"Secret Works" The Acid Works on Kilkerran Estate
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I have just been reading a very interesting article by David Courtney McClure appearing on his web pages, concerning the Acid Works on Kilkerran Estate.

The part which really piqued my interest is the last paragraph of appendix one in which he names Mungo McAlpine, Craigfin Cottages as one of the men who aided Mr Bennet in the demolition of the old factory. Mungo was the brother of my father, or in other words, my uncle. He resided in the northernmost cottage which was one of four belonging to Kilkerran Estate, at that time. That particular cottage cottage, flagstone floor and all, had been occupied by the McAlpine family for years. The family consisted of my grandparents David and Agnes and their children, David, Jenny, Mungo and James (my father).

During our growing up years we were very familiar with the "Secret Works'(pronounced Saycrit Works) by the old folks. My "Seaview" grandfather also had a few of these old sayings, such as, did you "steek the yett"? Which he more or less uttered every time I came in from the road, making sure that I had shut the gate. He also would refer to my father as faither, but to my ears it always sounded like he was saying feather.

Anyway, I'm sure that Uncle Mungo's involvement with the "Secret Works" was limited to securing, cutting and delivering timber to the factory. He bought a new Fordson tractor fitted with a flywheel, presumably to belt drive a power saw to cut he required timber. My late brother David who accompanied me to Canada was afflicted with severe asthma from early childhood until early adulthood. About 1939 and on advice from Dr. James Rennie that perhaps the air around the "Secret Works" would be beneficial for David, he was sent off to live with his grandparents at Wee Craigfin. He stayed there for about two years, attending school at Kilkerran.

I don't think that the move had any impact, for the better, on his asthma, as a matter of fact in later years he started smoking vile smelling herbal cigarettes, again on the recommendation of the doctor. I'm not sure that the cigarettes gave him much relief either. What I am sure of though is that the smell made one of our cabin mates on the ship to Canada sit bolt upright in the middle of the night, he thought that his mattress was on fire. David did eventually get medical treatment in Canada which gave him enormous relief from a chronic condition.

I remember one night towards the end of the war walking down the road from Wee Craigfin to get the train back to Maybole. I can't recall ever walking on a road where there was absolutely no light, no moon, no stars, nothing. There were woods on either side of the road from which would come the occasional rustle or scurry, this prompted the adrenal to kick in and drive the legs a bit faster. It was absolutely great to eventually see the lights of Kilkerran station.

Uncle Mungo was a man of many talents and was quite adept with blasting powder and dynamite, he was often sought out by local farmers to clear large rocks from their fields. Aunt Jenny was a great cook and around New Year I would enjoy one of her many specialities, black bun, yum, yum. Such are the memories of childhood, boyhood and young adulthood.

Jim McAlpine

Jim McAlpine with Skye. Jim is now living in Ontario, Canada.
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