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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Coordinates: 56°01′00″N 4°44′00″W / 56.016667°N 4.733333°W / 56.016667; -4.733333

Scottish Gaelic: Bail'eilidh
Colquhoun Square Helensburgh.jpg
Colquhoun Square in Helensburgh town centre.
Helensburgh is located in Scotland

 Helensburgh shown within Scotland
Population 14,626 (2001 Census)
OS grid reference NS298833
    - Edinburgh  61 mi (98 km) E 
    - London  363 mi (586 km) SSE 
Council area Argyll and Bute
Lieutenancy area Dunbartonshire
Country Scotland
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Postcode district G84
Dialling code 01436
Police Strathclyde
Fire Strathclyde
Ambulance Scottish
EU Parliament Scotland
List of places: UK • Scotland •

Helensburgh (Baile Eilidh in Gaelic) is a town and former burgh 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 Gare Loch.

Helensburgh was formerly in Dumbarton District, but was re-allocated under local government reorganisation in 1995. Prior to 1975 it was part of the former Dunbartonshire.



Helensburgh was founded in 1776 when Sir Ian 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.[1]

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.[1]

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.[2]

The first episode of Scottish drama Hope Springs Helensburgh's main train station Helensburgh Central and pier appeared briefly.

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, well kept by the housekeeper Melanie Carr.

The town is also notable as the birthplace of John Logie Baird the inventor of television, Academy Award-nominated actress Deborah Kerr and Jack Buchanan. The author A. J. Cronin lived in the town as a child. Helensburgh was also the childhood home of the Rev John Christie, Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland in 2010-2011.

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 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

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

Helensburgh today acts as a commuter town for nearby Glasgow, with a population at the 2004 census of 20,626, 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. Helensburgh is also 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 and sailing facilities including Helensburgh Sailing Club.[3] and the nearby marina at Rhu just beyond the town boundary. 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.[4]

A regular passenger ferry service runs from Helensburgh pier to Kilcreggan and Gourock, usually on the historic ferry Kenilworth; Craigendoran pier fell into disuse in the late 20th Century. The paddle steamer Waverley calls in to Helensburgh pier during summer sailings.

In a recent study, Helensburgh was shown to be the second most expensive town in which to buy property in Scotland.[5]

The town is used extensively for the local Naval Base, Faslane which is the site that houses the British Nuclear deterrent fleet of Vanguard class submarines. The base is only six miles away from the town.

A significant amount of income for the town is generated from the base and its based submarines and visiting submarines alike.

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[6] at the Victoria Halls.


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.

Famous residents

  • John Logie Baird: Inventor of the television was born in the town on 13 August 1888.
  • Bob McGregor: Olympic Silver medalist in the 100m freestyle at the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games. He was also captain of GB Olympic squad for Mexico in 1968.
  • Walter Smith: Former manager of the Scottish National Football Team and current Manager of Rangers FC.
  • Kenny Hyslop: drummer in Slik and Simple Minds. With each band, he recorded a hit single: with the first band, Forever And Ever, in 1975, and with the latter, the New Wave song "Promised You a Miracle", in 1982.
  • Tom Vaughan: Film and television director (Starter for 10, What Happens in Vegas) grew up in the town and produced his first amateur films there.[7]
  • Robbie Coltrane: Famous actor has residence just above the town. Was Hagrid in Harry Potter movies.


  1. ^ a b Helensburgh Feature Page on Undiscovered Scotland.
  2. ^ Wollongong City Library: Helensburgh - History
  3. ^ Helensburgh Sailing Club
  4. ^ Helensburgh Golf Club
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^ "Tom Vaughan". Helensburgh Heroes. Retrieved on 16 July 2008.

External links

See also

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Helensburgh is a town in Argyll and Bute, Scotland.

For other places with the same name, see Helensburgh (disambiguation).

The town is notable for being the birthplace of "John Logie Baird", the inventor of television.

