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INVERKIP TO WEST KILBRIDE.
With a fairly straight road running north to south, of little, if anything, over twenty miles in length, there is nothing, of course, to prevent a pedestrian in ordinary “form” from accomplishing in one day the entire distance between “Auld Kirk” on the Kip and the more southerly parish, named, like its church, after the pious St. Bridget. But if he desires, as most intelligent travellers do, to linger over the supreme beauties of the locality through which he is travelling, and to make himself acquainted at the same time with even a few of those historic remains associated with stirring scenes in Scottish history, he must deviate so frequently from the main path as to make a break, for one night at least, all but necessary. This our friend, who may be presumed as tramping along the shore road, knapsack on back, will be found, can most conveniently be done by resting about the centre of the parish lying between Inverkip and Kilbride, or say in the pleasant watering-place of Largs itself. Here he may profitably spend an odd hour or two of a long summer day by examining localities easily identified with that famous battle through which, over six hundred years since, the victorious Alexander III. freed Scotland once and for ever from the tyranny of Northern Sea Kings or Vikings, not unworthily represented by Haco and his plundering Norsemen from Norway, Denmark, and Sweden. Even otherwise, a day's leisure would not be misspent among the richly-wooded glens which open up every here and there eastward, or by the side of one or other of the many sparkling yet secluded streams which find their way through the valleys, rushing and leaping with joy till lost in the waters of the opening Firth. Beautiful as Clyde is admitted to be at all points of its journey-some 106 miles—to the sea; beautiful when it begins to show itself in the upland pastoral solitudes of Crawford, when it is winding round the base of Tinto, or overshadowed by the dark chasm of Cartland, or leaping over huge Falls like Cora Linn, or winding gently, yet with majesty, among the orchards
and broad meadows and fair woodlands of Lanarkshire-none of these features in the route of our noble river surpasses in beauty what borders its banks as the river gets lost in the Firth, and the Firth in the sea. Here the attractions are at once varied, interesting, and informing. Leaving behind us the princely splendours of Ardgowan, as already faintly described in these pages (see 119); and even without troubling ourselves for a moment with the reflection that Inverkip, as a parish, stretched as far eastward in pre-Reformation times as Greenock, where the Church of St. Lawrence stood, there is within little more than a mile north-east from the parish church the ruins of that old Castle of Dunrod, famous in the annals of Renfrewshire as the resort of both wizards and witches, and not very far off—indeed, not quite so far away—an old arch crossing the Kip burn known as the Roman Bridge, and which, in name at least, may have been an antiquity when the battle of Largs was fought.
About a mile south from Inverkip village, the traveller enters the north or Wemyss portion of Kelly or Bannatyne property, held by that family, it is thought, for over 300 years. In 1792 the old Kelly property was purchased by John Wallace, of Cessnock, Ayrshire, one of the leading Glasgow West India merchants. He built the larger and older part of the present Kelly mansion within the next year or two, and here he died, 4th June, 1805, when the property passed to his son, Robert Wallace, of Postal Reform fame, to be afterwards referred to. By various contracts of excambion the original Wallace purchase was extended southward beyond Kelly burn to Auchindarroch, and northward to Wemyss Bay, the port of Ardgowan, in exchange for the lands of Finnock conveyed to the then Sir Michael Shaw Stewart. Shortly after entering Parliament, as first member for Greenock, under the Reform Bill of 1832, Robert Wallace was obliged to part with that Kelly estate which he had done so much to extend and adorn. The purchaser in the first instance was a Mr. Alexander, an Australian merchant, but he was able to retain the property only a few years, when Kelly fell into the hands of Mr. James Scott, of Dalmonach Print-works, and the Wemyss portion passed to Charles Wilsone Brown, Glasgow.
