Bellsgrove Lodge was originally built in the 1700's as a commercial building to process the ore from the lead mines above Strontian. The original shape was a 10m*10m hipped roof building with a 5m*1m*1m bath at the back which was used to break up and wash out the lead from the rocks. There remains a leat in the woodlands which was used to divert water into the bath. (The front garden is incidentally made of a seemingly bottomless pit of the excess rock.) It was then extended in the 1800's to form the home for a Mr Bell (of Bell's Groove!) who managed the mine, and was also extended along the back to create lodgings for some of the mine workers. After 1856 it reverted to the estate and became a shooting lodge.
It is said that Sir Humphrey Davy worked in the back of the Lodge on his miners' safety lamp. He was also the first to isolate the metal strontianite in 1808 after it was first detected in Strontian in 1790, but we can only speculate that this occurred in the same back room. We like to think so anyway!
As can be seen from the photographs below, there were at least 6 different roof structures remaining in the roof, including one of the old A frame trusses which formed the original building. It is also evident that when the house was extended to the right, it was probably done by the mine company itself, without the use of any tradesmen! The right hand extension was built off the rockface at 5' high with the consequence that water found its way into the building with ease.
To cope with the water ingress there was a system of small drains about a brick wide under the floor, capped with slate, all of which arrived at a sort of roundabout, which then discharged into a bigger drain underneath the flagstones of the rear hallway. This then found its way into a much larger drain which also linked into the outlet of the bath, to take water away from the building. Most modern buildings would manage to keep water away from the buildings, whereas at Bellsgrove it was a fact of life, and managed within. The 'builders' of the rear accommodation block built straight on top of the stone faced bath, but for some reason forgot to turn the tap off. Unfortunately this managed to rot virtually everything on the ground floor!
When we bought the Lodge and Stables in 2008, it was obvious that there was a lot of work required in the lodge to rescue it from self-destruction. Unfortunately, despite months of work on the house, we were probably a few years too late and sadly had to apply for a demolition order for the building. This was hastened by the appearance of a large hole in the front elevation which made the house look as if it had been shot by a cannon!
As a tribute to the old Lodge, we built a 50m wall out of the best of the stonework, which now forms the boundary between the Stables and the Lodge.