Doors open for historic insights

“WE have a star cast,” says Mary Ramsay, noting the expertise she and the National Trust brought to a just-completed tour around Bothwell’s private homes.

“We draw on the knowledge of people who know how the land was farmed, households run and children raised, how things were harvested and came to the table, how things were built and moved. “These are the insights that bring to life the rich European history of Bothwell and the upper Derwent Valley.”

Bothwell district historian Mary Ramsay has just completed guiding a four-day National Trust tour of some 30 local properties, the majority now in private hands and rarely open to the public.

The specially arranged tour was a fund-raiser for the National Trust. Among the tour’s delights were exterior explorations of some 30 churches and mills, stables and sheds, along with inspections of a significant number of Bothwell’s grand homes, as well as their gardens.

In Mrs Ramsay’s hands, some two dozen guests were treated to intricate details of private lives, able to examine the fine print of the records of the Clyde Company, even gained expert insight into the preferred decorative wallpapers of the first half of the 19th century.

The tour included such landmarks as the Old Kempton Brewery at Dysart House in Kempton, the churches of Bothwell, including those designed by John Lee Archer and Alexander North, White’s Store, the famous Ratho Farm and its golf course, Australia’s oldest, along with the Nant distillery and the Castle Hotel. Guests also saw the Waddamana power station, itself of historical significance to the area and to Tasmania.

“It was a hugely successful tour,” says Mrs Ramsay. “I’m particularly pleased with the enthusiasm, friendliness and support of all those with whom we came in contact over those four days.”