Buildings Past and Present
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Maybole, Carrick's Capital Facts, Fiction & Folks by James T. Gray, Alloway Publishing, Ayr. First published 1972. Copyright © Permission for display on this site granted by David Gray. You may view and download chapters of this book for personal research purposes only. No other distribution of this text is authorized.

The story of this ancient Ayrshire town from its early beginnings in the 12th century through its growth and development until the nineteen sixties. A fascinating record of the history of a town including a wealth of factual information on its outstanding buildings  growth of industry etc., the book also gives an insight into the life of the community and townsfolk themselves.
Table of Contents

Chapter 12

Buildings Past and Present

MANY of the old buildings in the town have been swept away in the course of time to make room for more modern buildings as sites within the burgh have always been scarce for new developments and it is difficult to get suitable building ground on the sloping hillside on which Maybole is built. Many interesting old buildings are therefore gone and mostly forgotten, such as the old manse in Manse Street, the "Maison Dieu" at Welltrees, the Old College Provost’s house in John Knox Street, and all the noblemen’s houses in Weaver Vennal and Kirkwynd. If these still remained there would have been a wealth of interest in such old buildings and although many would argue it is right such old houses should be cleared away, Maybole has undoubtedly lost a great deal of its ancient character although it has gained much in the way of modern houses, which, though perhaps not so picturesque, certainly have the modern conveniences so necessary nowadays, although it is a pity that modern planners can not afford to build in the old traditional stone of the district and give character to the houses instead of erecting rows of brick and roughcast boxes. The first housing schemes erected in the town in the 1920s were built for cheapness and did not show much imagination, but fortunately this period passed and the houses erected during the last few years were better designed and blend better into their surroundings. Unfortunately the last Council Housing Scheme started at Gardenrose in 1969 is once again a monument of poor foresight on the part of the Council as the houses are without doubt the greatest of all blots on the Maybole landscape. Sited on one of the most prominent positions above the old town, the whole scheme is dull and drab and well deserves the nickname it has already earned as "The Barlinnie of Maybole".

The oldest building is the Collegiate Church at the foot of John Knox Street, affectionately known to Minniebolers as the "Auld College", and, although now ruinous, its main walls have withstood the ravages of six hundred years, having been built in 1371. The older church built at the foot of Kirkwynd when the charter by. Duncan was granted to the Cistercian nunnery of North Berwick in 1216 was small and over one hundred and fifty years old when Sir John Kennedy of Dunure, ancestor of the present Marquess of Ailsa, decided that the growing village of "Maibol" deserved a larger and finer place of worship and he built and endowed a Chantry Chapel, part of which still stands, while no trace remains of the earlier church. Sir John built it "For the purpose of celebrating daily Divine Service for the happy state of himself, his wife Mary and their children" and ordained that the Provost and Prebendaries of the Church "shall celebrate Mass daily, and if anyone fails without reasonable cause, he shall be amerced in four pence for each default", a large and substantial fine in those days. He also ordained the fines should be paid monthly and the money collected shared out among the priests who had attended the services, thus ensuring prompt retribution for misdemeanours.

The Church was dedicated to the Virgin Mary and endowed with the rents from many of the surrounding lands and practically the whole land on which the town is built was in possession of the Collegium and this is shown by the local names of Ladyland, Ladywell, Ladycross, etc. On 18th May, 1441, this Chapel was elevated to a Collegium and had the distinction of being one of the finest in Scotland in its time and was served by a Provost (or Principal) and three Prebends. It remained the important place of worship in the district until the Reformation in 1560 when Roman Catholicism was abolished in Scotland and the Mass declared illegal. Although the Minniebolers were for the most part supporters of the Reformation some, as usual, paid little attention to edicts passed outwith their own Kingdom of Carrick and continued to worship as before in the Auld College, and in April, 1563, over two hundred men of Carrick met to celebrate Mass in defiance of the laws of Scotland. They came prepared for trouble as they were armed with "jakkis, speris, gunrds, and other wapins" and no one dared to intervene as they worshipped their God in the ancient manner. They tried the patience of the Reformers too much, however, with their blatant disregard of the laws of the land and the leaders were arrested, a not unusual occurrence for Carrick men. One was put in ward in the Castle of Dumbarton and two others (Hew and David Kennedy) were imprisoned in Edinburgh Castle to remain there "during the will and pleasure of the Queen".

The Provost lived in a house in Back Vennal (now John Knox Street) just above the Collegium (this was later formed into an inn known as The Red Lion and gave the name to the street for many years) and it was in this house in September, 1562, that the debate between John Knox and the Abbot of Crossraguel took place, the Provost at that time being Andrew Gray. The Prebends lived in the "Black House" (occupied by the Fitzimmons family until it was demolished in 1967), a house at the Welltrees and in a house known as James Gray’s house behind the College which was occupied by Miss Thom up until the first World War when it was finally so ruinous it became uninhabitable.

