Remembrances of Saturday afternoons in Ayr
Home ] Up ] Photo Galleries ] Town Guides ] Notables ] Community ] News ] Places ] History ] Search ] Contact Us ]

Most Maybole folk have a good interest in old Ayr.  Saturday afternoons in towns like Maybole were like ghost towns – everyone got dressed up and went to Ayr.  I don’t think there will be many older Maybole folk who haven’t followed the changes in Ayr from at least 1950s until now. My parents and I went into Ayr every Saturday afternoon.  My Dad parked the old green Vauxhall in the Dalblair Hotel car park (behind Hourstons) with my mother justifying it because they had had their wedding reception there.


We went to the Alexander Stores  first.  It was a 2 storey shop, the upper storey being on a balcony which looked down at the ground floor.  I don’t remember much about it except that I liked it, and if I remember correctly it sold fishing accessories which held my Dad’s and my interest.  We went out fishing together a lot.  Neither of us was very good at it I don’t think and I never could put a maggot on the hook, but it was nice to have a quiet time together watching the river.  We had the trout we caught for breakfast.


Being avid campers, we went to a camping shop next which I think was upstairs from another shop, which I think was a carpet shop(?).  There were small tents up on show and my parents were always interested in the latest camping equipment.  One day we bought an Elsan chemical toilet, a toilet tent, and a funny wooden cross holder thing which held a small piece of wax treated canvas which when high made a washing sink, and when laid low and a larger canvas stretched made a bath.  I hated the whole lot of it.  Everyone knew what you were doing when you untied the ribbons on the tall rectangular green toilet tent, and sitting in a canvas bath in the middle of the family tent was very embarrassing even when you were six, and it took ages to boil up enough water to make an almost warm bath.  There were very few campsites with any facilities back then in the 50s.  A spicket in a field was a luxury.  I cannot for the life of me understand why my mother of all people liked camping.  Apart from the toilet facilities, I loved it, but I went in the hedges or bushes rather than use the green tent.


After the camping shop we went to Hourstons where my older sister Alexandra was the cheery lift girl for many a year.  I loved her old fashioned gate lift and the way she kept all the brass work immaculate.  She let me sit on her stool.  I went with Dad to the Gents department to look at ties and shirts while mother sampled perfumes and tried on gloves.  My mother had an account, but those who paid in cash had an exciting time I thought.  Their money was put into a large bullet shaped holder which was then put into a tube which when closed sucked the bullet off at great speed to the accounts department on the 3rd floor.  It just seemed like seconds when the change and a receipt were returned the same way.  It was very safe as the counters never had any money at them, so no-one was ever “held up” for the contents of a till.  I think the Alexander Stores might have worked this way too, but I can’t remember properly.


We went to the 2nd floor to the hat department next which I found very boring except I suppose it was funny looking at ladies trying on ridiculous hats and looking pleased with themselves.   The hat department was very busy because women wore hats all the time when outside then. 


Then we went to the restaurant on the 3rd floor for afternoon tea.  All the waitresses were very smart with black dresses and full white aprons and white band caps with lace.  There were many tables of women and children because a lot of men worked on Saturday.  My Dad worked until lunchtime on Saturdays when I was small.  The old comedy routine of the purse fights were there every Saturday as each woman fought to be the one to pay.  I was allowed orange squash and half a scone – mother having the other half.  I wasn’t allowed tea until I was about ten and I was never allowed coffee at home.  My sister and I drank milk or water with our meals.


Before we went home we went to the Singer sewing shop where mother bought things like oil and needles for her sewing machine, and she had a girl show her the latest cloth and fancy netting.  She made all my party frocks and Sunday School outfits.  She knitted too and I remember having sore arms holding the reams of wool while she wound them into balls.  She always seemed to knit itchy cardigans with about 100 buttons down the front, but she did knit party “fuzzy-wuzzies” which I loved.  All my friends had them and the best dressed girl at a party had the most underskirts made of netting edged in satin ribbon and/or starched muslin edged in lace.  These ones made a crankily noise which was great.  I had five underskirts once but I still wasn’t the best.  The Buchanan twins always had lots and so did Seonaid Hannah and Myra McMillan.


This ramble is to show why Ayr is so important to Minibolers.  I’d love to know what others did on their Ayr Saturdays.  It was part of Maybole life. 

Isobel Seymour