Ronald Gordon Sillars of Ardgare

Dear blog reader

Following on from my recent blog post on Ardgare, I found 3 articles on Ronald Gordon Sillars of Ardgare which tell us something of his life.





Lieutenant R. G. Sillars, 9th Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, is reported unofficially as having been wounded on Saturday, June 5.

Lieutenant Sillars is a son of Mr Duncan Sillars, Ardgare, Shandon, partner of the firm of Messrs Russell & Co, ship and store export merchants, 71 Robertson Street, Glasgow.

Lieutenant Sillars was educated at Kelvinside Academy, and was afterwards associated with his father in business. He joined the 9th Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders in August last, and went to the front over a month ago. Lieutenant Sillars has been acting as a signalling officer of the 154th Highland Infantry Brigade, 51st Highland Division.




At Kilmarnock, and afterwards at the Parish Church, Sorn, on 3rd April, by the Reverend H C Begg, Ronald Gordon Sillars, Lieutenant, 9th Battalion Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders (TF) [that is, Territorial Force] and Army Signal Service RE [that is, Royal Engineers], only son of the late Duncan Sillars of Ardgare, Shandon, and of Mrs Sillars, Ardgare, to Alice Muriel, only daughter of John Jackson of Bardykes, Blantyre.




At Ardgare, Shandon, Dumbartonshire, on the 5th instant [that is, the current month], the wife of Ronald Gordon Sillars, a son.

Ardgare Officially Opened As Rest Home



Ardgare House, Shandon, near Garelochhead, was officially opened yesterday afternoon as a British Legion rest home by the Countess of Eglinton and Winston.

Ardgare is the second Legion rest home to be opened in Scotland within the last 18 months. The first was Bradbury House at North Berwick. This latest home, situated within beautiful grounds, commands a magnificent outlook over the Gareloch and was formerly the home of Lt-Col R G Sillars, who gave it to the British Legion.

The Legion in Scotland, through the Earl Haig fund, have adapted and furnished this mansion as a centre where ex-servicemen and women and their adult dependents can recuperate.

The Countess felt it was not only the beginning of a new holiday home, but the launching of a great adventure in Scotland. On of the advantages that volunteer organisations possessed in these days of the welfare state and planned economy was that they could extend sympathy to men and women and act on the spot without too much form filling, she said.

Sale of West Shandon

Dear blog reader

I would suggest that the below advert describing West Shandon, the residence of Robert Napier, before it was sold and converted into the Hydropathic Hotel tells us a lot about West Shandon.

I hope you also find it interesting.


Robert Napier




The subscriber has been instructed by the Executors of the late Robert Napier, Esquire, in the end of April and beginning of May next, of which notice will be given, to dispose, by Public Sale, of:

1 The remaining furniture in West Shandon House, comprising the whole dining-room furniture in oak (including magnificent exhibition sideboard), and certain of the drawing-room furniture, and the parlour and bed-room furniture, carpets etc; Fine-toned organ in magnificent carved oak case, suitable for a small Church or Hall; fine crystal gasaliers [a gasalier being a chandelier arranged to burn gas ], numerous museum glass cases etc etc.

2 The valuable collection of plants in the conservatory, and numerous bedding-out plants.

3 The carriages and certain of the horses; and

4 The stock and plenishings on the farm of Ballernick, including a large quantity of movable iron fences.

John Dewar, auctioneer, Dumbarton

Shandon Valuation Roll 1915

Dear blog reader

Welcome to the seventh part in a series, a list of the people, with house names where known, who were connected with Shandon in 1915.

In 1915 Shandon had 75 households listed, a slight decrease on 1905. In 1905 Shandon had 82 households listed which was a vast increase on the anomaly of the valuation roll of 1895 when  only 16 households were listed but also an increase on the number of households in the 1885 Shandon valuation roll.   In 1885 Shandon had 74 households, a huge increase from 1875 when Shandon had 32 households. The 1875 number was the exact same number as the 32 households in 1865 which had been a growth of 4 households from the 28 households in 1855.

