Miramar, 21 Shore Road, Skelmorlie

Source of Photos: 1, 3, 4, 5 & 6 – Facebook: Skelmorlie & Wemyss Bay in their Heyday. 1. Cochrane House circa 1951. 2. Ordinance Survey 1910 3. Marine Court Hotel, Postcard by Valentine circa late 50s. 4. Angus Hotel – Check In card – circa late 60s. 5. Photo circa late 60s 6. Photo circa 2015.

Circa 1873/4Architect unknown
Walter Brash1875 – circa 1891House name Duncliffe
Mrs Mary Jane (Finlay) MacLaren1892 – 1900
Mr Norman Henry William MacLaren (son)1900 – circa 1910
Mr John & Mrs Jane Angus and familyCirca 1910 – 1938House renamed Mira-Mar
Mira – Mar Hotel. Proprietors (J & W Bradley)1939 – 1948Change of Use to Hotel
Cochrane House owned by the Cochrane Foundation1949 – circa mid 50sHoliday home for the elderly of Alva
Marine Court HotelCirca mid 50s – unknownChanged back to a hotel
Angus HotelUnknown – 1980s?
Miramar flats1980s?Split into 9 apartments and renamed Miramar


  • By extrapolation, it would appear that Miramar, originally known as Duncliffe, was built around 1873/4. There is no listing for the house or surname in the 1872 post office directory but a Walter Brash is listed at the house in the 1878 and subsequent directories. He is also listed at the house in the 1875 district valuation roll. Source: 1872, 1878, 1882, 1886 and 1893 Post Office Directories and 1875 and 1885 District Valuation Rolls.
  • Walter Inglis Brash (1827 – 1907) was the son of Reverend William Brash (United Presbyterian Church) and Jane (Dick) Brash. In 1867, he married Euphemia McHutchon (1832 – 1903) and at the time gave his  occupation as Manufacturer (in other documents of Braid and Shirts). Source: Birth, death and marriage certificates.
  • Although Walter Brash owned the house, it is likely to have been rented out for at least part of his tenure. There are adverts in the Glasgow Herald offering the house for short term lets, as well as adverts for staff for similar short periods. We also found in the 1881 census, that Walter  Brash and his family (wife Euphemia, 3 sons and 4 daughters) were living at Towerville (Tower Villa) on Eglinton Terrace, rather than Duncliffe, even though he appeared as owner/occupier of both properties in the 1885 valuation roll. Source: 1881 census, 1875 & 1885 Valuation rolls & Glasgow Herald classified ads 1884, 1888, 1900.

    Duncliffe sales - Advert in 1892

    Duncliffe sales – Advert in 1892

  •  In late 1891/early 1892,  the Brash’s put both houses up for sale. For Duncliffe, the following advert appeared in the Glasgow Herald. “For Sale by Public Roup. Duncliffe, Shore Road,  Skelmorlie, containing 4 Public Rooms,  7 Bedrooms, Servant’s and other accomodation, with offices. Feu duty £25 19s. The funrniture can be had at a Valuation. Immediate Entry. Upset price reduced to £2,200”. From the valuation rolls, we can see that Duncliffe sold but the Brash’s continued to hold onto Towerville until at least 1905.  Source: Glasgow Herald, various between Oct 1891 and Feb 1892 & 1885, 1895 & 1905 District Valuation Rolls.
  • The next owner of Duncliffe was Mary Jane (Finlay) Maclaren, who was born in January 1841 in Glasgow. She married Robert MacLaren (1817 -1889), Iron Founder  & Engineer in Glasgow in 1859, when she was 18 and he was 42. They had 9 children, the youngest of whom, was Norman Henry William MacLaren born January 1880.  It would have been after Robert died in 1889, that Mary decided to move to Skelmorlie, buying Duncliffe a few years later. At this time, Norman would have been 12 and next youngest 20.  Mary lived at Duncliffe for the next 8 years until her death in 1900, after which Norman inherited the house.  Note: It is likely that Mary was a staunch churchgoer as there is a window in the South Parish Church, dedicated to her memory.  Sources: 1895 and 1905 District Valuation Rolls, The Peerage – Robert MacLaren & Mary Finlay and The South Parish Church 1856 -1956 One Hundred Years by Wm. Newton Macartney.
  • Norman held onto the house until some-time between 1905 and 1911.  During that time, he studied at Glasgow University and at the University of
    Norman Henry William MacLaren

    Norman Henry William MacLaren

    Heidelberg in Germany from where he received a Ph.D. He then worked at Glasgow University and did work for the Royal Geographic Society on trips to such places as the McKenzie river Alaska, Borneo, and Tibet. He became a fellow of the Royal Geographic Society and the Linean Society. In the early 1900s Norman travelled through Alaska with a team of husky dogs and a Chinese cook, making the first map of large areas of Alaska, breaking an arm in a crevasse and setting it himself.

