Who do you think you are Glenfinart?

Continuing on from our previous article on Glenfinart House when it was used as a holiday centre between the 1930’s and early 60’s. Elizabeth Brooking, granddaughter of  the late Henry C. White, owner of Friendship Holidays Association, has provided us with  more images and information from her archive. In addition to Glenfinart House, Henry C. White owned a chain of holiday centres throughout the UK as well as offering holidays in France, Switzerland and Italy.

The house finally closed as a holiday centre in 1961, on the death of Henry C.White and the majority of the building was destroyed by fire in 1968. All that remains today is the main turret.

Through the previous posts on Glenfinart House at Ardentinny.org, Elizabeth (whose parents met at Glenfinart House) has also found a long-lost relative who shares the same great grandfather as her. This has resulted in dozens of unknown relatives being traced. She’s looking forward to meeting at least some of them in the future!

With the help of Ardentinny.org Elizabeth has also been in contact with others researching the history of the Friendship Holidays Association and the hope is that the FHA material which has been collected will be archived for future generations, to provide a history on the organisation and the people involved.

As a footnote In 1966, Elizabeth Brooking’s mother wrote a story for a competition based on the Ardentinny fire. It can be read here.

Photographs courtesy Elizabeth Brooking. 


Advertisement from 1934.


1930’s: ‘Promotional’ letter on the opening of Glenfinart House.


Glenfinart House probably in the 1950’s.



1932 holiday brochure.


Article on the man behind Friendship Holidays Association, Henry C. White.


1961: Probably the last group of guests at Glenfinart House, as the centre closed that year following the death of H.C.White.


1968: Article from Dunoon newspaper on the Glenfinart House fire.


Cuil Burn as referred to in the comment below.


Misty Moments in Ardentinny

The concert, entitled ‘Misty Moments’, held in Ardentinny church on Saturday 28 September, produced a misty eye or two, such was the quality of the music produced by the 8+1 group of singers under the direction of and accompaniment by John McIntosh. Their repertoire ranged from the jazz standard ‘Misty’ by Erroll Garner through a medley of ‘Gershwin for Girls; ‘Georgia on my Mind’ by Hoagy Carmichael & Stuart Gorrell; Cole Porter’s ‘Every time we say goodbye’ to Bob Dylan’s ‘Make you feel my love; Sting’s ‘Fields of Gold’; and an old Irish Folk song ‘The Parting Glass’.

The group’s vocal range and wonderful harmonies particularly excelled in pieces from ‘the deep south’ but such is the flexibility of their talent that they produced equally moving renditions of ‘J’attendrai’,  originally composed in Italian by Dino Olivieri and John Rutter’s ‘The Lord bless you and keep you’.

While a delightful afternoon of song was enjoyed by a most enthusiastic audience, this was not the sole aim. The concert was held in aid of the Princess Royal’s Maternity Baby Fund to which those who attended donated generously. If you were unable to attend but would like to know about and/or donate to this worthwhile cause you can do so by contacting Susan Provan, Neonatal Coordinator, Neonatal Department, 16 Alexandra Parade, Glasgow, G31 2ER. Susan.provan2@ggc.sco.nhs.uk. Phone 0141 211 5247. Cheques made payable to ‘PRM baby fund’ may be posted to the above address.


Euphemia McKellar of Glencairn Cottage

Euphemia McKellar at Glencairn Cottage c1896 and the cottage doorway today

We are grateful to Moya Dewar, a descendant of 19th century Ardentinny residents, who has provided us with the following fascinating research on her ancestors who lived at Glencairn Cottage and Glefinart in the late 19th century.

When Euphemia McKellar died in March 1898, the local paper wrote, under the heading of ‘Death of old Glefinart inhabitants,’ that she was ‘much respected in the district.’  The other death was that of her neighbour, William MacFarlane.  So, who was Euphemia McKellar?

She had been born c1824 in Greenock to John McKellar and Eupham Whyte: John McKellar was a ship’s carpenter whose origins are uncertain, but Eupham Whyte had been born at Inverchaolain and had then lived at Rashfield from the age of about 10.  Orphaned by the age of 15, Euphemia McKellar appears to have stayed on in Greenock for a year or two, after which she might have joined her two younger siblings who were being brought up by their maternal grandparents, Donald Whyte and Mary Campbell at Rashfield.