After the Reformation the roof of the "Auld College" was removed and the building fell into a ruinous state and it was used only as a burial place for the Cassillis family and some others in the district who helped to reroof the old building many years later. The old vestry became the family burial ground of the Earls of Cassius and there is a large stone detailing the members of the family interred in this old Collegiate Church and the ground around it. The first name on it is David, the first Earl, killed at Flodden; then Gilbert, second Earl who was murdered at Prestwick; Gilbert, third Earl who died at Dieppe in France (he helped to arrange the marriage of Mary, Queen of Scots to the Dauphin of France but refused to allow the crown of Scotland to pass to France and was believed to have been poisoned because of his stubbornness); Gilbert, the fourth Earl (who roasted the Commendater of Crossraguel); John, the fifth Earl (who slew young Bargany at Ladycross) and John, the sixth Earl, known as "the grave and solemn Earl", a great churchman and a Commissioner to the Westminster Assembly and the husband of Lady Jean who was wrongly accused of eloping with a gypsy. En addition there are the graves of John Kennedy and his wife, Margaret Hamilton, daughter of the first Lord Bargany and their son, Sir Archibald Kennedy (who shot Gilbert McAdam, the Covenanter, at Kirkmichael) and over their tombs is a large square stone set in the wall and carved with the arms of the Kennedys’ and Hamiltons’. Some of the lairds of Baltersan are also buried in the old Collegiate, one being James Kennedy who died in 1609 and who stated in his last Testament, "I ordaine no vain in my buriall, but to burie me without serimonie and by honest friends". Members of the Kennedies of Kirkmichael also had the right of burial there and Provost Kennedy of Ayr, who lived at Drummellan (or Machrie Mor), is interred among them, his tombstone having the hopeful epitaph: "He cannot return to us, but with God’s help we hope to go to him."

While the old ruins show signs of alterations and additions from time to time the original building is easily traced. It measures 54 feet by 6’ 6" with the adjacent vestry measuring 16 feet by 8 feet. Some window tracery still exists and the doorway is beautifully carved with a dogtooth design, while the Sedilia, Piscina and Holy Water Font can still be partly seen on the right wall. After the Reformation the "Auld College" and its temporality reverted to the Cassillis family (whose predecessors had originally donated them) and it was kept in fair preservation for some time but finally became so ruinous that a public subscription was raised by the townspeople in the 1880s to clear up its surroundings and build the walls round it which stand to this day. After this the Marquess of Ailsa and his successors maintained the buildings and grounds in pretty fair preservation until the 1940s when the Fourth Marquess of Ailsa handed it over to the Ancient Monuments Department of the Ministry of Works which has carried out many repairs and is now responsible for the preservation of this, the oldest building in the town and one of Scotland’s most interesting ecclesiastical relics.

Whilst the townspeople may be commended for their strong religious principles through the centuries it is regrettable they cannot be complimented in their taste in the buildings they erected as their places of worship. There is no record of the style of the first church building in the days of Duncan but it can be assumed it was only a small and mean building, whilst the Collegiate is more interesting for its antiquity and prominence in its day than its design. The kirk built by the Reformers at the foot of Kirkwynd was a source of adverse criticism by all its ministers and was merely a box with a roof over it and so badly built it was in need of constant repair. Indeed for the last two years it was in existence, before the New, Kirk was built in the Cassillis Road, the minister (Dr. Wright) preached to his congregation in the churchyard, refusing to allow them to enter the church in case it should fall on them. There were other churches in the district in early days, the most important being at Kirkbride, near Dunure, another at Auchendrane near Minishant, with smaller chapels dotted here and there but these have all disappeared and not even a few stones are left to mark their sites. From records available none of the old Maybole churches were very well built and there are constant references to pleas for repairs to be carried out on them.

The oldest church still in use in the town is the Parish Church in Cassillis Road which was built in 1808 to replace the ruinous kirk in the old churchyard at Kirkport. There was no change evident in the attitude of the Minniebolers with regard to their religious buildings and they again erected a square box with a roof over it and a steeple which defies description. This steeple was originally fitted with a weather vane but it proved to be too heavy and was removed some time later. The original design does not seem to have included the horse shoe gallery, which was in existence up until the latest alterations to the church in 1928, as the access stairs to it would surely have been better designed if it had been intended to form part of the building in the first instance. This gallery was a constant source of worry, as it bad a bad sway when the people all moved out together at the end of the services, and many old worshippers breathed sighs of relief when it was finally taken down. Originally the vestry, or robing room, was at the base of the steeple and there was a door to the body of the kirk in the back wall. No allowance was made for heating the building and the congregation shivered throughout the winters until finally, in 1841, two stoves were fitted against the back wail and their position can still be traced where the outside corbelling was cut to allow the smoke pipes to be carried up above the eaves. About the same time as the stoves were fitted gas lighting was introduced and the Auld Kirkers considered themselves to be really an up-to-date and progressive body of people. 

