In March, 1981, the children of Minishant Primary School carried out a population survey of the area bounded by Smithston, Cassillis, Craigskean, Pinmore and Nether Auchendrane. This showed the population of the district to be 421 adults (193 men, 228 women) and 95 children.
By area the population was:
Although no complete survey of occupations could be made, the information which the children obtained is interesting. Whereas forty years ago almost all of the men would have been employed on the land, with only a few roadmen, joiners and builders, there are now far fewer people working in agriculture - 24 farmers, 20 farm workers and a couple of drainage contractors. Excluding Nether Auchendrane, a home for the elderly, there are 18 retired men, but the number of retired women is unspecified, presumably because housewives never retire!
Of other occupations, engineer or mechanic was given by 17, builder by 6, joiner by 5 and road worker by 3. The range of other occupations is enormous: secretary (5), council worker (3), nurse (2), lawyer (2), cook (2), insurance salesman (2), teacher (2) and one each of shop-keeper, garage proprietor, gardener, surveyor, home insulation agent, labourer, hairdresser, bank clerk, cashier, civil servant, haulage contractor, florist, cinema usherette, electricity worker, fisherman, railway porter, glazier, traveller, butcher, librarian, hallkeeper and H.M. Inspector of Schools. Four of the women listed their occupation as sewing machinists and five as cleaners (presumably part-time).
Believe it or not, this was a byre in which a fine herd of cows was milked daily only a few years ago. Blackhill farm, beside the river Doon a mile or so along the Ayr road from Minishant, was farmed by the Young family for years. In November, 1980, it was bought by an Ayr couple, Loudon and Betty Maxwell, who turned the farmsteading into a country-style pub with restaurant, called the Riverside Inn. Since then a functions room has been added. Who would have dreamed that one day we would be eating Scampi Provencale or Tournedos Rossini, dancing and enjoying cabaret entertainment in Blackhill byre! The Riverside Inn, with its warm welcome offered by the Maxwells, certainly continues the tradition of Minishant hospitality into the 1980's.
MINISHANT IN 1982...
Nothing stays the same for ever - even in Minishant. We asked the children of Minishant Primary School, through their Head Teacher, Mrs. Mary Macdonald, to tell us how the village has changed since this book was finished. They wrote about the transformation of Blackhill farm into a steak house, the rebuilding of the railway bridge at Cassillis and lowering of the road level to allow large truck loads of wood from the newly matured forest at Straiton to pass through, the renovation of the Brick House and the wooden houses, and of course the changes of faces about the village. This is what they told us:
Margaret McClintock (9) whose grandparents live in the old School high on the hill above Kewnston, described the mill beside the Polnatibber burn: Downstream from Cuiroy towards Minishant there was an old mill which was used for making oatmeal, flour and feeding for the farmers. The big wheel was driven by the stream.
Craig Ruddock (10) reported two changes which are regretted amongst Minishanters: The tearoom at Kewnston has closed because Mrs. Wyllie, my grandmother, is ill. Sadly Mr. Ferguson has died, He took a great interest in the football team. He was very loyal to the village.
Davie Ferguson would not have wished for a better epitaph. *
Brian Clark (9) noted the changes at the school: There is a new infant teacher called Mrs. Clark and Mrs. Wyllie, the cook's assistant, has retired. There is also a new company, Applewite Transport of Ayr has the contract to take us to school.
Sarah Holland (9) anticipated future changes in her report: The wooden houses have been renovated and have new shingles put on them. There is a new bus shelter on the main road and a new railway bridge beside Cassillis Villa. There may soon be some completely new houses being built because planning permission has been given for building in the field beside the school.
Graham Tyre (10) summed up all of these changes: In the school Mrs. Wyllie, the cook's assistant, has retired after a number of years. The school had a presentation ceremony in September, 1982, at which she was given a handbag to show how much everyone appreciated her hard work. A change in the school teaching staff took place when Mrs. Durrant, the infant teacher left in April to get married. Mrs. Wilson came to teach the infants temporarily until the Summer. Mrs. Clark then took over when the children went back on the 18th of August.
The wooden houses in Minishant have changed in the past few months as renovation work has been carried out on them. New windows have been put in, some of the old shingles have been replaced, and the old chimneys have been taken away.
Kewnston Tearoom, which was run by Mrs. Wyllie and popular with many people for its delicious food, had to close when Mrs. Wyllie became ill. It is greatly missed.
A big change has been made on the railway line that passes near Minishant. The bridge just outside the now disused Cassillis station, has been renewed. The work took several weeks. Now on each side of the road there is a wall made of yellow stone with slabs on top.
* Mrs. Jean Wyllie died on 2nd October, 1982. Like Davie Ferguson she was very loyal to the village and will be greatly missed.
A new inn has opened during the Summer of 1982. It is called the Riverside Inn because it is situated beside the River Doon. The A77 runs in front of the inn and then on through Minishant. Another new venture near Minishant is a garden centre. It is just off the road from Minishant to Straiton and Kirkmichael. It has developed from a house and a garden into a garden centre.
Nether Auchendrane old people's home had to close because the repairs to the house were too expensive, so a decision was made to move to a new building in Ayr.
So there is Minishant today. Let Sarah Holland have the last word: Probably if I had to do another story next year there would be about as many changes as this year.