Meanwhile, Joseph Cairns (born in Glasgow) had married Margaret Thomson (or MacGlashan)* and was living in Ardentinny, initially working as a shoemaker and then on the Glenfinart estate as a saw miller. By 1841 they had four young children, but Joseph was widowed sometime after the birth of their fifth child in 1843. A widower with five young children clearly needed help in the home  – did he engage Euphemia McKellar as his housekeeper? He married her in 1846, they went on to have another 12 children and, remarkably, all 17 children survived childhood, although one died aged only 19 of peritonitis, and several others predeceased Euphemia.

Inevitably, most of the children moved away from the area, mostly to Glasgow (although one enterprising son emigrated to New Zealand in the 1860s, went gold prospecting and bought a farm there with the proceeds!).  After putting an appeal in an NZ newspaper a couple of years ago, we are delighted to be back in touch with one of his great granddaughters.  That it was a close-knit family is evidenced by two anecdotes: even the children from Joseph’s first marriage took their own children to visit Euphemia (Joseph had died in 1882), and the eldest of the 17, Margaret, was at the side of the second youngest, Catherine, when the 19-year-old died in Glasgow in 1885.  Also one of Margaret’s daughters sailed to New Zealand in 1909 and married a cousin there.

The photograph of Euphemia (above) was probably taken a year or two before her death, and she was sitting outside Octagon Cottage (so named because of its half-octagon roof), now Glencairn.

Glencairn Cottage

On a visit to Ardentinny in 2006, we brought an enlargement of the photo and were excited to see this confirmed – apart from the fact that it was the only property we could find with such narrow door jambs, all these years later the nicks in those door jambs match up exactly with the ones in the photo!

Two Cairns families were still living in Ardentinny/Stronvochlan in 1901 and Octagon Cottage was at that time the home of Euphemia’s daughter-in-law Joan and her five children – Joan’s husband, Alexander, had died ten months before his mother.

By 1911, however, only John (aka Jake) and his family were left, living at Glenfinart. A tragedy sadly occurred in this family in 1913 when John’s 16 year old son, Joseph, died: it seems he had fallen into the River Finart after suffering an epileptic fit. John, widowed just three years later, remained in the area until after his youngest daughter, Jenny, married in 1935.  The late Alistair Maclean of Ardentinny remembered  that his own sister was bridesmaid at Jenny’s wedding . He recalled Jake as a small quiet man who had been the beadle at the local church.  At the time of his death in 1944, Jake was living in Carluke in south Lanarkshire. 

Several gravestones linked to Euphemia’s family can be seen in the kirkyard at Kilmun, including this quite imposing one for the Cairns family. Another gives details of Euphemia’s parents and siblings, yet another those of her Whyte grandparents.

The gravestones of some of the Cairns family and Euphenia’s grandparents at Kilmun Church

*Margaret Thomson (or McGlashan) was a daughter of  Dugald Thomson (or McGlashan) and  Margaret Bannatyne. If anyone can explain why both Dugald and Margaret appear to have had two surnames, we would be pleased to hear from them.

Cairns family descent and Census data (PDF)

Submitted by Moya Dewar, descendant of Christina, a daughter from Joseph’s first marriage, and Marion Lewis, of family descended from Joseph and Euphemia’s son Daniel. 


Ardentinny’s Racing Star

Click image to enlarge

In the latest of our strolls down memory lane, we’re reproducing a clipping from the Dunoon Observer of June 27, 1981. The article features long time Ardentinny resident Stan Share during his successful motor racing days.

If you have an Ardentinny memory you would like to share, please get in touch.


Meanwhile in Ardentinny 1985…

Click image to download PDF

It was the year when the first mobile phone call was made in Britain, the short-lived Sinclair C5 was launched and the miners called off their year-long strike… Meanwhile in Ardentinny, the expansion of Coulport and anticipated employment opportunities featured in the community newsletter as well as the re-painting of the village hall; the bugging of a local home; a 15lb sea trout caught in the River Finart; and the village was close to the epicentre of an earth tremor! Read on..


