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  • Writer's pictureJacqueline Heron Wray

Belleisle then and now

Updated: Feb 15, 2022

The photographs above were taken by Jacqueline Heron Wray 2021.

Belleisle, Alloway, Ayr.

Where Belleisle stands was once known as Netherton of Alloway. The land was purchased by Dr Alexander Campbell from Ayr and was passed to his brother Archibald, a writer in Edinburgh. The estate was then inherited by their nephew John Campbell. When John died, Hugh Hamilton, who had become wealthy from sugar plantations in Jamaica, bought the estate, extended it and it became known as Belleisle (circa 1787). Belleisle was extended in 1800. In 1829 it underwent major reconstruction (possibly designed by William Burn, architect) and again in 1895 becoming an eleven bay, two story Baronial Mansion, (with basement and attic) finished in “coursed sandstone with ashlar dressings. It has string courses at ground and first floor; crowstepped gables; and finials at the apexes” the conservatory was built in 1879 by William Smith Dixon, an ironmaster from Glasgow. In 1886 the estate was sold again to the Coats family (Paisley thread manufacturers) who extended the mansion around 1900.

In 1926 Ayr Burgh Council purchased Belleisle Estate for £25,000. They created a park with two golf courses which opened in 1927. Belleisle was requisitioned during WW2. After the war it was restored with a deer park, aviary, pets’ corner, gardens and the two golf courses. The mansion became a hotel and restaurant. The conservatory was rebuilt in 1955 for the council by Messers Mackenzie & Moncur

There are a number of other buildings and structures on the estate, including the North Lodge; South Lodge; South Lodge Bridge; and Walled Garden. There are also remains of the former estate, including the later Belleisle Lodge on Greenfield Avenue and the former stable block.

Sadly, Belleisle mansion was destroyed by fire in 2019. Hopefully there will be plans for re-development.

The image on the bottom left is Belleisle in 2012. Photographs above courtesy of The Ayrshire Post.

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