Thursday, 2 May 2013


It could be said that Helensburgh is the birthplace of television, because it was here in 1888 than a certain John Logie Baird was born.  Baird, the son of a clergyman, got off to an early start with his inventiveness, when as a lad he rigged up a telephone exchange which provided a link between his bedroom and those of his friends across the road.  It was after a move to the south of England that he finally succeeded in creating a television image, which he demonstrated in London in 1926.  There is a memorial window to Baird in the West Kirk and a display on his life and achievements in the library, which also has an art exhibition courtesy of the Anderson Trust.  Another pioneer who is commemorated in Helensburgh is Henry Bell, who designed the first seagoing paddle-steamer, the Comet, launched in 1812.  Bell and his wife moved to Helensburgh in 1807, where they superintended the public baths and ran an inn.  Perhaps as a nod to the latter, there is a branch of Wetherspoons in Helensburgh named the Henry Bell, and there is a monument to him on the seafront, erected in 1872. 

Helensburgh was laid out as a seaside resort to the east of an earlier spa, its tree-lined streets in a grid pattern in the style of Edinburgh New Town.  The Helen of the name was the wife of the town's creator Sir James Colquhoun of Luss.  There is a promenade and a sailing club, where the yachts and other small vessels share the water's edge with birds such a oystercatchers and redshanks.  In summer, boat trips can be arranged to Gare Loch and Holy Loch.  The Hermitage Park on Sinclair Street has tennis, bowling and skateboarding facilities, as well as walkways around Glennan Burn.  High above the town, overlooking the Clyde, is The Hill House, created by Charles Rennie Mackintosh, run by the National Trust of Scotland.  To the east of Helensburgh is Ardmore Point, where walkers are rewarded with excellent opportunities for birdwatching.  

Map of the area. 

Helensburgh Pier. Photo by Stephen McKay, via Wikimedia Commons

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