Estate, Friends, History, Kinneil House

Centenary of public heritage at Kinneil

This year and next will be the Centenary of Kinneil Estate and Kinneil House first transferring into becoming publicly-owned and -run heritage assets, and a much-loved park for the leisure and enjoyment of people from near and far.

On this day, 13th April, 100 years ago in 1922, the press first reported on the astounding forthcoming sale by auction of vast tracts of the Duke of Hamilton’s extensive estates across Central Scotland. Extracts of the articles are reproduced below.

Kinneil House as it once looked

Kinneil Estate and Kinneil House, together with the main Hamilton Estate itself, were among the properties to be sold. The Kinneil Estate was at that time one of the largest and most historic private landholdings in the Lothians, stretching from the shores of the Forth all the way to the River Avon in Linlithgow, and included 17 farms, as well as the parkland immediately round Kinneil House itself.

The announcement was the start of the process which led to the decision by Bo’ness Town Council in July 1922 to begin negotiations to acquire Kinneil House and its surrounding parkland, under the provisions of the Public Parks (Scotland) Act 1878. Many tenant farmers also took the opportunity to buy their farms amidst the attractive countryside around Bo’ness and Linlithgow, and some of these farms remain in the same families to this day.

The Friends of Kinneil hope that the Centenary should be an opportunity for commemoration and reflection in suitably positive ways. As this is also Scotland’s Year of Stories, over the coming months we shall try to continue to look back at some of the stories of 1922-3 which still resonate and have relevance to today, and to the future of this very significant recreational amenity, visitor attraction, and unique hub of local, national and world history.

Press cuttings from 1922:

The Scotsman, 13 April 1922


The Hamilton Trustees of His Grace the 12th Duke of Hamilton have resolved to sell certain parts of his estates in Scotland, and Messrs Knight, Frank, & Rutley, in conjunction with Messrs Tuckett, Webster, & Co., have been instructed to sell the same by auction.

The total area of the property, which is to be offered in appropriate lots, is about 30,744 acres, and the following estates in the counties of Lanark, Linlithgow, and Stirling are included in the sale:–

The main portion of the property to be sold lies immediately adjoining the towns of Hamilton, Bothwell, Motherwell, and Dalziel, and includes house property, valuable feuing and agricultural land in close proximity to these towns, the total extent of this portion being 7345 acres. Interesting properties included in the sale are the mausoleum, and the parks surrounding Hamilton Palace, and the old Jail Tower and Courthouse close by.

The important estate of Cambuslang (2580 acres) lies between the growing districts of Rutherglen, Cambuslang, and High Blantyre.

The estates of Dalserf and Lesmahagow include many well-known dairy and fruit farms, the total area of this portion being 8485 acres. Strathaven estate – 2531 acres – consists principally of dairy farms near the town of this name.

Kinneil estate – 3560 acres – is situated between the seaport town of Bo’ness and Linlithgow, and includes the structure of the old House of Kinneil. It was here that James Watt brought some of his improvements on the steam engine to perfection, and where Dugald Stewart wrote many of his works.

In addition, there are agricultural holdings in the neighbourhood of Reddingmuir and Shotts, totalling 6230 acres.

Extract of full sale advertisement published soon afterwards (from Yorkshire Post & Leeds Intelligencer, 22 April 1922):

KINNEIL ESTATE, close to Bo’ness and Linlithgow, comprises 81 lots, including eighteen farms, viz.:– Easter Bonhard, Northbank, Kinglass, Gauze, Borrowstoun Mains, Lochhouse, Balderston, Kinneil Mills, Rousland, Woodhead, Upper Kinneil, Inveravon, Polmonthill, North Hainings, Kinneil Kerse, East Kerse Mains, Nether Kinneil, also Kinneil Policy Parks, the old House of Kinneil, the residence known as THE DEAN, Feuing Land, Leaseholds, etc.

Extending to about 3,570 acres.

To be offered for Sale by Auction by Messrs. KNIGHT, FRANK, AND RUTLEY, in conjunction with Messrs. TUCKETT, WEBSTER, and CO.,

At an early date unless previously disposed of by private treaty.

Victorian map (1875) showing the original full extent of Kinneil Estate – available in much finer, zoomable, detail at and drawn from the 1850s Ordnance Survey maps ( ) [Reproduced with permission of the National Library of Scotland maps division under Creative Commons CC BY 4.0 licence]