Tag Archives: Auld Kirkyard

Afton Hotel and the Auld Kirkyard

I. ANDREW GIBSON (1793-?):  Surgeon

Andrew Gibson, surgeon, was one of seven professional persons in New Cumnock listed in the Ayrshire Directory of 1837, the others being the school master, four teachers and a physician.

afton hotel


Andrew lived with his wife Ann Kennedy at Nithbridgend, a large house that stood at the Nith Bridge, opposite to the entrance of the Railway Station.

His eldest son William Kennedy Gibson was a druggist master and his son Andrew Gibson began his working life as a railway clerk at New Cumnock before moving to Glasgow as a shipping clerk. He and his family moved to Belfast where he worked as an agent for the Cunard Steamship Company. A great collector of books and he later became the Governor of the Linenhall Library, renowned for its collections of the works of Robert Burns.

Andrew Gibson, surgeon

Andrew Gibson, surgeon

A small headstone was erected by ‘Andrew Gibson, surgeon’ in memory of his children Jean and Margaret.

On the rear of the stone are found the initials A.K. and H.C. , presumably those of his wife’s parents, namely Alex Kennedy and Helen Currie.

Sadly the stone has since been fractured and it can only be assumed that Andrew Gibson and his wife Ann Kennedy were later buried in this lair.

The Kennedy family lair lies adjacent to this stone.

II. ANDREW GIBSON (1825- 1879):  Grocer & Spirit Dealer

Andrew Gibson, the third son of the surgeon,  was born on 10th July 1825 at Nith Bridgend. As a young man he moved away from the parish and in 1853 he married Margaret Brown of Langholm and it was here in the same year that daughter Grace was born.  The family returned briefly to New Cumnock where daughter Annie (1855) was born.  Back on their travels Andrew later worked as a grocer in  Coylton, and it was here that daughter Margaret (1857) was born.


Craigbank : Courtesy of National Library of Scotland











The family returned to New Cumnock where by 1861 Andrew had established himself as a grocer and spirit dealer in the miners rows at Craigbank, on the Front Row. Here sons Andrew (1862), John (1864) and William (1867) were born along with two more daughters Ann (1870) and Agnes (1871).

Gibson Family Lairs

Gibson Family Lairs

His wife Margaret passed away in 1877 and Andrew two years later. They lie together in the Auld Kirkyard with daughter Annie, son William and grandson Andrew. In the adjacent plot lies son John, daughter Grace and aunt Margaret Brown who worked as a barmaid in the Gibson’s public house at Craigbank.

Daughter Margaret Gibson married William Hyslop, Laird of Afton and Bank, the driving force of New Cumnock Collieries Limited and landlord of the miners rows at Craigbank.  Both of them lie together in Hyslop Lair in the Auld Kirkyard.

HUGH ROSS (1855-1899) :  Grocer & Spirit Dealer

In the 1881 census we find Hugh Ross, the son of a farmer from Wallaceton, Auchinleck living in lodgings at the Bank Glen Cottage and working as a grocer and provision merchant. Meanwhile at 59 Front Row, Craigbank is spirit merchant William Lind and his wife Marion along with their children, including Agnes Robertson , Marion’s daughter from her first marriage to the late Robert Robertson.

Afton Hotel and Nith Bridge

Afton Hotel and Nith Bridge

The following year Hugh Ross married Agnes Robertson and and was now living at Craigbank, the tenant of the properties ( house, shop and public house) owned by the Trustees of Andrew Gibson.

The Trustees of Andrew Gibson also owned the Gibson Nith Bridgend properties with the house now licensed as a hotel known as the Afton Hotel and next door lodgings  Although the hotel sat at the Nith bridge, the name Afton and its association with Robert Burns was a stronger marketing brand. In 1885 the Valuation Rolls, record that John Ross is the tenant (presumably a relative of Hugh Ross) although four years later when it was put up for sale, Hugh Ross is identified as the occupier.


The Afton Hotel, New Cumnock belonging to the Trust Estate of the late Mr Andrew Gibson and as presently occupied by Hugh Ross . The House has long been licensed, and is well situated, being near the Railway Station. The property is held on a 99 years lease which expires on Whitsunday 1930. Tack-duty 13s 6d. Entry at Whitsunday first. For further particulars apply to A. Brakenridge, Solicitor, Cumnock who will receive offers up to Saturday, 9th March. The Highest or any Offer, may not be accepted. Cumnock, 25th February 1889.

