FoSH New Membership Year 2014-2015

Letter from the Chair of Friends of Seafield House calling for membership renewals and new members:

Our new membership year follows an October commencement pattern in line with the establishment of Friends of Seafield House (FoSH) on 15 October 2012. It is time for membership renewals or for those who would like to become FoSH members to become a Friend of Seafield House. Those who became Founding Members do not have to renew, but we would be delighted if you might pass on the form to a friend or colleague who you think is interested in supporting our campaign. Corporate memberships are also welcome. Details are to be found in the Membership section of our website.

Last week, after many months of monitoring the sale negotiations and with considerable support from many individuals and organisations, we heard the good news of the sale of Seafield House. We announced this in tandem with Marcus Binney and colleagues at SAVE Britain’s Heritage who have been with us from day one. The purchaser is econstruct design and build, a sympathetic Ayr-based developer, one of whose Directors, Robin Ghosh, has a personal connection to the building in its time as Seafield Hospital where his father was a consultant.

FoSH will continue to monitor the building and – in tandem with SAVE and others – to support econstruct where and when requested. We will continue to update the local Seafield community by leaflet and personal contact and maintain our website, Facebook page and Twitter feed over the time that it takes for planning permission and consents for the restoration of Seafield House as residential apartments and the building of the small number of houses in the grounds as the enabling development.

In addition, we are writing a history of Seafield House and have commissioned articles on the campaign to submit. With SAVE, we will produce a manual to share the story of our campaign to SAVE Seafield House. We are also planning an exhibition  in March 2015 on Sir William Arrol and the Forth Bridge to mark the 125th Anniversary of the opening of the Forth Bridge. Sir William travelled from Seafield to the bridge during construction and held the last rivet in place in the opening ceremony! We aim to tour this exhibition in 2015, which also sees the announcement in June of the Government bid to UNESCO for World Heritage status for the Forth Bridge.

We would welcome your support in this new and hopeful year for Seafield House. Please become a Friend or renew your membership by completing the form in the Membership section of our website.

Best wishes
Rob Close
Friends of Seafield House


Motion in Scottish Parliament to congratulate Friends of Seafield House

On hearing the news that Seafield House was saved, last week Chic Brodie MSP lodged a motion in the Scottish Parliament to congratulate Friends of Seafield House. The motion was published today in the Motions and Amendments on The Scottish Parliament website.

*S4M-11191 Chic Brodie: Seafield House in Ayr—That the Parliament congratulates the Friends of Seafield House in Ayr on what it understands has been their long battle to save Seafield House, which once owned by Sir William Arrol, considered one of Scotland’s greatest design and civil engineers, and believes that securing the future of the house, which it sees as an outstanding architectural and historical development, is a tribute to all of those involved in this hard fought campaign to save it for Ayr and Scotland.

As of the 28 October, the Motion is now supported by: Angus MacDonald, Kenneth Gibson, Graeme Pearson, Stuart McMillan, Graeme Dey, Rob Gibson, Bill Kidd, Joan McAlpine, Richard Lyle, Mike MacKenzie, Dennis Robertson, Adam Ingram, Anne McTaggart, David Torrance, Kevin Stewart, Gordon MacDonald, Annabelle Ewing, Christian Allard, Gil Paterson, John Scott

Our thanks go to Chic Brodie for this acknowledgement on the success of the campaign.

Seafield House in collection of finest British interiors

Images of the Library and Billiard Room of Seafield House have recently been identified in a collection of cyanotypes of British House interiors of the 1880s-1890s. Cyanotypes are an early form of photographic print, so named because of the cyan-blue image that the printing process produces. The collection was acquired by Bernard Quaritch Ltd, antiquarian booksellers, and is included in their Autumn Listing of rare books and manuscripts for sale.  The set was subsequently acquired by the Yale Center for British Art, a museum and study collection at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, where it will be digitized and soon made accessible via their web site.

Cyanotype 67 - Seafield House Library

Cyanotype 67 – Seafield House Library

The cyanotype collection  is of 86 photographs of architectural and decorative interiors in a catalogue entitled “Intérieurs Anglais”.  It is thought that the catalogue was compiled for the French market as a showcase of the finest interior designs in fashionable British homes of the time. The two Seafield House pictures are by Bedford Lemere & Co. and  similar to those held in the  RCAHMS Seafield House Collection.  Joanna Skeels, of Quaritch, who was cataloging the collection, had been in touch with Friends of Seafield House (FoSH) to find out more about the house. FoSH committee members have a wealth of knowledge about Seafield House and Sir William Arrol. From research material on Arrol’s art collection, we were able to provide information to help identify a the painting hanging on the wall in one of the photographs, as well as providing general background information on the house and it’s history.

Joanna Skeels said    “It is significant that Seafield is positioned in the context of other great houses.  It is exciting to think it was being showcased abroad as some of the finest British interiors.”

Friends of Seafield House were delighted to hear of Seafield House’s importance, being recognised, at the time, as one of the finest decorative interiors of the late nineteenth century.

Our thanks go to Quaritch for acknowledging Friends of Seafield House in the details for the Collection and we are pleased that they will remain in the public domain with the Yale Center for British Art.


Friends of Seafield House (FoSH) welcomes the sale of Seafield House and grounds to econstruct design and build, an Ayr-based developer founded by Robin Ghosh. Seafield House is SAVED! The sale was concluded yesterday, Friday 10 October 2014.  Econstruct plan to restore Seafield House as residential apartments and build a small number of new-build houses in the grounds.

We extend our warmest thanks to all those who supported our campaign to SAVE Sir William Arrol’s former home in Ayr. We thank those who became Friends, attended public meetings, visited our exhibitions & posted messages of support on our website/Facebook page & Twitter feed. We thank in particular Marcus Binney, President of SAVE Britain’s Heritage, and his colleagues, who have been the head, heart and soul of our campaign from day one.

A new chapter is opening for Seafield House. We wish Robin Ghosh and his colleagues all success and will support them as they follow through the planning and consents process.

Again, we extend our warmest thanks to all those who supported our campaign to SAVE Seafield House, Sir William Arrol’s former home in Ayr.