Geilsland Enterprise Development Strategy
The History of Geilsland Estate
In the very beginning, Geilsland itself was a half merk land, part of the 4 merk lands of marshalland of old extent, in the barony of Braidstone. In 1672 the lands were held by John Anderson of Cruckhills whose wife was Janet Barclay.
Thomas had inherited by 1697 and then James Anderson. The lands of Cruckhills (near Balgray and Hessilhead) separately passed into the ownership of Hugh Wilson. Robert Pollock purchased the lands of Geilsland in 1761 and by 1767 the Crawford family had obtained title with Thomas and John holding the lands prior to William Fulton Love’s acquisition in 1867. Later, Geilsland was sold in four lots and in 1867 two of these lots were purchased by William Fulton Love, a local writer and bank agent in Beith.
He built a handsome villa and gatehouse, in the domestic gothic style; he enclosed and planted 5 acres around the villa. The Millport chapel, situated within the grounds, was fitted out with items from an old church that once stood on the isle of Cumbrae. Geilsland house may have been designed by Robert Samson Ingram (1841-1915) of J & R S Ingram, Kilmarnock. in 1942 a builder, Charles Scott Gray purchased Geilsland for £1750 (equivalent to £88,000 in today’s money), followed by norman Dunlop McCombe and family who were involved in the lucrative fruit trade. The McCombe family were the last owners before it became a church of Scotland school. A summer house existed on the grounds at this time, extensively used by Mr McCombe who suffered from ill health. The car park is where the three greenhouses once stood and the only reminder of the McComb’s time at the site is our workshop, and the tool store was the original packing building for the fruit.
Geilsland as a school
The Church of Scotland established a special school at Geilsand in 1964, the opening date being 1 July that year. Sixty boys were set as the original intake maximum and the first major task was for the staff and pupils to convert or build the necessary buildings.
The sports hall was also largely constructed by the staff and pupils. The first head teacher here was Mr A. L. ‘Sandy’ Munro. To celebrate and commemorate the forthcoming millennium (2000) and the works of the school, a unique set of 12 stained glass windows were commissioned by local artist Gail Muir and depicted activities taught at the school and are in the skylight in the hallway of Geilsland House.
In 2002, work was undertaken to remove some unsympathetic 1960s additions to the building. Geilsland House was still part of the Geilsland school until 2015, run by the Church of Scotland under its ‘crossreach’; initiative.
Purchase by the Beith Trust
In late 2015 Geilsland house and associated buildings were sold to Beith Trust with financial assistance from the Scottish land fund. A new building ‘Lomond’ house that sits within the grounds was built in a mock gothic era style in 1999 as a unit for young people with special needs. The site’s history in the present day is ever since it was taken over by Beith Trust. We have been refurbishing the houses, sports hall and surrounding areas into a family-friendly zone. Along with 15 acres, the newly introduced coffee shop Mocha Jak’s is a big hit with the local community. Also with Cunningham and Garnock houses fit for hosting guests, we’ve recently started advertising on Airbnb and the hall has been hired out for numerous events and weddings.
An important project that has had to take a back seat until the time was right is Geilsland House, in the centre of Geilsland Estate. When Beith Trust took got the keys in 2016, Geilsland House had been unoccupied for several years, and in need of significant refurbishment and upgrading. More than that; it needed a new and relevant purpose for the 21st century, one that meets the aspirations of our community and how we want to live and work together
As Geilsland Estate has begun to find a new future and the various little initiatives begin to work together, we have turned our thinking to how Geilsland House can be a productive part of how the Estate operates and benefits our community.
We have now engaged architects and designers but they are just a tiny part of the process. If Geilsland House is to have a sustainable future, the people of Beith must be at the heart of it. If you are interested and have something to bring to the project we are keen to chat with you.