Courtesy of Glasgow Herald, Friday 1st March, 1889

In March 1890, Hugh Ross’s young wife Agnes passed away and in the Census of the following year he is at Craigbank with his young children Elizabeth (6), William (5), step-daughter Minnie Robertson (12) along with sister-in-law Margaret Lind (19)

In 1895 Hugh Ross married Margaret Hastie in the Royal Hotel, Kilmarnock. He was now the proprietor of the former Gibson properties both at Craigbank, (where he lived with his family) and the Afton Hotel where William Lind (his father-in-law) was now the tenant.

Hugh and Margaret’s first born, a son Hugh died in infancy in 1896 and another son James was born two years later. Archibald was born in early October 1899, only for Hugh to die of double pneumonia before the end of the month.

Margaret and her two sons moved to Cathcart, Glasgow, she passed away in 1916, aged 50 years. Archibald served with the Royal Scots Fusiliers in the Great War and in 1918, at the age of 19 he died of pneumonia in the Victoria Infirmary, Glasgow.

Ross Family Lair

Ross Family Lair

The Ross family plot lies against the far wall of the Auld Kirkyard with the original grand sandstone headstone now badly weathered and which has since been replaced with a new stone on the left. Hugh, his two spouses Agnes and Margaret and children Hugh, Elizabeth and Archibald all are remembered on the stone. To the right stands the war grave of Private Archibald Ross.

JOHN  LOCKHART (1837-1890) Hotel-keeper


Obelisk to John Lockhart , Afton Hotel

When the Afton Hotel went on the market in 1889, it’s not clear if any offers were accepted at that time, although by 1895 Hugh Ross was the proprietor.

In 1890, John Lockhart was the hotel-keeper at the Afton Hotel. Originally a journey man stone mason from Lesmahagow he married Helen Wilson in 1856, a dairy maid from Benston, Dalrymple.

The family spent many years in Perthshire and Stirlingshire with John now working as a gamekeeper. It’s not known exactly when the Lockharts arrived in New Cumnock either as owners and / or tenants of the Afton Hotel, but John died in September 1890 whilst hotel-keeper there.


Lockhart_AftonHotel03In the census of the following year Helen Lockhart, hotel-keeper and her daughters  Jane (27) and Ness (26) – a school teacher -are living at the hotel. A son David died at Dalrymple that year and three years later Jane passed away. By 1901, Helen Lockhart is living in Eastwood.

WILLIAM LIND (1846- 1920) : grocer, spirit-merchant, hotel keeper

As discussed above, in 1895 William Lind (father-in-law of Hugh Ross), was tenant and hotel keeper at the Afton Hotel. William was born in 1846 at West Calder and as young man worked as a grocer’s assistant to his brother John, before running his own shop in the village and then in the 1880s’ moving to Craigbank.

Courtesy of National Library of Scotland

Courtesy of National Library of Scotland

In the 1901 Census William (54), now a widower and his children Marion (32), Isabella (31), Janet (25), Robert (21) and several grandchildren are resident in the Afton Hotel.  He later married Janet Millar and was proprietor and tenant of the Afton Hotel until his death in 1920, aged 75 years.

Afton Hotel: Photo courtesy of Donald McIver

Afton Hotel: Photo courtesy of Donald McIver

The Afton Hotel remained in the hands of the Lind family for many years . Sadly soon after it changed hands it was consumed by fire in January 1963 and so badly damaged that it had to be demolished.


John Paterson – Banker

Sharing information

School Children recording details from William Hunter’s headstone

One of the headstones that we have selected for the School Discovery trail is that of William Hunter. In 1860, the City of Glasgow Bank opened a branch at Pathhead with William as its agent – the first banker in New Cumnock. But we will save William Hunter’s story for our School interactive application.

