A Rossdhu Childhood

From Sir Malcolm Colquhoun

I was born in December 1947 on the kitchen table at Camstraddan House, just outside Luss, in the austerity days immediately following the war. My grandfather, Sir Iain Colquhoun, who lived at Rossdhu, the "big hoose" just down the road, was to die unexpectedly in November 1948, at the unfeasibly early age of 61, following a battle with lung cancer – probably the only fight he ever lost. And so, soon afterwards, my family – my parents, my older brother and sister and I, and "Seakin" (Miss Eakin) the nanny – moved into Rossdhu, our family seat for more than 600 years.

Rossdhu was what, in the great scheme of things, you might term a "small" big house, not (thank goodness!) one of the vast palaces requiring scores of servants to minister to the needs of the family. Still, at around 70 rooms, it was quite big enough; the "laird's loft" in Luss Church seats around 30, so it seems reasonable to suppose that in 1874, when the church was built, that was the size of the household.

Nor was it an especially grand house. It started off as a simple square Georgian residence when it was built in 1772, replacing the earlier Rossdhu Castle whose stones were used in its construction. It only really became a big house some fifty years later, with the addition of the two wings, giving the shape you see today. And if it ever contained important paintings and priceless furniture, we shall never know – for in 1906 Sir James Colquhoun, 8th Baronet, died leaving the contents of Rossdhu to his 22 year-old wife Ivie, whom he had met and married two years before. She held an auction, of which no record exists, and Sir James's successor, his cousin Sir Alan John, had to buy back all the furnishings he required. He was not a wealthy man, so any truly valuable contents probably passed out of the family for good.