A foreword: we've tried our best to gather some information on the history of Jameswood. We are not, however, historians, nor did we consult one in making this blog post. As I am not referencing texts, please just take this as an interpretation of the stories we've heard since moving to the area.
Jameswood itself does not have a tremendously interesting history. However, Sandbank, the village located alongside Dunoon, where the building is located, has a rich and prolific history. One which makes Jameswood and the rest of the community a special place to live and explore.
Where to begin?
The land around Jameswood has been inhabited and farmed since the early neolithic period, if not before. In the fields just behind Jameswood, about 50 metres from our backyard, there lies a fascinating set of rocks known as Adam's Grave. The rocks are the remains of a prehistoric chambered alter - a burial chamber which is believed to date from 3500 B.C.E! That's older than the Egyptian empire!
Cal loves this spot. It's so special to have such an old piece of history sitting (nearly) in our backyard.
Now lets skip to the 19th century....
This is where the story of Sandbank begins. A sheltered harbor tucked away upstream from Glasgow and on the other side of the Clyde, this was the perfect place for Lazaretto Point, a quarantine set up on the headland of Sandbank's Holy Loch. Ships were held here for an average of three weeks before they were permitted to enter the port of Glasgow. The unfortunate souls who suffered from diseases such as Leprosy were ferried across the Loch and left to be cared for by the ancient Kilmun church.
Later, Sandbank was also used as a dock for the Clachaig gunpowder factory and this is when much of the working village of Sandbank was originally built.
As industry quietened on Sandbanks shores, it gave rise to a Victorian holiday destination for those looking to escape the dirty industrial air of Glasgow.
Sandbank had also become the birthplace of two famous Yacht builders yards, one of which produced an Americas Cup winner (Robertsons yard.)
This is where the story of Jameswood begins.
In 1900, Jameswood Villa was built as three holiday flats. Interestingly, one of the flats was first owned by a Hunter. When we went through the deeds and found this, Cal decided that it was meant to be, and he became more determined than ever to restore this building!
In the 1930's, the building was split into four apartments, and the layout has remained this way since.
Jameswood had various owners and occupiers throughout its life, until the 1990's. This included George Matheson, who was evacuated from Dunkirk during World War II, and Bobby Hollywood, who was loved by his Celtics community, and who left us an eclectic and interesting array of books, topics of which included Citizens Rights in Scotland, Churchill, Buddhism and Yoga.
We don't know the exact date that the building became uninhabited. The numbers we're told by locals vary between 20-30 years.
During the Cold War, the United States army had used Sandbank's Holy Loch as a Naval Base. In 1991, the Americans withdrew their ships from the Holy Loch, and nearly halved the population of the village overnight.
At least one of the buildings owners is known to have gone back to America during this time, another resident of the building had passed away, and a third apartment owner was in his old age.
At this time, Jameswood was in need of some heavy maintenance, including a new roof. One of the last remaining residents of the building even moved a bath tub into the middle of the upstairs apartment to prevent water leaking down into their own.
Split ownership of the building made the feasibility of carrying out repairs difficult. Compacted by the mass exodus of American troops, the sudden decrease in housing demand meant Jameswood was left to fall into complete disrepair and eventually, all the residents of the building were forced to move out.
Since then, ownership of various flats in the building changed hands a number of times - bought and sold at auction by speculative buyers. Unfortunately, with none of the apartments ever being sold at one single time, it was too difficult for restoration work to go ahead, and the building was slowly destroyed by the elements.
But luckily, this isn't the end of Jamewood's story!
Perhaps by fate, but more likely by dumb luck, Jameswood was accidentally bought by us - a young couple with NO intention of buying a derelict Victorian Villa in the beautiful, historic town of Sandbank. But we are so glad we did.
Thank you again to everyone who has joined us on our journey, as we mark a new chapter in Jameswood's history, by attempting to restore this big, beautiful Victorian Villa.
Written by Claire Segeren, with historical information and narrative provided by Callum Hunter
What Have We Dunoon Blog by Claire Segeren is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at whathavewedunoon.weebly.com.