Fri. Jun 21st, 2024

In 1890 Sir William Arrol and his wife moved into the house which he had designed, Seafield House, Ayr. After he died in 1913 it became a hospital, first for WW1 soldiers and later for maternity and sick children. After it closed in in 1991 it became progressively dilapidated and was due for demolition until a local group of enthusiasts, the Friends of Seafield House (FoSH) decided that such a special building just had to be saved and a campaign was launched in 2012 together with SAVE Britain’s Heritage, following a petition by local resident Rosemary Paterson who became the FoSH Seafield Co-ordinator.

They were able to work closely with the local developer who bought the site – the impetus for the purchase being that one of the director’s late father having been a Seafield Hospital Consultant. The result is a fabulous renovation and conversion of the house, funded in part by the enabling development by Westpoint Homes of newbuild housing in the surrounding grounds.

To mark the end of the campaign and celebrate Econstruct Estates Seafield Ltd.’s award-winning conservation and conversion of Seafield House into apartments, FoSH obtained permission from the developers Robin Ghosh and Derek Shennan to plant a commemorative tree – this commemorative act echoing the tree plantings carried out by Seafield Hospital Consultants on their retiral.

As Late-Deacon Nina Baker OBE had had an early involvement with FoSH as a Founding Friend, and as Sir William had himself been a Hammerman, she offered to donate a Pear Tree in honour of The Hammermen’s reading of the “Legend of the Pears”.

This tradition was re-enacted at the tree planting on 9 October 2023 that followed FoSH’s EGM to Dissolve (agreed unanimously) by FoSH Committee Members Brian Williamson and Kirsty Menzies – herself an Arrol relative – to a gathering that included Siobhian Brown MSP, SAVE Director Henrietta Billings, FoSH Chair, Vice Chair and Friends and new Seafield House residents. The developer Robin Ghosh’s mother Margaret Ghosh planted the tree, unveiled a plaque to commemorate the event and made a libation to the tree of Babycham – a pear perry – that was also served to the guests.

Please note that the tree is planted in the private grounds of Seafield House.

For more information visit the FoSH website.

Postscript:  As I could not be present, a video was made for me of the event, which I enjoyed – including to hear an extract from the poem read, see the libation poured and hear the toasts made!

Written by Late-Deacon Nina Baker OBE.


If you’d like to know more about Sir William Arrol, click here to watch Martin Cullen’s presentation from our 2021 Hammermen Talks.