John Paterson Headstone

John Paterson’s Headstone

A walk around the kirkyard will reveal not one but two headstones to another banker, John Paterson and his family. The first is found against the kirkyard wall, close to the entrance. Named on the stone are –

  • John Paterson, latterly banker in Maryhill (d. 1915, aged 80)
  • widow Mary Howatson McKerrow (d. 1916, aged 81)
  • daughter Maggie Dickie (d. 1866, aged 13 1/2 months)
  • son John (d. 1871, aged 4 years and 3 months)
  • a son and daughter who died in infancy
  • son James (d. 1884, aged 22 years)
  • son David McKerrow (d. Brisbane, Queensland 1915, aged 52 years)
Two Paterson Headstones

Two Paterson Headstones

Further along the kirkyard a second headstone is found which names all of the above  family members and the following children who died in later years –

  • son Peter (d.1929, aged 63 years)
  • son John (d.1947, aged 73 years)
  • son Frank William (d. 1948, aged 77 years)
  • daughter Margaret Dickie (d. 1956, aged 87 years)

 From Draper to Bank Agent

John Paterson was born in 1835, the son of James Paterson, draper in Cumnock. In 1860, now also a draper based at Holmhead, Cumnock he married Mary Howatson McKerrow of Roadinghead Farm, Auchinleck. Together they had a large family as witnessed from the names above. Their son Peter appears to be the first born in New Cumnock, in 1866 at the Post Office which sat adjacent to the Crown Inn and its coach house – a staging post for the mail coaches.

Left: OS 1843-1882  Right: OS 1892_1905

Left: OS 1843-1882   – Post Office                                            Right: OS 1892_1905, St, Blanes (red circle)

The following year the Royal Bank of Scotland opened a branch at nearby St. Blanes  [1]  and in the 1871 Census, John and Mary Paterson are resident in the ‘Bank Office and House’,with John’s profession now that of general merchant. Ten years later they are still in residence there with John’s profession now recorded as ‘Royal Bank Agent and draper’. Ten more years and in the 1891 census,  John is recorded as a ‘Royal Bank Agent and Justice of the Peace’, although the branch closed two years earlier [1].

St. Blanes, 1 Castle, New Cumnock

St. Blanes, 1 Castle, New Cumnock (on front left)

From New Cumnock to Maryhill

After 25 years based in New Cumnock (where children Peter, Maggie, Frank and John all were born), John and Mary Paterson moved to Maryhill in Glasgow , where John continued to work as an agent for the Royal Bank of Scotland.

The family appear in the 1901 Census records for Maryhill , including a grand-daughter Cessie born in Queensland, Australia – presumably the daughter of David McKerrow Paterson, named in the headstone in the Auld Kirkyard. Ten years later, John (now a retired bank agent) and Mary are both in the mid 70’s and son John has progressed from bank clerk to bank agent,while sons Peter and Frank are both solicitors.

John Paterson, passed away in 1915, aged 80 years at Gartnavel Hospital and his widow Mary passed away the following year.


[1] George Sanderson ‘New Cumnock Long Ago and Faraway’

Thanks to Hamish Paterson, Australia , descendant


My Collier laddie

In 1833 a new parish church was erected to serve the growing population of New Cumnock and the original church ceased to function in that role and then quickly as the Auld Kirk it soon fell into ruin. The kirkyard continued to be the final resting place of parishioners for some considerable time after and with space at a premium, the ground within the walls of the Auld Kirk was put to good use.

Headstones within the Auld Kirk walls

Headstones within the Auld Kirk walls

One of the headstones within the ruin is that of George Brown, who in December 1846 ‘lost his life in the Mansfield Coalworks‘. Although the early coal barons had been working the coal measures across the parish of New Cumnock since the late 18th century George Brown’s death is thus far the earliest recorded mining fatality in the parish that has been found.

Three generations of the Brown Family - Thomas, George and Elizabeth

Three generations of the Brown Family – Thomas, George and Elizabeth

Fatal Accident – New Cumnock, 22d Dec 1846 –

At Mansfield Colliery, in the neighbourhood of New Cumnock, this day, one of the workmen, named George Brown, was in the act of undermining that portion of the seam he meant to take down for the day’s “dark,” when it unexpectedly gave way, and crushed the unfortunate man to eternity in a moment. The deceased was a sober, inoffensive, individual, and in the prime of life. He has left a wife and small family to lament their irreparable loss. [Dumfries and Galloway Standard 23 December 1846]

Kind permission of National Library of Scotland (Ordnance Survey 1843-1882)

Kind permission of National Library of Scotland (Ordnance Survey 1843-1882)

In the 1841 Census, George (30) ,his wife Margaret Millar (25) are found at Mounthope. a mile of so to the south of Mansfield Colliery with their New Cumnock born children Thomas (5), John Millar (3) & William (1).  A year later, a daughter Elizabeth was born and three years after that another daughter, Jean saw the light of day at Mounthope.

