The launch of the Trail

On Balfron Road, beyond the Toll House, are two cottages that have seen many uses over time. From at least 1911 to around 1935 Miss Kennedy used to live in the end cottage. She ran the Post Office in what is now the vets’ surgery. As well as being the village Post Office, it was also a grocery store. The old Post Office sign from that time is now displayed in the Village Hall. In 1935 the Post Office moved to the former Wheat Sheaf pub in Main Street.

In 1936, Dr Barclay arrived in the village, and soon moved into Miss Kennedy’s house. He converted the old Post Office into the first doctor’s surgery in the village. After war service, he returned to village and re-established the surgery. By 1951 both buildings were being used as the village surgery. In 1981, when the practice had three partners, the surgery moved across the road into the purpose-built Health Centre. At that point, the house at the end became a private house (Ash Cottage). The remainder of the surgery became a veterinary practice.

Continuing along Balfron Road, Number 28 was built in 1951 as the village Police Office for the resident village police officer. However, for many years it has been a private house and has been much extended. The nearest police office in now in Balfron.

The old Police Office on Balfron Road.

The Killearn Tennis Club was founded in 1921, initially using a court at High Lettre Farm. However, it has been on this site on Balfron Road since 1924. The Parish of Killearn book noted that in the early days, the club: ‘adjoined a cottage – the site now occupied by the police office – that was tenanted by two men. One was far from pleased at having a tennis club as a neighbour and would not allow players to recover balls which landed in his garden. His friend, however, was more co-operative and would collect the balls and return them for a price of a dram.’ The site for the Tennis Club was provided by the Wilson Family Trust. In 2018 ownership of the site was transferred to the Killearn Trust to safeguard the courts for the future.

Further along Balfron Road, the last house in the village is King’s Mile, built for Sir George Wilson in 1955. Sir George Wilson was a founding Trustee of the Killearn Trust. He was the county councillor for Killearn from 1930 until 1975 (his father, Sir David Wilson had served from 1889 to 1930, see Carbeth). Both Sir David and Sir George were knighted for their work on agricultural improvements in Scotland.

But why the name of this house (and of King’s View, the house behind it built in 1936, also for Sir George Wilson)? Let the 1902 Buchanan Guide to Strathendrick tell the story:

‘From the milestone a little beyond Townhead [now known as Heron’s Court], the finest prospect in Strathendrick is unfolded. “A rest for the weary” has been considerately placed here by Mr. Robert Buchanan, a worthy son of Killearn, not only for garrulous age and whispering lovers, but for weary pedestrians of every sort and condition. Seated here facing the west, one may look upon everything which can be desired in the ideal landscape . . . His Majesty King Edward VII, then Prince of Wales, while visiting the district in September, 1899, was so enamoured of the grandeur of the scene that he desired to be driven over this part of the road twice. The view from this point is now known as the Prince’s View.’

It was quickly upgraded when the Prince became King on the death of his mother, Queen Victoria, in 1901. He was a regular visitor to Duntreath Castle when Sir Archibald Edmonstone’s sister, Alice, was also visiting. Brought up at Duntreath, Alice married George Keppel in 1891. As Mrs Keppel, she met the Prince of Wales in 1898 and from then until Edward VII’s death in 1910, she became his mistress and confidente. He did not travel lightly. For one trip to Duntreath for a week’s grouse shooting,

‘he took forty suits and uniforms, twenty pairs of boots and shoes, a valet, a sergeant footman, a brusher, two equerries and with their valets, two telephonists, two chauffeurs, two loaders for his guns, and an Arab boy to make coffee as he liked it’ (according to Diana Souhami in her book Mrs Keppel and her Daughter, an account of the complex lives of Mrs Keppel and her elder daughter, Violet Trefusis).