Boot & Shoemaking in Maybole - Page 5
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This article was written and contributed by J. Murray Cook with illustrations from ‘The Kingdom of Carrick and its Capital’ by John Latta and William Millar, 1904.

Lees’ Greenside 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.

The 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.

These circumstances precipitated considerable emigration from the town, notably in 1907 and 1925.


Messrs JOHN GRAY & Co.      Ladywell

Mr T. A. GRAY                          Lorne

Mr JAMES RAMSAY               St. Cuthberts

Mr Wm. BOYD                            St. Helens

Messrs JOHN LEES & Co.        Townend


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   

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For more on boot and shoemaking in Maybole see Maybole's Shoe Factories , John Lees & Co. Limited Shoe Factory, Our Shoe Factories by Rev. R. Lawson A Day in the Life of a  Shoe Factory Worker, When Maybole Had Boot Power by Edwin Lawrence and Dick Goudie: Last of the Maybole shoemakers.