Guthrie drawing found

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Guthrie-drawingA WORK of art by one of the famous Glasgow Boys was uncovered recently in Rosneath.

The drawing, on tiles above a fireplace, features a ship in full sail and a number of Scottish sayings and proverbs.

It is in part of the former ballroom of the Ferry Inn and will be a main feature of the building which was an annex of the famous Inn designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens.

The black and white artwork signed by Sir James Guthrie was uncovered when the Inn’s owner, Dr Joe Brown, began work on restoring the annex.

He said: “Originally there was a connecting building between the ballroom and the house itself, but that was demolished some time ago.”

The ballroom, in what became known as Ferry Inn Cottage, had been converted into a house, but Dr Brown and his wife Diane are now planning its restoration — with Dr Brown is doing most of the work himself.

The beautiful curved ceiling has already been exposed, and the bathroom and additional walls added to convert the building into a house have been removed.

“It is a huge job,” said Dr Brown, “and like all restoration jobs it is bigger than we imagined, but it will be wonderful to restore the ballroom to its former glory and finding the original fireplace and those tiles tiles behind a wall was amazing.”

The artist, Sir James Guthrie, was born and brought up in Greenock but spent his final years at Rowmore in Rhu where he kept a seaplane in a small hangar below the house.

He originally enrolled at Glasgow University to study law but in 1877 his father, a member of the Scottish clergy, allowed him to train as a painter under James Drummond (1816–77).

He became a leading member of the artists group known as the Glasgow Boys and he and his family spent many summers at Rhu.

Built in 1896-7 and commissioned by HRH Princess Louise, wife of the ninth Duke of Argyll and Queen Victoria’s favourite daughter, the Ferry Inn is an Arts and Crafts house designed by Edwin Lutyens, who was introduced to the Princess by Gertrude Jekyll.

Ferry Inn Cottage was also designed by Lutyens and it is believed that among the guests in the Inn was Noel Coward, who used the ferry from Rhu to visit the Princess from the house he rented on Rhu Spit.

The original Ferry Inn was built around 1800 and until recently parts of it still survived, providing the connection between the large house and its ballroom, but this was demolished to make way for a car park.

Princess Louise died in 1938 and during World War Two the US Navy used the house as accommodation for high ranking officers.

Dr Brown said: “We are very proud of this house and are very conscious that we are merely looking after it.”

This is why he is actively fighting a planning application to build a new house on a piece of land directly opposite the A listed Ferry Inn.

In his objection to the proposal he said: “The history of Rosneath is inextricably woven with Princess Louise and the Ferry Inn. The removal of the tree-lined approach and altering the stone wall which has been present even longer than the Ferry Inn represent destruction of the curtilage of the Ferry Inn.”

Objections to the proposal have also been submitted by neighbours and by the Lutyens Society.

  • This article was first published in the Helensburgh Advertiser and is reproduced by kind permission of the Editor.