The launch of the Trail

Hillview Cottage, 1 Main Street. This cottage dates from around the end of the 18th century. It was once part of the Killearn estate, and one of its former residents was the village mole catcher. To the rear of the house there used to be another cottage, at right-angles to the current building.

Bruce Cottage. The deeds for this building date from 1764. It is likely that at least part of the current structure dates from that time. At one point it was divided into two houses.

Calibae House. As the village grew, particularly with Glasgow residents moving out to the village for the summer, larger houses were built in the late 19th century. Calibae is one fine example. In the 1990s, two flats and four houses were added to the building. The house is named after a burn on the Campsies. Holly Cottage was built in the 1990s in the front garden of Calibae.

Lime Tree Cottage. Named after a large lime tree that grew next to it until it was blown down in a gale in the late 1990s. Now divided into two houses, the original building dates back to the late 18th century. There were further buildings at the back. The remains of the front of another house can be seen if you walk down the Square, where the wall contains the filled-in shadows of a door and windows.

11 Main Street. This building is currently a hairdresser, and it has had a long history as a commercial property. For many years Miss McGilchrist, ran a jenny a’ things, a shop selling all kinds of small articles and goods in small quantities. By 1944 it was the village Post Office, then combined with a grocery store. The Post Office and grocery store then moved to a new building opposite Well Green in the 1970s. Since then, it has also been a seafood business and a pharmacy.

12 Main Street. This building used to be the village smithy. The entrance to the smithy was where the front door to the house now is. The smithy door doubled up as a village noticeboard. Three generations of the McGregor family worked here as blacksmiths. As demands for smithy work declined in the 1930s, two petrol pumps were added. These pumps can be seen in photographs of the period. The arch joining the old smithy to the house at a right angle to Main Street was only added in 1979–80.

Black and white photo of 'Village Smithy" and petrol station in Killearn
Village Smithy and McGregor’s Petrol Station, Main Street, Killearn

14–24 Main Street. The houses from 14 to 24 form a row of single storey cottages, some with dormer windows, that are built straight up from the pavement with no garden area in front of them. The position of the houses, if not always the current buildings, reflects the building pattern of the 1760s layout of Main Street. Number 16 has a reused window lintel celebrating a wedding in 1764. The gap between number 16 and Broom Cottage is far too narrow for anyone to squeeze through. How it came about is unknown.

13–21 Main Street. See here for more information about these buildings.

23 Main Street. The site of this house dates back to 1763. Part of this much modified house is likely to date back to that time. The ivy-clad wall to the north of the house was once the outside wall of another building.

26–32 Main Street. The house at 26 Main Street was built in 1873, again recorded by the date on the building. From then until 1990s remained in the same family. 28 Main Street, Endrick Cottage, is another late-19th century building in a somewhat grander style than its neighbours. Unlike most houses on this section of Main Street, is set back from the pavement, suggesting that its original occupants no longer needed to use all the land of the plot for cultivation and had other sources of income. Number 32 was built in 1865, according to the date stone on the building. Number 30 was built at some point after this.

28 Main Street

Achadhu, 25–27 Main Street. The plot on which the red sandstone stable building (25) and the blonde sandstone house (27) sit was occupied by William McIndoe of Westerton of Lettre from Martinmas (11 November) 1764. He had built a house and planted a ‘quick-set hedge’ for enclosing the property. Part of that original building may be buried within the existing house, whose basic structure probably dates from around 1780–1820. The windows at the back of the house still contain small panes of glass that were typical of that time.

Later in the 19th century it was owned by Alexander Buchanan, who ran a wholesale confectionery business in Glasgow with his brother. In the late 1870s, he modernized the house, adding dormer windows at the front, an elegant staircase at the back, and fine woodwork made just up the road by the Simpsons in their workshop. ‘Sweetie’ Buchanan, as he was known, was also a village benefactor. He paid £800 for a safe water supply to the village in 1881. This consisted of fourteen taps in the village supplied by a covered reservoir on Lettre Hill that was fed by the Barlachie burn. His gravestone, in the Old Kirk graveyard, is a miniature Buchanan monument.

Early in the 20th century, the house was bought by a Glasgow lawyer, Robert Bremner, as a country retreat. He wrote a number of books on the Norse influence on Scotland and on religion. He was also a social campaigner, writing The Case Against Juvenile Street-Trading for the Glasgow Council for Women’s Trades. After his death in 1918 his wife and younger daughter, Ailsa, settled permanently in Killearn. Ailsa, an accomplished pianist and piano teacher, lived in the house until 1980.

In 1923 Rona, her elder sister, married Dr Osborne Mavor, better known as James Bridie, playwright and co-founder of the Citizens’ Theatre. Rona’s two children frequently stayed at the house (their heights are recorded on the back of a cupboard door). In a memoir of his father, Ronald Mavor fondly remembered Achadhu ‘in the bein village of Killearn’ as home to him and his brother in their childhood, ‘a house with a large garden, with hens and dogs and cats’. ‘Killearn did not get the electric light until I was old enough to remember, as the happiest symbol of my childhood, Mrs Bremner going around the house in the dusk, the fires flickering in the grates, collecting the tall lamps, cleaning their funnels and charging the bowls with methylated spirits, whistling tunelessly under her breath, and then carrying the new, bright glowing flames about the house.’

Black and white photo go the Mainstream view in Killearn with houses to both sides
Main Street, Killearn. Achadhu is on the right. Note the street light by the stable building.

29 Main Street. This plot remained undeveloped until the 1930s. It was then that a bungalow was built by the Campbell family who ran the shop at 15 Main Street. After the Second World War it was lived in by John and Cathy Russell. John worked with wrought iron in his forge at the back of the garden. Many pieces of wrought iron in the village were made there, including the gates to number 29.

Black and white photo of tidy garden of Mr. Russel in Killearn
The garden of 29 Main Street, Killearn