In 1860, the Wemyss portion of Kelly was sold for Mr. Brown in two portions, Wemyss Bay falling to the now venerable (1885) George Burns, Esq., one of the founders of the great Cunard Steamship Company, who built Wemyss House on the property from designs by Mr. Salmon, Glasgow, and erected also the beautiful Episcopal Church near by, in memory of Mrs. Burns. Wemyss Castle property passed to his son, Mr. John Burns, presently (1885) Chairman and Managing Director of the Cunard Steamship Company (Limited)—a company which in its early days he did more to develop and consolidate than any other single person. To Wemyss Castle, as built for Wilsone Brown from designs by Billings, Mr. John Burns has made important additions, and otherwise rendered the surrounding grounds a feature of attraction, even to travellers who only see them at a distance from a Clyde steamer. In 1867, the estate of Kelly proper was purchased from Mr. Scott by James Young, Esq., of Durris, F.R.S. and LL.D., a chemist of such high repute that he may almost be said to have created the shale oil trade in this country as well as in America. Rising from but a humble position as an apprentice cabinetmaker to his father in Glasgow, Dr. Young first availed himself of what little leisure he had in taking lessons at the Andersonian Institution, where, by assiduity and intelligence, he attracted the attention of Professor Graham, who first made his young pupil assistant in Glasgow, and then took him to London, when the Mastership of the Mint opened up to the older accomplished chemist. After that came a few years' service, first in the laboratories of Messrs. Muspratt, St. Helens, Liverpool, and next of Messrs. Charles Tennent & Co., in Manchester. It was while discharging duty at this latter place that Dr. Young's attention was drawn by Sir Lyon Playfair to the subject of oil of high quality flowing from a pit at Alfreton, near Manchester. The discovery of the Torbanehill mineral was not long in bringing Young's careful researches to a practical issue. The works were established at Addiewell and Bathgate, which prospered so greatly that in 1866, when his patent expired, they were sold to a Limited Company for £400,000. When these works were undertaken the yearly produce of oil
in Scotland was not more than 6,250,000 gallons. At the date of his death (13th May, 1883, when Dr. Young was in his 72nd year), the production had risen to 15,000,000 gallons, of which the Young Company produced about one-third. Dr. Young continued on terms of the closest intimacy with Graham, to whose memory he caused a most effective statue by Brodie, to be set up in George Square, Glasgow, besides joining with a young friend, Dr. Angus Smith, in editing several of his scientific treatises. To Dr. Livingstone Young was also much attached, unwearied, first in promoting his discoveries, and finally in ascertaining his sad fate. A model of the hut in which the intrepid traveller died was erected within the grounds of Kelly by two of the African attendants who had remained with their kind master to the last.
Continuing the shore road southward from Kelly, the next important property in this part of Cunningham is Skelmorlie, noted in modern times for its excellent Hydropathic Establishment, but still more famous for that old castle of the Montgomeries, restored in 1852 by John Graham, Esq. (born 1805), a prominent Glasgow merchant, renowned in art circles as a munificent judicious patron, and the happy possessor of a collection of pictures unrivalled in the West Country, if not in the kingdom, for interest and value. Generous in all matters connected with art, Mr. Graham may be said to have made his private gallery public in the best sense of the term, so that thousands have had opportunities in this way of studying the finest examples of painters so celebrated as Gainsborough, Ary Scheffer, Rosa Bonheur, Wilkie, Turner, and Holman Hunt. A little south, but close at hand, is Bridgend House, also occupied by Mr. Graham, and the mysterious Serpent Mound which has excited so much discussion among antiquaries. From this point a walk of about an hour and a-half lands the traveller in Largs, where unending scenes of interest may be enjoyed, even if he should not have leisure to examine the curious Skelmorlie aisle and monument, or the graceful memorial set up in honour of the gallant and learned Sir Thomas M‘Dougal Brisbane, whose family patrimony lies to the north-east of the town. Omitting Kelburne, as already noticed (p. 91), Lord
Glasgow's village of Fairlie, with its castle, glen, and yachting industry, is soon in sight, as is also Hunterstone, of high historical repute centuries before anything was ever heard of its Runic Brooch; and lastly, on a ledge of rock standing well into the Firth, Portincross, one of the oldest fortresses in Kilbride parish.
Within West Kilbride parish also, but backward a little from the shore, is Carlung, purchased in 1877 from the trustees of James A. Anderson, Union Bank, by the late James Arthur, Esq. of Barshaw, near Paisley. When Mr. Arthur died in the summer of the present year (June 17, 1885), it was felt that no unnecessary compliment was paid in describing him as in many respects one of the most remarkable men connected with Glasgow enterprise during the last half-century.
Born at Paisley in 1819, he commenced business in a small way while quite a young man. From the outset prosperity attended all his efforts, but he was not long contented with
not long contented with the restricted field which Paisley afforded for his unwearying energy. Removing to Glasgow, he began a similar business in Argyle Street under the firm of Arthur & Fraser, now Fraser & Sons, and here also his labours were crowned with growing success.
But it was not until a few years later, when he founded the firm of Arthur & Company, that his proper sphere was found. Mr. Arthur had not been many years in Glasgow when he was discovered to be a man of great sagacity, singular acuteness and swiftness of judgment. Combined with these characteristics were a mastery of detail and powers of organisation and arrangement rarely to be found, while, as has been already indicated, his energy and enterprise were unbounded. All these qualities he brought to bear on the management of the business which he now established, and to the building up of which the remainder of his life was devoted. From comparatively small beginnings it has grown to be one of the largest, if not the largest, establishments of the kind in Great Britain. In addition to a home trade of vast extent, the firm has large business connections abroad. In South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, and the Dominion of Canada, it is directly represented; and its agents are as well known