|Scottish Gaelic: Baile Eilidh|
Colquhoun Square in Helensburgh town centre.
Helensburgh shown within Argyll and Bute
|Population||14,626 (2001 Census)|
|OS grid reference|
|- Edinburgh||61 mi (98 km) E|
|- London||363 mi (586 km) SSE|
|Council area||Argyll and Bute|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|UK Parliament||Argyll and Bute|
Helensburgh was founded in 1776 when Sir James Colquhoun of Luss built spa baths on the site of Ardencaple Castle, which dated back to about 1600. He then had the seaside resort town constructed to the east of the spa on a formal layout in the style of Edinburgh New Town, and named it after his wife Helen. A ferry service he arranged across the Firth of Clyde to Greenock was successful in attracting residents who could commute from jobs there to attractive homes in the new town.
In 1808, Henry Bell bought the public baths and hotel, which his wife superintended while he continued his interest in early steamboats such as the nearby Charlotte Dundas and the North River Steamboat which Robert Fulton had just introduced at New York City. To improve hotel trade, he had the paddle steamer Comet constructed and in 1812 introduced Europe's first successful steamboat service, bringing passengers down the River Clyde from Glasgow to Greenock and Helensburgh. The Clyde steamer trade developed rapidly, and Helensburgh pier and Craigendoran pier at the east end of the town both became major departure points. From 1858 holidaymakers were brought to the resort and the steamers by the Glasgow, Dumbarton and Helensburgh Railway terminus built in the centre of the town, and in 1894 a second railway station was opened higher up the hill on the West Highland Railway to Fort William.
Helensburgh born coal miner Charles Harper emigrated to New South Wales (now a state of Australia) and became the first manager of the Metropolitan Coal Company before being killed in a mine accident in 1887. In that year, the company took over the mining lease on an area south of Sydney known as Camp Creek. When the coal mine opened the following year, the town was named Helensburgh, possibly named after his birthplace or after his daughter Helen. The two Helensburghs are now sister cities.
In 1903, Charles Rennie Mackintosh built the Hill House for the publishing tycoon Walter Blackie. The house, in Colquhoun Street on the north edge of town, is one of the best examples of his style, with startlingly modern interiors incorporating furniture which he designed. It is now owned by the National Trust for Scotland and is a popular tourist attraction.
The town is also notable as the birthplace of John Logie Baird the inventor of television, Academy Award-nominated actress Deborah Kerr and Jack Buchanan. The author A. J. Cronin lived in the town as a child. Helensburgh was also the childhood home of the Rev John Christie, Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland in 2010-2011.
The baronetcy of Helensburgh
The Raeburn Baronetcy, of Helensburgh in the County of Dunbarton, is a title in the Baronetage of the United Kingdom. It was created on 25 July 1923 for William Raeburn. He was head of the firm of Raeburn & Verel, Ltd, (a shipping company) and also represented Dunbartonshire in the House of Commons as a Unionist.
The town today
Helensburgh today acts as a commuter town for nearby Glasgow, with a population at the 2001 census of 14,626, and also serves as a main shopping centre for the area and for tourists attracted to the seaside resort. Helensburgh is also influenced by the presence of the Clyde Naval Base at Faslane on the Gare Loch, a major local employer. The town is a popular destination for day trippers.
The seafront has an indoor swimming pool, an esplanade walk, a range of shops, cafes and pubs, and sailing facilities including Helensburgh Sailing Club. At Rhu, just beyond the town boundary, there is a marina.
The streets are built on a gentle slope rising to the north east, and at the brow of the hill a golf club has views looking south out over the town to the Clyde, and to the north across nearby Loch Lomond to the Trossachs hills.
The paddle steamer Waverley calls in to Helensburgh pier during summer sailings. Until April 2012, a regular passenger ferry service ran from Helensburgh pier to Kilcreggan and Gourock, (until 2007 the historic ferry Kenilworth was used on this route); Craigendoran pier fell into disuse in the late 20th century.
In a recent study, Helensburgh was shown to be the second most expensive town in which to buy property in Scotland.
The town is used extensively for the local Naval Base, Faslane which is the site that houses the British nuclear deterrent fleet of Vanguard class submarines. The base is only six miles away from the town. A significant amount of income for the town is generated by the base, its submarines and visiting vessels alike.
Sports are well represented with various football, rugby, cricket, athletics, netball, hockey, curling, bowling, golf, sailing and fishing clubs amongst others active in the town.
- Bob McGregor: Olympic Silver medalist in the 100m freestyle at the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games. He was also captain of GB Olympic squad for Mexico in 1968.
- Kenny Hyslop: drummer in Slik and Simple Minds. With each band, he recorded a hit single: with the first band, "Forever And Ever" in 1975, and with the latter, the New Wave song "Promised You a Miracle" in 1982.
- Tom Vaughan: Film and television director (Starter for 10, What Happens in Vegas) grew up in the town and produced his first amateur films there.
- John Butt, OBE, FRSE: award-winning orchestral and choral conductor, organist, harpsichordist and musicologist. He is the Gardiner Chair of Music at the University of Glasgow and is Music Director of the Dunedin Consort.
- "Comparative Population Profile: Helensburgh Locality Scotland". General Register Office for Scotland. Retrieved 2012-05-11.
- Leighton, John M. (1840). Strath-Clutha; or, The beauties of Clyde. pp. 179–182.
- "Helensburgh - History". Web.archive.org. Retrieved 2011-12-21.
- "» News". Helensburghsailingclub.co.uk. Retrieved 2011-12-21.
- "Helensburgh 18 hole golf club with stunning views over the Clyde and Loch Lomond". Helensburghgolfclub.co.uk. Retrieved 2011-12-21.
- "New operator for Gourock – Kilcreggan Ferry". Spt.co.uk. Retrieved 2013-8-27. "It’s regrettable that we could not maintain the link to Helensburgh. With passengers on that route representing only 7% of the total and the subsidy cost per head being £20, it was simply unsustainable."
- "Helensburgh and Lomond Real Ale Festival | 20th & 21st May 2011". Helensburghalefestival.co.uk. 2011-05-21. Retrieved 2011-12-21.
- "Two Perspectives of Helensburgh An illustrated talk by Malcolm Baird for the Helensburgh Heritage Trust, April 4 2006". Retrieved 21 March 2013. "My father was born in Helensburgh in 1888 at “The Lodge” which still stands on the corner of West Argyle Street and Suffolk Street"
- "Deborah Kerr". Helensburgh Heroes. Retrieved 21 March 2013.
- "Bobby McGregor MBE". Helensburgh Heroes. Retrieved 21 March 2013.
- "Walter Smith". Helensburgh Heroes. Retrieved 21 March 2013.
- "Kenny Hyslop". Helensburgh Heroes. Retrieved 21 March 2013.
- "Tom Vaughan". Helensburgh Heroes. Retrieved 2011-12-21.
- Rebecca Garrett, "Helensburgh musician John Butt gets OBE in New Year Honours," S1 Helensburgh, 10 January, 2013, URL=http://www.s1helensburgh.com/news/helensburgh-musician-john-butt-gets-obe-in-new-year-honours.html
|Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Helensburgh.|
- Helensburgh Online - Directory
- Helensburgh info
- Helensburgh picture gallery
- Helensburgh Advertiser
- Helensburgh Heroes
- The Helensburgh and Lomond Fiddlers