To be published on 14th February 2017
An extract from “The History of Crossbasket Castle” by Paul Veverka (c)
1904 – George Neilson’s remaining ownership of Crossbasket passed by quite unremarkably except for a time during April 1904. On 7th and 8th April 1904, a legal agreement was drafted between George and Mr. David Borrie McNab, a writer from Bothwell, who also owned some nearby lands at Calderwood. This permitted Mr. McNab to grow crops and harvest them on 2 fields at Crossbasket for the pleasure of £17 and 10 shillings, with the annual rental at £3. Two documents for presentations, execution and publication were drawn up, one in each of the parties names. Whilst looking at David Borrie McNab further, I noticed he certainly was no stranger to financial opportunities and figures. By 1907, he was also working part time as a notary for the Clydesdale Bank.
The owners of adjacent Greenhall estate in 1904 tried to sue Calderwood’s Borrie McNab when he threatened to remove scenic trees at Calderwood (that just happened to be seen from Greenhall). The owners of Greenhall fell for this blackmail and paid up for McNab to leave the trees alone, which were on his own land!
Let me tell you something else about Mr. McNab (who had just bought the entire Calderwood Estate for £37,500. Once the Greenhall owners had paid up for the above trees NOT to be felled, he threatened to build homes on his Lady Nancy field, which just happened to overlook Greenhall & Crossbasket Estates. He contacted the Greenhall & Crossbasket owners and suggested he would not build the homes, if they were interested in buying the field, for, wait for it….£37,500! It was again Greenhall paying up, but no cash was parted by Crossbasket. In the space of 2 years of buying the massive Calderwood Estate, McNab of Bothwell was in profit, and still owned almost all of the estate itself. Clever!
The 1904 ‘crops event’ is notable as it suggests the first time a Crossbasket owner, permitted others to earn from the estate. It may also have been a sign that the Estate was still large and difficult to maintain, without the responsibility of others livelihoods and expense of hiring and a compliment of live-in servants. That year, The Co-operative society purchased Calderwood Estate intending to grow fruit and veg on the fields.
Around this year, George Neilson had grass tennis courts created to the south, in front of the house. This was a popular pastime of this era and was the desirable thing to install at grand homes of the time. I’ve dated this as happening as 1904, due to the plentiful pictures and photos, known and dated surrounding that year.
1905 – The back of the building was just as impressive. The abundance of chimneys giving it a distinct appearance from afar. Pictured here from the Calderwood Halt Station platform, looking back down on Crossbasket is another photo taken in 1905 by David Ritchie. I can only imagine how many fires it took to heat the building to any degree of being comfortable. As you can see, we’re now entering a period where photography was more common, so using photographs is an excellent way of determining what was there at the time.