FoSH exhibition launched with Clydesdale banknote presentation to Arrol family

Friends of Seafield House are staging an exhibition, “Sir William Arrol (1839-1913): A Renfrewshire Connection” in the Heritage Centre at Paisley Central Library for the month of July.

The exhibition was opened on Friday 26th June with the presentation of a commemorative version of Clydesdale Bank’s new £5 polymer banknote, featuring Sir William Arrol and the Forth Bridge. Jamie Martin, Head of Payments at Clydesdale Bank handed over the polymer £5 with a serial number representing Sir William’s birth date, to Ellen Arrol, the oldest family member and a great niece of Sir William. Other family members were delighted to receive a note in a collector’s case.

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Jamie Martin presenting the banknote to Arrol family.
Picture by

Christian Cooksey/CookseyPix.com on behalf of the Clydesdale Bank and the Big Partnership.

Ellen Arrol, whose grandfather James, William’s brother, was also an engineer and director of Sir William Arrol and Co, said:

“We’re very proud of our family and their role in building the Forth Bridge. Sir William and my grandfather James weren’t just great engineers; they also helped to shape modern Scotland,connecting the country and creating jobs.”

Like the introduction of the new £5 polymer note, the exhibition aims to celebrate the nomination of the Forth Bridge for UNESCO World Heritage status. It has been arranged to coincide with the meeting of the World Heritage Committee in Bonn on the 28th June to 8 July when the winning bids will be announced. Fingers crossed that the Forth Bridge will be on that list!

Exhibition Banner at entrance to Paisley Central LibraryThe exhibition is also a celebration of Sir William’s strong connections with Renfrewshire. He was born in the village of Houston and grew up in Paisley, where the seed of his engineering prowess developed in his early career. He was also one of the founding directors of the Mo-Car Company which was the first manufacturer of UK automobiles and produced Arrol-Johnston cars in Paisley for many years. When he died Sir William’s body was carried from his home at Seafield House in Ayr to Woodside Cemetery in Paisley, where he was buried.

Visitors to the exhibition will be able to find out more about Sir William Arrol’s life and the Forth Bridge from the display boards, library artefacts, iPads with links to relevant websites and there will also be screenings of the film “A River is Spanned” by Harry Birrell, courtesy of the Scottish Screen Archive.

The exhibition runs until the 24th July.  See the Heritage Centre webpage for opening times and contact details.

A huge thanks go to the staff of Renfrewshire Libraries for providing the venue and their fantastic help with the exhibition.

Impressive footage of Seafield House from the air

The Seafield House story featured on Reporting Scotland on 6th May has certainly sparked a lot of interest in this beautiful  building. One unexpected area of interest, is that from the aerial photography sector. Photographers have been using drones to capture images of the building from the air and sharing them on You Tube.

These incredible videos give us a bird’s eye view of the state of dereliction of the building.  The roof is mostly gone and there is a lot of vegetation that has taken over.  However, they also give us a greater insight into the solid construction of the building, with the structural walls relatively intact and the steelwork supports, as influenced by Arrol himself, are clearly evident.  It also gives the opportunity to get a closer view of the quality of the architectural features at the upper levels. As the camera angles sweep across the tower towards the Ayrshire coast and the sea we get a real insight into how Sir William Arrol would have enjoyed these views from his home over 100 years ago.

Photograph showing birds-eye-view of Seafield House

Image captured from That Image Rokz’s aerial video, Exploring Seafield House in Ayr

We are very grateful to the film makers for permission to use the films on our website and have added them to our Gallery page.

Exploring Seafield House in Ayr, by kind permission of Stuart Little, That Image Rokz Photography.

Seafield House 18 may 2015, by kind permission of Eddie Allison, Advanced Aerial Media.

By kind permission of

Update on Seafield House from econstruct

Sadly Robin Ghosh, of econstruct design & build website, was unable to attend the FoSH AGM on 19 May, due to family illness.  Instead he gave an update to Lianne Hackett, FoSH Secretary, to be read out at the AGM.

We are making progress on Seafield House, but the pace is a little slower than planned.
We are working up our planning application. The phase 1 habitat survey is now complete.
This has shown that there are no protected species other than bats. We will commission a
specialist bat survey in due course.
The tree survey is underway. The full survey will be complete in the next two weeks.
This work is in preparation for the constraints plan for the site. Again, this is underway.
We have completed minor remedial works on site. Lower level gutters are now clean. We
have given the green light to a specialist company that will clear the upper gutters.
We have installed new security lighting and have two further light standards to go in. This will
be done shortly.
We appreciate that more substantial work is needed. This is a big commitment for us, as a
small company. We are looking into a joint-funding approach to reinstate the roof. We want
to do this soonest as reinstating the roof is key to getting the building wind and watertight.
This work is at an early stage.
We hope to hold a community BBQ over the coming months to meet local residents and
communicate more of our plans.

Robin Ghosh, as dictated to Lianne Hackett, FoSH Secretary on 19 May 2015

We look forward to hearing further news of Robin’s progress.