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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 27


WHEN the civic heads of the town "process" through the streets they are led by the Town Officer who carries a red and white staff. This has been the practice for hundreds of years and the right to carry the staff is based on an Act of Parliament passed by James I in 1432 which stated: "Ane officer of Regality must gae furth before his folk carrying ane rod or staff, three quarters of a yaird lang, tane pairt coloured reid and tother pairt coloured quhite." For generations a plain red and white rod was carried before the councilors but it was lost in the middle of last century and for about a hundred years the Town Officer did not display this badge of office. In 1945 Mrs. Chesney presented a new staff to the Council in memory of her father, Mr. James Miller, who had been Provost from 1912 to 1921. The new staff was made from a piece of the old Dule Tree of Cassillis, gifted by Frances, Marchioness of Ailsa, and Mr. James Jeff, the Kirkcudbright artist, carved a dolphin on one end of it and a burghal coronet on the other, painted it red and white as laid down in the statute of 1432, and now the councillors can march in order as their predecessors did.

A note in the Town Records about the end of the eighteenth century refers to the "toun flag" being in need of repair but no further reference is made to it and it must have lain until it rotted away. Mrs. Chesney again generously stepped in to bring back the old traditions which had been forgotten and in 1952 she presented the burgh with a new "toun flag". The flag has a yellow background, the red chevron of Carrick and the rampant blue lions of Bruce and is flown in the Town Green every year on the 14th November to commemorate the granting of the town’s Charter in 1516 and on other noteworthy occasions.

The curfew was tolled from the town steeple for centuries until it was stopped during the Second World War and the Council decided not to continue it after the cessation of hostilities much to the regret of the older generation who were reared to the sound of the curfew each night. In days gone by the bell was rung each night at 8 p.m. when all douce Minniebolers were expected to be in their own homes. Last century the Council decided to ring the bell each morning at 6 a.m. to get the townspeople out of bed to start work and put back the nightly curfew from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. After the first World War the morning rising bell was discontinued but the evening curfew was rung and many householders checked their clocks with the "ten o’clock bell". It is a pity the old custom of ringing the curfew was not renewed after the war as Maybole was one of the few towns in Scotland, which had kept up the practice for hundreds of years.

The people of Maybole were mainly staunch Protestants and the town was a noted centre of the Covenanters and many are the tales told of local "preachings" in the hills around the town in these troublesome times. In 1678 the largest conventicle ever held in Scotland took place at Craigdow Hill when over 7,000 people gathered to listen to Peden and Cargil and other preachers, and 600 armed men were posted round the hill to guard the worshippers from attack by the government force stationed in the district to quell the Covenanters. Peden and Cargil were frequent visitors to the district as is evidenced by the local names of "Peden’s Thorn" at Cultizeoun, "Cargil’s Stone" on the Cross Roads, "Peden’s Cave" at the Nick o’ the Balloch and many other places. The original National Covenant, which is exhibited in the Antiquarian Museum in Edinburgh contains the signatures of many Maybole men and at the November Fair in the town in 1677 so many swords were sold to known Covenanters from the swordmakers booths that a special report on this strange and sudden desire for arms was sent to the government.

One of the most noted covenanters in the district was John McLymont of Auchalton Farm near Crosshill. He was persecuted for years and his home was burned down and he and his family had to hide on Glenalla moor where the soldiers searched for them for days but fortunately were unable to find them. For years he could not return to his farm but finally, when the troublesome times were over, he and his wife returned to Auchalton where he lived until his death at the age of 69 on 1st November, 1714. He is buried in the old cemetery at Kirkport under a large "thruch" stone which is near the entrance gate and on which the following interesting inscription is engraved:

"Under this neighbouring monument lies

The Golden dust of man and wife,

Of pious line, both soon shall rise,

To long expected, glorious life.

They for their constancy and zeal,

Still to the back, did prove good steel

For our Lord’s royal truths and laws

The ancient covenanted cause

Of Scotland’s famous Reformation,

Declining laws of usurpation."

