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This is Kinneil House, a historic house in east-central Scotland and once the principal seat of the powerful Hamilton family in those parts.

The central tower of the house (the part now sporting a more recent balustrade around its top) was built in the early 16th century, probably on the site of a smaller tower, by James Hamilton, 2nd Earl of Arran, who at the time had become Regent of Scotland on the death of James V when his successor (and daughter), Mary, Queen of Scots, was just six days old. Further additions and apartments were subsequently added and what was initially a fortress became, essentially, a mansion for the Hamiltons.

However, over time, income from the Kinneil estate waned and the Hamiltons no longer used Kinneil House, renting out the grounds and parts of the house out to others including James Watt who lived and worked in a nearby small cottage where he invented the Condensing Steam Engine, of a design much more efficient than those which had preceded it.

By the early 20th century Kinneil had been abandoned and started to fall into disrepair and in 1922 Bo'ness Town Council bought over the house and estate. A decision was made to demolish the house and so demolition work commenced in 1936, the central tower being stripped out and de-roofed. However, as work progressed to stripping other parts and when old wall panelling was removed, workmen came across some early 16th century wall paintings. As a result, further demolition was stopped, the tower left alone and the rooms with wall paintings preserved.

These wall paintings are believed to be some of the very best and best preserved of any in Scotland and I shall try to show some of them later.

In the meantime I'll add a workshop picture of James Watt's cottage where he lived and worked around 1770.

ISO 200, 1/200 sec at f/8, focal length 27mm.

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Additional Photos by John Cannon (tyro) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1927 W: 427 N: 7230] (29026)
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