Hopefully those of you with ancestors from Shandon will find this list useful.


Agnes L Adams, Balernock

James A Adams, doctor, Balernock

Margaret Allan, widow, Chapelburn

Peter Anderson

Miss Bertha F Baines, Altnacoille

David R Barr, Woodbank Place

Albert Beaumont, Blairvaddich

A Stuart Black, Croy

Patrick Brady, Ardgare

John Brown, Hillhead

John Cameron, Hydropathic

James Craig, Letrualt

Thomas L Don, Greenhill

Robert M Donaldson, Blairvaddich

James Walker Downie, doctor, Cragmore

William Drummond, Broomfield

Hugh Eaglesome

John Foreman, West Shandon

Catherine Gibson, widow, Greenhill

Hugh Girvan, Blairvaddich

William Glen, Hillhead

Robert Glen, Blairvaddich

John Goodlet, Linnburn

Mary Grabowsky, Linnburn

Carl Grabowsky, Linnburn

William Grieve, West Shandon

Malcolm Hamilton, Ardchapel

Helen Hannah, Woodbank Place

John F Henderson, Glenfeulan

Robert Hill, Lagbuie

William Hughes, Glenfeulan

Alexander Hutcheson, 6 3/4 mile post, Shandon Station

Miss Jane Kerr, shop, Woodbank Place

Herbert V Kirkpatrick, Lagbuie

Alexander P Lyon, Fiunary

W MacArthur

[No first name] MacCormick. Woodbank Place

Joseph MacCrae, Ardchapel

A MacDiarmid, 6 1/2 mile post, Shandon Station

Hugh MacGinlay, Woodbank Place

Peter Machray, Agnes Millar Wilson [house]

Duncan MacIntyre, Balernock

Colin MacKenzie, Croy

John MacKinlay, Hillhead

John MacKinlay, shop, Woodbank Place

John MacKinlay, Woodbank cottage

Miss Charlotte MacKinlay, Woodburn cottage

Miss H D Mackintosh, Hillhead

Mrs Margaret MacLean, West Shandon

Lady Sophie MacLeod, widow, Fiunary

Lady MacLeod, Hillhead

James Maltman, Blairvaddich

James Maxwell, Greenhill

Reverend Hugh Miller, manse

George Mills, West Shandon

Alexander Mitchell, Croy

Malcolm Morrison, Ardgare

Charles Neaves, Oakbank

John R H Newitt

T B Newitt

Arthur M R Ramsay, Stuckenduff

David Ross, 6 1/2 mile post, Shandon Station

Duncan Sillars, Stuckenduff

Duncan Sillars, Ardgare

James Spiers

John Stewart, Hillhead

Archibald Tait, Cragmore

Thomas Taylor, Letrualt

John Turner, Lagbuie

E G F Wedderburn, widow, Shandon Bank

Robert Whillans, West Shandon

John Wilkinson, Ardgare

Ethelreda Yarrow, Broomfield

Thomas Young, Hydropathic

Death Of John Kerr Of Ardgare



The death took place on Wednesday, at his residence, Ardgare, Shandon, of Mr John James Kerr, of Robertland.

Mr Kerr had been in failing health for sometime, and his decease was not unexpected. Mr Kerr was born at Roberton, near Stewarton, where he became the owner of a very nice estate. He resided along with his sister’s for a number of years in Glasgow, afterwards acquiring the beautiful estate of Ardgare, on the Gareloch.

Mr Kerr was a gentleman of a singularly quiet and unassuming disposition. He was a Justice of the Peace for the county, and an honorary vice-president of the Helensburgh and Gareloch Liberal Association. In religious and philanthropic work he took a very warm interest, and was one of the most generous givers in the West of Scotland.

To his own native district he had proved himself a benefactor, and quite recently he had erected at his own expense an hospital in the village of Stewarton.

The funeral takes place on Tuesday, to the Helensburgh cemetery.

Yacht Capsizes



An exciting incident took place on the Gareloch when a local yachtsman was rescued from the water by a passing motor cyclist.

