Fantastic Ruin at Balloch, Loch Lomond
Woodbank House, Balloch
Tucked away behind the trees in a corner of the village of Balloch lies an impressively ruinous and mostly forgotten grand mansion known as Woodbank House. This Grade A listed pile has its origins in the 1670s when the land on which it sits was settled on James and Sarah Lindsay the original building on the site was known as Stuckrodger. Charles Scott of Dalquhurn acquired the house in 1774 and the name was changed to Woodbank. Further additions to the property were made after William Ewing Gilmour moved into the house in 1885. A contemporary painting of Ewing Gilmour can be found here: artuk.org/discover/artworks/mr-william-ewing-gilmour-194895 and a brief biography of the said man can be found here: www.valeofleven.org.uk/famousfolk/industrials.html?fbclid=IwAR2bKvYkvZIwHVb4AiagWof9peMdTwSzMg51Q8mZ8XZAHAy6QPMT-c4qrLg
In 1930s the house was turned into the Woodbank Hotel. In 1979 a plan to reopen as Hamilton House Hotel with the 18 bedrooms converted into 8 luxury apartments was short-lived. The new hotel closed in 1981.
Plans for further use were rejected by the council and the house soon fell into disrepair. Approaches were made to the owner who was reluctant to sell. A major fire in 1996 put paid to everything.
Listed as two stories with cellars little remains of the building now but the exterior walls - some in a very precarious state. Charred roof timbers from the 1996 fire lie within buried and grown over by vegetation.
Despite its decrepitude and the risk of falling slates or masonry the ruin appears to be popular with dog walker and others as the perimeter paths are very accessible. Surprisingly protective fencing and window barricading have been removed and access to the site is unhindered. The building is dangerous though and certainly not a place to take children. However, it retains an intriguing fascination.
Plans have recently been submitted by a large leisure park operator to acquire the land on which Woodbank's ruins stand and install a holiday park scenario. These plans refer to an element of refurbishment for Woodbank House - once the chalets have been built.
On the western facade a crest carved into the stone is the same as that on the Masonic Lodge building in Alexandria. It reads "Nil Penna Sed Usus” which translated means “Not the pen (plume) but its use”. It is part of the family crest of the Gilmour family. (Ewing Gilmour moved into the house in 1885 after which this south west wing was built)
Adjacent to the house are extensive former stables - also in a poor state of repair..
The future remains in the balance but it would be shame to see this architectural piece disappear completely.