Many years after his death an old sword was found hidden in the thatched roof of Auchalton farmhouse and it was believed to belong to the staunch covenanter who may have bought it at Maybole Fair in 1677.

During the covenanting times Grier of Lagg was stationed in the district with troops to quell the local people and it is said he made his headquarters in the Dunnering Inn which was a famous hostelry in Weaver Vennal for many generations.

One of the most famous family feuds in Scotland raged for years around the old town of Maybole when the Bargany and Cassillis factions of the Kennedy family were at each others’ throats. The feud started through the Earl of Cassillis persuading Allan Stewart, Commendater of Crossraguel Abbey, to sign over the lands of Crossraguel to the Earl and the story of this persuasion has been handed down, and greatly embellished, throughout the years. The Commendater (not the Abbot as so many wrongly state when they speak of the "Roasting of the Abbot") was loath to sign over the property to the Earl and he was taken to Dunure Castle and there toasted over a fire in the "black vault of Dunure" until he finally succumbed to pressure and signed the necessary documents. Allan Stewart naturally complained of his treatment at the hands of the Earl who was summoned by the Privy Council to appear personally before the Regent and the Secret Council, but they, with all the facts before them, treated the Earl extremely leniently, which tends to prove the incident was not so drastic as it seems now when related four hundred years after the event. The Laird of Bargany, however, who was the brother-in-law of Allan Stewart did not accept the Regent’s findings on the case and chose to be his own judge and executioner by bitterly attacking the Casillis branch of his family and this was the start of one of the most deadly and disastrous feuds in the country which was finally ended by the death of young Bargany at Ladycross in 1601.

Part of the feud which was centred around the old town of Maybole culminated in the trial of the Mures of Auchendrane which is said to be one of the most remarkable in the whole range of the criminal annals of this, or any other, country. On 3rd January, 1597, John Mure of Auchendrane with a party of followers came to Maybole and attempted to murder Sir Thomas Kennedy of Culzean who was then residing at his home in the town (where the Union Bank now stands) but the attempt failed and Sir Thomas managed to escape by hiding in the old kirkyard at the bottom of the hill below his home. Sir Thomas prosecuted Mure for the assault and attempted murder, but finally the parties became seemingly friendly when Mure apologised and, to seal the friendship between the two families, Mure’s son married the daughter of Sir Thomas. Mure was then related to both the powerful Kennedy factions as his wife was a daughter of Bargany and his son the husband of a daughter of the Culzean family and he was in a position where he could perhaps have worked to put a stop to the feud. He was a false and treacherous man, however, and could not bury his enmity against the Casillis branch and it was he who really influenced young Bargany against the Earl of Cassillis and in the end brought about the death of the young man. Sir Thomas Kennedy of Culzean, although tutor and guardian of his nephew, the young Earl of Cassillis, kept apart from the quarrel, considering his connection as father-in-law to young Auchendrane to be too strong to be broken, even to assist his nephew. Unfortunately the Mures of Auchendrane were of a different stamp and they nursed their hatred to all connected with the House of Cassillis. Sir Thomas had to visit Edinburgh on business and sent word of his proposed visit to the Capital to Mure, offering to attend to any business which Mure might wish carried out while Sir Thomas was in the city. The message regarding the visit was carried to Mure by a schoolboy from Maybole named Dalrymple, who was nicknamed "Johnny Glegfoot", and when he received it Mure told the schoolboy to take it back to Maybole and say he had not been able to deliver it as Mure was away from home. Mure then gathered some of his followers together and waited on Sir Thomas on his journey to Edinburgh at a place called Duppil, a little to the west of the town of Ayr, and when Sir Thomas rode past they set on him and murdered him, and stole his money, rings and gold buttons from his coat. To prevent "Johnny Glegfoot" from betraying them the Mures sent him out of the district but he returned and was also murdered on the instructions of Mure. The murderers were apprehended and their trial. dragged on until finally both father and son were found guilty and were beheaded in 1611 after one of the most famous trials in Scottish history. Sir Walter Scott based his "Tragedy of Auchendrane" on this incident of local history and the story should be read by all Minniebolers who would find it of great interest.

