A bird’s eye view of Glenlair on the 190th anniversary of the birth of James Clerk Maxwell prepared for the Orkney Science Festival 2021.
On a beautiful summerâ€™s day, Professor Isobel Falconer, accompanied by her daughter Jennifer paid a visit to James Clerk Maxwellâ€™s home at Glenlair. Until recently Isobel was the curator of the Cavendish Museum in Cambridge and as one might expect her knowledge of Maxwell and his life was encyclopaedic! One very interesting outcome of the visit is the possible discovery of where young Maxwell had his small laboratory for carrying out his various experiments. It could well have been in the space above the entrance arch to the yard accessed by a flight of wooden stairs, which are still there to this day.
After a somewhat hectic year in 2016, we have taken the opportunity to carry out essential work on the building to ensure its continued survival.
All windows and gutters were cleaned and painted, and a broken lintel was gingerly replaced.
On a somewhat overcast and rather driech day, Glenlair was enlivened by the arrival of a group of enthusiasts led by Dr. Jan Hogarth and accompanied by the renowned harpist Wendy Stewart intent on discovering just how the setting, the scenery and the landscape influenced Professor James Clerk Maxwell in his pursuit of those mysterious waves which pervaded the whole electromagnetic spectrum.
A party of almost 30 members of the Institute of Civil Engineers (Scotland) led by their Chairman, Prof/Dr. Roland Paxton MBE, FICE,FRSE visited Glenlair primarily to view the bridge designed and built by William Dyce Cay in 1866 for his cousin James Clerk Maxwell. Whilst here they took the opportunity to witness the recent works carried out on Glenlair House.
Professor Marston and his wife Trude fulfilled a life-long ambition to visit the home of James Clerk Maxwell. Prof. Marston, who is in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Washington State University has written extensively about Maxwell including co-authoring a new book entitled James Clerk Maxwell – Perspectives on his Life and Work recently published by the Oxford University Press. They were given a comprehensive tour of Glenlair as well as visiting Corsock Church to view the Memorial window to Maxwell.
Glenlair will hold a public open day on Sunday 12th July 2015 to celebrate internationally
renowned physicist James Clerk Maxwellâ€™s 150th anniversary of his great paper on
electromagnetism and light.
As part of the UNESCOÂ International Year ofÂ Light, the GlenlairÂ open day is set toÂ attract both local andÂ international visitorsÂ who have both anÂ interest in findingÂ more about Maxwell the physicist as well asÂ witnessing theÂ beautiful surroundings of Glenlair, which was Maxwellâ€™s family home for the majority ofÂ his life until his death on 5 th Nov 1879.
As part of the special open day activities, guests will have an opportunity to view the
recently renovated Maxwell Visitor Centre at Glenlair House and take part in one of a
number of guided tours around the property. In addition Glenlair’s spectacular gardens
will also be open to the public, thought to have been designed and planted in part by
Musical entertainment from Father and Daughter duet Andy and Flora Munro and a
large tent selling delicious tea and cakes will make Glenlair open day a fun outing for all
the family to enjoy.
The Glenlair open day will run from 2pm to 5pm on Sunday 12 th July 2015. Entry is Â£5
per adult, children and car parking are free. All proceeds from the day will be given to
the Maxwell at Glenlair Trust, registered Scottish Charity No. SC030868.
At last and very nearly on schedule, Glenlair House has arisen from the ashes and Angus and Frances can start moving into their new home. As with any project of this scale there are of course minor adjustments still to be made, but to all extents and purposes, the job is done.
Interestingly enough the finshed article is not that dissimilar to the original plan drawn up by Walter Newall in 1826 for John Clerk Maxwell.
The scaffold is down and the roof is complete affording the opportunity to see just what has been achieved since August 2013. Of course there is still lots to be done, not least in the way of landscaping, but externally at least from the rear view, the building is complete.