At this time George is working as a Tile Manufacturer, likely at the clay pits in the Mansfield land , along with three other young men also living at Mounthope – John Williamson, James McGilvery and George Porter.

Five years later, he is working as a carter at Mansfield when he loses his life on 22nd December 1846, his tombstone recording that he was 42 years old, indicating he was born in 1804, which differs slightly from that of 1811 as suggested by the census information. This latter date is nearer the mark for he was born on 12th July 1810 at Perth, the son of Thomas Brown , weaver and Jean Miller.

His parents moved the family to New Cumnock and in the 1841 Census Thomas (78), Jean (68) and daughter Margaret (25) are found at High Linn in the upper reaches of the Mansfield Burn, where the elderly Thomas is working as a bower. It was here in 1836 that Thomas junior had been born.

High Linn on the upper reaches of Mansfield Burn

High Linn on the upper reaches of Mansfield Burn with Corsencon Hill in the background

Thomas Brown, died on the 10th August 1846, aged 83 years and was buried within the ruins of the Auld Kirk. Four months later his son George was killed at Mansfield Colliery, aged 36 years (and not 42 years as recorded on the stone) and was laid to rest with his father, leaving behind his wife Margaret and five children aged between 1 and 10 years old. George’s daughter Elizabeth moved away from the parish and worked as a dairymaid in Hutton, Dumfriesshire. Sadly she died at the young age of 25 years old and lies here in the Auld Kirk with her father and grandfather.

Resting place of Perthshire weaver and his son an Ayrshire collier

Resting place of a Perthshire weaver and his son an Ayrshire collier

It is fitting that George Brown, the first recorded mining fatality in the parish that we know of, lies within the ruins of the Auld Kirk which  ceased to function as a church at the time New Cumnock’s transformation to a mining community took hold.

The Kirk’s Alarm and New Cumnock Connections

Robert Burns (1759 – 1796)

In 1789 Robert Burns penned ‘The Kirk of Scotland’s Garland” or “The Kirk’s Alarm” as it is better known. Inspired by the reaction of a band of Ayrshire ministers set in their old ways (Auld Lichts) to a publication by the minister at Ayr, one of many ministers now expressing much more liberal views (New Lichts).

Burns pulls no punches in the opening verse –

Orthodox! orthodox, who believe in John Knox,
Let me sound an alarm to your conscience:
A heretic blast has been blown in the West,
“That what is no sense must be nonsense,”
Orthodox! That what is no sense must be nonsense


Ayr Kirk Second Charge

Reverend William McGill (1732-1807)

The minister at the centre of the controversy was William McGill , a friend of the bard’s father William Burnes. The son of a Wigtonshire farmer he was appointed assistant minister at Kilwinning in 1759 and the following year was ordained to the second charge of Ayr, which sits on the banks of the River Ayr.  At the age of 53 years he received a Doctorate of Divinity from the University of Glasgow.

In 1786 he published an essay ‘ The Death of Jesus Christ’ which was deemed to be at odds with the orthodox doctrines of the kirk by Dr William Peebles of Newton-on-Ayr. McGill attempted to defend his position but three years later the General Assembly ordered an inquiry and after the beleaguered minister offered an apology the case was dropped.

Rabbie mocks the punishment that should have been meted out to Dr Reverend McGill –

Doctor Mac! Doctor Mac, you should streek on a rack,
To strike evil-doers wi’ terror:
To join Faith and Sense, upon any pretence,
Was heretic, damnable error,
Doctor Mac ‘Twas heretic, damnable error.

With the sense of injustice established in the opening verses Burns turned his attentions to a number of the Auld Lichts in turn.