The Tourist Information Office is in the Clock Tower, East Clyde Street, (01436 672642), open in the summer only. From the station, walk one block towards the sea down Sinclair Street, then cross the road to the office in the clock tower of the former Old Parish Church (the rest of the building was demolished).

Get in

It is around 30 miles west of Glasgow.

By car

Helensburgh can be accessed via the A82/A814.

By train

Regular trains (usually 2 per hour) run from Helensburgh Central to and from Glasgow (Queen Street Station Low Level). A few services a day also run from Helensburgh Upper to and from Oban, Fort William and Glasgow Queen Street.

By Ferry

Passenger Ferries connect Helensburgh with Kilcreggan and/or Gourock 3 or 4 times a day - [1].

Get around

Buses run services into most of the town's areas on a regular basis until around 11pm at night. Regular buses also run to Glasgow and various other outlaying villages and towns.

  • Hill House - A house designed by renound architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh
  • Glenarn, Rhu - Open daily 21st March - 21st September from sunrise to sunset. 1 mile west of Helensburgh off the A814 in the conservation village of Rhu. A special woodland garden with a Himalayan atmosphere where you can walk under superb giant species rhododendrons or look out across the Gareloch
  • Henry Bell Monument - West Clyde Street. Erected in memory of Henry Bell, first Provost of the town in 1807 and builder of the Comet paddle-steamer in 1812 to link Glasgow, Greenock and Helensburgh.
  • Waverley Paddle Steamer - Sails from Helensburgh to Inellan, Dunoon,Rothesay and round the Kyles of Bute during the summer season [2].


As well as its supermarkets and multiple stores, Helensburgh has a great variety of privately owned retail shops and other businesses. There are hotels, restaurants, pubs, cafés and coffee shops, some with outside tables in the square.


There are lots of places in the centre of town for a daytime snack or cup of tea, but less for evenings. There are Indian and Chinese Restaurants, and Fish and Chip shops.

  • Storm, 82 West Clyde Street, Helensburgh. Tel: 01436 678318. The only place in town that it is advisable to book weeks ahead. Also has a takeaway soup counter.
  • Commodore hotel 112 - 117 West Clyde St Tel: 01436 676924 Hotel serving "pub grub".
  • Ardencaple Hotel Shore Road Rhu Tel: 01436 820200 Hotel serving "pub grub".


Helensburgh has many pubs and restaurants to choose from.


Helensburgh has a wide mix of accommodation from homely B&Bs/guest houses to hotels.

  • Sinclair House, 91/93 Sinclair Street, Helensburgh, Argyll & Bute G84 8TR Telephone: +44 (0)1436 676301.[3] B&B from £52 per room.
  • Commodore Hotel , 112-117 West Clyde Street, Helensburgh, G84 8ES Tel: 01436 676 924, [4] The biggest hotel in town with rooms from £55. Refurbished about 2 years ago. On the sea front about 1/2 mile from the town centre.
  • Imperial Hotel, 12-14 West Clyde St, Helensburgh, G84 8SQ Telephone: 01436 672320. In the centre of town on the sea front.
  • County Lodge Hotel, Old Luss Road, Helensburgh, G84 7BH, Tel:(+44) 01436 672034 [5]. Nearly 1 mile east of the town centre, near Colgrain Station. Rooms £40-£55.
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1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

HELENSBURGH, a municipal and police burgh and wateringplace of Dumbartonshire, Scotland, on the N. shore of the Firth of Clyde, opposite Greenock, 24 m. N.W. of Glasgow by the North British railway. Pop. (1901) 8554. There is a station at Upper Helensburgh on the West Highland railway, and from the railway pier at Craigendoran there is steamer communication with Garelochhead, Dunoon and other pleasure resorts on the western coast. In 1776 the site began to be built upon, and in 1802 the town, named after Lady Helen, wife of Sir James Colquhoun of Luss, the ground landlord, was erected into a burgh of barony, under a provost and council. The public buildings include the burgh hall, municipal buildings, Hermitage schools and two hospitals. On the esplanade stands an obelisk to Henry Bell, the pioneer of steam navigation, who died at Helensburgh in 1830.

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