Loch Lomond And Trossachs National Park Planning Authority
Creggandarroch (formerly Oakleigh), built in 1863 for A H MacLellan, is without a doubt the premier villa along the Blairmore shore. It is prominently sited well above the road and overlooking Loch Long. The house has many features of interest on the exterior, but the interior is of particular merit, with much of the original ornate decorative scheme and a very good series of stained glass. The house was published by the architect, John Gordon in one of the more popular pattern-books of the later 19th century and widely imitated.
Creggandarroch is an Italianate villa, the main (S) block consisting of a central tall gabled block with a large round-headed stair window and an attic storey with arcaded bipartite and tripartite windows. In the apex to the front is a roundel containing the character Pi. 3 similar roundels on the S display the date (AD 1863). Recessed to the left of this block is a slender square-plan belvedere tower and a 2-storey gabled wing extending S. The round-arched entrance porch with a single corner column is in the SE corner. To the right of the central block is a two-storey bowed bay with 5-light windows on either floor. Extending further to the right (N) is a further bay, with a corbelled corner window, beyond which is a 3-bay single-storey service wing.
As published in 'Villa and Cottage Architecture' Creggandarroch was much smaller than the present house, consisting of only 2 main floors and just 3 bays wide. It appears that later in the 19th century the house was significantly extended. The repetition of both internal and external details suggest that the same architect was responsible for the work, which involved extending upwards to the rear to form a 3rd floor housing a large billiard room and extending to the N by one bay, with a corbelled window on the NE corner, increasing the size of the main reception rooms. To the E of the 3-bay service wing a further gabled 2-storey 3-bay block was added, effectively doubling the size of the house. The main stair window appears in the original drawings as a single round-headed light. It is not clear whether this was actually built and later widened to allow more light in or built as the present wide round-arched 3-light. It appears that the lobby was also extended to the rear by the removal of a small bedroom and the insertion of a colonnaded 3-light stained glass window.
Further alterations were carried out in the 20th century, undoing much of the later work. This involved the removal of much of the large 2-storey block to the N. The coach house to the NE, which appears to have predated Creggandarroch, was recently removed (2004).
Interior: there is much of interest in the interior of Creggandarroch. The entrance is through a timber double door with strap hinges in the mosaic-floored open porch. The entrance hall has a floor of pine, teak, ebony and plane, decorative corbels and a heavy dentilled cornice. To the rear is a tripartite colonnaded window, with figurative upper panes and geometric lower panes. The main stair, again made of a variety of timbers, has heavy baluster panels, with a pierced geometric pattern and finialled barleytwist newels. The doors are round-headed, with inset gothic-arched panes of etched glass. The main stair window, the best in the building, depicts a tree of life, with foliate, animal and astrological decoration. The dining room on the ground floor is panelled to dado height, with built-in furniture and an arched black marble chimneypiece. On the first floor the drawing room has extravagant plaster decoration as published, the extension matching the original, including applied columns and busts in the window-bay. The billiard room in the 2nd floor has a timber-beamed ceiling. From this level a spiral stair leads to the panelled 'schoolroom' in the central tower, with further access to the belvedere.
Materials: schist rubble with sandstone dressings. Welsh and Ballachulish slate, with bands of fishscale slates to front roofs. Stone stacks and clay cans. Predominantly plate glass timber sash and case windows.
Statement of Special Interest
John Gordon (1835-1912) served his apprenticeship at the offices of Black and Salmon. His early buildings, including this example, show strong influence from Alexander Thomson's villa designs. This example owes much to Thomson's Craig Ailey of 1850 (also published in 'Villa and Cottage Architecture'. Later, during the 1870s, 80s and 90s, Gordon was involved in a number of villas in a variety of styles, including Classical, Renaissance and Arts and Crafts examples. Following the publication of Oakleigh in Blackie's 'Villa and Cottage Architecture', one of the best-known pattern books of the later 19th century, the design was widely imitated. Examples of this imitation are Craigard, Campbeltown (1882), and South Colleonard, Banff, where the tower is of cast iron panels.
The settlement of the W shore of Loch Long was a continuation from the development of Kilmun and Strone, which began in the late 1820s when marine engineer David Napier feued a three mile stretch of land from Campbell of Monzie and ran daily steamer connections to Glasgow. Blairmore pier opened in 1855, encouraging development northwards.