1981– On 2nd March 1981, the Pentecostal Church purchased Crossbasket Estate and its remaining 17.2 acres of grounds. The buyer was 51 year old, Rev. Peter Differ Cochrane who intended to run it as a Christian Centre. It was used as a religious centre that decade. The woodland to the north was leased for £1 for 999 years.
The Rev. Peter Differ Cochrane was born in 1930. I can only imagine what state the property was in when Peter arrived, although I do appreciate it was probably exciting, as he set out his vision for teaching religious practice at this wonderful location. He was going to need help to get the estate back up and running and into shape. This came in the form of some paid work using local labour and a lot of volunteer work, from the people who would slowly but surely arrive to work as missionaries in the Castle.
1983 – Blantyre man Gordon Cook told me, “I worked up at Crossbasket for a year once, and Neil Gordon (late historian of Blantyre) and I dug up bottles at the rear of the house round about 1983 or 1984. They were water bottles from Austria, a pinkish brown colour stoneware. Neil took about two dozen. I only took a couple and have since given them away to collectors. I remember him saying they were “lying around like salmon.” Clearly old, can you imagine importing water back then?
1984 – Gordon continued, “I rebuilt one of the foot bridges in 1984. It was a brilliant summer and the best job I got was covering the fortalice tower roof with a new expandable gooey black bitumen. I also remember waving to Neil Gordon in his hired plane, taking film for his ‘betamax’ video.”
1985 – American LaVere Soper and his wife Elizabeth, a deeply religious couple move into Crossbasket but as tenants only to continue mission work in Scotland. Around the same time, American Tulsa based, “Latter Rain Ministries” was established at Crossbasket, with this organisation administrating the religious centre from then until around 2004.
1987– Alex Mihai , a pastor and his wife Kathy and daughter Christina join the Sopers at Crossbasket Castle as part of the mission. They pioneered the short lived “Word of Life” Church in Blantyre. Kathy worked as LaVere’s secretary. Importantly though it was Alex who turned his hand to building and construction and he is credited with working on many rooms in Crossbasket, to make the building habitable for the religious incomers and born again Christians, who were arriving to stay there.
Speaking on Social media online, Blantyre woman Kelly Marie told me, “With an open door policy, you could go to the Christian Group at Crossbasket in the late 80’s and early 90’s and could sing, play, do arts and crafts etc. The owners used to have all the kids over for Burns Night. The people living there put on plays at High Blantyre Public Park for children. My brothers also played football at Crossbasket. It was a great place to go. My friend Janet Flannigan Cook, and I became born again Christians at that Castle.”
Pictured in 1990, some people utilising the corridors, as a warm, dry place in the building.
Extract from the book, “The History of Crossbasket Castle” by Paul Veverka (c) 2015