    Wee Norri

    “Wee Norrie”

    Here is a note from Angela Elliott about the Maclaren River & Glacier. “I received info from the University in June to the effect that the Maclaren Glacier and River were named for Norrie Maclaren, who had led a party of gold prospectors up river. At a fork in the river the party split and Maclaren led the party up one arm, whilst his compatriot led a party up the other. Maclaren failed to find gold, but the other party were successful and the leader of that party named the river and glacier after Norrie Maclaren in recompense for his failure.” After Norman sold Duncliffe he married in 1912 and he and his wife went on to have 3 sons and a daughter. He worked for most of his life at the University of Glasgow firstly as a lecturer in Anatomy and laterally in Embryology where he made his name. Source: electric Scotland.com – (Dr) Norman Henry William MACLAREN.

  • By 1911, Duncliffe had been renamed Mira-Mar and bought by John Angus (1858 – 1926) and his wife Jane Sclanders (Robin) Angus (1862 – 1938).  John’s father was a mechanic and Jane’s father a wine merchant. John gives his profession as Engineer.
    In the 1911 census, there were 6 people staying in the main house at Mira-Mar; John, Jane, their 3 daughters Margaret (aged 35), Isabella (aged 25) and Christina (also aged 25) together with a female visitor. In the Cottage was the gardener and his family and in the coach house, the mechanic/chauffeur and his family.
    The Angus’s appear to have been quite involved in village life and we know from the history of the Attic Players that during the First World War, the children of the village were invited to film shows in the Angus private theatre at Mira-Mar.
    After John Angus passed away, in 1926, the house passed to his wife Jane, who stayed there until the mid – late 1930s. Source: Various birth and death certificates, the distract valuation rolls (1915, 1920, 1925, 1930 & 1935), the 1911 census & the History of the Attic Players 1932 -92.
  • From the History of the Attic Players 1932 -1992.

    From the History of the Attic Players 1932 -1992.

    The next owners of Mira-Mar were Mr J and Mrs W Bradley, who converted the house to a hotel around 1937. We know again from the history of the Attic Players, that the Bradley’s kindly offered the use of the theatre in Mira-Mar for their twice-yearly productions when the club outgrew the lounge at Skelmorlie Hydro. Here’s what their records say “Mira-Mar theatre being purpose built, was lovely. The stage though small was properly raked, there was a fine, though not too ornate, proscenium arch. Off left were dressing and make-up rooms complete with mirrors, make up shelves, toilets etc. Off right, behind the arch, sufficient room for small props and anyone who had to exit that way. The hall itself held about 120 and there was in addition a balcony which held 30. The balcony was reached by two narrow staircases on either side of double doors which led to the billiard room of the house. In the late 40’s and early 50’s these stairs were used as overflow seating” The club continued to use the theatre until the mid-50s when the ownership of the building changed. Source: Scotsman Advert May 1939 and The History of the Attic players 1932 -92.

  • It’s not clear whether the building was requisitioned during the war, or continued as a hotel but an advert post-war gives us a flavour of what was on offer by that time. “SKELMORLIE – Situated on the sea front between Wemyss Bay and Largs, the MIRA-MAR HOTEL is the Perfect Centre for Firth of Clyde Sailings. The Hotel has beautiful Gardens, Ballroom. Garages, H.&C., Central Heating, Home Baking, Excellent Cuisine, Golf, Tennis and Bowling Adjacent. Open to Non-Residents. Bookings Now for Spring Holiday Onwards. MIRA-MAR HOTEL, SKELMORLIE Telephone Wemyss Bay 2188. Source: The Scotsman – Thursday 15th April 1948 – Page 8.
  • In 1949, the hotel was sold and bought by the Cochrane Foundation. An article in the Scotsman explains, “Cochrane House, a holiday home at Skelmorlie, for the old folks of Alva, was formerly opened and dedicated on Saturday. The Cochrane Foundation was established some years ago during the lifetime of the three brothers – James, Charles and John Cochrane, natives of Alva, who emigrated to Alva as boys in the 1860s. They entered the carpet-making industry and built up a large business. On the death of the last brother, the residue of their estate, about £250,000, was left in the hands of the foundation for the benefit of their native town. The latest benefaction is the holiday home at Skelmorlie. In the house there is accommodation for 16 old folks, who will holiday for a fortnight under the care of a qualified matron. They will be conveyed to and from the house by bus. Source: The Scotsman – Monday 25th July 1949 – Page 6.
  • We do not know how long the Cochrane Foundation held onto Cochrane House (Mira-Mar) but it’s understood that it then became the Marine Court Hotel in the mid-50s and in due course changed name and ownership again to become the Angus Hotel.  Source: Robert G Cathcart, Facebook: Skelmorlie & Wemyss Bay in their Heyday.
  • Over the years, the Hotel was developed to keep up with the times and when it became The Angus Hotel, it had 29 bedrooms (some with private bath/toilet), a lounge bar, cocktail bar, television room, radio in all bedrooms, “room call”, central heating and putting Green. Source: Reverse of Angus Hotel postcard above.
  • At some point in the 1980s, the Angus was sold and developed into 9 separate Flats/ Apartments.  The property, Miramar, continues in this form today.

Location Map:

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