Kilnside House
Ralston House

Ralston House - click for larger size

Photograph by Thomas Annan

Ralston House was built in 1810 by William Orr, a Glasgow merchant, to designs by the architect David Hamilton. It was added to in 1864 to designs by Thomas Richardson (architect Campbell Douglas). It was demolished in 1936. It stood on what is now Ralston golf club. The stables survive as the clubhouse. In the late nineteenth century, it was let by the Richardson family to a succession of Clyde shipping magnates. The lodge houses were built in 1865. Local historian David Rowand relates that trains were used to transport wounded soldiers in world war I to Paisley East station then by bus to Ralston House which was then known as the Red Cross Hospital for Paralysed Sailors & Soldiers. It remained a convelescent facility for ex serviceman until it was demolished.

Ralston House - Red Cross Postcard

The house was located at the east end of today’s Strathmore Avenue. The West Lodge, a sandstone gatehouse (picture below), still exists from this estate, and can be found, converted into a home, on what was the western extremity of the estate on Glasgow Road at Strathmore Avenue. The East Lodge can be found at the corner of Glasgow Road and Bathgo Avenue.

Ralston Golf Club - click for larger sizeClick to see 1898 map

East Lodge - click for larger sizeWest Lodge - click for larger size

Ralston histories

From The old country houses of the old Glasgow gentry

THE property of Ralston is situated in the parish of Paisley and county of Renfrew, about six miles from Glasgow. The Ralstons of that Ilk were a very old family in Renfrewshire. The name is supposed to have originated in one Ralph or Ralf, who is said to have been a son of one of the Earls of Fife. He came to Renfrewshire, and having obtained lands there, named them after himself, "Ralfstoune" or "Ralstoune."

Be their origin, however, what it may, the Ralstons were undoubtedly of great antiquity in this parish and county.

In the chartulary of Paisley "Nicolaus de Ralphston" is mentioned in 1272. In the Ragman Roll, "Hew de Ralstoune", is a subscriber about 1296, and "Jacobus Ralstoune dominus ejusdem" is a witness to a charter in 1346. A John de Ralstoune appears in 1488, and afterwards a Richard. There was a Hugh Ralston of that Ilk in 1560, who "is an subscryver of that solemn bond entered into by many for manteaning the trew evangell." (1)

From the old Ralstons was descended in a direct line Gavin Ralston of that Ilk, who about the beginning of last century sold his lands to John, Earl of Dundonald; and upon the marriage of the Lady Anne Cochrane, eldest daughter of this nobleman, to James, fifth Duke of Hamilton, Ralston passed with her to the house of Hamilton.

In 1755 James, the succeeding Duke, sold Ralston to William M'Dowall of Castlesemple. This gentleman was much connected with Glasgow. His father, Colonel M'Dowall, of an old Galloway family, acquired by marriage large estates in the West Indies, and in 1727 purchased Castlesemple. In the same year he acquired the "Shawfield Mansion" in Glasgow, and was engaged in business there. His house was occupied by Prince Charles Stuart during his residence in Glasgow in 1745. Colonel M'Dowall died in 1748, and was succeeded by his eldest son, who purchased Ralston. He was one of the six enterprising Glasgow merchants who founded the Ship Bank in 1750. This was the first Glasgow Bank, and is now amalgamated with the Union Bank.

In 1800 William M'Dowall sold a considerable part of Ralston to William Orr, (2) who died in 1812, and was succeeded by his eldest son, Robert Orr. After again changing owners, Ralston came into the possession, in 1840, of the late James Richardson, merchant in Glasgow. On his death his eldest son Thomas succeeded. He added to the property by the purchase of Hillington, in the immediate neighbourhood, and dying at Pesth in Hungary in 1872, his son Robert Young Richardson, became the proprietor.

Ralston is described by Wishaw as "the seat of ane old family; a very pleasant place lyand near to Paisley. . . . Bot having their residence att Woodsyde (3) in Cunninghame, westward of this, they neglected this place." About the beginning of this century William Orr built an excellent house upon the property, and in 1864 large additions were made to it from furnished by Campbell Douglas, architect, Glasgow.

