Sawmill Field and Railway Glen

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AN EXPLANATION has been found for why areas at Camis Eskan, Helensburgh, are named Sawmill Field and Railway Glen.

The questions arose after Heritage Trust member Pat Wiseman read in May 2014 about land for future housing including Sawmill Field at Cardross Road, below Mill House, in an Argyll and Bute Council Local Development Notice.

Trust director and local historian Alistair McIntyre was able to tell her that Sawmill Field was near the walled garden due south of Camis Eskan House, as a sawmill is depicted on the first edition of the Ordnance Survey 25 inches to the mile map.

Pat also spoke to Archie McIntyre, formerly of Cardross Sawmill, who vaguely remembered a sawmill being operated by the Camis Eskan Estate in the field next to the new academy, but it closed down just after World War Two ended.

Someone calling himself ‘Scotspete’ emailed the Trust to say that Camis Eskan Sawmill was situated at the corner of the north junction between the road leading to a farm, and the road to Camis Eskan House.

“The concrete base is still to be seen,” he said. “As a youngster I used to frequent the sawmill, and they discharged their sawdust at the opposite west bank down into the burn.

“They collected trees from beyond Townhead Farm. Facing directly south from the sawmill there was a camp and the foundations are still there. My aunt lived there in a Nissen Hut for a short time.”

Pat’s second question was about a piece of land called Railway Glen. Various maps referred to a Railway Glen just north east of Camis Eskan.

“Obviously the railway never went that far inland,” Pat said, “but the shape is similar to a railway trackbed.”

This was a question that Alistair McIntyre had looked into. “I had a good look at the site, thinking that perhaps there might have been a narrow gauge railtrack used to extract stone, but there was absolutely no sign of any quarry or remains of a trackbed,” he said.

“The other thing I wondered about was the possibility of the glen having been used to store explosives when either the Helensburgh railway line or the West Highland Line were under construction.

“Somehow I’d be doubtful if the glen at Camis Eskan served this purpose. Perhaps the glen may have seemed to some to resemble a stretch of railtrack, perhaps because of straightness.”

However Helensburgh man man Bill Wilkie was able to provide the answer. He said: “Craigendoran Station drew water from a small reservoir above Woodhead Cottage, map reference 32018201.”

This was confirmed by another burgh man Alan Day, who used to walk in that area quite frequently.

The farmer there told him in the late 1960s that the Railway Glen name derived from the fact that, in the days of steam trains, there was a small reservoir in the Glen which supplied water for locos taking on water at Craigendoran.

The main burn leading into the reservoir was covered over for some distance with large stones, both to keep the water clean, and to protect against damage by cattle.