client: H. B. Collins
Authorship: Authorship category 1 (Mackintosh) (Mackintosh)

Colour photograph of window in S. wing of Mossyde

The house has been known by several different names: Ploughman's Cottage; 1 Balgray Cottage; 2 Cloak Cottage; 3 Mossyde; 4 Mosside; 5 Cloak; 6 and Cloak House. 7 For a long time its complicated history was misunderstood because of the inaccurate description published by Thomas Howarth, until the three main phases of its development were correctly identified by Frank A. Walker. 8

Computer assisted drawing of block plan showing building phases

Exterior

In 1906 Hugh Brown Collins employed Honeyman, Keppie & Mackintosh to design a 'Ploughman's Cottage' for this isolated rural site overlooking the Auchendores Reservoir. The drawings submitted to the county planning authority for approval in November were signed by Mackintosh, and the entry in Honeyman, Keppie & Mackintosh's job book is written entirely in his hand. 9 Square in plan and of two storeys, the cottage survives as the W. wing of the present house. It has random rubble walls (their thickness emphasised by the deep, splayed reveals of the small windows) and a slated roof with bell-cast eaves. A single-storey addition containing pantries obscures part of the W. front, including the site of the original entrance.

Colour photograph of W. wing of Mossyde

In 1908, Collins had Honeyman, Keppie & Mackintosh extend the cottage eastward in the same style, adding a S. wing at right angles to the original building and trebling its footprint. 10 The addition has the same rubble walling and splayed windows as the original cottage, but the fall of the ground allows for a full-height basement.

Colpour photograph of W. and S. wings, MossydeColour photograph of S. wing of MossydeColour photograph of window in S. wing of Mossyde

In the manner of a Scottish tower house, a projection in the angle of the original cottage and the extension contains both the principal staircase and the main entrance to the enlarged house. The wall above the entrance curves gently inwards as it rises, suggesting the artisan workmanship and organic growth of a true vernacular building. Some of the window openings have massive, irregular quoins in the form of roughly dressed boulders.

Colour photograph of entrance to MossydeColour photograph of window in S. wing of Mossyde

In 1912 Mackintosh made drawings for a further extension, a N. wing in the form of a three-storey tower with crow-stepped gables. 11 These were presumably the drawings he exhibited at the Glasgow Institute of the Fine Arts in 1913 (100, 102), described by the Architects' & Builders' Journal as 'two frames of a house at Kilmalcolm treated in a characteristic style.' 12 Had it been built, the tower would have sat impressively at the highest point of the site, giving the house a romantically rugged silhouette. Instead, the N. wing was built in 1913–15 to a simpler and less satisfactory design. Mackintosh's authorship of this wing has been doubted on stylistic grounds, but he is named as architect in the county planning authority's register of new buildings, and notes made by him in his Sketcher's Notebook show that he was in charge of the project. 13 The executed design continues the roof-line of the S. wing, producing an E. elevation which is balanced about a central gable, with only a single, broad chimney-stack at the N. end to break the underlying symmetry. The deep-set windows repeat the splayed reveals of the two earlier phases, but those on the first floor are framed by pointed arches (the joiner James Grant supplied wooden centring for these). 14

Colour photograph of chimney stack, MossydeColour photograph of N. wing of MossydeColour photograph of window in N. wing, Mossyde

As part of the same programme of works, Mackintosh appears to have conceived the single storey pantry addition to the entrance front of the original cottage. The addition is not shown on the plans approved by the local authority in June 1913, but on 17 November Mackintosh wrote in his Sketcher's Notebook that he had obtained approval for further plans (which do not survive), and on the same day he made a site visit and recorded this observation: 'the new pantries in front of [the] Kitchen Entrance door seem to me to be quite the best possible idea. They will give quite a distinction to the old entrance gable and add I am sure a new element of picturesque to this gable [aspect].' 15

In both the 1908–9 and 1913–15 phases, there are small but significant differences between the drawings approved by the county planning authority and the house as built. In one drawing the S. wing has a hipped roof rather than a gable, while the massive chimney of the N. wing has off-sets in the drawing, but a smoother outline as built.

The roofs are currently (2014) slated, but this has not always been the case. The 1908 drawings indicate a 'tile ridge', and indeed some terracotta ridge tiles can be seen on the building. The unexecuted designs of 1912 show that the intention was to roof the whole house with red tiles. There is no evidence that this was carried out, but a mid-20th-century aerial photograph shows the N. wing tiled in this way, and it remained so until at least 1999. 16 Confusingly, the contractor who tendered successfully for the roofing of the 1913 addition is described both as 'roof tiler' and 'slater' in Honeyman, Keppie & Mackintosh's job book. 17

Colour aerial photograph of Mossyde

Interior

Inside, the original cottage consisted of a ground-floor living room with scullery and larder off, entered via a small lobby with a bathroom to one side. Stairs led directly from the living room to a pair of bedrooms above. The 1908–9 extension added a parlour, business room and dining room on the ground floor (the former living room became the kitchen), with three bedrooms above, plus basement and attics. The 1908–9 rooms have distinctive fireplaces with T-shaped openings and simple grates, similar to Mackintosh's 1899–1900 fireplace in the drawing room at 120 Mains Street, but with the plainest of timber mantel-shelves above. The bedrooms retain Mackintosh's simple built-in wardrobes and cupboards.

