The Glenbuchat Image Library
No Contributor Year: 19101 Castle Newe Collection Introduction
The Castle Newe Collection:
Click for Castle Newe Album
This series of sections related to photographs pictures and artefacts which came from Castle Newe, the home of the Forbes Family of Newe and which was demolished in 1927.
The Pictures above show;
1 .A Photograph of Newe castle about 1900
2. Map of Castle Newe c 1850. Building circled is the laundry
3. Modern aerial view of the site of the castle. The circled building is the old. laundry, now the House of Newe
I am grateful to Kim and Johnnie Hardie, descendants of the Forbes family for allowing access to make the collection.
The Various sections are:
Introduction: (this page)
Newe Castle Photographic Plates c 1910
More to come
Castle Newe The Vanishing Castle.,/b>
Adapted from The Weekend Scotsman 10/2/1979 by Cuthbert Graham
The story of the Disappearing castle Newe.
Castle Newe was demolished in 1927. Yet it did survive for nearly a century, and for the greater part of the nineteenth century it was indisputably there, the nerve centre of a territorial empire that covered the entire upper strath of the Don, from Corgarff to Glenkindie, 30 miles of riverine loneliness, the kingdom of the men of Lonach, who march year by year at the end of August, with pipes and pikes and plaids under the banner of their patron.
It is rather ironic that the Lonach Gathering with its picturesque trappings has lived on while Castle Newe died. This proves that a way of life can out last mere stone and lime, although both the castle and the clansmen’s march of the Lonach Highland and Friendly Society owed their existence to Sir Charles Forbes, the first Baronet of Newe.
He in his turn inherited his broad lands from his uncle John Forbes of Newe, (or New at it was known then) familiarly dubbed, “Bombay Jock”, the founder of the Indian merchant-banking firm of Forbes & Co Bombay. “Bombay Jock” was descended from a collateral line of the Forbes of Pitsligo who had built the old House of New in 1604. In addition to making a gift of £10,000 to build a lunatic asylum at Aberdeen, he entailed the estate of New and Bellabeg on his nephew Charles and bequeathed him funds for the specific purpose of enlarging the family home of 1604.
Born two years before the last Jacobite rising in 1973, which dealt a deathblow to the ancient regime in Strathdon. “Bombay Jock” expended his Indian fortune in revitalising the upper Don. The transformation of the valley is depicted by the minister of Strathdon, who wrote in 1838, “of the vast improvement of the country by reclaiming and planting of waste lands, the draining and enclosure of fields, ….the opening up of the Strath by a turnpike road through the centre of the parish and the formation of good cross-roads with stone bridges over the different river crossings.
Also the elegant and commodious residences of the proprietors and the comfortable slated dwelling houses and the substantial farm offices of the tenantry,” which he saw as a mark of he progress of civilisation.
What “Bombay Jock” did for Strathdon at the end of the eighteenth century in fact provided the pattern for the Prince Consort was to do for upper Deeside 50 years later – and the parallels with Balmoral, with the Forbes demonstrating how it could be done a good half century in advance, are really quite striking.
Charles Forbes had been working in the House of Forbes in Bombay until 1811. When he returned to this country he stood as MP for Beverley from 1812 to 1818 and for Malmesbury from 1818 to 1832. He was also elected rector of Marischal College in Aberdeen – a fact of significance when one remembers that Archibald Simpson, whom he chose to design Castle of Newe, also designed the new Marischal College in 1837.
But this is to anticipate Charles actions. He increased his holdings in Strathdon by purchasing the estates of Skellater and Corgarff from the Forbes of Skellater and in 1823 he was created a Baronet of the United Kingdom. Strathdon at that time had a population of 1698; in 1979 it had fallen to 500. The establishment of the Lonach Highlanders was a direct sequel to the celebrations of the laird ‘s new honour and of his son John’s coming-of-age.
The objects of the Lonach Society were “to preserve the Highland dress, and so far as possible the Celtic tongue and support loyal peaceable and manly conduct, and to promote social and benevolent feelings amongst the inhabitants of the district.” As a friendly society the men of Lonach also had their own superannuation and pensions scheme. One of the first acts was to build the Baronets Cairn on top of the 1892-foot Lonach hill, which forms the middle point of the Strath.
At this time Archibald Simpson, at the age of 33 was achieving the first major success as the designer of the Assembly Rooms in Aberdeen and the Banking Rooms and Medical Hall in King Street. All built a Greek mode. He was however an accomplished country House architect. While a student in London he had been warned by S.P. Cockerel that architecture was a hopeless profession ‘without a connection or consequence”. So as early as 1811 he had obtained his first Country House commission from the Forbes family on Donside – designing a neo-baronial mansion to replace Putachie for James Ochoncar 18th Lord Forbes, the modern Castle Forbes near Keig on the left bank of the Don, and a neo classical wing for the medieval Forbes stronghold of Druminnor, near Rhynie.
So it was not altogether surprising that Sir Charles Forbes, following the example of the chief of his clan, chose Simpson as the architect of Aberdeen first, “palace of the peak2, the new Castle of Newe on the southern slopes of the Ben. Eighteen miles west of Alford and 13cmiles from Dinnet on the Dee, the site was 898 feet above sea level fronted by a lawn sloping down to the river and backed by many fine trees, including ash, elm, sycamore, birch and rowan as well as numerous Scots pines.
Eight years after the Castle was built the main road was diverted south to ensure Baronial privacy. To achieve this, two new bridges were built, Bridge of Buchaam at the east end of the Castle grounds and Bridge of Newe at the west.
The ‘e’ was added to prevent letters meant for Sir Charles going to Newcastle-upon-Tyne and the form Castle Newe was adopted.