It appears that about 8.30pm Mr R S McNicol, Ardchapel, was sailing his new yacht Wendy, which had only come into the Gareloch the previous day, when at a point opposite Ardgare, a sudden squall healing the yacht over, she filled and settled. Mr McNicol managed, however, to clamber on to the gunwale, and it was in that position, sitting with his legs dangling in the water, that he was observed by a passing motor cyclist.

Running down to the shore, the cyclist cut the painter of a small boat belonging to Mr R Sillars, Ardgare, and reaching Mr McNicol, was able to effect a rescue. Later assistance came from the opposite shore and lifted the upturned yacht.

Burial Of Mrs Napier



Yesterday, shortly after noon, the remains of Mrs Napier, wife of Mr Robert Napier, of Shandon, were committed to their last resting place in the family vault in Dumbarton Churchyard. The deceased, who had attained the ripe age of 83 years, died at Shandon on the 24th inst. [meaning of this month].

Robert Napier

Like her husband, she was a native of Dumbarton, being a daughter of the late John Napier, who at one time carried on the business of iron founder and blacksmith in what was known as ‘the King’s Arms Close’, in High Street, Dumbarton, but who nearly 70 years ago removed to the suburbs of the city of Glasgow, where he continued in business for a long period.

On account of the respect in which the deceased lady was held, there were many traces of a general sorrow in the town, flags were drawn up half-mast high, and the bell of the parish Church was tolled for some time both before and after the interment. The body was conveyed from Shandon in a hearse drawn by four horses, and the cortege, as it passed along High Street to the Old Churchyard, was witnessed by a large number of people, who lined the streets on both sides.

Amongst the relatives present at the funeral were:- Mrs Hastie, Carnock, Dunfermline, and Mrs Wilkie, London, daughters of the deceased; Mr Jas. R Napier and Mrs Napier, Blythswood Square, Glasgow; Messrs John Napier, Saughfield, Glasgow; William Napier, Hillhead, Glasgow; James S Napier, Woodside Place, Glasgow; J W Napier, Renfrew Street, Glasgow; John Napier, Inveraray; R B Napier, Govan; John D Napier, Glasgow etc.

It is now about twenty years since any interment took place in Dumbarton Churchyard, it having been closed against burials for that period by order of the Sheriff, after a full public enquiry, but the family vault in which the body of Mrs Napier was placed yesterday, and which is situated at the extreme back of the Churchyard, was not included in that order.

The Napier family vault


Dear blog reader

Just a little extra information, this is the inscription on the Napier family vault:

Robert Napier second son of James Napier & Jean Ewing died at West Shandon on the Gareloch in the year 1876 in the 86th year of his age.

Isabella Napier his wife died at West Shandon in the year 1873 in the 83rd year of her age.

David their fourth son died at Row [Rhu] in the year 1833 in the second year of his age & was buried there.

Robert their third son died at West Shandon in the year 1848 in the 20th year of his age.

Railway Accident at Shandon – part 3

Dear blog reader

This is part 3 of a 3 part series on a railway accident at Shandon in  1895, continuing on from parts 1 and 2 published the previous 2 weeks.

I do hope you find this interesting.





Major Marindin reports to the Board of Trade on the accident which occurred on the 14th October, at Shandon Station, on the West Highland Branch of the North British Railway. All the three carriages which were derailed were damaged. One passenger was seriously injured and another was shaken.

Shandon Station

Major Marindin says:- I attribute the accident partly to the delay of the signalman at Shandon in going to make the road and lower the signals for the up train, and to his having omitted to restore the points to their normal position after the passing of the down train: and partly to the up distant signal light having been out when the train passed it, and to the leading driver of the train having lost his way.

The evidence of the drivers, taken with that of Inspectors Bell and Davidson, raised the suspicion that the signalman at Shandon did not pay proper attention to his duties in regard to the trimming and lighting of the distant-signal lamps.

This accident furnished an argument in favour of fitting the safety appliances at facing points, so that the locking bar is actuated by the same lever as the points, instead of, as is far more common, by the lever working the bolt lock.

