Documenting Britain


I am interested in how Ayrshire is coping with post-industrialism and how it plans to progress in an uncertain future. This is the basis for my Documenting Britain project, O’erspill, a collection of photographs from the estate I have lived in most of my life, Bourtreehill/Broomlands. In this series I have used film, phone, pinhole and digital photography to build a unique portrait of this area and the people who live here.

The Ruins

Deep inside Bourtreehill park there is a small clearing. In it sits what remains of Bourtreehill House, a mansion which has a history that stretches back to Robert The Bruce. In its’ final years it became the home to wealthy industrialists who owned a lot of the coal mines, brickworks and foundries in the area before, sadly falling in to disrepair in the 60s and being demolished in the 70s. What we have left is the remnants of the outhouses which now sit as a folly in the park which use to be it’s gardens.

The police never go that deep in to the park so the ruins are the perfect place for kids to drink booze, smoke dope without being disturbed. Back in the days of baggy jeans and Shuan Ryder swaggers, this was like a designated party area. There was a ghost sighting near the ruins once but the witness, we’ll call him Mr SG, was baked on LSD and so his vision of a ‘white lady’ is somewhat dubious if not understandable. While out with my camera I have stumbled across a few kids up to no good there. They never bothered me so I’d be a hypocrite to moan about these pesky kids ‘doing stuff’.

I was determined not to look too closely at the ruins for O’erspill. There are a lot of images of them on the web and local Facebook sites. However I decided to look closer at the stones that are left. All seem to tell a story of occupation long ago and fleeting visits today. Birds, beasties, flora and fauna seem to be reclaiming the old walls and rendering them part of the land while the local, less nostalgic inhabitants of Bourtreehill have sprayed, burnt and broken the old walls.

I have fond memories of climbing the two arches when I was young and now, with only one remaining, we are left with probably the most iconic image of the area. The single arch has seen better days but at least it will see more days in the future.