THIS week, Chris Atkinson from the West Linton Historical Society reveals more about the mansions near West Linton...

The old coach road from Edinburgh to Lanark which ran a few miles north of West Linton crossed the Lyne Water at the site of an old Roman fort.

At this point it met the drove road from the Cauldstane Slap. An inn sprang up here known as the Brighous Inn and it was at this site that the famous Linton markets were first held.

Robert Burns would visit Linton where he had a friend named Graham, the innkeeper at the Brighous. Twice he came but didn’t find his friend at home, so he scratched these words on a window pane of the inn: “Honest Graham, aye the same, never to be found at hame.”

The old inn was considerably enlarged in 1862, becoming Medwyn House, the home of William Forbes, a great benefactor of the village, who spent large sums in draining and improving the land. A new turnpike road between Carlops and Dolphinton had been built in 1831, and, as a result, a way-side inn appeared on the east side of the road called Rutherford Castle Inn.

The owner, James Greig, considerably improved the property and transformed the inn, which faced west, into the present dwelling house which faces south and is approached by an avenue from the main road.

A later owner, Andrew Webster, extended the planting and enclosed a mineral spring, “Heaven Aqua”, less than two miles from Carlops.

Not all the fine local houses around West Linton survived. Coldcoat or Macbiehill was one. It had a long pedigree, being built about 1600, but was demolished about 1950.

It was owned by the Hamiltons of Coldcoat and Grange the last of the Hamiltons being Alexander who died in 1697. Before he died he managed to repair the house and in so doing contrived that there were exactly 15 sleeping places in the house, so that he might have it in his power to accommodate the whole of the 15 judges of the Court of Session without the necessity of putting two in one bed.

The Coldcoat estate was then acquired by William Montgomery of Magbiehill in Ayrshire, who transferred this name which later became Macbiehill. Three of this family are buried in a mausoleum on the estate.

Another house that did not survive was Broomlee House. It was originally the manor house of Broomlee estate until it was acquired by Sir William Fergusson and absorbed into Spitalhaugh estate. After his death it continued to be occupied by his three spinster daughters until after their deaths when it was demolished and became part of the grounds of Broomlee Camp. During their lifetime the sisters were very active in the village and did good work. Miss Jane Fergusson executed some remarkable wood carvings in St Andrew’s church and was instrumental in forming a local branch of the Band of Mercy.