Culture Wikia
For the Australian town, see Helensburgh, New South Wales. For the suburb of Dunedin in New Zealand, see Suburbs of Dunedin.

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  • Scottish Gaelic: Baile Eilidh
  • Scots: Eelansburgh
File:Colquhoun Square Helensburgh.jpg
Colquhoun Square in Helensburgh town centre
Population14,626 (2001 Census)[1]
OS grid referenceNS298833
• Edinburgh61 mi (98 km) E
• London363 mi (586 km) SSE
Council area
  • Argyll and Bute
Lieutenancy area
  • Dunbartonshire
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Postcode districtG84
Dialling code01436
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UK Parliament
  • Argyll and Bute
Scottish Parliament
  • Dumbarton
List of places

Helensburgh (English pronunciation: ; Scottish Gaelic: Baile Eilidh) is a town in Argyll and Bute, Scotland. It lies on the north shore of the Firth of Clyde and the eastern shore of the entrance to the Gareloch.

Helensburgh was formerly in Dumbarton District, but was re-allocated under local government reorganisation in 1996. Prior to 1975 it was part of the former Dunbartonshire.


Helensburgh was founded in 1776 when Sir James Colquhoun of Luss built spa baths on the site of Ardencaple Castle, which dated back to about 1600. He then had the seaside resort town constructed to the east of the spa on a formal layout in the style of Edinburgh New Town, and named it after his wife Helen. A ferry service he arranged across the Firth of Clyde to Greenock was successful in attracting residents who could commute from jobs there to attractive homes in the new town.[2] Helensburgh became a favourite place of residence for shipping tycoons and tobacco merchants from Glasgow. At one point the small town had one quarter of Britain's millionaires living there.

In 1808, Henry Bell bought the public baths and hotel, which his wife superintended while he continued his interest in early steamboats such as the nearby Charlotte Dundas and the North River Steamboat which Robert Fulton had just introduced at New York City. To improve hotel trade, he had the paddle steamer Comet constructed and in 1812 introduced Europe's first successful steamboat service, bringing passengers down the River Clyde from Glasgow to Greenock and Helensburgh. The Clyde steamer trade developed rapidly, and Helensburgh pier and Craigendoran pier at the east end of the town both became major departure points. From 1858 holidaymakers were brought to the resort and the steamers by the Glasgow, Dumbarton and Helensburgh Railway terminus built in the centre of the town, and in 1894 a second railway station was opened higher up the hill on the West Highland Railway to Fort William.[2]

Helensburgh born coal miner Charles Harper emigrated to New South Wales (now a state of Australia) and became the first manager of the Metropolitan Coal Company before being killed in a mine accident in 1887. In that year, the company took over the mining lease on an area south of Sydney known as Camp Creek. When the coal mine opened the following year, the town was named Helensburgh, possibly named after his birthplace or after his daughter Helen. The two Helensburghs are now sister cities.[3]


Hill House, Helensburgh.

In 1903, Charles Rennie Mackintosh built the Hill House for the publishing tycoon Walter Blackie. The house, in Colquhoun Street on the north edge of town, is one of the best examples of his style, with startlingly modern interiors incorporating furniture which he designed. It is now owned by the National Trust for Scotland and is a popular tourist attraction.

The baronetcy of Helensburgh[]

The Raeburn Baronetcy, of Helensburgh in the County of Dunbarton, is a title in the Baronetage of the United Kingdom. It was created on 25 July 1923 by King George V for William Raeburn. He was head of the firm of Raeburn & Verel, Ltd, (a shipping company) and also represented Dunbartonshire in the House of Commons as a Unionist.

The town today[]

File:Helensburgh, lower Rhu Road.jpg

Helensburgh's "Rhu Road", looking west towards Rhu, Rosneath and the Gareloch.

File:Helensburgh 5 December 2010.jpg

Telephoto view of Helensburgh in winter, seen from Greenock to the south.

Helensburgh today acts as a commuter town for nearby Glasgow, with a population at the 2001 census of 14,626, and also serves as a main shopping centre for the area and for tourists attracted to the seaside resort. Helensburgh is also influenced by the presence of the Clyde Naval Base at Faslane on the Gare Loch, a major local employer. The town is a popular destination for day trippers.

The town is served by three railway stations, Helensburgh Upper on the West Highland Line, Craigendoran, on the North Clyde Line and Helensburgh Central, the terminus of the North Clyde Line.

