Dunoon Burgh Hall

Land donated as site for a Burgh Hall

John MacArthur Moir of Milton and Hillfoot donates land at Gallowhill in Dunoon for the building of a Burgh Hall. In the same year he shoots himself for unknown reasons.

McArthur Moir of Milton Vs Mackintosh

Nearly 200 years ago the main road towards the Clyde stopped at Moir Street. Rather than continuing straight down to the Pier, it turned right at Sinbad’s Bar and followed a line taking it behind the shop where Bookpoint is located. The only ‘short-cut’ up to Hillfoot Street was a path that started at and ran through the site where the Burgh Hall now stands.

Before the building of the Hall in 1873, the land was an open field leading to an area known as the Gallowhill. There were no streets or houses between Argyll Street and Edward Street like there are today. By 1870, Argyll Street had been completed. It now ran all the way to the Pier. The old short-cut was not needed and effectively disappeared through a lack of use.

The Gallowhill land, which the old shortcut passed through, belonged to Mr McArthur Moir of Milton. He had built a house on the land. An argument between a Mr Mackintosh who lived in Ardenlee and Mr McArthur Moir started over access rights across this land. Mackintosh threatened to get a court order saying that he could drive his coach and horses over the old shortcut, taking him right past the windows of McArthur Moir’s House. Other people from the town sided with Mackintosh and the dispute over access went up to the highest civil court in the land, in Edinburgh. (‘Civil’ cases are concerned with property, contracts, and other disputes – not crimes.)

They asked the judges and jury of the court to decide who was right. The map dates back to the 1870s court case. It shows the town and the route of the short-cut, marked by a red-dotted line labelled ‘Line of Road or Highway Claimed’. This plan was shown to the court. Mackintosh won the case. McArthur Moir appealed, and the judges said there had to be a re-trial. This took place and Mackintosh won again. McArthur Moir had to allow the route to be used again. He also incurred most of the legal bills for both sides.

However, it turned out well for McArthur Moir and for the Burgh of Dunoon. Royal Crescent was dveloped and Victoria Road joined Auchamore Road to Hanover Street. Many new houses were built in this area at this time, making the land-owning Laird, McArthur Moir, even richer than before. He committed to transferring a section of this once disputed land to the Burgh, enabling the Police Commissioners to push forward with their plans to build the Dunoon Burgh Hall.

Sadly, Mr McArthur Moir of Milton never saw the Hall, owing to his shocking suicide in 1872. However, the gift of land he made means that today, everyone can enjoy access to Dunoon Burgh Hall.

Article contributed by Euan MacDonald & The Castle House Museum, drawing on notes by the late Angus McLean.

Image of the plan supplied by Stewart & Bennett who hold it on behalf of the National Archive for Scotland. The red dotted line marked on the map labelled ‘Line of Road or Highway Claimed’ is the right of way being disputed. The start of the line is location of the Dunoon Burgh Hall.

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