Holmwood/ Carfin Estate
The History of Carfin House & Estate, Crossford
In the early 1900’s there were actually three Carfin House’s in Lanarkshire. Two of which were close to the North Lanarkshire village of Carfin, with the third down in the Clyde Valley at Crossford which sat quite literally on the banks of the River Clyde next to a giant redwood (Wellingtonia) tree.
There is a family connection in the use of the name Carfin, which dates as far back as 1677, when Archibald Nisbet bought land at Carfin, near Motherwell. This estate remained in his family’s possession until 1787, when Captain Archibald Nisbet his great-grandson sold the estate. The following year Archibald, left the 51st Regiment and bought a part of Holmhead Estate at Crossford and re-named it Carfin in memory of the family’s former lands at the original Carfin in what is now North Lanarkshire.
Archibald died in 1807 and shortly after this his widow Grizel built a two storey mansion next to the Clyde. On the death of her brother the Earl of Hyndford, Andrew Carmichael she inherited some of the estate of Mauldslie. Following her death in 1824, her son who was also called Archibald Nisbet inherited both estates.
After his death in 1844, Carfin Estate was sold to the adjacent Clyde Grove Estate which was owned by Dr Stephen Anderson. He stayed at Carfin House until 1865, when the house was sold to Captain Gavin Steel, who altered the house extensively. In and around 1870, Captain Steel reverted back to using the original name of Holmhead.
In 1877 the estate was sold to James Noble Graham who promptly changed the name back again to Carfin instead of Holmhead. James Graham made his fortune in large part from the importation of port wine and to this day his name survives in the firm of Graham’s Port. Inside the old stables that we have converted into an Antiques Centre, there are still clues as to the family business, although they are quite subtle. The old Victorian tiles still survive in the stables where the horse stalls were and the top row shows a grape vine with grapes on it.
Sadly in 1923, James Graham was made bankrupt and the contents of the house were auctioned off. The house was put up for sale in 1925 for £15,700 but failed to sell at that time, finally selling n 1932 to Young’s Fruit Farms who bought the mansion house and some of the grounds. They built a number of greenhouses in the grounds of the remaining estate. In 1957 Carfin House itself was demolished, where it used to sit is now a pleasant little paddock where sheep and goats graze underneath the towering Wellingtonia tree, which was named originally after the late Duke of Wellington.
Various owners have bought and sold the estate in the intervening years. From Jim Warnock of Sandyholm, who called it Clyde Valley Country Estate, installing the miniature railway and turned it into a major tourist attraction. During his ownership thieves broke in one night and actually stole the train, which soon became national headlines as Jim had it painted up and named it as Thomas the Tank Engine! Then Colin Smith re-named it Valley International Park and ran it until 2014. The new owners since 2018 are the Bell family who have put a tremendous amount of work over the last year into renovating and converting the estate into what they have named Clyde Valley Family Park. The park now has a brand new train, railway line and station plus a huge collection of animals such as llamas, deer and wallabies and is well worth a visit. The Clyde Walkway runs through the estate grounds and runs all the way from New Lanark to Glasgow. This section of the walkway is amongst the best in the whole Clyde Valley with wonderful scenery and easy walking. Visitors are welcome to use the centre car park and take a walk along the banks of the River Clyde.
We came on board in March 2019 and took on the derelict Victorian stables of Carfin House (which had been a restaurant and then a nursery in previous incarnations) and renovated them completely to turn it all into a stunning Antiques Centre. Carfin House might be gone but enough of its estate lives in and will hopefully be appreciated by local people for generations to come.