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McCowan's to Barr's

Take a walk from the home of the Toffee King of Scotland, Robert McCowan, to the home of Robert Barr, founder of Barr’s soft drinks who brought us Irn-Bru. En-route you’ll find some gems made in Falkirk.

We're starting at Garthill House, in Arnothill, once owned by Mr McCowan. The house is in quite a poor state, and is very different to all the other residences in this now "select" area of the town. We then walk past one of the GR (George Royal) in-wall post-boxes. Most of these were made in Falkirk and you can learn more about this in our story on the History of the Cast Iron Pay Phone Box.


The spire that comes into view is the former Carmelite monastery – which closed as so few new Sisters were joining the order – there is further history in the conservation area guide which you can see in the references below. This is now being converted into housing, including the garden which is on a hill south of the monastery. The nuns were a mostly silent order but did engage with the public through the sale of tablet (not toffee) from their back door. I used to work in the general hospital that overlooked their gardens and was able to see them working away behind their walls, mostly unseen by the outside world.


Walk down the hill past the Park Hotel, which has had several owners over the years, to Camelon Road, and then across to the Dollar Park and Arnotdale. This house was originally owned by Robert Barr – Irn-Bru must have done him proud. He sold the house to one Mr Dollar who made his money from timber and shipping and moved to San Francisco, later gifting his house and grounds to the town of Falkirk.


By Iain Murray, Great Place volunteer.

Read next:

Nearby: Larbert, Stenhousemuir and Torwood

McCowan’s Memories: Patricia Simpson

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Nearby: Larbert, Stenhousemuir and Torwood

McCowan’s and Stenhousemuir FC

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  • References & Bibliography
  • “Arnothill and Dollar Park Appraisal Agreement.” Falkirk Council Development Services. October 2010.

  • “Heritage Agreement for Royal Mail Postboxes: A Joint Policy Statement by Royal Mail and Historic England in Consultation with the Letter Box Study Group and The Postal Museum.” July 2015.

  • Video by Iain Murray.

  • With additional fact-checking by Rowan Berry.
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