Springbank House - Sunnybank

Springbank house had a long and interesting history. Situated on the land to the east of Port Glasgow and coming under the boundary for Kilmacolm in the early years it had various owners over the years.
The first owner that we know about was Captain John King. He had a son Murdoch Kelburne King who was born c1823 - John's wife is noted as dying at Springbank 1832. Kelburne King in 1850 married Mary Burrell, daughter of the Provost Archibald Murdoch Burrell who was provost of Port Glasgow in 1848 and again in 1857. King sold to Archibald Falconer who had also been provost of the town in 1833. In 1841 he is noted on census returns as Merchant and Ship owner living in Springbank Kilmacolm with his wife Mary (Ewing) and daughters Esther, Mary and Ann and a staff of three including two domestic staff and a teacher Georgina Morrison.

By 1851 the house had changed ownership once again and was to be the home of Henry Birkmyre and his large family of 12 children for at least the next 40 years. The house would have been very busy with two weddings that we know of and lots of children - even in the 1881 census his youngest child Archibald was only 5 and his granddaughter Margaret Lithgow is also noted aged 1. Henry Birkmyre died at Springbank on 4th May 1900 aged 67.

The family connection with the property was to continue when in 1929 - 30 the building was bought by Sir James and Lady Lithgow who altered it to be used as a convalescent home for children. Sir James was the grandson of Henry Birkmyre. The home was to be administered by the trustees of the Broadstone Jubilee Hospital and one of the treatments on offer was that of “sun-ray” treatment. This involved stripping down to your underwear and putting on a pair of dark rubber goggles to protect your eyes while sitting around a “sun lamp”.

It passed in 1947 into the care of the Church of Scotland and it was continued to be used as a children's hospital until 1952 when it was extensively damaged by fire and could no longer be used for this purpose. In 1953 with the help of a provision in the will of Miss Jessie Birkmyre a daughter of Henry it was dedicated as the first community centre in Port Glasgow - at this point the name was changed to Sunnybank.

A description of the building after alterations:

“Upstairs there is an attractive hall and sewing room, a bright sun-room and committee rooms. On the ground floor there is a canteen, club room, cloakroom and an office. The billiards room in the basement has been adapted to become a games room: the laundry has been made into a wood work room and the attic which has been re-floored provides a boys den and a room for storage

The centre was to be used by young and old from the town and although it was run in conjunction with Clune Park Youth Club it was open to everyone. Run by Rev WM Cameron and his assistant Rev Duncan White and was formally opened on 24th October 1953.

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This page last modified on Tuesday, June 21, 2011