Statement of Special Interest
The Scots Mining Company House is a rare, outstanding and early example of an industrial manager s house in Scotland, making early use of classically-derived architecture. It contributes significantly to the story of the opening stages of the Industrial Revolution in Scotland during the 18th century.
The classical proportions of the plan form, including the addition of wings during the 1730s, furthers our understanding of the development of classical architectural planning and design in Scotland. The preeminent architect William Adam may have been involved in the design of the house and its garden grounds. The house has not been enlarged or significantly remodelled and the building s setting survives little altered, remaining much the same as it would have been in the 18th century.
The house was tailored to provide an appropriate residence and base of business operations for the renowned Scottish mathematician, James Stirling of Garden (1692-1770). Stirling was managing agent of the Scots Mining Company at Leadhills for thirty five years, during which time he transformed the mines into one of the most profitable industrial enterprises in the country. He has been referred to as one of the pioneering figures in Scotland s industrial history.
Age and Rarity
The Scots Mining Company House, also known as Woodlands Hall, has a long and significant history. The house was purpose-built during the 1730s for James Stirling, the managing agent of the Scots Mining Company's lead mining operations at Leadhills, incorporating fabric from an earlier house on the site (Sinclair, p.384).
It is shown on William Roy's military survey map of around 1750 with ranges extending to the west forming a U-plan around a central court. The terrace gardens, which survive in the present landscape, are also depicted. The house is shown, in greater detail, on the 1st Edition Ordnance Survey map of 1856 marked as 'Mansion House'. The 2nd Edition Ordnance Survey map of 1896 shows the south courtyard range replaced by a larger stable block, positioned slightly further southwards. To the northwest of the house, the map shows a detached building (now demolished) which is understood to have been a private chapel. Plan drawings of Woodlands Hall by Edinburgh architect Frank C Mears in 1945 show the building as a summerhouse with a round-arched window to the north elevation. This building, along with a small square-plan gate lodge to the south, was demolished during the 1960s. A timber viewing platform on the north terrace was removed in the early 21st century for safety reasons.
Scotland's exceptional geological diversity and mineral wealth has, more than any other factor, been responsible for her economic development during the last 300 years (Scotland's Buildings, p.551). While the mining of coal has been particularly significant and geographically widespread, the exploitation of other resources such as metals, clay, salt, slate, oil-shale and lime tend to have historical associations with specific areas, such as salt-making sites along the coast of the Firth of Forth during the eighteenth century, and James 'Paraffin' Young's shale mining industry in West Lothian during the nineteenth century.
Lead and rarer metals including silver and gold have been extracted from Scotland's southern upland hills in Lanarkshire from at least the twelfth century. The importance of the villages of Leadhills and nearby Wanlockhead to Scotland's lead mining industry cannot be understated, producing the vast majority of the country's lead from 1650 to 1950. This interest is recognised through the designation of the remains of the lead and gold workings at Leadhills (SM5817 and SM13677) and the lead workings at Wanlockhead (SM5597) as scheduled monuments.
In 1638, the lands at Leadhills were acquired through marriage by Thomas Hope who established the lead mining community of Hopetoun, later known as Leadhills. By the end of the seventeenth century, the valuable lead had helped to purchase large tracts of land for the Hope family in the Lothians and Fife, and for the building of Hopetoun House (LB613) to the west of Edinburgh, one of the grandest country seats in Scotland.
The union between Scotland and England in 1707 led to commercial gains for both countries, while the intellectual and scientific achievements of the Scottish Enlightenment during the eighteenth century were partly driven by social and political change. Established landowners began to form alliances with the newly emergent mercantile and professional classes in society. The move toward the creation of centres of industry in Scotland during the eighteenth century set the stage for its national and international predominance in industrial output in the nineteenth.
The Scots Mining Company (referred to in early literature as the Scotch Mine Company) was formed around 1716 by Sir John Erskine of 'Silver Glen' fame, with a group of mainly Scottish expatriates in London. By 1720, Charles Hope 1st Earl of Hopetoun had begun leasing some of his mine operations to entrepreneurial speculators for a share of their profits without the financial risk associated with sourcing new seams of lead. The Scots Mining Company became the main leaseholders. The twelve directors of the company were based at the Sun Fire Office in London and it has been suggested that this was the first instance of a Scottish business being entirely directed from London (Smout, p.120). In 1734 the Scots Mining Company appointed the renowned Scottish mathematician and scientist James Stirling of Garden as their managing agent at Leadhills.
Accounts in the Hopetoun archives record a visit to Leadhills by leading architect William Adam in 1739 relating to works to a north wing and chapel (Sinclair, p.384) as well as papers, signed by Adam and dated 1740, for the provision of windows and other materials for 'The Earl of Hopetoun's House at Leadhills'. It is not clear whether these accounts refer to the house built for James Stirling or to Hopetoun Hall, the Earl's large house and integrated chapel (depicted as an H-plan building on Roy's 1750s map and now demolished) that was located on lower ground near the centre of the village. Either way, the classically-derived design of the Scots Mining Company House and its formal gardens evidence a distinct awareness of contemporary architectural trends (see 'Technological Excellence or Innovation, Material or Design Quality' below).
Smaller classical mansion houses were beginning to appear at new estates across Scotland during the early 18th century and, while not a rare building type, those that survive predominantly in their original form have a strong case for listing. The Scots Mining Company House is an outstanding and early example of an industrial manager's house in Scotland, making early use of classically-derived architecture and contributing significantly to the story of the opening stages of the Industrial Revolution in Scotland during the 18th century.