In 1872 central heating was installed and the door in the back wall was built up to allow a heating chamber to be built. This necessitated a change in the layout of the church and the whole seating accommodation was altered. In 1883 the Parish Hall was built on the rising ground behind the Church and has been little altered since then with the exception that a porch has been added to the front door. The hall stands on the ground where the communion preachings used to be held and members of the congregation listened to sermons from various preachers whilst waiting their turn to "go to table" and take Communion within the church. The preachers sheltered in a form of sentry box while the congregation sat on the hillside and many took "bannocks and cheese" with them to sustain them through the long hours they often had to wait before it was their turn to take Communion. In 1890 the "kist o’ whistles" was installed by the congregation and the vestry, being required to house the organ mechanism, was moved to its present position. In 1900 the congregation again subscribed to the entire redecoration of the church and the two large stained glass windows were fitted in the front wall at this time. Later other stained glass windows were fitted in memory of John Marshall (of Jack & Sons); as a memorial to the fallen in the first World War, and in memory of the Rev. David Swan who was minister for so many years in the Auld Kirk. In 1928, three years after the Act of 1925 which relieved the heritors of their responsibilities, the whole church was entirely remodelled, the seating being altered, the pulpit moved to the east wall, the horse shoe gallery removed and a small gallery fitted to the west wall but nothing could be done to relieve the starkness of the exterior and it can only be said the building is more functional than beautiful.

In 1844 the "Free Kirkers" built their church in Barns Road, near the site of the old public barns and granaries, and once again the opportunity to build a worthy building was lost. It was built in the form of a neadless cross and is a stem forbidding building which an old residenter once likened to the old public barns which had once stood near the site. Fortunately it was not burdened with a steeple like the Auld Kirk and there was much truth in the old jingle:

"I’m the Free Kirk, the wee Kirk, 
The Kirk without the steeple,
And you’re the Auld Kirk, the cauld Kirk
The Kirk without the people".

when one thinks on the Auld Kirkers shivering at services before the stoves were installed. A small belfry was incorporated originally in the Free Kirk but in early days it did not have a bell in it and the bell to call the congregation to worship was, for a time, fitted on brackets on the front wall. Later a bell was fitted in the belfry which is topped with an attractive little louvred turret. The outstanding features of the church are three lancet windows to each gable which relieves the monotony of the tall gables, each of which are surmounted with a cross. The church was originally named Cargil Church but when the congregations of this church and the Kincraig Church united in the 1950s the two names were combined and it is now known as the Cargil-Kincraig Church. Its original name commemorated the fact that Donald Cargil, the great Covenanter, had preached in the district. On the outer east wall of the church a square whin stone is inset (so high above the ground it is practically impossible to read it) with the inscription: "This is part of the stone beside which Donald Cargil is believed to have conducted a Conventicle on the farm of Cargilstone during the Covenanting period 1638-1688". The stone in question was a large whin boulder which marked the spot where Donald Cargil preached to a large gathering of townspeople near Ladycross in May, 1681, just before he was hanged in Edinburgh two months later. When he preached at Ladycross there was a price of 5,000 marks on his head but no Maybole man thought of betraying him. The stone was broken up in the nineteenth century and mainly used in the building of the Covenanters’ Memorial on the Cross Roads but part of it was dressed and inscribed as above and set in the wall of the "Free Kirk" as the building will always be known to the local people.

The "Free Kirkers" however, seem to have had more architectural taste when the question of building a manse for their minister was mooted as they erected at "Townhead" an attractive villa which for many years was the Free Church Manse. This house was built at the top of Kirkland Street opposite Duncan-land Toll and is now occupied by the Burgh Surveyor and the manse park is now the site of the Roman Catholic School.

On a Sunday in 1906 the Cargil Church was practically destroyed by fire and, when it was rebuilt, a small porch was added to the main front door and some other alterations were made, including the formation of an attractive window in the back wall and a new top to the belfry. When the organ was installed in the church about forty years ago, unfortunately it was sited on the back wall and spoiled the beauty of the large window but as Minniebolers are fond of saying "things maun aye be someway", and once again artistic ideas were submerged in the flood of practical thoughts about cost of installation, etc. In 1882 the congregation built a hall, attached to the rear of the church, with a vestry, etc. and while it is useful, it did nothing to make the church building more attractive.

Both the Auld Kirk and the Free Kirk are built on, or near, springs and since they have been built there has been constant trouble with both buildings requiring repairs for dampness, dry rot, etc., and the cost of maintenance has been high in each building. The workmanship of "the good old days" was certainly not so wonderful as one is led to believe, at least here these buildings were concerned, as in both many instances of bad and slipshod workmanship has come to light when repairs have been carried out. The Parish Church especially was built with poor materials and in 1830, 1836, 1868 and 1879 the heritors had to pay large sums to renew ceilings, joists, floors, etc., the cost in 1830 being £450, a considerable sum in those days to spend on repairs to a building which had been erected only twenty years previously at a cost of around £4,000.