The seafront has an indoor swimming pool, an esplanade walk, a range of shops, cafes and pubs, and sailing facilities including Helensburgh Sailing Club.[4] At Rhu, just beyond the town boundary, there is a marina.

The streets are built on a gentle slope rising to the north east, and at the brow of the hill a golf club has views looking south out over the town to the Clyde, and to the north across nearby Loch Lomond to the Trossachs hills.[5]

The paddle steamer Waverley calls in to Helensburgh pier during summer sailings. Until April 2012, a regular passenger ferry service ran from Helensburgh pier to Kilcreggan and Gourock, (until 2007 the historic ferry Kenilworth was used on this route);[6] Craigendoran pier fell into disuse in the late 20th century.

In a 2006 survey, Helensburgh was shown to be the second most expensive town in which to buy property in Scotland.[7]

The town is situated close to Faslane Naval Base, Faslane which is the site that houses the British nuclear deterrent fleet of Vanguard class submarines. The base is only 6 miles (10 kilometres) away from the town. Around 520 people are employed directly by the Trident programme, many of whom commute to Faslane.

Helensburgh is home to a number of annual events, with the local branch of Round Table running an annual fireworks display on Guy Fawkes Night and hosting a Real Ale Festival[8] at the Sailing Club.


Sports are well represented with various football, rugby, cricket, athletics, netball, hockey, curling, bowling, golf, sailing and fishing clubs amongst others active in the town.

Notable residents[]


  • Martin Alabaster, Royal Navy officer
  • Phil Ashby, Royal Marines Commando officer[9]
  • W. H. Auden, poet[10]
  • William Auld, poet and author[11]
  • John Logie Baird, inventor of the television[12]
  • Henry Bell, introduced the first passenger steamboat service in Europe[13]
  • John Black, football player
  • Bobby Blair, football player
  • James Bridie, playwright and screenwriter[14]
  • Bobby Brown, football player and manager[15]
  • Jack Buchanan, actor, singer, producer and director[16]
  • John Buchanan, Olympic Gold medal-winning sailor[17]
  • John Butt, orchestral and choral conductor, organist, harpsichordist and musicologist[18]
  • Bruce Cameron, Anglican bishop[19]
  • Horatio Scott Carslaw, mathematician[20]
  • Joe Carson, football player
  • John Christie, Church of Scotland minister[13]
  • Morven Christie, actress[21]
  • Andy Clyde, actor[22]
  • Stephen Conroy, artist[23]
  • Charlotte Cooper, Olympic Gold medal-winning tennis player[24]
  • James Copeland, actor[25]
  • A. J. Cronin, novelist and physician[26]
  • Cecil Day-Lewis, Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom[10]
  • Arthur Downes, Olympic Gold medal-winning sailor[27]
  • George Findlay, Victoria Cross recipient[28]
  • Malcolm Finlayson, football player[29]
  • John Arnold Fleming OBE FRSE (1871-1966), chemist, author and historian[30]
  • James George Frazer, social anthropologist[31]
  • Tom Gallacher, playwright[32]
  • John Gilmour, World War I pilot[33]
  • Norah Neilson Gray, artist[34]
  • Jimmy Gunning, football player
  • Sir James Guthrie, artist[35]
  • Herbert Guthrie-Smith, author and conservationist[36]
  • John Hammersley, mathematician[37]
  • James Ballantyne Hannay, chemist[38]
  • Jack Hill, football player and manager
  • Sir Stephen House, senior police officer
  • Kenny Hyslop, rock drummer in Slik and Simple Minds[39]
  • Hazel Irvine, television presenter[40]
  • William Jacks, Liberal politician and ironmaster[41]
  • Duncan Airlie James, kickboxer
  • James Jardine, Medal of Honor recipient[42]
File:Andrew Bonar Law 02.jpg

Bonar Law, Prime Minister

  • Billy Jeffrey, football player and manager
  • Deborah Kerr, actress, most notably in The King and I[43]
  • Daniel Lamont, Church of Scotland minister
  • Bonar Law, Conservative statesman and Prime Minister[44]
  • William Leiper, architect and artist[45]
  • Robert Aim Lennie, doctor
  • Robin Lloyd-Jones, author and educationalist[46]
  • Jimmy Logan, impresario and director[47]
  • R. D. Low, pilot and doctor[48]
  • Zachary Macaulay, mathematician and abolitionist[49]
  • David MacDonald, director, writer and actor[50]
  • Alexander Robertson MacEwen, Moderator of the United Free Church of Scotland
  • Helen MacInnes, author[51]
  • Murdo MacLeod, football player and manager[52]
  • Sir Ian McGeoch, Royal Navy officer[53]
  • Bob McGregor, Olympic Silver medal-winning swimmer[54]
  • Michael McIntyre, Olympic Gold medal-winning sailor[55]
File:Ian McGeoch.jpg