Colour photograph of fireplace in S. wing, MossydeColour photograph of wardrobe in S. wing, Mossyde

The 1908–9 staircase curves around a semicircular well, echoed by a curved lattice-work screen on the landing. This screen appears to be a late 20th-century replacement for a feature clearly shown in plan on one of the 1912 drawings. 18 On the drawing, a second semicircle is roughly indicated in pencil beside it, projecting into the stair-well from the principal bedroom. The drawing matches a survey of the house made in 1955, which shows a pair of semicircular screens in this position, apparently glazed with small square panes. 19 The bedroom screen was subsequently sacrificed for an extension to the adjoining bathroom. The other may have been replaced with the existing un-glazed screen at the same time.

Colour photograph of staircase screen, Mossyde

The 1913–15 addition took the house even further from its humble agricultural origins by providing a billiard room and gun safe, with two bedrooms and two bathrooms above.

Alterations

In or around 1926, the architect A. D. Hislop added a single-storey wash-house in the angle between the original cottage and the N. wing. 20 Because of the accretive way in which the house has grown, this small addition in matching materials is not obtrusive.

The most significant external change occurred in the late 1950s or early 1960s, when the splays of several windows on the E. front were removed, resulting in larger openings. The glazing was in some cases pushed closer to the outer wall surface, so that the thickness of the walls is less apparent from outside. 21

Inside, the floor level of the kitchen was lowered at some point after 1926, bringing it into line with later parts of the house. It contains a staircase with a Mackintosh-inspired screen of upright timbers, apparently added between 2003 and 2008. 22

A report on the condition of Mossyde was produced as part of the Mackintosh Buildings Survey, led by the Charles Rennie Mackintosh Society and carried out between 2015 and 2016. 23

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Notes:

1: The Hunterian, University of Glasgow: Honeyman, Keppie & Mackintosh job book, GLAHA 53062, p. 130.

2: Drainage plan dated September 1907, formerly Paisley, Strathclyde Regional Council (Renfrew).

3: Plans dated 1908, formerly Paisley, Strathclyde Regional Council (Renfrew).

4: Plan dated May 1908, formerly Paisley, Strathclyde Regional Council (Renfrew); The Hunterian, University of Glasgow: Honeyman, Keppie & Mackintosh job book, GLAHA 53063, p. 119.

5: Thomas Howarth, Charles Rennie Mackintosh and the Modern Movement, London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 2nd edn, 1977, pp. 107–8.

6: Historic Scotland listing description 12462: www.historic-scotland.gov.uk/ [accessed 27 February 2013].

7: Recorded 3 September 2010.

8: Thomas Howarth, Charles Rennie Mackintosh and the Modern Movement, London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 2nd edn, 1977, pp. 107–8; Frank A. Walker, 'The Mysterious Affair of Cloak', Charles Rennie Mackintosh Society Newsletter, 31, Winter–Spring 1981–2.

9: The drawings were formerly in the offices of Strathclyde Regional Council (Renfrew), Paisley (see Hiroaki Kimura, 'Charles Rennie Mackintosh: Architectural Drawings', unpublished PhD thesis, University of Glasgow, 1982, pp. 53–5), but along with all subsequent drawings for Mossyde, they could not be located in 2010 and are now known only through photographs.

10: Paisley, Renfrewshire Council Planning Department: County of Renfrew, Second or Lower District, register of new buildings 1899–1929, p. 30, no. 544.

11: The Hunterian, University of Glasgow: GLAHA 41852 (M271-015); GLAHA 41897 (M271-014); GLAHA 41898 (M271-013); GLAHA 41899 (M271-010); GLAHA 41900 (M271-011); GLAHA 41901(M271-012).

12: Architects' & Builders' Journal, 38, 22 October 1913, p. 387. The six drawings now in The Hunterian are mounted in two groups of three.

13: Paisley, Renfrewshire Council Planning Departmentt: County of Renfrew, Second or Lower District, register of new buildings 1899–1929, p. 42, no. 789; The Hunterian, University of Glasgow: Sketcher's Notebook, GLAHA 53015/63.

14: The Hunterian, University of Glasgow: Sketcher's Notebook, GLAHA 53015/54.

15: The Hunterian, University of Glasgow: Sketcher's Notebook, GLAHA 53015/63 (M271-020).

16: Iain Paterson, 'Cloak of Secrecy', Charles Rennie Mackintosh Society Newsletter, 77, Winter 1999, pp. 5–6.

17: The Hunterian, University of Glasgow: Honeyman, Keppie & Mackintosh job book, GLAHA 53063, p. 119.

18: The Hunterian, University of Glasgow: GLAHA 41900 (M271-011).

19: Hiroaki Kimura, 'Charles Rennie Mackintosh: Architectural Drawings', unpublished PhD thesis, University of Glasgow, 1982, pp. 336, 338.

20: University of Glasgow Library, Department of Special Collections: MS Hislop 289/3. Hislop's plan is not dated, but is inscribed 'Copy sent to Woodrow, 5.XI.26.', probably a reference to the contractor John Woodrow of Bridge of Weir.

21: Anne Toomey, 'Scotland: Cloak wrapped in mystery', Sunday Times, 23 March 2003: www.thesundaytimes.co.uk/ [accessed 27 February 2013].

22: Information from owners, 17 November 2010.

23: A copy of the report (MBS44) is held by the Charles Rennie Mackintosh Society, Mackintosh Queen's Cross, 870 Garscube Road, Glasgow G20 7EL. The Mackintosh Buildings Survey was funded by The Monument Trust.