Notes: Castle is located in Port Glasgow and is well sign-posted. Castle is set within a park but has a shipbuilding facility directly behind; evidence of why the castle was ultimately abandoned! The park has a dedicated (free) car park.
WHAT IS THERE TO SEE?
A modestly sized but largely complete Tower House. The main tower, assessable to parapet level, dates from the late fifteenth century whilst the north range was built in the late sixteenth century. The castle offers good views of the River Clyde and Dumbarton Castle can be seen across the River.
1. The name Newark derives from 'New Wark', i.e. New Castle, hence why the name has been used for several castles in the UK. The best known is Newark Castle in Nottinghamshire but others include Newark Castle in Selkirkshire and another near St Monans in Fife.
2. In the late sixteenth century Newark Castle was owned by Sir Patrick Maxwell. This individual was notorious for his bitter and violent feuding with Clan Montgomery culminating in the murder of the Laird and his eldest son. He was also a wife beater and, after 44 years of marriage, Lady Margaret left Newark Castle opting to live in poverty in Dumbarton instead.
A fortified Tower House built in the late fifteenth century, Newark Castle was held by Clan Maxwell and fulfilled the role of a stately home. It was abandoned as the development of Port Glasgow in the grounds surrounding the castle transformed the area into a busy port and ship building centre. The castle saw no military action during its lifetime.
HISTORY OF NEWARK CASTLE
The area in which Newark Castle is now set was acquired by Clan Maxwell in 1402 when Sir Robert Maxwell married Elizabeth Denniston. The castle was not built until later in the fifteenth century when the then owner, George Maxwell, started referring to himself as from "Newwerk and Finlanstone" and it was sufficiently complete by May 1495 to hosted a visit of James IV on his way to campaign in the Western Isles. At this time the castle consisted of a Tower House and associated buildings, including a Great Hall, within a walled enclosure entered via a Gatehouse. Significant upgrades were made to the castle in the late sixteenth century by Sir Patrick Maxwell (see additional information right) including construction of the impressive north range.
Newark Castle's days as a lordly residence were cut short by the needs of Glasgow. Sixteenth and seventeenth century attempts to dredge the River Clyde to enable seagoing ships to access Glasgow repeatedly failed and so in 1668 the city purchased 18 acres of land in immediate proximity to Newark Castle. This became Newport Glasgow - now Port Glasgow - supplies for the city were offloaded here and put on smaller boats for transit up the River. Later ship building established itself here with Port Glasgow handling huge amounts of timber imported from North America to feed the construction efforts. The huge industry generating around the castle turned it from the centrepiece of an impressive Lordship to an out of place structure within the heart of an industrial estate ended forever its days as a residence suitable for a Laird. In 1694 the castle was sold to William Cochrane of Kilmarnock who sublet it to tenants and it then passed through multiple owners before ending up in State care in 1909.