The Captain's House, Main Street
Bonnie: “I was born in 1956, in Suffolk, Virginia, USA. My husband and I married and lived in a two-berth caravan, started looking for a house, and lived in Pearl Cottage in Kilsyth for 6 yrs. We had three children under 4 yrs. old, and one of them was disabled and we needed to get a home that we could separate the children if they became ill. We advertised and were offered this one in Twechar and could just about afford it, and it meant we could separate the children if they were ill, which was just as well as they ended up taking chicken pox, measles and everything. They grew up here and have fond memories of the house. The previous owners were the Shields family, a blended family, as a result of two divorcees marrying - with eight children living in the house. Like us, their children gradually grew up and moved out.”
Bonnie: “We knew nothing of the history of the house, we didn't even know we had a back garden when we moved in. We were told that it was known in the village as ‘Captain Buchanan's house’. We discovered that…we used to grow vegetables along the sidewall and an older lady stopped us one day when we were out working in the garden, and told us that she used to be a maid there in the 1920s, and told us what every room was used for in the house. That was the first we learned about it and this had been the mine owner's house and the mine manager's house and Cpt Buchanan's family lived in it after that. One day when my son was a toddler, I ran out because Michael was standing at the front gate talking to a man and it turned out that the man had been evacuated to the village and had stayed in this house during the war. He could tell us that, now, where the cottage is across the road (Daniel McDonald's cottage), that was the tennis courts for the house. There are five bedrooms, a bathroom, a shower room, three public rooms, the kitchen, and in the annex at the back are a utility room, a toilet and the entrance room, which was originally the butler's room, where he could serve drinks out to the garden or into the house.”
Ken: “The original deeds when we bought the house, there was a kind of booklet with the house, the house took six years to build from 1896-1902. In the write-up in the deeds it also stated that it took that period of time just to build the external walls of the house around the garden, at some points the wall is over nine feet high and it goes all the way right round. It must have been quite a building feat in its day.”
Bonnie: “We moved in, in December, and before long the hedge across the back was cut and we discovered that we had this big garden and in no time at all it became overgrown but, gradually, we cleared a lot of the turf and things and we discovered a lot of paths where the garden had been a vegetable garden, we think, because there were old sandstone type slabs 12 inches square, and we've used them in various places around the garden. There was a huge rhubarb patch at the side so it must have been looked after by gardeners for a long time. There were two areas at the front and at the side of the house and apparently, they were goldfish pools. Long before we moved in, they were planted up but that's the way the house was at that time. The railings weren't there; there were railings initially, but I believe they were cut down for the war effort and there were hedges right round at the front but when the council wanted to buy the lane for access to the Centre, they then put railings up round the house for us as part of the agreement.”
Bonnie: “All the cornicing in the main rooms downstairs are still in the house, the window sashes, the floors throughout are still the original floors and the layout is exactly the same. The bathhouse sink’s in the wash-room as well. We enjoy living in the village and don't really want to move.
Bonnie & Ken McKerracher