A Potted History of Savoy Park Hotel

The original building was commissioned by Charles Henry Alston, an engineer and iron founder from Glasgow and was designed by the notable Ayr architect James Archibald Morris circa 1886.

The house was Originally called 'Red House' a name with it's own associations being the name given to Philip Webb's house for William Morris in Bexleyheath, built in 1859. It is unlikely that either James Morris or Alston set out to invoke these associations: 'Red House' was the first villa in the Racecourse Road area to be built not of the local grey toucnhead or content stone, but of red Mauchline Sandstone. It is highly probably that during construction passers-by and builders laboureres alike would have referred to progress on 'the red house' and the name became fossilised. Undoubtely, Morris would have appreciated the serendipity of this.

Around the exterior of the building Morris's fondness for large rain water heads is obvious. In particular on the south facing wall this feature is highlighted by a carved snarling dog. This is in keeping with the 'Castle' Features and is reminiscent of Gargoyles - to ward off evil. Also worth a look are the ' Gargoyles' incorporated in to the hood moulds at the front entrance.

After only a few years the building was acquired by Charles Lindsay Orr Ewing, member of Parliament for the Ayr Burghs.In 1896 Orr Ewing proposed a major enlargement to the building, in a Jacobean manner. The extension was not proceeded with and more modest additions were made. That being a single semicircular bay with battlement cornice - the Garden room. The Oak room and Bar exterior have Battlement cornice. These features probably being inspired by the 'Castle' Turret.

An interesting story of Flat Cap to Black Tie, involves the subsequent occupiers: the Misses Watson, told me by Mr D Cassels, who heralds from an old Ayr Family. In the 1920's James Brown a well educated Miner and MP from Annbank was appointed Lord High Commissioner of the Church Of Scotland General Assembly. The first Non-Society appointment to this position. The Misses Watson, wishing that the County be represented in it's best light, invited James Brown and his wife to reside at Red House during his appointment. Firstly they were kitted out with all the necessary clothing, Morning wear to evening wear, then they were tutored in all the social etiquette of the day. James Brown performed an excellent job as is remembered in Local history.

In the early 1930's the building was sold at auction for £50 to Niven Brown, Junior along with the then Provost, William Lanham. The story goes that Mr Brown was having difficulty obtaining change of use and threatented to take the roof of the House, so he wouldn't have to pay rates. The moved worked and the Savoy Park Hotel was born.

My parents bought the Hotel from William Lanham in 1960, and had their first function in the September of that year - Their own Wedding.

Roddie Henderson

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