An extract from the book, “The History of Crossbasket Castle” by Paul Veverka (c)
1918 – With the World War still ravaging through Europe, and perhaps the property starting to become a liability, George Neilson ever the businessman, put Crossbasket Castle and estate up for sale. The pull of home and business in London likely forced this decision. On 5th January 1918 an advert appeared in the Scotsman with an assessed annual rental of £600 which included the lease of Auchentibber and Basket Farms.
The advert also made mention of the large greenhouse at the rear of the Castle. Gordon Cook, one of the workmen who demolished it in the 1980’s told me, “It certainly was a large structure, early Victorian with and was built against the high east wall behind and to the right of the mansion. We had to take it down, it was a great example of Victorian craftsmanship with its wrought iron wheels and mechanisms for the roof windows.” The greenhouse dates from the Clark Era and built between 1855 – 1891. Today in 2015, its previous location is exactly where the new, modern function suite extension has just been built. The foundations of the greenhouse lay exposed from the 1980’s until 2013, as pictured next in 2010 by local photographer, Jim Brown.
These were difficult times. A shortage of buyers meant Crossbasket was up for sale all throughout 1918 and into 1919.
On the 4th May 1918, the engagement of George Neilson’s eldest son Lieut,.W. Kerr Neilson was announced to Theophile, only daughter of Andrew Laidlay of Seacliff, East Lothian, although they did not ever live at Crossbasket.
1919 – Norah Mary Neilson (nee Addie) decides to divorce Thomas Paterson Neilson, George Neilson’s son.
Crossbasket had been left empty and vacant by this time for 6 years but it is alleged that it was well maintained and secure, whilst George settled into his business interests and life in England. The brief period with no person living there, was the first time this had happened in 353 years and was not to be the last!
On 3rd October 1919, not even a year after the first World War ended, Crossbasket passed from the Neilson family to a new owner, Thomas Dunlop Findlay. At the time of the sale, George was absent from Blantyre living in his primary home at 30 Great Cumberland Place, Hydepark, London.
George Neilson died in this London home on 30th November 1932 aged 84 after a short illness.