In 1842 the West Church (locally known as the Glen Kirk) was built in Coral Glen, the cost being mainly met by Sir Charles Fergusson of Kilkerran. Once again it was built in what could be described as "The Maybole Kirk" style and there is little to commend it from an architectural point of view. It is a pleasant enough building, however, with an ornamental open bellcote on the gabe facing Coral Glen and its gables and walls are relieved with finely proportioned long arched windows. It was of better workmanship than the two earlier churches and, being sited on top of a hill, rather than on the side of one, there has been little trouble in keeping dampness from damaging it. It serves the west part of the town admirably and has the most attractive surroundings of all the churches in the burgh. It was the church where the Rev. Roderick Lawson preached for so many years and his successor, Rev. Alexander Williamson, was also minister for a long period and both these men were keenly interested in their adopted town and wrote many articles about it.

The three churches, the Auld Kirk, the Free Kirk and the Glen Kirk were all built in the early part of the nineteenth century and it can only be surmised the Minniebolers of that period were hard headed true sons of their Covenanting forefathers who counted the cost and thought the sermons more important than the churches, as it cannot be honestly said any great thought was given to their design from an architectural point of view. Perhaps there was still a lingering feeling that there should be no beauty or fripperies which could possibly remind the congregation of the Popish splendours their forefathers had helped John Knox to overthrow.

The Episcopal Church at the foot of Gardenrose Path was built about the end of last century and is a small neat building with a simple dignity unfortunately marred by being crammed into a small site. It had a metal framework bell tower with a little high pitched bell, the sound of which was so familiar to the townspeople, until the tower was removed during the second World War to help the war effort in the collection of scrap metal. The interior is more attractive, than any of the larger churches, with a fine arch to the altar on the east wall.

The Roman Catholic Church at Allan’s Hill was built in 1878 and has the most commanding site of any of the church buildings in the town, being well situated on the crown of a small hill and, although small, its site makes it look quite imposing. It has an attractive steeple at the side of the front gable which has a rather fine window in it. Its interior is enhanced with an arch round the altar which is placed in a vaulted recess and the roof is supported by arches which have heads carved on the springers. Local tradition has it that these heads were carved by an old tramp mason who turned up one day during the building of the church and asked for employment in hewing the stones. He proved to be so expert he was given the job of carving the heads to the arches and it is believed he modelled his carvings on the heads of some of his fellow workmen and carved one in his own image. These heads were originally palnted in life like colours as to hair, lips, eyes, etc., but early this century they were all painted a uniform fawn colour much to their detriment and it is to be hoped that someday they will be repainted in their original colouring.

In 1914 at a cost of £1,720 the Baptist Church was built in Carrick Street and it is a small rectangular, brick built structure, with a red sandstone front gable and porch with an arched doorway. Like the Episcopal Church it is crammed into a very small site which does nothing to improve its appearance and it would seem building sites were either scarce (or expensive) when these churches were built. It was built, mainly through the efforts of Pastor Ramsay, to replace the former meeting place of the Baptist congregation which was a hall in Abbot Street near the Old Cemetery and which is now used by the Roman Catholics as a recreation hall.

The most attractive church ever built in Maybole was undoubtedly the Kincraig Church in Culzean Road. This was built as a United Presbyterian Church in 1880 to replace the old "Burgher Kirk" at the foot of John Knox Street which had served the congregation from 1797. The old church was converted into a tenement building which stood until the houses in John Knox Street were demolished and new houses built in the 1960s. The new church in Culzean Road was a fine red sandstone building with a neat stone steeple and a beautiful window with stone tracery and four stained glass panels in the front gable to the main road. It was well proportioned inside and was an attractive little church with a most convenient hall attached. It was evident that by the end of the nineteenth century more thought was being given to church design by the townsfolk and this, the last church to be built, was a great improvement on the older kirks. Unfortunately (from a buildings point of view) when the Cargill and Kingcraig congregations decided to amalgamate it was decided the Cargill Church should be used as a congregational meeting place and the Kincralg Church was sold to a local builder who demolished it and built houses on the site. The Church hall was converted into a dwelling ,house and now only the name of Kincraig Court remains to remind the townfolk of the fine church which once stood there. The Kincraig Manse which adjoined the church was retained as a manse for the minister of the Cargill Kincraig Church and Cargill Manse (which was next to Kincraig Manse in Culzean Road) was sold and is now a private house.

An Evangelistic Hall, built in 1879, stood in the Kirkwynd on the site of the old "Little Chamber" (where men of Maybole met to settle their disputes in olden days and had to leave their swords in an anteroom lest they came to blows) and this was finally used as the meeting place of the members of the Salvation Army for many years. It was a plain, brick pointed building of no merit whatsoever and it was no great loss to the town when it became derelict and ‘was demolished in 1969 to make room for a car park.

The Castle is now the oldest inhabited house in the town having been built about the middle of the sixteenth century (no exact date can be given but it is believed to be around 1560). It was the town house of the Earls of Cassillis who spent most of the winter months in Maybole in those days and was the largest and finest of the twenty-eight lairds’ houses which were written about by Abercrummie in 1686. It was built in the style of a typical Scottish castle, with square tower and round turrets, and strong enough to protect its occupants from unfriendly neighbours, of whom there were many at that time. Originally it stood across the bottom of the High Street with the gates to the courtyard facing up the street and with a great part of it on the site now occupied by the Post Office. The main door was originally at the side of the square tower which faced up the High Street. The main hall was above vaulted cellars which still remain and above the hall were the sleeping apartments. The retainers’ quarters were on the other side of the gateway which gave entrance into the castle yard which was built round the well now, locally known as "The Pump". 

