A recent trip to visit the National Records of Scotland in Edinburgh uncovered a collection of plans for Seafield House, including the original plan surveyed in April 1888. Although the architect is not given on the plan it will be the work of Clarke & Bell and R.A. Bryden who designed Seafield House for William Arrol.
The original house where Willliam Arrol took up the tenancy of Seafield is shown at the top of the plan. It is assumed that Arrol continued to live there whilst his grand mansion was being built. A later plan by R.A. Bryden & Robertson architects shows changes made on the estate . The original house had been removed, a ground floor servants’ hall added to the east wing of the new house, the stable block, cottages and gate lodge extended and more glasshouses and outbuildings added. Also, the original design for a rectangular conservatory was altered to incorporate a bow shaped entrance with a fountain, as can be seen in the 1890 photographs of the entrance and of the conservatory.
Another series of plans show the water, gas and electricity supply within the house and it is interesting to note that both gas and modern electric lighting were installed. The plans also show a salt-water pipe fed from the Firth of Clyde and it is thought that this would have supplied the salty baths which Sir William Arrol enjoyed for health benefits.
Together with the plans held by Ayrshire Archives, RCAHMS photographs and other records a very clear picture of the house can be drawn up. We now know so much about, its design, layout, style, comforts, how people lived in it and how it changed during the late 19th and 20th century. It will be interesting to see what changes the new development will bring in the 21st century.
For anyone wanting to see the plans copies will be on show at the FoSH AGM on the 23rd May.