Many townspeople are often confused when mention is made of the "Auld Kirk" at Kirkport and are apt to think of the "Auld College" as the building in question but the two churches, although near each other were entirely separate buildings. The Old Collegium was a Roman Catholic church and originally stood in its own grounds, which were quite extensive, and had its own burial plot around it, entirely apart from what is now called the "Old Cemetery". Part of the burial ground of the Old College was east of where the Lorne Tannery formerly stood and where the council houses are now in Manse Street and for a time the area was used as a fairground, and locally known as "Aggie Henderson’s Field". Some tombstones were uncovered when building was carried out on the site but they were mostly so defaced it was impossible to trace the dates on them but they must have been very old. The Parish Church was built adjacent to the "Old College" and a new "God’s Acre" formed round it at the foot of Kirkwynd and was there until the new church was built in New Yards in 1808. Traces of the "Auld Kirk" may still be found near the present entrance to the old cemetery.

The oldest tombstone in the old town cemetery is beside the west wall and it is inscribed "Heir lyis ane honest man, Moreis Makmorrie, and his spouse, quha deceist in ye last of October 1618". There must have been older tombstones as the cemetery was in use in the 16th century but they probably crumbled away and would be removed. It has been said the cemetery was actually in use from the 13th century but this is only conjecture as no trace can be found of any burials so early as has been suggested and it is improbable that the small town required two cemeteries as the burial ground of the Old College would be sufficient for all interments, especially as all townsfolk were Roman Catholics until the 16th century. Although the new cemetery at Tunnoch was opened in 1851 interments took place quite often in the old one up until the second decade of the present century. For many years the old burial ground was allowed to lie rather derelict but recently old houses have been removed from around it and the boundary walls have been rebuilt in attractive stonework and the old God’s Acre is now trim and neat. It is well worthy of a visit by townspeople interested in the history of the town, as many of the people whose names are household words in Maybole are buried there and some of their tombstones have interesting inscriptions. The tombstone of the famous Bailie Niven and his wife is situated in the centre of the site of the old church, a stone near the gate marks the grave of David Dunn, a well-known schoolmaster who spent a night carousing in the Kings Arms with Robert Burns in 1786, and many of the old stones are engraved with the usual skulls, crossbones, hourglasses, etc., while one has no inscription whatsoever, and, from the appearance of it, never was inscribed, which seems strange as the old generations were always keen on long and fulsome epitaphs. Many of the present Minniebolers could trace their forefathers back for generations by spending an odd hour browsing among the monuments in the "Auld Cemetery".

Although most of the Maybole men were staunch Covenanters and strict sabbatarians some were also hard headed farmers who considered the reaping of their hard won crops was of primary importance and this is illustrated by a curious little story of the early 19th century. At a Sunday morning service in September, 1807, the Rev. James Wright intimated from his pulpit that, as the day was good and ideal for harvesting the crops, those who wished to do so could work in their fields lest there be a change in the weather and the crops ruined, and they could do so without violating the Sabbath. Such an intimation was tantamount to heresy to many of the congregation (probably all the non farmers) and it caused such an uproar that it was taken to the Presbytery and an enquiry was set up and finally the matter was taken to the Synod in October, 1808. The Synod ruled that all members of the church "must be sensible as to the sanctification of the Sabbath" and to "beware how far they allowed cases of necessity which may form a stumbling block to any of the parishioners". It seemed that while Synod had to damn the Rev. Wright’s practical advice to make hay while the sun shone they were not averse "to cases of necessity", in this instance the reaping of the crops. Perhaps they had in the back of their minds that the stipends came from the crops and a ruined harvest meant less stipend. The Town Council supported the Rev. Wright’s action in advising the farmers "to make full use of suitable weather, irrespective of the day", and sent a petition to the Synod stating that in their opinion there was no need for any enquiry. They pointed out that although the Minister had advised those with crops to secure to get on with it he had also intimated there would be an afternoon service in church for those who did not need to work.