The buildings were L shaped with the base forming the part still in existence and the longer side built where the Post Office and Public Library now stand and the part now demolished housed the servants, grooms, smiths, and other persons necessary for the service of a nobleman in the sixteenth century. The tower is capped by a lovely little oriel window looking up the High Street (described by McGibbon and Ross in their books on Scottish Castles as "a rare specimen"), with heads carved round it which local people wrongly believe represent the heads of Johnnie Faa and his gypsies. The corbels to the roof of the little room at the top of the tower (known as the Countess’s Room) are carved with male and female heads and symbols of fertility. A square recess about fifteen feet from the base of the tower originally held a stone carved with arms of the Cassillis family. The walls are extremely thick (in some places about seven feet) and it must have originally been a safe retreat in troublesome times when the Earls could live in it, with their own men around them in the small township clustered on the hillside below it. It was from Maybole Castle that the Earl of Cassillis and his men sallied forth to the fight at Ladycross in December, 1601, when young Bargany. was killed in the bitter feud between the Cassillis and Bargany families. Locally there is an old tale of the Countess of Cassillis being imprisoned in the "Countess’s Room" at the top of the tower, after she had allegedly eloped with Johnnie Faa, King of the Gypsies, but while the story is a delightful one, facts disprove it.

As years passed the Earls spent less and less of their time in Maybole, and gradually the old Castle fell into a state of disrepair and it became practically abandoned except for a few old retainers who lived in some of the outbuildings. In 1805 the Earl of Cassillis agreed with the town council that the part sited where the Post Office stands could be demolished to allow a road to be formed from the foot of the High Street to Duncanland Toll at the bottom of Redbrae. When the old buildings were removed the Earl decided to repair the old Castle and in 1812 reroofed it and built the additions which are now the Marquess of Ailsa’s Estate Offices and the living rooms above, also the Dining Room and new kitchen premises. The gardens and park bad walls erected round them and from 1812 the Castle has remained as it is now and it has been the home of Lord Ailsa’s Estate Factors from then until the present day. In 1919 fire broke out in it and part of the roof was destroyed and had to be repaired. It has a commanding position at the bottom of the High Street and makes an attractive entry to the town from the Ayr Road and when the Library (1905), Post Office (1913) and the building at the head of the Kirkwynd (1894) were erected the builders harmonised the new buildings with the old Castle by making crow stepped gables, etc., and this little corner of Maybole has a dignity which can compare with any part of any town in Scotland.

In olden days another Castle stood at the top of the High Street, facing down the street to Maybole Castle, and the street was closed at both top and bottom of the hill by these two buildings which stood, like watch-dogs, over the Minniebolers as they thronged the booths set up in the High Street at the quarterly fairs or gathered to listen to proclamations from the drummer on the steps of the Town Cross. This building was originally the town house of the Lairds of Blairquhan and again was built in the usual style of Scottish castles with strong walls, a tower, and turrets. It is not known when it was originally built but it is believed to be older than the Castle. The building was quite large and occupied part of the site now occupied by Cameron’s Garage and the Royal Bank. About the end of the seventeenth century it was formed into the Court House and Tolbooth for the town, when a great part of the building was removed, and only the tower, part of the Lesser Town Hall, and a square building with a raked crow stepped gable were left. 

There are many old prints showing this building in the early nineteenth century and they give a good picture of the Town’s jail and Council House and the Seal of the Burgh is a representation of the old Tolbooth. The prison cells were under the Court Room and they must have housed many prisoners in their time, as the Courts of Carrick met there and dealt out justice to all accused of every type of crime from poaching to murder. When the Court Room was not in use for the meetings of the Councillors it was let out as a "Dancing Room" and to actors to present their plays and many of the prisoners in the cells below must have had a few sleepless nights when the fiddlers played reels for the dancers above them. The old "jouggs" for the necks of prisoners used to hang above the door at the bottom of the tower and the "stocks" for their feet lay in a room at the top of the tower, but the "jouggs" went amissing about the end of the last century, and the "stocks", although still in existence in the 1930s, have also been lost.