Vice-Admiral Sir Ian McGeoch

  • Lex McLean, music hall comedian[56]
  • Fergus McNeill, author and game designer
  • Moses McNeil, co-founder of Rangers F.C.[57]
  • Peter McNeil, co-founder of Rangers F.C.[58]
  • Charlotte McShane, triathlete
  • Neil Mitchell, musician[59]
  • Tommy Muirhead, football player and manager
  • Neil Munro, journalist and literary critic[60]
  • W.C.W. Murdoch, rugby union player
  • Gary Orr, golfer[61]
  • Derek Parlane, football player[62]
  • Luke Patience, Olympic Silver medal-winning sailor[63]
  • Samantha Poling, journalist[64]
  • Sir William Raeburn, Unionist politician and shipping magnate[65]
  • Gordon Reid, wheelchair tennis player[66]
  • Emma Richards, yachtswoman[67]
  • George Rickey, kinetic sculptor[68]
  • A. E. Robertson, Church of Scotland minister[69]
  • Patrick Rodger, Anglican bishop and ecumenist[70]
  • Randolph Schwabe, draughtsman and painter[71]
  • Louise Scullion, artist[72]
  • Nick Sharkey, football player
  • Gordon Sherry, golfer[73]
  • Max Simmers, rugby union player
  • Madeleine Smith, socialite tried for murder and the charge was found to be 'not proven'[74]
  • Martin Smith, director[75]
  • Walter Smith, football player and manager[76]
  • Peter Such, Test cricketer[77]
  • Fergus Tiernan, football player
  • Philip Tower, British Army officer[78]
  • Alexander Ure, Liberal politician and judge[79]
  • Tom Vaughan, film and television director[80]
  • Adam Cleghorn Welch, biblical scholar
  • Kim Winser, businesswoman[81]

See also[]

