1946 – Following World War 2, the Crossbasket gatehouse, east lodge was sold by James directly to his sister on 14th November 1946. Agnes Little was unmarried, a spinster but a lady with many business interests herself. Amongst them a seamstress and drapers business in Ladybank, as her sisters Margaret and Peggy had too. It is unknown if money exchanged hands between the siblings, for by this time James Little was indeed, a very wealthy man. The transaction though, severed the gatehouse ownership from Crossbasket Estate although later, it was through inheritance, to ironically, if not briefly come back into the full estate.
1947 – Agnes Little had no intention of living at the Gatehouse at that time. On 8th February 1947, just 3 months after buying it, she leased it to David Lennox along with 17 poles and 1 yard of land. The Littles, ever the business family.
In the years following the war, James Little made few improvements upon the estate. There is no great evidence or legacy of his time there, unlike his predecessors. However, it is said, that being able to appreciate effort and beauty in wood craftsmanship, he allegedly had the most beautifully carved furniture!
Little was well known and respected in nearby Blantyre and was known to have given to local charities.
1951 – James Little passed away, aged 73. He had been single all his life, never engaged or married, never had any children. James Little was interred in Blantyre Cemetery, lair number L482 on the 15th June 1951. The adjacent lair, L481/2 was originally purchased by his father, William Little Snr, builder and former coal miner, who had lived at 157 Stonefield Road.
In the will of James Little, Agnes his younger sister was given full tenancy and ownership of the remaining previously leased external properties at Crossbasket Estate, and of course she already had her own gatehouse. The other sisters Jane and Elizabeth were looked after by being given a “home for life” at Crossbasket Castle itself, supported by income from the inherited various businesses and property elsewhere. I suspect that they wanted for nothing, keeping themselves to themselves.
William, his brother although responsible for acquiring much of the Little’s fortunes, would not appear to have benefited from James’s death despite being older and outliving him. This may have been irrelevant anyway as William had accumulated his own considerable wealth.
Crossbasket Estate was left to a newly formed Trust in favour of and with control of Agnes Little, sister of James. Dr.Barnado’s immediately benefited from the use of the Castle as a training and learning centre for deaf children. It is alleged that James left a substantial financial fund, believed to be worth the equivalent of several million pounds of today’s money within this trust.
Before I leave the Little’s story, I would like to add that Sonya told me her father, William grew up at Crossbasket until he was about 9 years old. His great uncle was James Little. William still has many fond memories of Crossbasket, including the “milk run” and what “a cold b****er of a place the house was!”
In 2013, whilst speaking of Crossbasket, elderly local man Ean Paul (who used to live at nearby at the former Greenhall House, told me that Greenhall House and Crossbasket Castle went through vast quantities of coal to heat the buildings. It was a full time job, to go round each room, ensuring there was enough coal in the fires.
James’s confidence and personal trust in putting his money into a trust fund may not have turned out quite like he had hoped.
1960 – Alleged rumours of financial mismanagement of the trust fund and the age of the surviving sisters (and their subsequent deaths) meant something had to be done to properly put the trust fund to good use. The sisters would surely have found running the estate quite an undertaking, but would have been wealthy enough to have managed this with external assistance and labour.
1961 – James Little’s sister Agnes died, as a spinster, leaving all her business interests and property, added to the Trust.
1963 – “The Trustees of Agnes Little” decided to put the entire trust into the hands of an organized charity, disposing and selling Crossbasket Castle.
An extract from “History of Crossbasket Castle” by Paul Veverka (c) 2015