History Of The House

The house was built in 1884 for Adam Birkmyre and later converted to a boarding school for girls
The name Birkmyre originated in Flanders where they were in the weaving business.
The families connection to Port Glasgow was through Adam's Grandfather who was in 1818 made a partner in The Gourock Rope Works in Port Glasgow.

There was originally no wall around the building. The wall (which is still there today) from Castle Road round to Knockbuckle Road was added by local tradesmen using local stone from Whitlea Road. This was another almost parental act of the Birkmyre's looking after local people as it gave employment to local men during the slump which followed the 1918 war.

Mr Birkmyre was somewhat an interesting character, not only did he enjoy his baths as you will find out but he was never late for work. He had a rotating deck chair in the garden so that it could be turned through the day and always stay facing the sun.
He had no need for a garage at Shalott but traveled each day to the Gourock Rope Works in Port Glasgow by cab.
He was a very punctual man and each morning he would lite a cigar and at 8am precisely would leave in the cab via the red drive gate. The cigar would be finished just as he arrived at the mill building.

Adam Birkmyre and Shallott

This photograph is dated 1931

This one was taken in July 2001

One of the baths is still in it original place but the rooms have been changed on this level and the other is now a small kitchen.

The Tapestry room (shown below) was only an entrance hallway when the house was a family home. It was grandly decorated as this was the first room that visitors were received into.

When the building became a school the tapestries were actually taken away by the family but later returned.

You would have entered the double doors then through an arch way and into the room itself.

The tapestries are actually Flemish and were made in the 18th century. There is no special history linked to them actually they are not even considered to be worth a great deal in value, but as part of the houses heritage they are priceless. They were last cleaned in 1966.

There is a stone on the side of the building that has the words "Hope For The Coming Dawn" This was a family emblem and was incorporated into an early school logo.

I do not have many details about the basement of the house or which rooms would have been on this level when the building was a private house.
I know that the Birkmyres had a Flower Room and the building would have had a coal store and I think these might have been on this level.

In the section that was referred to as the Dungeons in 1966 was to housed the furnace. There was also a coal chute into this room from the outside of the building which allowed some more adventurous students a way of entering the building, as they were connected by a corridor to the entrance hall.
Walls have been added and door removed and they are no longer connected in this way.

If the house staff were working away down in the depths of the house they could be contacted by a bell system of the type that was installed in many houses of this kind.

The last Birkmyre's to occupy the building lived in the house between 1913-1928. This was Adam Birkmyre's Niece and her daughter.

The last mill that the Birkmyre's owned was in New Lanark. This was closed in 1968.

There is a stone on the side of the building that has the words "Hope For The Coming Dawn" This was a family emblem and was incorporated into an early school logo.

Among the outstanding citizens of the village at the time I speak of was Mr. Adam Birkmyre
of Shallot. He it was who presented the Park and the Reading Room to the village. He owned
a Hansom Cab that was unique, the passenger facing; the back instead of the front. In the
grounds of Shallot garden he had a kind of sedan chair that was totally enclosed save for a
small opening for seeing out. The chair revolved on a pivot and one of the gardeners had the
job of keeping, the opening turned to the sun or away from the wind while Mr. Birkmyre was
seated inside. Mr. Birkmyre used to spend holidays in Switzerland, and, on his return to
Kilmacolm, always received a great welcome. At the Railway Station the horses would be taken out of the carriage, and the men of the village would attach ropes to it and haul Mr. Birkmyre out to Shallot, followed by all the children yelling their heads off. Some days Mr. Birkmyre would come up to the village just as the school was coming out. The children  knew his pockets were filled with sweets, and a great deal of cap lifting went on to accelerate the process of handing/them out. The Pied Piper of Hamelin had nothing on Mr. Birkmyre when it came to the matter of dress. A kind of deer stalker cap, a Highland cape on, no matter the weather, an open umbrella held aloft. He looked like a mixture of Sherlock Holmes and R. L. Stevenson.
A description of Mr Birkmyre noted below taken from A talk given by Brown McMinn Esq. in old St. Columba Hall on the evening of Tuesday, 9th February, 1953.Full text can be found here:

This page last modified on Sunday, February 13, 2011

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