The history of Boclair House is brought to life

Craig Haddow, General Manager of Boclair House Hotel with Margaret Hutchison and Harry Steven.
Craig Haddow, General Manager of Boclair House Hotel with Margaret Hutchison and Harry Steven.

Boclair House Hotel in Bearsden welcomed some very special visitors last week who shared their memories of roller skating around the house when they lived there.

Harry Steven and his sister Margaret Hutchison lived in Boclair when it was the Buchanan Retreat, a home for elderly gentlemen with the name of Buchanan.

Harry and Margaret at the top of the stairs at Buchanan House - now Boclair House Hotel.

Harry and Margaret at the top of the stairs at Buchanan House - now Boclair House Hotel.

Their mum was the Matron and their dad worked in the office, maintaining the management side of the operation. They ensured the smooth running of the 14-bedroom house for the men that lived there.

Young Harry and Margaret had a great time living in the huge house which became their playground, and they were very popular with friends at school who loved to visit this grand mansion.

A huge laundry room with a cement floor was perfect for roller skating and they used to climb up the spiral staircase to look out. They also played in the ballroom – and what used to be a sitting/dining room.

Harry also remembers riding around on the wheels of the large lawn cutting machine, and playing bowls on the front lawn.

The Buchanan Retreat had a cook, live-in maids and gardeners.

Harry said: “The way the home was run was light years ahead of its time.

“The men were very well treated, they got lots of perks such as free tobacco, newspapers and entrance to the local cinema.

“We had a black and white TV and the usual routine for the gentlemen would be cocoa at 8pm and bed at 10.30pm. Then we were allowed to watch TV for a half hour treat before we went to bed.”

Although the Buchanan Retreat opened in 1890, the Steven family arrived in 1947 when they moved from Byres Road in Glasgow. Margaret was 12 and Harry was 10, and they attended Bearsden Academy.

Margaret lived at the Buchanan Retreat for around ten years and left to pursue her nursing career, which led her to London where she met her husband, Doctor John Hutchison.

Harry stayed at the Buchanan Retreat for around seven years. He also left for London and worked for Argentine Airlines which eventually led to a long career with the Tourist Board.

Margaret and her husband now live in Torquay and Harry lives in Edinburgh.

The Buchanan Retreat eventually closed due to a lack of elderly gentlemen to care for and Harry and Margaret’s parents moved out to a little cottage nearby.

The council acquired the property in 1960 and it became council offices. The offices received a Royal visit from Princess Margaret and Lord Snowdon in 1962 when they were officially opened. Margaret remembers being there for the Royal visit with her mum.