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Researching Ardoch House at RCAHMS


Two weeks ago I wrote about Ardoch House, which was an old country house in my village which was built over 200 years ago but which vanished in the mid 1980s. A man called Mr Forbes from Canada had emailed me telling me about the house, how he explored it in the 1980s and how an old ancestor of his used to work there.

I did a lot of research online, and one of the websites I used was the Canmore database which is run by RCAHMS who are the Royal Commission for Ancient and Historial Monuments  of Scotland. They keep all the records of old buildings, some of which you can see online but some of which you have to  go to their offices in Edinburgh to see.  About a month ago, during the summer holidays, I went with dad to see the photos they had of Ardoch House.

A few days before I had to email them asking them for the files I wanted to see and to make an appointment to come. On the day, me and Dad went to their offices for 1pm. When we first arrived we had to sign in, then we had to leave our jackets, our bags, our phones and everything else apart from a pencil (pens aren't allowed) and notepad. Then we went up one flight of stairs to the Search Room which is similar to a library because it is quiet with people at desks and bookshelves.

You are not allowed to take cameras into the Search Room so I don't have any pictures in there. The librarian gave us our folders of pictures. The first one I saw was this old photograph of Ardoch House dating from 1934. 

This is the first time I had seen Ardoch House when it was lived in ! The person who lived there must have been very very proud of it. But the most amazing thing was that it was taken from the exact same spot as the photograph Mr Forbes took 50 years later ! If you put half of each photograph side by side you can see what they look like ! You can also see the east wing (on the right) which wasn't there when Mr Forbes took his photograph:

Because I had worked out the spot that Mr Forbes had stood on his picture, and taken a picture on the exact same spot, I could work out  how it would have looked if it had still been there today. This is Ardoch House in 1934 on the same spot in 2012:

The next photo was dated 1985/6 and was the east side of the house seen from the North East (which is the rear of the house). This was a few years before the house vanished. You can see the roofline of the east wing which was built after the rest of the house (you can see it goes across a window) and must have been knocked down before the rest of the house too. You can also see there was a semi-circular bulge in the middle at the back of the house which you couldn't see in the old photos.

This is me standing on the spot where I think that photo was taken from:

This next photo was more difficult. It was labelled "Ardoch House Offices" and was dated 1975/6. I think these offices used to be behind the main house. There was a plan of these offices too and I didn't make a copy and I regret that. I think these offices are gone now.

This is where I think the stables and offices used to be, between the old house and the ponds:

This bit is on the other side of the same clearing and is still used now. It looks like it used to be part of the offices above.

This next picture was a puzzle. It said Ardoch House horsemill and was dated 1975. The grid reference was a bit to the west of the main house. Nothing of it remains any more.

Then I remembered some that happened years ago. Dad and I were walking in the estate when we met a man called Mr Logue who was the factor, or manager, for Blackford Farms who now own all this land. He told us that Ardoch House was unusual because it had huge cellars. The owners would fill the cellars with coal, and then gas would come off the coal. The gas was piped round the house for heating and lighting. It was one of the first houses in Scotland to have this.

Mr Logue said that when he took over the estate, the house was derelict and dangerous, so he knocked it all down into its own cellars. He said that they never took a single brick away off the site.

I searched the site where the house used to be and there wasn't much to find, except this one bit of rubble which had a drainpipe still in it.

This was a sad end to such an amazing house.

The old historic photos on this page belong to RCAHMS who have given special permission for them to be used here. Thanks RCAHMS !

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Cam Smith said...

I came across this house a couple of times around about 1980, whilst playing with friends. It still had glass in some of the windows and internal floors. Even as reckless kids, we knew it wasn't safe to explore. Such a shame it's gone.

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