  • List of places in Argyll and Bute


  1. "Comparative Population Profile: Helensburgh Locality Scotland". General Register Office for Scotland. Retrieved 11 May 2012.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Leighton, John M. (1840). Strath-Clutha; or, The beauties of Clyde. pp. 179–182.
  3. "Helensburgh - History". Archived from the original on 23 July 2008. Retrieved 21 December 2011. Unknown parameter |deadurl= ignored (|url-status= suggested) (help)
  4. "» News". Retrieved 21 December 2011.
  5. "Helensburgh 18 hole golf club with stunning views over the Clyde and Loch Lomond". Retrieved 21 December 2011.
  6. "New operator for Gourock – Kilcreggan Ferry". Retrieved 27 August 2013. It’s regrettable that we could not maintain the link to Helensburgh. With passengers on that route representing only 7% of the total and the subsidy cost per head being £20, it was simply unsustainable.
  8. "Helensburgh and Lomond Real Ale Festival | 20th & 21st May 2011". 21 May 2011. Retrieved 21 December 2011.
  9. "Public Service – Major Phil Ashby QGM – Heroes Centre".
  10. 10.0 10.1 "Unseen Cecil Day-Lewis poem comes to light showing basic rhymes for schoolboy". The Daily Telegraph.
  11. "Literature – William Auld – Heroes Centre".
  12. "Two Perspectives of Helensburgh An illustrated talk by Malcolm Baird for the Helensburgh Heritage Trust, April 4, 2006" (PDF). Retrieved 21 March 2013. My father was born in Helensburgh in 1888 at “The Lodge” which still stands on the corner of West Argyle Street and Suffolk Street
  13. 13.0 13.1 "St Columba marked 150 years".
  14. "Literature – Dr Osborne Henry Mavor CBE – Heroes Centre".
  15. "Sport – Robert "Bobby" Brown – Heroes Centre".
  16. "Entertainment – Jack Buchanan – Heroes Centre".
  17. "Sport – John Buchanan – Heroes Centre".
  18. Rebecca Garrett, "Helensburgh musician John Butt gets OBE in New Year Honours," S1 Helensburgh, 10 January 2013, URL=
  19. Bertie, David M. (2000). Scottish Episcopal Clergy, 1689-2000. Edinburgh: T & T Clark. p. 201. ISBN 0-567-08746-8. Cite has empty unknown parameter: |coauthors= (help)
  20. "Science & Innovation – Horatio Scott Carslaw – Heroes Centre".
  21. "Actress Morven is in demand".
  22. "Movies – Andy Clyde – Heroes Centre".
  23. "The Arts – Stephen Conroy – Heroes Centre".
  24. "Sport – Charlotte Cooper Sterry – Heroes Centre".
  25. "Movies – James Copeland – Heroes Centre".
  26. "A.J.Cronin: The casebook".
  27. "Sport – Arthur Drummond Downes – Heroes Centre".
  28. "Burgh's Victoria Cross hero".
  30. "J.Arnold Fleming: Burgh benefactor".
  31. Jaques Waardenburg. 1999. Classical Approaches to the Study of Religion. Aims, Methods and Theories of Research, Volume I: Introduction and Anthology, p244. New York : Walter de Gruyter. ISBN 3-11-016328-4
  32. "Literature – Tom Gallacher – Heroes Centre".
  33. "Public Service – Major John Gilmour DSO MC – Heroes Centre".
  34. "The Arts – Norah Nielson Gray – Heroes Centre".
  35. "The Arts – Sir James Guthrie – Heroes Centre".
  36. "Science & Innovation – William Herbert Guthrie-Smith – Heroes Centre".
  37. "Science & Innovation – John Michael Hammersley – Heroes Centre".
  38. "Science & Innovation – James Ballantyne Hannay – Heroes Centre".
  39. "Kenny Hyslop". Helensburgh Heroes. Retrieved 21 March 2013.
  40. "Hazel often comes home".
  41. "Helensburgh's Prime Minister".
  42. "Public Service – James Jardine – Heroes Centre".
  43. "Deborah Kerr". Helensburgh Heroes. Retrieved 21 March 2013.
  44. R.J.Q. Adams, Bonar Law (1999)
  45. "The Arts – William Leiper – Heroes Centre".
  46. "Literature – Robin Lloyd Jones – Heroes Centre".
  47. "Entertainment – Jimmy Logan OBE – Heroes Centre".
  48. "Public Service – Ronald Waterson Low – Heroes Centre".
  49. "Slavery abolitionist from Cardross".
  50. "Movies – David MacDonald – Heroes Centre".
  51. "Literature – Helen MacInnes – Heroes Centre".
  52. "Sport – Murdo MacLeod – Heroes Centre".
  53. "Public Service – Vice Admiral Sir Ian McGeoch – Heroes Centre".
  54. "Bobby McGregor MBE". Helensburgh Heroes. Retrieved 21 March 2013.
  55. "Sport – Michael McIntyre – Heroes Centre".
  56. "Entertainment – Lex McLean – Heroes Centre".
  57. "Sport – Moses McNeil – Heroes Centre".
  58. "Sport – Peter McNeil – Heroes Centre".
  59. "Entertainment – Neil Mitchell – Heroes Centre".
  60. "Literature – Neil Munro – Heroes Centre".
  61. "Helensburgh golfer Gary Orr misses cut at Qatar Masters". 30 January 2009.
  62. "Sport – Derek Parlane – Heroes Centre".
  63. "Sport – Luke Patience – Heroes Centre".
  64. "Reporter wins third BAFTA".
  65. "The 1st Baronet of Helensburgh".
  66. "Sport – Gordon Reid – Heroes Centre".
  67. "Sport – Emma Richards MBE – Heroes Centre".
  68. "The Arts – George Rickey – Heroes Centre".
  69. "Sport – Rev Archibald Eneas Robertson – Heroes Centre".
  70. "Public Service – Patrick Campbell Rodger – Heroes Centre".
  71. "The Arts – Randolph Schwabe – Heroes Centre".
  72. "The Arts – Louise Scullion – Heroes Centre".
  73. "Gordon Sherry on the comeback trail".
  74. "Madeleine Smith's letters discussed".
  75. "Movies – Martin Smith – Heroes Centre".
  76. "Walter Smith". Helensburgh Heroes. Retrieved 21 March 2013.
  77. "Sport – Peter Such – Heroes Centre".
  79. "The 1st Baron Strathclyde".
  80. "Tom Vaughan". Helensburgh Heroes. Retrieved 21 December 2011.
  81. "Commerce – Kim Winser OBE – Heroes Centre".

81. ^ Stewart Noble (editor): 200 Years of Helensburgh 1802 - 2002 (ISBN 1 902831 38 1)

External links[]