In the 1880s it was decided Maybole must have a proper Town Hall commensurate with the needs of the thriving burgh and the old buildings with the exception of the tower, were swept away and the new Town Hall built in 1887, and it stands so to this day, with a few minor alterations to ‘the interior. It has accommodation for 750 people and is the gathering place for all the townsfolk at dances, whist drives, public meetings, etc. The "Lesser Town Hall" incorporates part of the old Council Chamber and "Dancing Room" and the tower was fitted last century with a new roof with a clock in it, the original clock having been set in the stonework of the tower. Since it was built the Town Hall has seen much life and gaiety within its wails and all Maybole folk recall with nostalgia the nights of the great balls held by the "Yeomanry", the "Masons" the, "Boolers" and the "Curlers". These were the great events of the winter’s season in the town up to the 1920s and few Minniebolers have not attended some of these balls, the men with their patent dancing pumps and a fresh collar in their pockets and the ladies in their finery and redolent with a "pennysworth of scent from Dr. Girvan’s pharmacy". All beaus called for their lady friends with a cab from the "Kings Arms" and danced until three or four in the morning, it being a point of honour never to miss a dance, and to have as many partners as possible. When one sees a modern dance hall with its bored looking patrons ambling round all night with the same partner "the bad old days" seem, somehow, to have been not so bad after all.

When the old house of Blairquhan was formed into the Tolbooth, and a great part of it demolished in 1800, a small, oddly shaped building, was permitted to be built on the site of the demolished buildings next the tower and this later became three shops with a dwellinghouse above and was known as the Spooncreel. The Council in later days tried to have it removed and when the new Town Hall was being built acquired it and started to demolish it. Some trouble arose about the titles, however, and finally the civic fathers had to replace the roof which they had removed, and the building remained with its shops until 1967 when it was finally acquired by the town and demolished. Its removal opened up the old tower and, as the surrounding area has been neatly paved, it now again stands up in its glory as it did over four hundred years ago. 

Few towns in Scotland can boast of a castle at each end of its High Street and McGibbon’s "Scottish Architecture" remarks on the air of antiquity in the description of Maybole which states: "This little town, which stands on a hillside sloping to the south, may be cited as a good example of the local centres or provincial country towns of early days. Such centres were then, when roads were bad and travelling dangerous, much more numerous than now, when travelling is easy and rapid, but few have preserved their pristine features so little altered as Maybole. Here we still find the Castle of the Lord of the Bailery standing guard at the east end and that of the Laird of Blairquhan at the west end of the main street whilst the remains of the Collegiate Kirk nestles quietly in the centre". These remarks still apply to the old town today and every Minnieboler has great affection of these three old buildings.

The next outstanding building erected in the town after the Town Hall was built was the Carnegie Public Library at the foot of the High Street. The foundation stone (engraved with the Town Coat of Arms) was laid in 1905, when the whole population turned out to see it well and truly laid by the local Free Masons, with the town band leading the Magistrates and Councillors in procession to the site. It was built mainly from funds donated by the Trust formed by Andrew Carnegie, the great Scottish philanthropist, to provide such buildings in Scottish towns and is a handsome stone building which blends admirably with the old Castle across the street from it. The doorway is extremely fine and has a handsomely carved coat of arms over it. A native of Maybole, Robert McQuater who died in Dublin in 1902, bequeathed £1,000 to the Magistrates and Council and this sum was expended in forming the recreation rooms in the building. It contains a billiard room, games room, reading room and lending library, and is a great asset to the town. Most Maybole youths have learned to play billiards there (often unknown to their mothers who somehow or other never looked too kindly on the game as suitable for their sons), the older men of the town enjoy their dominoes and draughts in the games room and the lending library supplies all types of books for the more studious and sober citizens.

In 1912 an old house next to the library (belonging to a local contractor, "Tup" Dobbie, a well-known Minnieboler) was demolished and the Post Office built on the site, again in a style to harmonise with the old Castle and is a handsome building of sandstone and granite. It was the main Post Office for the district until after the first World War when it was demoted to a sub post office under the control of the Ayr Postmaster. In its early days the postmen delivered the mail three times daily during the week and once on Sundays throughout the town, and the red bicycles of the postmen with the heavy mailbags on the front carriers were a common everyday sight throughout the country districts and in the villages of Kirkoswald, Crosshill and Kirkmichael. The Straiton mail was taken by a pony and dogcart and anyone wishing to go to the village could always be assured of a lift by the driver of the mail gig. Nowadays the gig and the colourful bicycles are a thing of the past and small red motor vans hurtle like hornets with the Daily Express to Glenalla, etc.

In 1876 the "Ladyland School" was built in Carrick Street at a cost of £6,000 and it was a square sandstone two storey building to which the youths of the town crawled slothfully for over forty years until it was destroyed in a Sunday night in January, 1920, when they joyfully watched it burn to the ground. Some years later, after much wrangling regarding a site, the Carrick Academy was built in Kirkoswald Road in 1927 and while it is not a thing of beauty it serves its purpose well and is one of the finest schools in Ayrshire.

The Cairn School was built in 1890 on the site of an old building known as "Cairn House" and there has been little external alteration to it although in the 1930s extra class rooms were added and the old rooms modernised. Many older people remember with affection Miss Duncan, Miss Brannan and "Skin" Nisbet the headmaster who all taught! for many years in it, and afterwards the headmaster was A. B. Coburn who took a prominent part in the town’s affairs.