Manager's houses became a standard part of large-scale planned industrial operations during the 19th century at linen works, iron foundries, canals, netting works, coal mining operations and so on. In this respect, the Scots Mining Company House is a pre-cursor of the 19th century on-site manager's house as well as larger commercial headquarter buildings of the 20th century.
The ruinous former stable block is incomplete and does not meet the criteria in listing terms. The square gatepiers are later 19th or earlier 20th century additions and are not of special architectural or historic interest in listing terms. In accordance with Section 1 (4A) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997 the following are excluded from the listing: former stable block and gatepiers.
Architectural or Historic Interest
The interior retains eighteenth century details including a moulded timber stair, box-panelling and lugged doorframes, panelled doors and timber shutters. The cubed-shaped north wing with semi-vaulted ceiling, deep cornice and pedimented chimneypiece is of particular interest, likely marking the room out as a formal space for business and leisure use, and contrasting with the otherwise relatively modest nature of the interiors. The survival of various interior fixtures and fittings contribute to the building's authenticity and its ability to convey its significance.
The classical proportions of the plan form, including the addition of the small wings or jambs during the 1730s, are of interest for our understanding of the development of classical architectural planning and design in Scotland during this period. The plan form shows us a pared-down version of the grander, classically-inspired country houses and estates associated with large landowners of the earlier 18th century, and the cubic, piended, symmetrical plan-form that became ubiquitous in Scotland later in the century. The internal room plan form is also of interest as it largely retains its 18th century layout with the entrance hallway extending towards the north wing. The plan form has not changed significantly since the 18th century.
Technological excellence or innovation, material or design quality
The square-plan pyramidal roofed classical villa, common by the early 19th century, was still new to Scotland in the 18th century (Glendinning, MacInnes and MacKechnie p.131). The refined geometry of the cubed-room with its round-arched Venetian window and large pedimented fireplace is distinctive, and is of particular interest in the context of a small house purpose-built to function as a home and a place of business for an enlightened industrialist. Notably, the house has not been enlarged or remodelled in a different architectural style, like many of its contemporaries.
The design of the house and its gardens have been potentially linked to the foremost Scottish architect of his age, William Adam (1689-1748) who was also a contractor and owner of various businesses relating to the building trade. Adam's first major commission was the enlargement of Hopetoun House for the Earl of Hopetoun in 1721, a project which he continued to work on throughout his professional life. Adam was also involved in works at the Earl's estate at Leadhills during the late 1730s, which coincides with the building of the Scots Mining Company House for James Stirling.
The influence of architectural treatises and fashion can be equally significant when the architect or builder has not been confirmed, as can the ideas of the owner or the intended resident. In this respect, the house represents the aspirations and the requirements of the Scots Mining Company and its enlightened resident manager during the early period of industrialisation in Scotland. James Stirling himself was a well-travelled intellectual who was familiar with Italy and in particular Venice, where he had spent some time. It is therefore possible that Stirling had some involvement in aspects of the design of the house at Leadhills that he would occupy for so many years.
Scots Mining Company House's setting survives little altered, and remains much the same as it would have been in the 18th century.
The house was the administrative centre of an industrial estate, but also had a symbolic role as a dominant landmark and a show house. It is prominently situated on an artificially levelled hillside that overlooks the village so that the manager of the mines, initially James Stirling, could literally oversee the mining operations.
Stirling secured, through the Earl of Hopetoun, an unusual tenancy agreement for the miners to choose where to build their houses along with rights to cultivate the surrounding ground and keep livestock. The cottages and gardens which are scattered on the hillside in Leadhills are a reminder of how the method of land tenure influenced the settlement pattern in the village. The refined order of the Scots Mining Company House and gardens contrast directly with the irregular, piecemeal settlement patterns of the workers houses in the village below.
The house's gardens, which are largely still laid out as they were in the 18th century, are included on the Inventory of Gardens and Designed Landscapes in Scotland (GDL339). They are recognised as among the best examples of high altitude garden cultivation on such a scale in Scotland. Leadhills and neighbouring Wanlockhead are the two highest villages above sea level in the country.
There are no known regional variations.
Close Historical Associations
The Scots Mining Company House has close historical associations with events and persons of national importance in the context of Scotland's historical industrial development.
The house was tailored to provide an appropriate residence and base of business operations for James Stirling of Garden (1692-1770) who was managing agent of the Scots Mining Company's operations at Leadhills for thirty five years. During his time, he transformed the mines into one of the most profitable industrial enterprises in Scotland and he has been referred to as one of the pioneering figures in the opening stages of the Scottish Industrial Revolution (Hendry, p33).
Stirling is a notable name in the context of the Scottish Enlightenment, being one of the great Scottish mathematicians as well as a scientist, member of the Royal Society, and an associate of Sir Isaac Newton. His family were noted supporters of the Jacobite cause (the covert political movement dedicated to the restoration of the Stuart kings to the throne) and this factor is likely to have contributed to his decision to live in Italy, notably Venice, between 1717 and 1722, and to later take the important Scots Mining Company position at Leadhills.
Stirling's pioneering measures to improve productivity as well as the welfare of the miners are also of note, including reduced working hours, establishing an early version of health insurance, and allowing for the first ever subscription library in Britain, which opened in Leadhills in 1741. Under his guidance, Leadhills became a model of social improvement for other industrialists, prefiguring the welfare reforms of Robert Owen at nearby New Lanark Mills by sixty years.
Statutory address and listed building record revised in 2018. Previously listed as 'Leadhills Village Scots Mining Company House and Garden Walls'.