(1) Hamilton of Wishaw.

(2) William Orr of Ralston had a brother, whose descendants, John and Robert Orr, John Orr Ewing,* Archibald Orr Ewing M.P., and others, are well known and prominent citizens of Glasgow.

* Mr. John Orr Ewing died while this volume was passing through the press.

(3) "Woodsyde" was acquired by Hew Ralston in 1551, and he built a "strong tower" there, which is part of the present house. He transferred the family residence from Ralston to Woodside, and called it Woodside-Ralston.

Gavin Ralston, who succeeded in 1691, and who sold Ralston, had, with other children, a daughter, Jean, who married in 1732 John Shedden of Ruchwood; the eldest daughter of this marriage married John Patrick of Treehorn. The estate of Woodside is now in the possession of Robert William Cochrane Patrick, the great-great-great-grandson of Gavin Ralston, who sold Ralston.

Gavin Ralston, the grandson of the last laird of Ralston, died at Edinburgh in 1819, aged eighty-five, and as he left no sons, he was the last male representative of this ancient family.

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

R ALSTON occupies a prominent position about two miles east from Paisley, and is the property of George Wood Richardson, Esq. The older portion of the existing mansion was built by William Orr of Ralston, in I797; but the house has Ix (.n largely extended, considerable additions having been made to it by the late Mr. Thomas Richardson in 1864. It is now one of the finest mansions in the locality.

The name of Ralston has been associated with a portion of the estate from a very early period. Its derivation is thus given by Hamilton of Wishaw, when referring to the Laird of Ralston in his time:-- His predecessors were of the family of MacDuff, and being oblidged to leave Fyfe, seated themselves in this country; and from his name Ralf they were called Ralfstoune or Ralstoune." Whether this be the origin of the name or not, it is certain that the Ralstons of that Ilk were long established in Renfrewshire. Nicolaus de Ralphstoun appears as, a witness to the grant of the lands of Fulton, by Sir Anthony Lombard, to the monks of Paisley, in 1272.

Hew de Ralstoun subscribed the Ragman Roll in 1296; and James, Laird of Ralstoun, witnessed a charter in 1346. One of the most distinguished of the family was Magister John de Railstoun, who was a chaplain and secretary to Archibald Douglas, Duke of Touraine, in the time of James I.; was raised to the Bishopric of Dunkeld, and held the office of secretary to James II. John Railstoun of that Ilk granted a charter of the lands of Railstoun, in 1505, to his son and heir-apparent, Thomas Railstoun; and the latter immediately afterwards exchanged this property with John, Lord Ross of Hawkhead, for the lands of the Hill of Dunlop and Rossholm, in Ayrshire.*

No record exists to shew when the Ralstouns regained their paternal property. In 1551 Hew Ralstoun of that Ilk was in possession of the old estate as well as the Ayrshire property, and it seems to have remained in their possession till 1704. At that time Gavin Ralstoun of that Ilk sold the paternal estate to John, Earl of Dundonald, who conferred it upon his daughter, Lady Anne Cochrane, when she married James, fifth Duke of Hamilton. The son of the latter sold Ralston, in 1755, to William MacDowall of Castle-Semple, an eminent Glasgow merchant, and one of the founders of the Ship Bank there. His son, William MacDowall of Garthland and Castle-Semple, sold Ralston, in 1800, to William Orr, who had purchased the lands of Iglisten from the Earl of Glasgow three years before, and had erected a villa there. The united estates were named Ralston by him, and the house became the mansion of Ralston.

In 1840 the estate was acquired by the late James Richardson, merchant in Glasgow, whose son Thomas increased the extent of the estate, and enlarged the mansion. He was succeeded, in 1872, by his son, Robert Young Richardson, Esq., of Ralston, who died in j884, when he was succeeded by his brother, the present proprietor. Ralston House was occupied by John Henderson, Esq., of the Anchor Line, for five years, and is at present the residence of C. W. Cayzer, Esq., shipowner.

* Reg. Mag. Sig. 29zs-29?9, Iac. IV. Crawford has misunderstood this transaction, as he speaks of Lord Ross granting the lands to Thomas Ralstoun.