On Saturday, 30th May, 1953, a historical pageant was held in the town to commemorate the coronation of Queen Elizabeth which was to take place on 2nd June, 1953. This pageant was undoubtedly the greatest event held in the old town for very many years and every organization from Boy Scouts to Church Guilds took part in providing actors to show the town’s history from its earliest days up to the coronation year. The "Pageant of Maybole" was written and produced by Raymond Lewis who was a teacher in Carrick Academy and he faithfully reproduced for the townspeople all the interesting events which had occurred in the old township over hundreds of years. The procession started at Carrick Academy and, led by the Town Band, "processed" to the Sheep Park where there were tableaux showing a conventicle, the roasting of the Commendater of Crossraguel, Marjory, mother of Robert the Bruce hawking at Turnberry, smugglers with their brandy kegs, knights in armour, and many other scenes from local history; The procession included people representing Robert the Bruce, Robert Burns, John Loudon McAdam, Sir Gilbert Blane, James Rodger and many other notables connected with the town including General Eisenhower the town’s first freeman. Fortunately it was a beautiful summer day and for the thousands who came from far and near, the "Pageant of Maybole" was a wonderful living spectacle of the town’s history. Once again the friendly and couthy atmosphere of the old town was emphasised by the harmony in which the people worked together to make "their" pageant something worthwhile and their efforts were greatly appreciated and will be long remembered. It is unfortunate that such an old town has not a small museum where old pictures of places and people could be shown along with a weaver’s loom and a cobbling bench which were the tools of the trades which made Maybole a thriving town in the past. There must be many articles of interest in the town which could be gathered together and put on display so that those interested in old Maybole could see how their forefathers lived, and maybe such a museum will be formed. Meantime the Council Chamber is the only place where some items of local interest can be seen and on its walls there are pictures showing the visit of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip, the freedom ceremony for General Eisenhower and a copy of the Town Charter of 1516. The Town Staff and the old town bell are also on view in the Council Chamber and the photographs of all provosts of the burgh since 1882. These are:

Charles Tennant 1882-84
James Gray 1884-85
John Marshall 1885-94
James Ramsay 1894-1905
William McKelIar 1905-12
James Miller 1912-21
Hugh Fáirlie 1921-24
John Crawford 1924-27
John McCubbin 1927-36
James McCulloch 1936-42
John Gibson 1942-44
Thomas Hicks 1944-47
Alexander Burns 1947-51
James T. Gray 1951-54
Thomas Murray 1954-57
John Dunlop 1957-60
Mrs. Sarah Dunn 1960-63
John McDowall 1963-66
James Macrae 1966-69
William Cuthbert 1969-

The photographs are in a frame in chronological order and show that the provosts had no chain of office until the time of Provost McCubbin who was first to wear it. This provost’s chain was presented by Mr. John Edgar, who was a member of the Council for many years and it is a beautifully designed silver gilt collarette with a large pendant with the burgh coat of arms in enamel. The links are in the shape of the initial "M" and are engraved with the names and dates of the provosts since the time of Provost McCubbin. The photograph of Provost Thomas Murray is the first to show the robes of office which were purchased by the Council during his term of provostship. In 1952 the Bailies’ badges were presented to the Council by some local people who subscribed to a fund raised to purchase them and the Senior Baffle’s badge shows the seal of the burgh and the Junior Bailie’s the Town Crest. These originally were fitted with lovely silk collarettes in the town’s colours but are now suspended on small gilt chains which are not so decorative as the silk collarettes. When Scotland is "regionalised", as is now proposed and Town Councils, as such, are swept away, it is to be hoped these badges of office will be preserved in some manner and not be stored away and lost as has happened in the past.