In 1878 the Roman Catholics built their own school next to their Church, and it stands to this day, although it is no longer used as a school, a new one having been built at the head of Kirkland Street (in "McGeacbies" field) in the l94Os. Unfortunately the new school is a box like building which, although practical, like the Carrick Academy it cannot be said to be ornamental. Prior to the Roman Catholics building their own school the youthful R.Cs. attended the other schools in the town and could turn up ten minutes late in the mornings as they stayed outside until the other pupils said morning prayers. In the 1860s there were five schools in the town, the Parish School at Greenside, the Industrial School at Greenhead, the West Church School (which had! the largest number of pupils) the Free Church School and the Episcopal School, but these were all closed in 1876 when the new school was opened.

About the latter part of the 19th century a "Poorshouse" was built in Ladyland Road with accommodation for forty-eight inmates and it was built to house the "destitute persons" from the parishes of Maybole, Kirkoswald, Kirkmichael, Girvan, Dailly and Barr. It was used for this purpose until after the first World War when, due to centralization of the social services, there was no further need for it and it was converted partly into the District Offices and Labour Exchange and partly into offices for a local firm. The local firm gave up their part some years ago and it is now used as a Youth Centre and Welfare Centre. The building still stands as originally built and retains its stern forbidding look so characteristic of all Victorian "Poor-houses".

Around the end of the nineteenth century many fine villas were built in the town, especially up the "Shore Road" and behind the station, and the old town started to spread up the hill. The local council about twenty years ago arranged to get water from Ayr County Council to supply this area and it was possible to build council houses up the Culzean Road and at Whitefaulds where the lack of a good water supply had previously prevented the building of too many houses. In 1968 the council acquired the lands of Gardenrose Farm and it was planned to erect a large housing scheme with an area laid aside for private development, on the site of the farm. This means that the old town, which nestled for over eight hundred years on the lower slopes of the hillside is now spreading upwards and soon an old townsman who has been away for many years will find it difficult to visualize his old hometown, where new buildings are springing up above the "Shore Road" and old buildings so well-known to him in "Weavers Vennal" and the "Dangartland" have been! cleared away and replaced with modern ones.

The buildings on the High Street are a mixture of old and new with some very old (such as the Kings Arms Hotel) and some (such as Templetons Stores) brand new and determined to outshine, in a modem way, their douce elders. The street has just grown, like Topsy, and some buildings have gables to the roadway, some are solid stone fronted, others chromium and glass (and as hygenic as operating theatres) but on a whole the old street still has the couthy atmosphere of the main shopping centre of a provincial country town and McGibbon would not alter much his article on Maybole if he was again to write on Scottish Architecture.

These are the main buildings in the town but two other fine buildings are Ashgrove Home and Lumsden Home, both built originally as private houses and both taken over this century by Glasgow Corporation as holiday homes for children from Glasgow, who were in need of holidays in rural surroundings. Ashgrove Home was originally "Craigengillan" and was built about the end of last century by James A. Gray, owner of one of the shoe factories and it is said he built it at the top of Kirklandhill Path so that he could look down on the "Bog Lum" which was the chimney stack of Ladywell Factory and a well-known landmark to older residents in the town. Lumsden Home was built by a local doctor and was originally known as Redbrae House and there are many lurid tales of the gruesome happenings in an outhouse built next the retaining wall where it is said the doctor used to dissect human bodies in his experiments. Local lore has it that he was not too particular as to the source of his subjects and, if there be any truth in the tales, there must have been some local "Burke and Hares" in the district about a hundred years ago. It is interesting to note in the Town Records that in 1843 the local sexton was prosecuted for digging up corpses in the old cemetery and selling their coffins and it may be the sexton found an easy and profitable way of disposing of some of the contents of his second hand wares but this can only be conjecture as certainly neither the vendor nor the purchaser would speak about their business transactions.

Many old buildings have been swept away with the march of progress and the town has lost the "Sun Inn", the "Dunnering Inn", the "Whitehall of the Carmelite Friars", the "Black House", the "Little Temple" in Kirkwynd, the old Parish Manse, John Knox’s House and the houses of twenty-six lairds but there are still enough old buildings left, and attractive new ones will no doubt be built, to keep Maybole as a "good example of a local centre or provincial town".

In 1963 the Scottish Development Department made a survey of the town and issued a list of "Buildings of Architectural and Historic Interest in Maybole". The buildings were graded in importance under categories A, B and C and noted as being of architectural interest of importance from a historical point of view and the following is an abbreviated extract from the notes issued by the Department:

Note:		A = Buildings of National Importance.

		B = Buildings of Local Importance or good examples of 
	    	    some period or style.

		C = Good Buildings which are fair examples of a period 
	    	    or in some cases happen to group well with some
	    	    categories A and B.
	Name of Building	Description		   Category

1.	Old Parish Church	1829; refurnished 1882,		B
				1742 bell-a large square
				rectangular shaped hail
				with tower centrally
				placed on south side.2.
	Saw Mill and Fac-	Early 19th century -		C
	tory, Cassilis Rd.,	Bull-nosed masonry; 2
	now premises of		storeys on raised embank-
	Messrs. Jack.		ment; 7 sash windows,
				those on ground floor
				being round headed;
				simple eaves with gutter;
				slate roof has	3 hipped

3. 	No. 14	Cassillis	Forms part of same 		B
	Road,			range as No& 16 and 18;
				stucco, 2 storeys, 4
				sash windows; plinth, 2
				bands, moulded eaves,
				roIled skews; ridge roof,
				single splayed dormer;
				round headed doorway to
				right has fanlight.

