Famous author’s luxury Bo’ness retreat is up for sale

Author Eileen Townsend, a former owner.
Author Eileen Townsend, a former owner.

With its ivy-covered facade and lookout tower The Knowe - overlooking the Forth from a vantage point in Bo’ness - is hardly your typical average family home.

For best-selling author Eileen Townsend, author of (for example) The Secret Dancer and Of Woman Born it was the place where she both relaxed and sought inspiration as she crafted her highly sought-after works of fiction.

The Erngath Road building was commissioned back in 1876 - the year General George Armstrong Custer met his Waterloo on the Little Big Horn - and was originally constructed for the local Provost, and shipping magnate, George Cadell Stewart.

The lookout tower was his idea, because he wanted to see his ships returning up the Forth from their trade missions, but he’s best remembered these days as the man who founded the still-thriving Bo’ness Children’s Fair.

There are too many special features in the building to list in detail (including six luxurious bedrooms) but special mention is always made of a stained glass window attributed to the world-famous Glasgow artist Daniel Cottier, who was in his prime at around The Knowe was being designed.

This alone might be expected to confer an A-listing on the building, but it’s B-listed (which for some owners could be an advantage).

On the second floor there’s a billiard room -which, like the tower, has a commanding view of the Forth, while in the grand wood-panelled drawing room the ceiling panels feature the original owner’s coat of arms.

A spiral staircase takes you to the lookout turret, which has seats to enjoy a panoramic view that goes as far inland as the Trossachs and the Wallace Monument.

Outside the word “garden” hardly does justice to the 1.7 acres of gardens and grounds - some of which is woodland, and home to a family of squirrels and a variety of birdlife.

The grounds also host a magnificent Victorian summer house, a glass house, a garage with workshop, and a kennel and dog run.

Back in 2,000 the property had been on the market at offers over £500,000, but nearly two decades later that has unsurprisingly risen to offers over £725,000.

The sale is being handled by McEwan Fraser Legal.