It can be truly said that the power behind the Provost’s chair in most small towns is the Town Clerk and Maybole has indeed been fortunate in the men who have filled this office. Since the days of Provost Tennant there have been only four Town Clerks, the first being James Gibson, the second James M. Gibson (son of previous clerk), David Briggs and the present clerk, John Boyd. Indeed it can be said that only two of these men have really directed the councillors in matters of law, etc., during the past eighty odd years as James Gibson was clerk for nearly fifty years, his son, James M. Gibson was clerk for less than a year and David Briggs was in office for over thirty years, retiring about seven years ago to be succeeded by his business partner, John Boyd. This is a record of long service which few towns can equal and another point regarding the town clerks which, it is believed, few other burghs can claim, is the fact that all these men were born and bred in the town. It would seem that the old custom of hundreds of years still persists and Minniebolers feel they are fit to govern their own affairs with their own folks as they did when they ignored the laws of the country at the time of the Reformation and on many other occasions.

There have been many changes in the old town over the past sixty years and those who emigrated to Canada and elsewhere around 1909 would find it difficult to reconcile their memories of the place with present day facts. At the beginning of this century the High Street was cobbled and the traffic consisted of farm carts and an occasional high wheeled gig drawn by a high stepping pony and invariably followed by a covey of boys anxious to "haud yer horse, mister" ‘should it stop at "Cowan’s" or the Kings Arms or some of the shops. Nowadays the street is asphalted, "no waiting" is the rule and the endless stream of cars and lorries makes it a perilous journey indeed to cross from one pavement to another. Sixty years ago everyone stopped to admire, and wonder, at the first car in the district which was owned by the Marquess of Ailsa (registered number SD1) and it was a great event when His Lordship appeared in town in it.

It had solid, rubber tyred wheels, was steered by a pole like a boat’s rudder, and the occupants sat facing each other in a boxlike contraption at the back while the chauffeur sat perched on a high seat in front and grimly drove along at the terrific speed of about 15 miles per hour. Nowadays Rolls Royces, Rovers, M.G’s, etc., race down the old High Street (often at speeds well over the permitted 30 m.p.h.) and no one turns their head to look at them, but all stop to stare if a tinker’s pony and float spanks along the New Yards with a lurcher dog gliding along below the axle.

An old inhabitant would also find great changes in the shops and would miss many of the kenspeckle tradespeople and the manner of displaying their merchandise. No longer do the long carts from "Castlehill" and "Balchriston" unload barrels of newly dug early "Ayrshires", topped with green shaws, at the grocers, to be displayed on the pavement at the shop doors, invariably flanked by a keg of salt herrings. The townspeople could always be assured of a cheap and wholesome dinner of tasty "new tatties and greentails" with herrings fried in oatmeal, as Johnny McClure from Maidens would fill a housewife’s apron with silver herring for a sixpence. Nowadays the potatoes are hygienically packed in polythene bags, (and invariably taste of inferior soap) while the herrings seems to have shrunk in size and grown in price. The merchants then displayed many of their wares on the pavements at the shop doors, or hung them on the walls, and it was often difficult to walk up the pavements for barrels of potatoes, kegs of herrings, glass cases displaying large tins of biscuits, with brushes, pots and pans hanging round the doors. If one had to step off the pavement to get round such merchandise it really did not matter much as the most one could fear was a horse breathing down one’s neck. Nowadays the pavements are all bare of such impediments but one has to walk warily on the narrow pavements lest a large lorry rushing past should be too close to the kerb and spin one on to the street with the swish of its passing.

Sixty years ago there were many grocers in the town but "Gibbie", "Haddy", "Soda", "P.A.", "Hungry Archie", "Wattie" and many others have all passed away and now the housewives depend mainly on "The Store" and "Templetons" for their groceries with "R.A.O.’s" as the last stronghold of the private grocers. Many shops are closed and it is unlikely they will reopen as most of the townspeople do their shopping in Ayr. This has naturally harmed traders in the town and it has affected the drapers most of all as only McClymonts is left of the great number of drapers and tailors such as Wright, Jackson, McCreath, McCubbin, Murray, Miller, Wallace, Curran and others who clothed the folks of the town and district in the old days before the first World War.

