KILMAHEW ESTATE : KILMAHEW HOUSE, off Carman Road, Cardross.
ACCESS : From the old (now palisaded, but breached) gateway on Carman Road, follow the old driveway until you reach the building. Note that it is completely enclosed by security palisading. it is inadvisable to enter as it is unsafe. The remains of the house are to the rear in what was a "U" shaped courtyard.
This old house was retained within the St Peter's Seminary complex, but has since been demolished.
This building exists today only as a ghostly outline, hardly acknowledged for what it once was. The today more impressive, and to many, more emotive modernist ruins of St Peter' Seminary that surround it tend to draw all the attention. That outline also seems somewhat insignificant within the larger building's courtyard, but it had itself been magnificent. About a decade ago the gatehouse on Carman Road was demolished after yet another breach of its security hoarding. The one on Barrs Road had already gone.
The two ornately carved sandstone features from gables now sit in a courtyard of a neighbouring farmstead having been rescued from the mansion when it was being demolished. A look at the Canmore records gives an idea of where they were originally and also the magnificence of the building. It also notes that it was designed by John Burnet in 1865-8 for John William Burns.
The word SPERO I means "I Hope" in Italian and is probably intended an abbreviation of the Latin proverb Dum Spiro Spero (While I Breathe, I Hope). However it appears that this and the whole crest had replaced an earlier one. (The loose horseshoes that sit above it now seem to reiterate that).
The Helensburgh Heritage Trust give information on the subsequent owner on their website. Shipowner Claud Allan of the family who founded of the Allan Steamship Line, rented it from Burns from 1908 and eventually bought it eleven years later.
Claud Allan died of pneumonia on August 4 1945 at the age of 74. Because of death duties the family decided to sell Kilmahew, which had been extensively damaged during the war when a land mine exploded nearby. It was Incorporated into Gillespie, Kidd & Coia's 1958-66 scheme for St Peter's College. It survived until demolished in 1995 after further fire damage.
The original house may have survived the modern seminary being built around it, but succumbed to later demolition and pilfering of building stone.
These two gable apexes were saved and are on a nearby farm.
HELENSBURGH HERITAGE TRUST : http://www.helensburgh-heritage.co.uk/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1084:prominent-villager-was-shipowner&catid=83:business&Itemid=460 Information on the second owner.
NATIONAL LIBRARY OF SCOTLAND : http://digital.nls.uk/histories-of-scottish-families/archive/95397267?mode=zoom Illustration of John William Burns.
Also see : ST PETERS SEMINARY, KILMAHEW ESTATE GROUNDS and KILMAHEW CASTLE.