Cosy Den Youth Club presents…

Click image to enlarge

The pantomime programme from a production of Cinderella presented by the ‘Cosy Den Youth Club’ almost 50 years ago in the village hall. Were you there and whose names do you recognise? Thanks to Anna Williamson for these memories!


20 years on. Are we still feeling the pain?

2012 is the 20th anniversary of the construction of the concrete jetty at Coulport and its associated infrastructure. According to this article in the Herald newspaper in September 1992 villagers’ views on the development were decidedly mixed. Have attitudes changed in 2012?


Glenfinart House 1950’s

This postcard kindly provided by Jan Fullman shows Glenfinart House when it was used by the Family Holiday Association in the 1950’s. If you have a vintage photograph of Ardentinny which you would like to share with our visitors. Please get in touch.


Friendship Holidays Association – Glenfinart House 1956

Glenfinart House 1956 - Extract from "Friendship Holidays Association" summer brochure (click image to enlarge).

A fascinating glimpse of Glenfinart House, Ardentinny some 57 years ago with this extract from the “Friendship Holidays Association” 1956 summer brochure.  A forerunner to the package holidays of the 60’s, at just £7 per week (roughly £136 at today’s prices) guests could enjoy full board (shared) accommodation  beginning with high tea on the Saturday evening to breakfast a week later. Single rooms could be arranged for an extra 1/6 per night (seven and a half pence in “new money”) and it would appear that alcohol or rather “intoxicants” as is stated in the brochure, were frowned upon as none were permitted in the guest rooms or on excursions!

The village and the surrounding area appeared to offer an amazing range of leisure activities including coach trips; walking; steamer excursions; bathing; dancing; table-tennis; boating and croquet! Optional excursions were available for an extra 45/- (£2.25) per week.

The brochure was kindly provided to us by Tony Harrison whose late mother’s uncle was the founder of the Friendship Holiday Association.

Do you have any memories of Glenfinart House or the Friendship Association? If so please let us know or use the comment box below.

You can view the complete Friendship Holiday brochure here (PDF 2.8mb).


Recollections of the 50’s…

Primrose Tearoom 1950's

Along with my husband, I visited Ardentinny in September 2011 with the purpose of walking down Memory Lane to the late 1950’s when I had spent many of my childhood holidays there.

It was certainly lovely to see the village looking so orderly and prosperous with such an apparently active and friendly community. The natural beauty remains as wonderful as my recall. Having looked at the notice board, we met briefly with Sandra Davidson in order to buy some 2012 calendars. She was one of several people from whom we learned a bit about life in Ardentinny today but the purpose of this e-mail is to ask if anyone shares our recall of earlier times.

My Aunt and Uncle owned and ran the Primrose Tearooms in Ardentinny in the 1950’s. The tearooms are now known as The Heron and the building is a private residence. Leaving our normal London life behind, my Mother, my two sisters and I spent many summer holiday periods in Ardentinny helping Auntie and Uncle with the busy trade – many coaches came from Dunoon stopping at the tearooms to partake of the good Scottish fare! Uncle worked for the Forestry Commission and they lived in one of the FC houses.

I attach (above) a photo of my Aunt and Uncle and of some of the local ladies who worked for them. Can any of your readers recall these times or recognise the people? We three remember the name Jenny Moffat and we think she is sitting back right. My Aunt and Uncle were Agnes and Neil Wareham who hailed from Campbeltown prior to joining the Ardentinny community. Agnes was of Glaswegian origin, my Mother’s older sister, and Neil came from Bute. They had no children. On leaving Ardentinny they had a small grocery store in Glasgow in order to be nearer to siblings but of course all have long since passed on.

We become more nostalgic with passing years! As sisters, our teenage years spanned the 1950’s and therefore our memories now fade. Are any of your readers able to help and share with us any recall of the period or information about these people since that time?

We have such happy memories of The Primrose Tearooms and Ardentinny. We were at that time Rosemary, Margaret and Phyllis and my Mother’s name was Mary. Our surname was ‘Day’.

With kind regards,

‘Pippa’ Greenwood

This work by ardentinny.org is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 UK: Scotland.