The foot of the High Street would not be recognisable now to any old Minniebolers who left the town at the time of the great "exodus". The grand new Post Office stands where "Tup" Dobbie’s yard used to be, "Doctor" Reid the chemist and "Willie" Burns the cycle agent, are now nearly forgotten, with the small windows to their shops, and the large bottles of blue and pink coloured water in "Doctor" Reid’s windows and a Raleigh bicycle hanging from ropes above "Willie" Burns’s door. "Haddy" Maitman’s and McGhee’s, the fruiterers is now a coffee, room and bakers shop, while "Davie" Adam’s, Scott the chemists and "Bob" Neil’s stationers shop is now one large plate glass and chromium fronted showroom. The shop of "Cree" the baker, famous for his ashet pies, has been displaced by a cafe; "Amos" has passed away although his business is still carried on (one cannot get a plate of delicious hot peas with lashings of "brae" now, however); "Almonds" chip shop has disappeared and the boys of the present day will never relish "a plate of chips and a bottle of Vimto" in the back shop with the green lino covered tables and the sawdust on the floor. "Parafin Oil" Bone, "Nellie McCulloch’s" and Thomson the plumber, are now only memories and the site of their shops is now covered by a grand new Supermarket. The "Hen’s Castle", Whitefords.

Battison’s, McTaggarts, etc., are now only half remembered names to the older people and entirely unknown to the younger generation, but before the first Word War these were all tradespeople who supplied the townsfolk with all their needs from silver teaspoons to paraffin oil and "sweeties for the wean".

The shops at the top of the High Street are also all changed and "Cheenie" McClymont’s, the "Spooncreel", the Buttercup and Eastmans, etc., are now all gone and unknown to the younger generation but nostalgically remembered by the older folks. To a returning wanderer the School Vennal would indeed be strange as there is no "Daisy" Kennedy’s to slake one’s thirst, no Miss Dinning to supply a fancy box of chocolates for the girl friend and no window full of hazel nuts for the old black cat to snooze on in "Maggie Rubbish’s". The old Post Vennal is also greatly changed and there is no longer "Granny" Allan to dispense treacle yill or herb beer or "Francie" to buy old clothes and rabbit skins, etc.

One of the saddest changes to a Maybole man revisiting his hometown would be the complete disappearance of "Dents" tobacco shop in the old Spooncreel. No boy who puffed at his first Woodbine under the iron steps of Buchty Brig can ever forget "Dents". When the shop door was opened the sharp "ting" of the bell above it always made one falter for a moment and then one stepped out of a mundane world into a shrine to Lady Nicotine. Every possible brand of snuff, cigarettes, cigars and tobaccos lined the shop shelves and the indescribable aroma of tobacco pervaded the whole shop. Everything seemed a hopeless mixter maxter but when asked for any brand of cigarettes from Woodbines to Passing Cloud, any cigar from the finest Corona to the strongest Cheroot, or any tobacco from the heavy Bogey Roll to the finest cut Havana the "Old Man" (who never seemed to take his hat off) could unerringly put his hand straight to the brand wanted. The shop was small (two customers completely filled it) and, in memory, always dim, as the small window admitted little light and the half-glass door none whatever, but the small mahogany counter was so highly polished it gleamed like a pool of rich brown ale. The counter was always covered with all manner of pipes from the common clays to the magnificent meerchaums in their read velvet lined cases, with their bowls like bows of graceful yachts. Lucky indeed was the man who could afford one of these, to treasure and nurture it until it turned the colour of clear run honey and became the envy of his fellow men. The showpiece on the counter was the brass scales, so fragile in appearance and so symbolical of a tobacconist’s shop. The small brass trays were polished until they gleamed with a lustre and depth far superior to gold and the little brass round weights were ever carefully marshalled and graded like soldiers in their little holes along the front of the mahogany base of the scales. This was a true tobacconists where the scent of the raw tobacco was much more titillating than the actually smoking of it. Today a tobacconists is as bright and sterile as a dairy, with the tobacco in hermetically sealed tins or polythene packaging. This may be more hygienic and a sign of progress but the lads of today can never experience the thrill of standing in the "Spooncreel" with noses twitching at the erotic scents which somehow seemed to give added value to the penny packet of Woodbines which was all a youth of a few decades past could afford to spend. "Dents" was not just an ordinary shop to Maybole smokers, it was an institution and it deserves more than a mere paragraph, but if ever its story is to be written it can only be by the proprietor’s son, Alan, who left his hometown many years ago to cross the Border and became another famous Minnieboler who has made his mark in the literary world.

