Thursday, May 24, 2018

Located in Scotland

Mr GeniAus' mother had a photo of a handsome Victorian stone house in her collection which she believed was the home of her Gowans Grandparents in Hawick in the Borders area of Scotland.

We knew from the censuses that the Gowans lived at 1 High Street, Hawick so in 2004, on our first visit to the town, we headed to High Street where we found, at number one, a shop and residence that bore no resemblance to the handsome home in our photo. We then surmised that the family may have lived away from the watch and clockmaking and confectionery businesses that they conducted at 1 High Street (even though the censuses recorded the family as living at the High Street premises).

1 High Street, Hawick - 2004
We left a copy of a photo of the handsome house with the folk in the local Heritage Centre in Hawick and they promised to ask around to see if any of the locals could identify it. A few weeks later we got a response that no-one recognised the house and that the locals felt that it was not a Hawick building.

Several years later Mr GeniAus realised that his ancestor James Gowans lived with family members in and around Glasgow in his old age. Mr GeniAus thought perhaps James' daughter's residence, Overwood House in Glasgow Road, Paisley may be the subject of the picture. He consulted Google Maps and after looking at properties in the vicinity thought this likely as buildings in the area were of a similar style and age.

The Handsome House

Notes on the back of the photo
High on Mr GeniAus' list for our forthcoming visit to Scotland was tracking down the house so last week he decided to delve a little further.  He contacted a Paisley Group where a lovely lady called Mags MacGee took an interest in the case. She posted our photo of the house on a Facebook Group  and several members chimed in with comments.

We learnt that Overwood House had been demolished. One smart chap did something we hadn't thought to do. He blew the photo up to look for clues and deduced that, on the gatepost, there was a number and a name starting with Cop. As our copy of the photo is of a higher resolution I then took a look and saw the number 279 and worked out that the house name was Copshaw which is a village near Hawick. Ah, I thought the house must be in the vicinity of Hawick.

Zoomed in on the Gatepos
I popped 279 and Copshaw into my Google search box and was rewarded with two hits that listed a house named Copshaw at 279 Nithsdale Road, Glasgow

The resident listed was William Fairley Smith whom I immediately recognised as the husband of another daughter of James, Isabella Purves Gowans. On the back of the photo is a reference to Kathleen's bedroom, William and Isabella had a daughter by that name! We now presume that Isabella had sent this postcard to her brother, Mr GeniAus' Great-Grandfather William Purves Gowans, who was living in Australia.

When we logged back onto Google Maps Streetview we were pleased to discover that 279 Nithsdale Road is still standing and from comparing the stonework and decorations on the building we know we have solved a 30 year old mystery.

We have sent a copy of our photo to the owners of the house alerting them that we will be driving up and down their road to look at their house when we visit in the next few months.


Jenny Mackay said...

How exciting. I love it when a long time mystery is solved. I hope you get to see inside the house too.

JEN Garrett said...

Last semester I went on a similar quest for a college class. I had an old-time photo of a hotel and I needed to figure out where exactly it had been located. Luckily, the photo was high quality enough to zoom into, because there was a street sign that literally pointed me in the right direction.

Come to find out that not only the building had demolished, but also the street! Where cars used to drive was now a pedestrian throughway. But I found enough evidence to conclude that I was looking at the correct lot.

ScotSue said...

Your post immediately caught my attention, as I lived in Hawick for 41 years until quite recently. I immediately recognized the High Street shop, though it has changed hands quite a bit since your photograph, and was empty when I was there a few months ago. Copshaw was the old name of Newcastleton, a village planned in the late 18th century, and situated about 20 miles south of Hawick in the heart of Liddesdale. I am happy to help with any local information on the area. A very interesting post!

crgalvin said...

Excellent sleuthing, enjoy the ‘real view’ on your visit.

GenieJen said...

Wonderful news that years of research have paid off.

Crissouli said...

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Thank you, Chris

Crissouli said...

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