September 28, 2009

William R. Bisset, Shell decorated house



old postcard, from tour-scotland blogspot

In this webtrip along outsider environments we pass a number of shell decorated houses. Visiting this one, however, only can be done virtually, since it is not extant any more.
 
We are in the north of the United Kingdom, on the east coast of Scotland.

Life and works

William R. Bisset (?-?), who lived in the community of Leven, in the 1920's began decorating his house and garden ornaments with shells. He also installed a small menagerie with some monkeys and other small animals.

In 1927 the site was opened to the public and it was quite a success: every summer in the 1930's some 30.000 people visited it.




Bisset's son James, who continued the work of his father, got the idea to install a shell decorated old Leyland bus in the garden, probably as kind of a diner. (On Flickr there is a picture of the bus with a family in front of it).

After the war, in the 1950's, the shell house and garden remained a tourist attraction.

The site has been removed

In 1978 James Bisset died. The inheritors wanted to sell the property, but there was no interest in buying a house with a shell garden, so the site has been "normalized" and on the premises a bungalow was built.

The house itself, on the corner of Seagate, near the Promenade is still extant, but just with a limited number of decorations.

Here is a picture via streetview


And another one from a website about taking walks:


So, apart from the few decorations which have been left, a full view of this outsider environment will be available only on postcards.

And it is in the memory of older people who in their youth happened to visit the site.

first published sept 2009, revised  may 2014

William R. Bisset
Shell house
Leven, Scotland, UK
no longer extant

2 comments:

  1. "The path of the shell" that you, dear Henk, with your job, have allowed us to walk through, is a road plenty of living memories and valuable imperishable instants, instants of people and their universes, people who dare to transform their reallity and to obey their inner voice, a voice silent like a whisper but with enough energy such as for producing a bonfire of inspiration, a revolution of sense and sensibility. I think on the little shells, lying over the sand, with no idea of what kind of fate or destiny await for them with the time, to delight a child with the echoes of the waves when he puts the shell close to his ear, or to be part of a palace, a house of shells, the dream of a man living in a faraway land. And I think of people as well, like those shells, lying on the beach, and wondering what our destiny or our purpose on this life will be. Best regards.

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  2. Thanks Alberto Oliver. The way you loook at this topic is very sensitive and inspiring. Indeed, little things can mean a lot. For me it is also important that the creations made of shells (or other non-commercial items) have contributed to moments of happiness of people who came to visit them. Like one can note how many Scottish people there are nowadays who have good feelings about there former visits to the Leven shell garden.
    All the best

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