  4. Nos. 16 & 18		Early 19th century-
     Cassillis Road.		Pink ashlar; plinth, 2
				bands, moulded eaves;
				2 storeys; 11 sash win-
				dows, centre palladian
				window on 1st floor
				above elliptical arched
				carriage way; 2 panelled
				doors with fanlight to
				right and left; ridge roof,
				4 square dormers, rolled
				gable skews.

5. Nos. 22, 24, 26		Pleasant vernacular range	C
   and 28 Cassillis Rd.		circa 1840; stucco, 2
				storeys; No. 24-26 has
				modilioned cornice; No.
				28 has centre recessed
				doorway flanked by col-

6.Maybole Castle.		Town mansion of the		A
				Lords Cassillis, heredit-
				ary bailiffs of Carrick.
				The plan is of the simple
				quadrilateral form with
				a square projection at
				the south-west angle con-
				taining the principal stair
				which ascends to near the
				top where the turret is
				corbelled out and formed
				into a handsome prospect
				room with a bow window
				to the west. The large
				angle turrets, the orna-
				mental and remarkable
  				form of the dormers, and
			 	the enriched chimney
				heads, point to a late
				date or the first quarter
				of the 17th Century and
				was probably built by
				John, sixth Earl, who was
				appointed Extraordinary
				Lord of Session at the
				Restoration - The castle
				has been enlarged in
				more recent times and is
				now occupied by Lord
				Ailsa's factor.

7.	Tolbooth.		Little now remains of the	B
				old mansion of the Lairds
				of Blairquhan, but the
				tower erected on the top
				of the staircase, with its
				pyramid, is still pre-,
				served, and serves the
				purpose of the town
				belfry. The pointed and
				traceried windows of the
				top storey are peculiar
				features, and are pro-
				bably an indication of
				the Gothic revival which
				took place in the 17th

8.	Royal Bank of		3-storey Italianate build-	B
	Scotland.		ing with wide spreading
				eaves; ashlar, raised rust-
				icated quoins, plinth,
				2 moulded bands; sym-
  				metrical 3 windows fac-ade,
 				coupled round arched windows,
				centre doorway.

9.	Nos. 4, 6 and 8		Circa 1840. Pleasant		C
	Whitehall.		vernacular row, 2 storeys;
				No. 4 ashlar, centre pan-
				elled pilastered door-
				way; No. 6 and 8 grey

10.	Nos. 1, 3, 5, 7, and	Circa 1840. Vernacular		C
	9 Whitehall.		range in stucco; 2 storeys,
				raised quoins, plinth,
				band, cave band, and
				moulded cornice. No. 9
				has imposing doorway
				with coupled flat pan-
				elled pilasters, entab-,
				laturé, segmental arched

11.	Nos. 18 and 19		Pair of houses on west		B
	Greenhead.		side of Green-No. 18, 3
				storeys, 3 sash windows,
				ashlar, modillioned corn-
				ice, centre doorway in
				recessed painted stone
				surround. No. 19, 2-
				storeys, 3 sashes coursed
				stone blocks patched with

12.	Pair of houses		To right, grey harling, 2	C
	known as The		storeys, 3 sashes in cem-
	Smithy, Greenside.	ent frames; to left, stucco,
				2 storeys, 2 windows,
  				black painted plinth and
13.	Weiltrees Bar		Harled; 2 storeys; 3 small	C
	Welltrees Street.	narrow windows in
				painted stone surrounds;
				moulded eaves; old door-
				way to left has should-
				ered architrave.

14.	Old Collegiate		The roofless ruin of a		A
	Church.			15th century church, built
				for a small college est-
				ablished here in 1373 by
				the Kennedies of Dunure.
				The remains include a
				rich door in a revived
				First pointed style, and
				an Easter Sepulchre
				which is also an imitation
				of early work.

15.	Old graveyard,		Disused. Contains some		C
	Kirkwynd.		18th-19th century monu-
				ments of interest.

16.	St. John's Cottage.	Attractive pavilion type	B
				small house, circa 1830-
				40; symmetrical garden
				facade has centre 2 storey
				splayed tower flanked by
				1 storey supporting
				wings; ground floor sash
				windows reach down to
				floor level and have
				wooden jalousies; rect-
				angular shaped upper
				windows; wide spreading
				eaves: entrance at side.
				Interior contains an
				unusual hall 3rd staircase
				,glass domed skylight.
(It will be noted the dates given for some of the buildings
(Parish Church, Castle, etc.) do not agree with factual dates
but the extract is as printed by the Scottish Development


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