To the older generation the most striking change in the town must be the emptiness of the High Street on a Saturday night. Fifty or sixty years ago it was thronged every Saturday night up to about 10 or 11 p.m. and "Saunders" and the other message boys with their big baskets could hardly press through the crowds to make their last deliveries of the weekend’s messages. The. "message boys" are now practically unknown in the town but fifty years ago they were employed by all traders who prided themselves on giving every service to their customers and messages were delivered to homes by those boys. They were a cheerful lot and could invariably whistle like linties and every new song was soon popularised by the whistling message boys who could unerringly pick out the favourite tunes in a manner which would make modern "Disc Jockeys" turn green with envy. Although usually small in stature the boys could cany huge baskets of messages on their heads, with a round leather "scone" to protect their shaggy pates, and these "scones" were grand missiles to throw at other message boys from rival shops. While motor vans may deliver messages more efficiently today the whistling and happy youths are much missed by the older folks.

On a summer evening everyone promenaded the High Street and had time to chat with neighbours on the week’s events, watch "Smillie" with his jacket off challenging all and sundry at the Pump, marvel at the dancing bear jigging round a pole at the head of the Kirkwynd or listen to the German bands, which often played in the town. At the foot of the street one could always count on seeing the white pony from Abbeymill waiting patiently on its master returning from his Saturday night’s outing, while Inspector Barbour, resplendent in his uniform, would benignly watch the "drouths" winding home and instruct his constables to see they got safely home to their spouses who would deal with them much more firmly than any Bailie at court on Monday morning.

Nowadays Maybole is a "ghost town" on a Saturday night, and one could fire the proverbial shotgun up the High Street without endangering life. The miniskirted girls and long haired boys are off to "the dancing" in Ayr or somewhere else, the younger married people are away in their cars around the country, many of the older women (and some men) are glued to their bingo cards, and the remainder are staring at television or sitting in hotel lounges, and the old High Street, which rang with laughter years ago, is now empty and desolate. To the men and women who left Maybole half a century ago this would be the greatest of all changes in their hometown and no doubt if they returned they would miss the couthy country atmosphere, when time was of little importance, and friends could gather to "ca’ the crack" on a Saturday evening when the week’s work was over, and the husbands and wives would "daun’er" up the street for the household messages and glean the news of events in the district over the past week. Progress is not necessarily advancement in all things and certainly progress in transport, roads, etc., has brought the happy and friendly life in most small country towns to a standstill. The population of the burgh has steadily decreased since the beginning of the century and in 1969 the figures given by the Registrar General showed there were only 4,548 inhabitants, but it is hoped the new trades will bring strangers to the old town and that they, in time, will be proud to become true "Minniebolers".

There are many other interesting facts and traditions relating to the old Capital of Carrick which unfortunately must be omitted from these tales of the town but it is impossible to deal with them all in one book. The history of over eight hundred years cannot be condensed without many stories of fact and fiction being left out, not because they are uninteresting, but from lack of space. No book on Maybole has been published for over eighty years and indeed it is practically impossible to obtain any of the old books written by the Rev. R. Lawson and his predecessors as they are all out of print and it is hoped the foregoing notes on events and people will be of interest to those who claim to be Minniebolers, whether born or adopted.

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