Reverend William McGill

Reverend William McGill

Reverend William Dalrymple (1723-1814)

The first in line was William Dalrymple.

The younger son of the Sheriff-Clerk of Ayr he was ordained minister of the second charge of Ayr in 1746 and translated to the first charge ten years later. On 26th January 1759, he baptised Robert Burns one day after his birth at Alloway.

Dalrymple received a Doctorate of Divinity from the University of St. Andrews in 1779 and two years later he was elected Moderator of the General Assembly.  He would go on to serve as minister at Ayr for 68 years.

D’rymple mild! D’rymple mild, tho’ your heart’s like a child,
And your life like the new-driven snaw,
Yet that winna save you, auld Satan must have you,
For preaching that three’s ane an’ twa,
D’rymple mild! For preaching that three’s ane an’ twa.

Rev Dalrymple

Rev Dalrymple

Ministers of Ayrshire

The verses that followed attacked the following ministers

  • John Russel (Kilmarnock) – ‘Rumble John
  • James McKinlay (Kilmarnock) – ‘Simper James
  • Alexander Moodie (Riccarton) – ‘Singet Sawnie
  • Dr William Peebles (Newton-on-Ayr) -‘Poet Willie
  • Stephen Young (Barr) – ‘Barr Steenie
  • James Young (New Cumnock) – ‘Jamie Goose
  • David Grant (Ochiltree) – ‘Davie Bluster
  • George Smith (Galston) -‘Irvine Side
  • John Shepherd (Muirkirk) -‘Muirland Jock
  • Dr. Andrew Mitchell (Monkton) – ‘Andro Gowk
  • William Auld (Mauchline) – ‘Daddy Auld

Reverend James Young (1711 – 1795)

In that band is our own Reverend James Young of New Cumnock. Born in  1711, the son of Alexander Young  a cooper in Falkirk.  He married Elizabeth Hunter, the daughter of Robert Hunter, minister of the Kirkconnel. He was called to New Cumnock on 29th December 1756 and was ordained on 3rd May 1758, the year before Burns was born.

Burn lampoons the Rev. Young as ‘Jamie Goose’ and attacks the minister for his pointless provocation of ‘hunting the wicked Lieutenant‘.  This was Hugh Mitchell of Dalleagles, a captain in the Royal Marines, who was married to Grizzel Logan, sister of John Logan of  Laight and close acquaintance of Robert Burns. The minister had refused to baptise either one or both of their children born at that time and had entered into some form of ecclesiastical prosecution against Mitchell.

Burns, also had other information on the minister as he makes reference to his father’s trade of cooper.

Jamie Goose! Jamie Goose, ye made but toom roose,
In hunting the wicked Lieutenant;
But the Doctor’s your mark, for the Lord’s holy ark,
He has cooper’d an’ ca’d a wrang pin in’t,
Jamie Goose! He has cooper’d an’ ca’d a wrang pin in’t.

The Reverend Young died on 1st Augut 1795, aged 84 years – the year before Burns died. He lies buried alongside the walls of the Auld Kirk ruins.

Reverend James Young

Reverend James Young , New Cumnock Auld Kirkyard

John Logan of Knockshinnoch and Laight

John Logan of Knockshinnoch and Laight was a close acquaintance of Burns. His marriage to Martha McAdam in March 1779 had caused some controversy. It was considered to have been irregular having been celebrated, it was was believed by an Episcopalian clergyman, not entitled to do so by law. Logan as one of the heritors in the parish of New Cumnock was also responsible for contributing to the upkeep of the kirk and he and the Reverend Young also crossed swords on this matter.

On the 7th August 1789, Robert Burns at Ellisland sent a copy of ‘The Kirk’s Alarm”  to John Logan Esq. Of Afton at Laight House, along with a letter which included the remarks –

“I am determined not to let it get into the Publick; so I send you this copy, the first I have sent to Ayrshire, except some few of the Stanzas which I have wrote off in embrio for Gavin Hamilton under the express provision and request – that you will only read it to a few of us, and do not on any account give or permit it to be taken, any copy of the Ballad.  If I could be of any Service to Dr. McGill I would do it though it should be at much greater expense than irritating a few biggoted Priests; but as I am afraid , serving him in his present embarrass , is a task too hard for me , I have enemies enow,  God knows, tho’ I do not wantonly add to that number”

Burns enclosed copy of the Kirk’s Alarm which included the following presentation stanza reiterating his request not to to give out a copy, other than too their mutual friend, William Johnston , Laird of Clackleith in Sanquhar.

