Craig Ailey Villa, Cove, Firth of Clyde
Address: South Ailey Road, Cove, Dunbartonshire, G84 OPN
Architect: John Baird and Alexander Thomson (1852)

Craig Ailey was designed by Baird & Thomson Architects (John Baird and Alexander Thomson 1848-1856) for John McElroy, a wealthy Glasgow developer, railway contractor and ironfounder, who feued and developed much of the Cove and Kilcreggan area. Built in 1852 the villa is situated in the village of Cove, on the Rosneath Peninsula high on the rocky prominence above Barons Point, the junction between Loch Long and the Firth of Clyde. See Location for more details.

The design for Craig Ailey featured in Blackie's Villa and Cottage Architecture in 1868 some 16 years later.

In recent times it has featured in R. McFadzean's, The Life and Work of Alexander Thomson, North Clyde Estuary by F. Walker and F. Sinclair and Alexander Thomson: The Unknown Genius by Gavin Stamp.

While completing a measured drawing of the Porch in part plan and elevation I found that Craig Ailey as built in 1852 differed from the drawings which were published in Villa and Cottage Architecture (VaCA) in 1868, suggesting that Thomson wished to publish this improved, more refined design 16 years later.

I felt it would be beneficial to compile a collection of Measured Drawings of Craig Ailey to allow a comparison between the two designs.

In the near future I intend to produce a building report on the villa as built, where appropriate comparing it to the design published in (VaCA) in 1868. I will publish this on the site when it is finished

This web site has been created as a small archive of information regarding Craig Ailey.

Documents included on the site :-

Alexander Thomson
Brief account of the Glasgow Architect.

Location Maps courtesy of Ordnance Survey.

Villa and Cottage Architecture, Blackie, (1868), pp 18-21.
Criticism and Plates showing design as published 16 years after the building was completed.

McFadzean. R, The Life and Work of Alexander Thomson, London (1979) pp 24-30.
A critical examination of Craig Ailey.

Gavin Stamp, Alexander Thomson: The Unknown Genius, Laurence King, London (1999) pp30, 36-39, 166
Excerpt on Thomson's early villas and Craig Ailey's entry in the List of Work's.

Frank Arneil Walker with Fiona Sinclair, North Clyde Estuary, RIAS, Edinburgh (1992) pp111-112
Small architectural excerpt.

Council Document - Dumbarton District Council, Cove and Kilcreggan Burgh, (1971), Craig Ailey Villa Information Supplementary to the Statutory List, DUMBAR02.DOC pp 116-117.
A supplement to the Statutory List containing an Architectural breakdown of the exterior of the building.

Craig Ailey: Measured Drawings - K. Owen (2002).
Measured drawings of Craig Ailey.

Gallery - K.Owen (2002).
A photograph gallery of the house.

Published Formats

For each drawing published on the site I have included a link to an image file (.jpg) and for some I have also included a link to a .DWF or Drawing Web Format file.

A Drawing Web Format file is a lightweight vector file format created in AutoCAD, which can be used to publish drawings on the Web. With the WHIP! plug-in (3.5MB) WHIP! - information and download or the newer Volo View Express program (25MB) Volo View Express - information and download both provided free by Autodesk, Drawing Web Format files can be viewed through your web browser providing dynamic pan and zoom capabilities.                         

Viewing Drawing Web Fomat Files (.DWF)

1. Download and Install the WHIP! plugin
2. Select the Drawing Web Format File you wish to view
3. To use WHIP! simply click the right mouse click on the image that appears in your browser window.

From the popup menu you can then choose to PAN, ZOOM, ZOOM WINDOW, PRINT, etc.


I would like to thank Mr Murdo MacDonald for his patience when I was measuring the house and taking photographs. Without his help I could never have finished this project and produced this site.

I would also like to thank Gavin Stamp for allowing permission to publish sections from his book Alexander Thomson: The Unknown Genius.

Many thanks to Frank Walker and Fiona Sinclair for allowing permission to publish the entry on Craig Ailey from their book North Clyde Estuary.

I am also very grateful to Ronald McFadzean for allowing permission to publish the section on Craig Ailey from his book, The Life and Work of Alexander Thomson.