Dear blog reader

I usually don’t share such recent finds but the descriptions are so good in this article I find it worth sharing.




A group of us were discussing the merits of the various hotels and restaurants we had visited over the festive season and one of the party told us of a wonderful Christmas and New Year she and her husband had spent at Shandon Hydro just before the second world war.

The picture she painted made us wish the hotel was still operational.

The Victorian mansion had been built originally for the famous Clyde engineer Robert Napier.

Napier, born in Dumbarton, son of a blacksmith, became a very wealthy man. He founded an engineering company, making engines for the steamships of the day. The engine he build for the paddle steamer Leven is on display in his home town to this day.

Napier had a small summer residence in Shandon, he fell in love with the pretty little village and commissioned John Thomas Rochead to design a permanent home for him there. The result was West Shandon, latterly Shandon Hydro.

The work was completed in 1852, its size and distinctive towers made it a landmark on the Gareloch.

Incorporated in the design of the house was a museum and picture gallery to house Napier’s large collection of valuable antiques and paintings, many by well known artists, Rembrandt, Raphael and others.

Napier spent his retirement happily at West Shandon. He was awarded many honours and decorations during his lifetime, but remained a quiet, modest and unassuming man. He died in 1876 and on his death the house and its treasures were sold.

A firm bought the house for the sum of £38,000, a fortune in those days, and turned it into a hydropathic establishment.

In my postcard collection I have ad advertisement card for Shandon Hydro. One one side it has a photograph of the Hydro and on the other was the following ‘potted history’:

‘Shandon Hydropathic is situated on the shore of the Gareloch (Firth of Clyde) which is considered to be one of the finest health resorts in Scotland. One hour by rail from Glasgow.

Russian, Turkish and salt water swimming baths, private golf course, covered and open tennis courts, course, croquet and bowling greens, boating, cycling etc. Convenient centre for excursions by rail and steamer. Garage.’

The Hydro advert postcard which contained a potted history on the reverse,

I also have a Duplex album of souvenir views of Shandon Hydro which I bought in Macneur and Bryden’s before it closed. This contains 10 views in rich sepia photogravure detachable for use as post cards, with miniature views of each card for future reference. This cost one shilling (5p). One the back of this album is the tariff.

The inclusive terms were as follows: April to September from 18/- per day; October to March from 15/- per day. These terms include bedroom attendance, lights, breakfast, luncheon, afternoon tea, dinner.

Also the enjoyment of baths (private or swimming in baths department), putting green, tennis on covered or open-air hard courts, bowls, croquet, dancing in the hotel ballroom, concerts, entertainments.

Apart from the inclusive tariff quoted above, the general tariff was – Single apartment bedroom 8/6d to 15/-; Double 18/- to 36/-; Single room per day 25/-; Breakfasts: plain 2/6; Table d’Hote 4/-; Table d’Hote luncheon 4/-; Afternoon teas in lounge 1/6; Tea in bedroom 1/-; Table d’Hote dinners 7/6; Dinner and dance 11/6; Meals in bedrooms; extra per meal 1/- per head; Visitors servants: 15/- per day, apartment and board; Garage per week from 12/6 to 17/6, per day 2/- to 3/-, 2 hours of less 1/-; Motor cycles and sidecars 2/- per day; Private lock-up per week £1 2/6, 3/6 per day; Washing cars 2/6 to 5/-.

The luxurious surroundings of the second lounge.
The terrace of the Hydro overlooking the Gareloch.

The Hydro had a small post office just inside the gate, run by a Miss McLean. It also had two lodges.

During the First World War the Navy occupied the Hydro and it reverted to being a hotel again until the outbreak of the Second World War, when the Army moved in and took it over for the duration.

When the war ended it was once again run as an hotel, but the magic had vanished and the venture was not a success. The end of an era came in 1957 when the house was demolished, and only memories remain.

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