NS3975 : Dumbarton Municipal Buildings

taken 9 years ago, near to Dumbarton, West Dunbartonshire, Great Britain

Dumbarton Municipal Buildings
Dumbarton Municipal Buildings
For the current usage of the building, and for another view, see NS3975 : Dumbarton Municipal Buildings.

The details below are largely taken from the Lennox Herald issue of 4th April 1903, which gives an account of the official opening.

The buildings were erected on College Park, which had previously been the grounds of College Park House. The College Park lands had had several owners, including members of the Colquhoun and Campbell families. In 1826, Humphrey W Campbell, Sheriff-Substitute for Dumbartonshire (see NS4076 : Memorial to the Campbells of Barnhill), married Jane Dixon, daughter of John Dixon of Levengrove (see LinkExternal link for that family). The couple lived in their townhouse in Dumbarton's High Street until 1829, when Humphrey built College Park House. As a result of the coming of the railway, which he knew would result in his view from College Park House being spoiled, Humphrey then built Crosslet (NS4175 : Crosslet House), and he moved there in 1850 (his wife had died a few years earlier). As for College Park, he sold that land to the railway company.

Part of that land was eventually bought back from the railway company by Lord Overtoun for about 4500 (different articles variously give the figure as 4500 or 4600), and it was gifted by him to the burgh. The Municipal Buildings would be built there.

Lord Overtoun (who was a relative, by marriage, of the Campbells of Crosslet see NS4076 : The White Memorial) also expressed the desire to bear the cost of fencing and laying out the grounds; this work would cost over 3000, and it was done to the designs of Mr Milner, landscape gardener, of London. The grounds were surrounded by a red sandstone wall and enclosed by iron railings (those railings were removed during the Second World War see below).

The memorial stone of the Municipal Buildings was laid "amid storm and rain" on September 29th, 1899. It contained some newspapers, and "every coin of the realm, from a sovereign to a farthing", including some old coins that were dug up during excavations when the neighbouring Dumbarton Central Station was being built. At that time, the projected cost of the Municipal Buildings was about 15,000 (the actual cost would prove to be about 19,000).

The Municipal Buildings (by the architect James Thomson) were built in Scots Baronial style, using red freestone from Locharbriggs Quarry, Dumfries (NS99248095). The building was erected under the supervision of Messrs John Baird & James Thomson, I.A., of 88 Bath Street, Glasgow, and the clerk of works was George Roxburgh. The contractors were as follows: mason work the firm of the late Wm Barlas (NS3979 : The Barlas/Forrest Memorial); joiners Messrs Wm McLeod & Son; slater Mr A M Thom; plumbers Messrs Campbell & Cameron; plasterer Mr John Hutcheson; gas fitter Messrs Wm Bryden & Son, Glasgow; painter Mr James Kincaid; furnishing Messrs Wylie & Lochhead, Glasgow.

The Municipal Buildings were officially opened on the 28th of March 1903 by Lady Overtoun, before an invited gathering of 400 dignitaries from the town and the county. They had gathered in the Burgh Hall (NS3975 : Old Burgh Hall, Church Street, Dumbarton), and were then led by the council's halbert-bearers in procession up Church Street to College Park (the site where the buildings stand). The proceedings at the main entrance were conducted by Provost MacFarlan (on whom see NS3975 : MacFarlan's Hurdles), Lord Overtoun (in deputy-lieutenant's uniform, and carrying a sword), and Lady Overtoun. The architect, James Thompson, gave a speech, then presented Lady Overtoun with a golden key. She officially opened the main gate; the assembled audience then entered and inspected the buildings.

By the day of opening, a number of gifts had already been made for the new buildings. Among them was a large statue presented by Mrs Denny (NS3975 : Statue of Peter Denny); it is the one that can be seen in the present photograph. It had been completed considerably earlier, but there was a question about where it might best be situated; however, when Lord Overtoun bought College Park and gifted it to the burgh, the problem was solved: it was decided that the statue should go there, in front of the new buildings. Other gifts included the "Napier anvil"; a stag's head with twelve points was gifted by Provost MacFarlan, who also presented an etching of the Rt Hon Lord Frederick Campbell (Provost of the Burgh from 1769-82), a print of Pont's map of the Lennox, and an Ordnance Survey map of the town and burgh (noted as being large scale and "now out of print"). Several other equally varied gifts are recorded, but there is no mention of the cannons that are now located beside the building; had they been presented on the day, that omission would be very surprising. The provenance of the cannons therefore remains rather uncertain (see NS3975 : MacFarlan's Hurdles).

On the day of the Municipal Buildings' official opening, Lord Overtoun was created an honorary burgess and freeman, with the same guests in attendance at that ceremony. Also held on the same day was the official inauguration of an extension to the Corporation Gasworks; those attending the Municipal Buildings' opening passed on to the gasworks, but there was no formal celebration there, and they were left to inspect the works as they pleased.

(At that time, the gasworks were not in the place where a gasometer presently stands, not far from Dumbarton East station. They were, instead, on the site shown in NS3975 : Construction on site of Burgh Hall; as mentioned at that link, a circular feature that was once the location of a gasometer was temporarily uncovered during development of that site.)

A "Dumbarton Remembered" article by Mike Taylor, in the Lennox Herald issue of 19th April 2002, mentions some later developments. For example, the Municipal Buildings include some memorial windows: the Denny Memorial Window, formally unveiled 30th April 1908; the Dixon Memorial Window (18th January 1909); and McAusland Memorial Window (26th April 1907), all of these being by Shrigley & Hunt of Lancaster and London. In 1904, a memorial to local men who died in the Boer War was erected beside the buildings: NS3975 : Boer War Memorial. In 1907, NS3975 : The College Bow itself was relocated to stand beside the Municipal Buildings. Finally, as noted above, the iron railings enclosing the grounds were removed during the Second World War.
Dumbarton Municipal Buildings

The buildings were erected on College Park (the former grounds of College Park House). The land was bought from the railway company by Lord Overtoun, and gifted by him to the burgh. The buildings, by James Thomson, were officially opened in 1903. The College Bow LinkExternal link now stands in the grounds, as do a Boer War Memorial LinkExternal link and a statue of Peter Denny LinkExternal link

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NS3975, 598 images   (more nearby search)
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Date Taken
Wednesday, 28 November, 2012   (more nearby)
Thursday, 6 December, 2012
Geographical Context
Public buildings and spaces 
Architect (from Tags)
James Thomson 
Subject Location
OSGB36: geotagged! NS 3976 7552 [10m precision]
WGS84: 55:56.7553N 4:34.0508W
Camera Location
OSGB36: geotagged! NS 3974 7544
View Direction
North-northeast (about 22 degrees)
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Municipal Building 

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