Parallels with Balmoral Castle are inevitable. When Balmoral was built to designs by William Smith over two decades later, the Prince Consort also found it necessary to secure privacy by diverting the public road and building two new bridges over the river at Balmoral and Invercauld. Just as at Castle Newe, Balmoral faced the river with hills rising behind. It had a central tower 80 feet high as against Newe’s tower of 85 feet.
At a distance Castle Newe and Balmoral look remarkably alike. But on closer look the resemblance fades. Balmoral is of white Invergelder granite and of Scots baronial design. Castle Newe is of reddish Kildrummy freestone and its mouldings are much more delicate and ethereal detail while the style is a sort of Jacobean baroque with charming curvilinear decorated window pediments with round towers and turrets bearing all those tall ogee helmets or pointed domes which are virtually a Simpson patent.
Unfortunately, the ethereal beauty of Castle Newe proved to be the more transitory of the two. When Sir Charles Stewart Forbes fifth of his line succeeded to the Baronetcy
In 1884 he gave warning that, however much against his inclination, it might be necessary to dispose parts of his inheritance in Strathdon.
In 1900 there was a series of sales of estates, Delnadamph, went to J.J. Moubray , Candacraig to A. F. Wallace, and Deskry to Col Leith of Glenkindie. In 1908 Edinglassie was sold to H.J. Tenant and in 1911 part of Newe itself was sold to A.F. Wallace. The final blow came in 1924, when the Castle of Newe and the remaining lands were sold to Provost Donald Munro, Banchory, timber merchant and close friend of Sir Harry Lauder.
Munro sold three farms, Buchaam and Mill of Newe, and much of the timber on the estate and eventually Castle Newe itself was sold to Charles Brand Dundee for demolition. On March15th 1927, the Press and Journal carried this notice:
Demolition of Castle Newe
For sale – 200 splendid doors of all sizes, 120 windows, wood and marble mantelpieces with grates; stained glass: panelled shutters and other wood fittings: baths: wash hand basins: w.c.sets: NP. Towel rails: radiators; fire hoses: heating and other pipes, boilers and sinks. Large quantity of woodwork of all classes: slates linings pavements: slabs and dressed stonework, sills, lintels, corners etc.”
What had been a magnificent stately home “lit by electric light” was scattered to all the airts. But something very special was saved from the ruins. The slabs and dressed stonework, sills, lintels corners etc” all of the finest Kildrummy freestone, were bought by the University of Aberdeen and used to build Elphinstone Hall at Kings College in Aberdeen – and the new creation was complete, in arcaded late Scots gothic style in time to celebrate the quincentenary of Bishop Elphinstone’s birth on 1931.
Those were the days when a property owner could do exactly what he pleased with his own. But even in this conservation – proud era some of the very finest works of Archibald Simpson have been shabbily demolished. The New Market in Aberdeen, one of his grandest conceptions, much admired by the late John Betjeman, was sacrificed to a modern re-development. In 1973, the Music Hall, more properly the assembly rooms, menaced by a Town Council plan for a conference centre was only rescued after a public enquiry and the intervention of then Secretary of State for Scotland. At that time the Triple Kirks, still undeveloped, was threatened with as ‘reflective glass’ project.
But the picture is not all black. Contemporary uses have been found for many of Simpson’s buildings. Grampian Region renovated and restored the Simpson’s buildings of the Gordons Schools Huntly, which bears some resemblance to Castle Newe, with a tall ogee helmet crowning its clock tower and window pediments, which also show curvilinear decoration. Like castle Newe, it is also of freestone.
Meanwhile Aberdeen City District Council is to renovate the Music Hall in their original form. Castle Newe may not have died in vain.
Forbes, of Newe family
The family of Forbes of Newe and Edinglassie, which also possess a baronetcy, is descended from William Forbes of Dauch and Newe, younger son of Sir John Forbes, knight, who obtained a charter of the barony of Pitsligo and Kinnaldie, 10th October 1476, and whose elder son, Sir John Forbes, was the progenitor of Alexander Forbes, created Lord Forbes of Pitsligo, 24th June 1633, a title attainted in the person of Alexander, fourth lord, for his participation in the rebellion of 1745.
John Forbes of Bellabeg, (Bombay Jock) the direct descendant of the said William of Dauch, as born at Bellabeg in September 1743. In early life he went to Bombay, and engaging in mercantile pursuits, became one of the most extensive and distinguished merchants in India. Having realised a large fortune he repurchased Newe, the estate of his ancestors, besides other lands in Strathdon, and the whole of his rental was laid out in improvements.
He died 20th June 1821, and was succeeded by his nephew, Sir Charles Forbes, eldest son of the Rev. George Forbes of Lochell, by his wife, Katherine, only daughter of Gordon Stewart of Inverurie. He was created a baronet, 4th November 1823. He sat in parliament for upwards of twenty years. In 1833, he was served nearest male heir in general to Alexander, third Lord Pitsligo, by a jury at Aberdeen, and the same year he obtained the authority of the Lord Lyon to use the Pitsligo arms and supporters.
John Forbes – Bombay Jock (1743-1821)
Sir Charles Forbes, 1st Baronet (1774–1849) 26y
Newe Built 1833
Sir Charles Forbes, 2nd Baronet (1832–1852) 3y
died at age 19, unmarried.
Sir Charles Forbes, 3rd Baronet (1803–1877) 25y
Sir Charles John Forbes, 4th Baronet (1843–1884) 7y
Sir Charles Stewart Forbes, 5th Baronet (1867–1927) 43y
Sir John Stewart Forbes, 6th Baronet (1901–1984) 57y
Picture added on 14 January 2018 at 17:53
This picture is in the following groups