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History of Cove Burgh Hall
The villages of Cove and Kilcreggan were created by the 8th Duke of Argyll in 1849 when, as a money-making venture, he feued the strip of land along the south west shore of the Rosneath Peninsula. Plots were quickly taken up by wealthy Glasgow businessmen who built large villas and castles as summer residences. The two villages were made into a single Burgh in 1865, to be administered by locally elected Commissioners headed by a Provost. However, in its early years the Burgh lacked a proper venue for public meetings and social gatherings. It was not until 1891 that building a Burgh Hall was undertaken. This was initiated by Charles William Cayzer.
Cayzer was a self made man, who rose from poor beginnings in East London to become a very wealthy ship owner. In 1871 he formed the Clan Line Shipping Company based on the Clyde which, through his endeavours, became eminent in trade routes to India and South Africa. By 1890 Cayzer and his family resided in the magnificent Ralston Hall (near Paisley) and purchased Clevedon House, Cove, as a summer residence. In 1891 he was elected Provost of the Burgh of Cove and Kilcreggan.
Building the Burgh Hall
Cayzer’s first act as Provost was to launch a scheme to raise money (by public subscription) to build a Burgh Hall. An estimated £2000 was required for the project. He donated the first £500 to the project, the remainder being subscribed by the wealthy residents. During the following year Cayzer was elected M.P. for Barrow-in-Furness and his parliamentary responsibilities took him away from Cove and Kilcreggan.
His position as Provost was taken by Peter Donaldson, a wealthy Glasgow iron and steel merchant whose summer residence was Woodbine in Kilcreggan (now the Kilcreggan Hotel). Donaldson was a keen yachtsman and the yachting facilities of the Clyde were perfect for his leisure activities. Under his auspices the project to build Cove Burgh Hall was progressed. Financial assistance in the form of a low feu payment was given by the Duke of Argyll.
The design for the new hall was put out to competition and of the ten architectural practices that submitted drawings, the winning entry, under the motto 'Argyll' was that of James Chalmers.
Chalmers’ offices were at 101, St Vincent St., Glasgow. He was 34 years of age when his design was selected and he was still relatively unknown. He went on to design many well known Glasgow buildings, particularly churches, but the Burgh Hall was one of his earliest public buildings. He had a particular liking for red sandstone and his various designs are generally classified as Classical, Arts & Crafts and Glasgow Style. (Probably his most famous work, commissioned four years later, was the offices of distillers Wright and Greig, later the Distillers Company Office in Waterloo Street). Cove Burgh Hall is typical of Chalmers work.
The Architectural style of the Burgh Hall is “Scottish Baronial”.
Opening of the Hall
Building the Hall was completed in the spring of 1893 and it was officially opened on 14th May. Provost Donaldson hosted a civic reception to mark the event which was fully reported in local newspapers.
A large brass commemorative plaque dated 1893 naming both Cayzer and Donaldson as central figures in the building of Cove Burgh Hall is on display in the Commissioners Room. (Above the main entrance)
In due course the hall was adopted by the Burgh Commissioners for administration and maintenance.
In 1895 the image of Cove Burgh Hall was placed at the centre of the official Burgh Seal demonstrating the prominent position it held in the area. Newspaper articles of the time report the many and varied events held at the Hall and, as social needs changed, it continued to play a central part in local life.