Sandhill c 1890 , a dower house for the Dowager Duchess of Portland, sits on the edge of Southwood. Brick with crisp red sandstone dressings, interspersed with half timbering on the gables. It is alleged to have been the work of a prominent (but elusive) French architect.
From Ayrshire and Arran RIAS by Rob Close 1992
Sandhill is believed to be the first house built in the Southwood suburb of Troon. This area soon became a millionaire’s haven with mansions being constructed in the years leading up to the First World War, a consequence of the railway connection to Glasgow which made Troon a popular holiday destination, especially for golfers. Almost every house was designed by a different architect, enhancing the exclusive quality of each mansion and hence the area.
Sandhill is roughly in the style of William Leiper, bearing a similarity to Piersland Lodge, in Troon, of 1898-9, which he designed for Sir Alexander Walker, the grandson of Johnny Walker of whisky fame. However, the present owner was told that the house was by a French architect. Sandhill is believed to have been built for the Duke of Portland, who owned Sandhill cottage, which previously stood on the site. The Duke of Portland built the railway line that originally connected Troon to Glasgow. It is rumoured that the house was intended to be the home for the Dowager Duchess, but the first occupier of Sandhill was William Alexander Robertson, a wine merchant from Glasgow; it is the Robertson family crest that sits above the entrance door.
By 1905 the house was owned by the Robertson family, the name cited on the valuation roll at this date is Alexander Cockburn Robertson; it is possible that the crest was commissioned once the family had been elevated from tenant to owner. The 3rd edition OS map (circa 1911) indicates that several additions were made at about this time, including the bay windows on the SE and NE elevations and the conservatory.
Sandhill remained in the Robertson family until 1955 when it was purchased by the Spencer-Nairn family and turned into a riding school.
Wright’s Riding Academy owned and run by Mr and Mrs Daniel Wilson.
“In 2001 we bought a ruin of a beautiful Mansion house dating back 100 years. We had a dream to create a very special, stylish bed and breakfast for lovers of art and nature along with fine cuisine and with all the best facilities normally only found in large hotels. But, more than that we wanted that whatever we created we preserved the wonderful character of the house. The dream has taken 19 years to fulfil …and still ongoing, but the time was nothing when we look around now … bed and breakfast in style!”