Jacqueline Heron Wray
Updated: Feb 25, 2019
An excerpt from "King Street To King's Road"
‘Although I remember Seafield as an imposing and intimidating building for sick children, I can now admire and esteem such a wonderful building which sadly has been abandoned and allowed to decay. That said, I believe plans are afoot to convert the old hospital into flats. It was designed and built by Sir William Arrol in 1887. Sir William was a Civil Engineer who had been contracted to build a replacement for the Tay bridge following the disaster which happened on Sunday 28th December 1879. Sir William Arrol also won the contract to build the Forth Rail Bridge (1883-1890) and was additionally preparing to build Tower Bridge in London. He acquired the Seafield Estate, thus preventing it from being divided up into house-building plots. He pulled down the original, unexceptional mansion, and replaced it with an Italianate four-storey, yellow sandstone mansion, with beautiful wood panelling and ornate mosaic tile floors, complete with a vast conservatory and a supply of heated sea water for bathing, which at that time was revered and thought to be extremely therapeutic. The mansion also boasted a stunning library and housed a valuable art collection. It also had a striking hall, built with acoustics in mind for musical presentations. Not bad for a boy, born in 1839, who was working in a cotton mill at the age of nine. William started training to be a blacksmith at the age of thirteen and, fortunately for the country, studied mechanics and hydraulics at night school. Sir William was responsible for the Nile Bridge in Egypt and the Hawkesbury Bridge in Australia. Plus, he built a gantry at the Harland and Wolff shipyards in Belfast, ‘The Arrol Gantry’ which was used in the construction of RMS Titanic and her sister ships. He died at Seafield in 1913 and was inducted to the Scottish Engineers Hall of Fame in 2013. What an outstanding and noteworthy man; I sincerely hope that his mansion is once again put to good use with as many original features intact as possible.’