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DUMBUCK HOUSE HOTEL : Glasgow Road, Dumbarton

Listed B.

ACCESS : Restricted.


Many people will remember this building with fondness as a smart and welcoming hotel, a venue for functions or simply a place to meet together. In recent years it has seen various challenges and has slowly deteriorated.

As of January 2023, a demolition application has been lodged. 

Dumbuck House was built for Colonel Andrew Geils. The Geils family were long associated with Cardross and still are, but had a presence on this side of Dumbaton too. You can find members of the family buried in Cardross Old Parish Church and at the Geils Memorial at Old Kilpatrick church cemetery.

Wiki tells us this about Andrew Geils : Colonel Andrew Geils (ca. 1773–⁠11 February 1843) was a military officer of British (Scottish) heritage, who served as Commandant (acting Governor) of Van Diemen's Land (subsequently Tasmania) between 1812 and 1813; prior to that time he served in Madras, India, and subsequently spent 2 years with his regiment in Ceylon. In around 1818, having failed in an aspiration to the Lieutenant-Governorship of Tasmania when the latter was due to became vacant in 1818, he returned to Scotland where in 1815 he had inherited one of his father's properties, Dumbuck Estate in West Dunbartonshire, and where he resided until his death in 1843. The Hobart suburb of Geilston Bay in Tasmania is named after his one time (1812–⁠1832) land holdings in the area.

The Dumbuck Estate, which lay just outside the Dumbarton Burgh boundary, was a modest property centred on the small country estate-house, with two small home farms, High Mains of Dumbuck and Low Mains of Dumbuck. By the beginning of the 20th century, Dumbuck House, the two farms and the estate as a whole were owned by Frances Clotilde Chigi Zondadari Geils, wife of Buonaventura Chigi Zondadari, of Palazzo Chigi, Siena and No. 183 Via Tritone, Rome. (Frances was a daughter of the local Geils family, who had been sent to Italy as a child during a family scandal, and had subsequently married the Marchese Chigi. This family and their properties are worth a look at online too. See links below).

Captain John Edward Geils was the son of Andrew Geils. He was baptised in Australia. He wasn’t popular among locals as he tried to close St Rowans Well (Strowan's Well) index.asp?pageid=730993 in the 1870s as part of a dispute over a Right of Way access. His daughter, the Marchesa Chigi (Marchioness Chigi) inherited from him.

Negotiations for the feuing of the Dumbuck Estate continued throughout 1903, and in September the heir to the Estate, Marchese Angelo Chigi, arrived in Dumbarton from Italy and publicly expressed his interest and confidence in 'the important possibilities in connection with both industrial and residential prospects in the town.' In 1904, 53 acres of the estate was feued on behalf of the Dumbuck Trustees by Sir Andrew Noble of Ardmore, acting under a Trust Disposition by Frances, the Marchesa Chigi. The local newspaper was quick to approve of the project, and in the absence of secure information, indulged in enthusiastic speculation about a vast new factory – perhaps producing rockets or some new source of power.

These references to what appears fanciful to us now, took a new new turn.

As David Harvie explains : Associated with this building were the three secretive Kosmoid companies – Kosmoid, Kosmoid Locks and Kosmoid Tubes – which were controlled by an even more secretive Metallurgical Syndicate. There were plans for a large Garden Village on Dumbuck Hill, and the diversion of water from Loch Sloy to power the gigantic new factory. In 1904, the headquarters of the Kosmoid companies was moved from one of central Glasgow’s most iconic buildings – the ‘Hatrack’ by Salmon Son & Gillespie at 142a-144 St. Vincent Street - to here in Dumbuck House. This arrangement lasted till 1908, when the offices were moved within the nearby factory.

The ultimate scandal revealed in 1906 that the cream of the ‘merchant princes’ of Scotland who financed the Kosmoid operation and the controlling Syndicate, had lost vast amounts of money when it was alleged that they had been covertly colluding with an individual with a long history of ‘alchemy’ in a scheme to produce copper from pig-iron and gold from lead!

We have two dates being quoted as the build date for Dumbuck House, 1798 or 1824 which is somewhat explained by Babcock and Wilcox having bought the building and and remodelling it in 1923, The land around it was cleared including an orchard and Dumbuck House was used for staff functions and partly as a hotel. Babcock and Wilcox left the building in 1936. It had been generally used for functions and as a hotel since then.

The listing description notes it as being an 18th early 19th century building of two storeys and with cream-washed harling; simple columned porch. It had a hipped slate roof with two bowed dormers. There were single storey flanking wings and various office wings to rear. The Canmore map shows stables there too.

The premises thrived for many years as a hotel and many people look back to it with nostalgia. In 2015 the Honeymoon Suite was named after ‘Nana’ Thompson. Agnes Thompson made wedding cakes and dresses during WW2 and wouldn’t accept any payment for it. This was during the time of rationing so wedding guests would contribute ingredients for the cakes and scraps of material for the dresses. She made more than 200 wedding cakes!

In recent years it suffered from some damage and economic challenges so was closed down and had a security fence erected around it.

BRITISH LISTED BUILDINGS with maphttps://britishlistedbuildings.co.uk/200347736-dumbuck-hotel-glasgow-road-dumbarton-old-kilpatrick

CANMORE : https://canmore.org.uk/site/197300/dumbarton-glasgow-road-dumbuck-hotel?display=image

HARVIE, DAVID: Written description.

HISTORIC ENVIRONMENT SCOTLAND - LISTED BUILDINGS : http://portal.historicenvironment.scot/designation/LB14403

WEST DUNBARTONSHIRE ARTS AND HERITAGE : https://www.facebook.com/WestDunbartonshireHeritage/posts/strolls-sagas-dumbuck-housedumbuck-house-was-built-for-colonel-andrew-geils-the-/1731569203704879/

WIKIPEDIA : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andrew_Geils


Andrew Geils - Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andrew_Geils

Palazzo Chigi-Saracini - Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palazzo_Chigi-Saracini

Buonaventura Chigi Zondadari Geils https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:Bonaventura_Chigi_Zondadarihttps://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:Bonaventura_Chigi_Zondadari 

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