Railway Accident at Shandon – Part 2

Dear blog reader

This is part 2 of a 3 part series on a railway accident at Shandon in  1895, continuing on from part 1 published a week ago, part 3 will be published next week.

I hope you find it interesting.






I was a passenger from Fort William by the 4.20pm train. The night was dark, and the train was going swifter than usual, which made the oscillating sensation more felt than ever.

The train was driven by two engines, and composed of three carriages, two horse boxes, and guard’s van, and about 100 passengers, arranged as follows:- Third-class carriage, first-class carriage, third-class carriage, horse boxes, and guard’s van. All well until nearing the home signal at Shandon Station, and when entering the platform we felt a violent shaking of the carriage. It had left the rails, and was forced partly up the bank.

Shandon Station

There were four of us in the compartment, and we got mixed up on the floor. Some sprang up and caught the luggage rack as the carriage was dragged along, fearing the train was going over the wall, and, expecting to be killed. Various expressions and symptoms of feat were visible.

When we got out we saw the engines had entered the platform on the wrong side, and the first-class carriage which was next us had been dragged along the island platform on its side about 20 or 30 yards, and the bogie wheels torn off. The third carriage had come up, the end being driven in by the contact with this carriage, and otherwise badly smashed up before the train was brought to a standstill.

None of the passengers were badly hurt as far as I could see – which was a miracle – with the exception of a lady, the sister of a medical gentleman, who was with her, from Uddingston.

Railway Accident at Shandon – part 1

Dear blog reader

This is part 1 of a 3 part series on a railway accident at Shandon in 1895, parts 2 and 3 will be published in subsequent weeks.

Hope you find this interesting.





An alarming railway accident occurred last night on the West Highland Railway near Shandon, Gareloch, which happily was unattended with loss of life, but resulted in considerable destruction of plant.

It appears that the train which leaves Fort William at 4:22 was approaching Shandon Station about eight o’clock when a couple of carriages left the line about six feet from where the double line is formed. One of the carriages went right along on the south side of the platform to opposite the booking-office, when it toppled over onto the side. The carriage immediately following tore up on the platform, and finally rested right across it and over part of the line on the north side.

Shandon Station

There was a considerable number of passengers in the train, and great alarm was felt, but with one exception the passengers escaped with a shaking. One lady named Mrs Gillies, who is staying at Shandon Hydropathic, and had been to Fort William for the day, was rendered unconscious for a time and was injured about the forehead.

Immediately on the accident happening information was sent to Helensburgh, and Mr Purves, stationmaster, at once proceeded to the scene of the accident with assistance. Dr Sewell and Dr Reid were speedily on the spot and rendered help. Mrs Gillies was removed to the stationmaster’s house, which is close at hand, and after receiving medical help was able to be removed to the Hydropathic. So far as can be ascertained at present her injuries are not serious, beyond a severe shock. A train was sent up from Helensburgh about ten o’clock, and took off the passengers.

The breakdown squad from Cowlairs was telegraphed for, and proceeded to the spot without delay. The train consisted of two engines, three carriages, van, and two horse vans. The carriages that left the line are very much damaged, and looking at their position, it seems a marvel how any of the passengers escaped. The permanent way and a portion of the platform are somewhat damaged, and it will take some hours to clear the line.

A special train was made up and sent from Helensburgh about nine o’clock, and took the passengers and luggage on to Glasgow about an hour and a half late. This was the last train for the night, and as the rails were badly twisted, it will cause some delay in the morning.

No correct solution of the accident can be given, but it is thought that the points must have locked or shifted after the engines passed over on to the wrong line, entering the platform on the up line, with the carriages turned on to the down line, thus dividing the train, the engines going one way and the carriages another. The relief train arrived at Upper Helensburgh at 10pm, where some anxious relatives were waiting for their friends, and were much relieved when the train arrived and the passengers comfortably resting as if nothing had happened.


Part 2 will be published next week on a passenger’s narrative and part 3 will be published the next week again on the report to the Board of Trade.