Kerelaw House

Kerelaw House was located to the north of Stevenston, just slightly to the north west of the ruined Kerelaw Castle. The house, built around 1787, was originally called ‘Grange’, as was the entire Kerelaw Estate at the time, named after the Hamilton family’s estate near Kilmarnock. The owner of the Kerelaw lands when the house was built was Alexander Hamilton, great-grandson of John.

Kerelaw House some time in early 20th century.
Kerelaw House sometime in the early 20th century.

When Hamilton died in 1837, the house was put up for auction as part of a lot that included numerous farms in the surrounding area. It took some time for the estate to sell, but was eventually sold to Gavin Fullarton around 1840. Fullarton restored the estate back to the original Kerelaw name. He died on the 28th August 1876 at Kerelaw House.

In 1919 the house was bought by James Campbell W.S., future town clerk of Saltcoats. One of his three sons, also James Campbell, would become town clerk for Stevenston. The Campbell family were the last private owners of the house. After the elder James Campbell died in 1957 the house and surrounding land was put up for sale. It was eventually bought by Glasgow Corporation in the early 1960s, who built the infamous Kerelaw Residential School in its grounds. Prior to the school’s construction the house was used as temporary accommodation in the summer in 1966. Despite early intentions to keep the house after construction of the school, it was demolished some time in 1970.

Kerelaw House in 1970.
Kerelaw House in 1970, shortly before it was demolished. Photo by CANMORE.

Today little trace of the house exists. The exact site of the house was used as a small car park while Kerelaw School was operational, but the school was demolished in 2006 after various scandals. The only reminders of the house left are the two gatehouses (East Lodge and West Lodge, both now private residences), and the partial remains of the gated entrance to the mansion next to West Lodge.

Glasgow representatives indicated that for a variety of reasons the renovation of Kerelaw House would present serious financial problems and that there was the possibility that in might be necessary to demolish it and build alternative accommodation. Stevenston representatives pointed out that they had understood that preservation of Kerelaw House was a condition of the original sale of the land and indicated since destruction of Kerelaw House would remove a landmark of historical associations with the town every effort be made to preserve it.

Extract from the minutes of the Public Health and Roads Committee meeting of Stevenston Town Council on 18th November 1968.

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