factory was taken over by a Mr. Runcie, who gave his name to a street in our
town - now called Miller Road. Mr. Runcie travelled all over Ayrshire and
Galloway selling his shoes. He was a very dapper man and always had a
flower in his button-hole. One story told of him suggests the length these
entrepreneurs were prepared to go to save money. Reputedly he would bluff
his way off the train at Pinwherry holding his head high and telling the
collector he was a director!
The Limited, now
Dunnabie’s Garage and before that Tom Bryce’s grain store was also a boot
factory for a brief disastrous span. Started by Messrs. McLeish and Young it
acquired its title of ‘The Limited’ because a number of shoemakers sunk
their savings in it in a sort of co-partnership plan. It lasted six or
seven years but collapsed from bad management. A Mr Angus Cook put £50 of
his savings into it – a large sum of money then. He used to say that he did
not even get a pair of laces for his investment!
Murdochs: In 1875
an interesting little factory was started by a Mr Murdoch in the Burghers’
Kirk at the foot of John Knox Street. The Rev Mr Carrick had been minister
there, and he and his congregation moved on to Kincraig Church (now itself
demolished). The factory lasted two years and then it was dismantled and
converted to a dwelling house.
J & H Dick: This
small factory functioned for a number of years before the first World War
but eventually it was closed down and the owners concentrated on the credit
trade. It was situated behind the last house in Ladyland Road near Mr.
Wallace the joiner.
An honourable mention must be
made of Harrison & Goudie, the last manufacturers of Maybole Tacketties.
Baloney and finally Dick Goudie himself – who died recently aged nearly 90 –
who well past retiring age was continuing what had become an ancient
Maybole tradition. When he ceased work that tradition died. I take it he
was the last souter of Auld Tackettie.
The main product
of the Maybole boot factories was Maybole Tacketties. The town itself was
known as Auld Tackettie. They were of heroic proportions with great studded
soles and heels formed from rows of metal tickets – hence the name.
demand for Maybole Tacketties met its ceiling in the 1890’s. There was a
demand for a lighter boot and there was the opening of the Scottish
Co-operative Wholesale Society’s boot and shoe factory at Shieldhall in
Glasgow. It opened in 1883 producing a prodigious weekly output of 14,500
pairs of good quality boots and shoes of which a large proportion consisted
of industrial and pit boots. This was a massive blow to the market for
Maybole products. There was also a marked reluctance on the part of the
Maybole manufacturies to diversify.
Statistics reveal the sad history of decline. In 1901 out of a population
of 5,470, the boot and shoe industry employed 1,645 persons. By 1924 this
had fallen to a population of 4,210 of which only 530 were engaged in the
industry that brought so much prosperity to Maybole.
circumstances precipitated considerable emigration from the town, notably in
1907 and 1925.
MAYBOLE SHOE FACTORIES, 1891
Messrs JOHN GRAY & Co. Ladywell
Mr T. A. GRAY Lorne
Mr JAMES RAMSAY St. Cuthberts
Mr Wm. BOYD
Messrs JOHN LEES & Co. Townend
MAYBOLE SHOE FACTORY Drummelan St.
Mr J. M. RUNCIE Greenside
Mr G. DICK Ladyland
Messrs McGARVEY & Co. Society Street
These nine factories employed over 1,500 people, and produced
annually about one million pairs of boots and shoes, valued at £250,000