Kilnside House
Kilnside House

Kilnside House

Photograph by Thomas Annan

Kilnside House, a large mansion standing within extensive grounds in Seedhill Road, Paisley (opposite the end of east End Park) was built in 1836 by Joseph Whitehead, and altered and extended in the 1880s by its then owner, Stewart Clark. The photographer Harry Bedford Lemere was commissioned to photograph the gardens in 1890. You can see his work here.

Stewart Clark won the Paisley parliamentary by-election held in February 1884 but in Sept 1885 announced he would not be standing for Parliament again citing pressure of business commitments.

Here is a history of the Clark family's Anchor Mills and the house.

In the late 18th century, the brothers Peter and James Clark worked independently, as manufacturers of twine for heddles, and as weavers' furnishers, providing the weaving trade with items such as reeds and shuttles.

Around 1806, the weaving business was hit by Napoleon's Berlin Decree, banning exports to Great Britain. This situation prompted Peter Clark to experiment in producing heddles of cotton instead of silk - the embryo of what was to become the successful business of the Clark family, who began manufacturing cotton thread on the north side of the River Cart, close to the Hammils in 1812. In the early days, thread would be wound on pirns for the price of five pence, which was redeemable on the return of the empty pirn.

In 1819, the elder James Clark retired and he sold the business to his sons James, junior and John. Together they formed the company of J & J Clark, and worked hard to build a profitable industry. They retired in 1852, and the business was left in the hands of James Clark of Ralston, the son of John. Expanding rapidly, it was necessary to employ his brothers John and Stewart.

Other branches of the Clark family set up thread companies in the town and in a relatively short time amalgamated with Clark & Co. These included Kerr & Co of Underwood, Carlile and John Clark, Junior of Well Street. The Countinghouse of the latter can still be seen at the corner of Well Street and Clavering Street, recognised by the '' sign visible on the stonework. This was a time of great expansion and by 1880, Anchor Mills was running over 230,000 spindles and employing over 3,500 workers, who were producing about 15 tons of finished goods each day.

Kilnside House, which had been the home of the Stewart Clark family, became part of Anchor Mills in 1911. It was used as a canteen and when the extension was built in 1916, it could seat 800 of the workforce at one time. It was sold in 1985 and became a snooker club. It was mysteriously razed to the ground by fire in the mid-1990s and the ground sold to a developer and is now home to blocks of flats.

Kilnside House

Stewart Clark had already moved to a much grander residence,
Dundas Castle in 1899. This is what its website says about him.

Then in 1899 Stewart Clark, the Great Grandfather of the present owner Sir Jack Stewart-Clark, acquired Dundas Castle with five farms and 1500 acres of agricultural land. Stewart Clark was one of the Victorian titans of industry. He, together with his four brothers, had taken over from his father and uncle a small sewing thread business at the Anchor Mills in Paisley. During the lifetime of the formidable brothers they grew the business into one of the most profitable textile concerns in Great Britain with factories all over the world. Stewart Clark also became Deputy Lord Lieutenant in the County of Renfrewshire, was a Member of Parliament for Paisley and was respected for being a great philanthropist.

He was given the freedom of the Burgh of Paisley in 1902.

Kilnside House Billiard Room

Millar A H (1889) The castles and mansions of Renfrewshire and Buteshire

The mansion of Kilnside is the seat of Stewart Clark, Esq., and is a little to the south-east of Paisley. The building was erected by the late Joseph Whitehead, Esq., about fifty years ago, but it has been very much extended and improved by the present proprietor. The front elevation presents a well-proportioned appearance, undisfigured by meretricious ornament. Access is obtained to the hall by a short flight of steps leading to the doorway under an elegant pillared porch. A very large conservatory forms an exterior wing to the house. It may be entered either from the drawing-room or from the lawn, and is filled with a splendid collection of rare exotics. In the interior decoration of the mansion stained glass has been introduced with much effect, one of the rooms having a series of full-length classical figures executed in this material, and grouped together in panels.

Stewart Clark, now of Kilnside, is one of the partners of the well-known firm of thread manufacturers in Paisley, and at one time represented the burgh in Parliament.