Afton’s Laird ! Afton’s Laird when your pen can be spared,
A copy of this I bequeath,
On the same sicker score as I mention’d before,
To that trusty auld worthy, Clackleith,
Afton’s Laird! To that trust auld worthy, Clackleith.’

Laight Farm, New Cumnock

Laight Farm, New Cumnock


Auld Kirkyard Remembrance Sunday


Take a walk through the Auld Kirkyard and there you will find names of several soldiers remembered on family tombstones – alongside unforgettable names such as Somme, Gallipoli and Palestine carved into  aging stone.

As part of our project we secured funds to make repairs to five of the stones and to produce a Soldiers Trail leaflet to enhance your visit to the Auld Kirkyard.


INDIAN MUTINY (1857-1859)

Surgeon-General John Findlay Arthur (1st Madras Fusiliers)

  • Born at Crook , a cottage on the Arthur family’ lands of Wellhill.  He served as surgeon to the 1st Madras Fusiliers who entered Lucknow as part of the 1st Relief Force during the Indian Mutiny and later served in the siege and capture of Lucknow. John was awarded ‘The Most Exalted Order of the Star of India’, C.S.I. in June 1869. He died at Lochside House, 1886, aged 79 years.

BOER WAR (1899-1902)

Sergeant John Montgomerie (17th Battalion Imperial Yeomanry)

  • One time resident in the Old Mill and his father later farmed Dalhanna.  John died of his wounds at Boshof, South Africa, on 28th  March 1901, aged 33 years.

Soldiers: Collage_McKenzie_Sloan

GREAT WAR (1914-1919)

Private Douglas McKenzie (2nd Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders)

  • His family lived at Old Coalburn. Douglas was killed in action at the Battle of Passchendaele, 25th September 1915, aged 19 years.

Private William Sloan (1/1st Ayrshire Yeomanry)

  • The Sloan family farmed at Roughside. William died of his wounds in hospital at Helles, Gallipoli on 15th November 1915, aged 21 years.

Soldiers: Collage_Murphy_Sturrock_McKerrow

Private Walter Scott Murphy (Highland Light Infantry)

  • His family lived at Bluebell Cottage (Tank) and he worked at the railway station. Walter was killed in action on the first day of the Battle of the Somme, 1st July 1916, age 24 years old

Lieutenant Andrew Sturrock (3rd Royal Scots Fusiliers)

  • The family originally from Forfar lived at Castlehill and then Mossmark, where his father worked as a tailor’s cutter. Andrew was killed in action at the Battle of the Somme, 14th July 1916, age 21 years.

Private George McKerrow (9th Black Watch)

  • A champion ploughman he lived with his family at Dalrickett Cottage. George was killed in action at the Battle of the Somme, 8th September 1916, age 20 years.

Soldiers: Collage_Sloan_Mathieson

Private Alexander Sloan (49th Canadian Infantry Alberta Regiment)

Private William McKerrow Sloan (8th Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry)

  • The McKerrow brothers were born at Maneight . Alexander emigrated to Canada where he served in the Canadian Overseas Expeditionary Force and was killed in action at the Battle of the Somme, 9th October 1916, age 25 years. William was killed six months later in the Balkans campaign on 25th April 1917, age 22 years.

Private Joshua Mathieson (11th Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders)

Private Thomas Mathieson (5th King’s Own Scottish Borderers)

  • The Mathieson brothers’ father worked as a cloth merchant at Pathhead before moving to Kirkconnel where the boys were born.  Joshua was killed in action at the Battle of the Somme on 15th September 1916, age 18 years. Thomas, died of infectious jaundice on 9th November 1917, age 24 years.

Soldiers: Collage_Murray_Mackenzie_Paterson

Private Robert Murray (1st / 4th Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry)

  • The family lived at Connel bridge where Robert worked in his father’s shop. Robert was killed in action at Palestine on 22nd November 1917, age 24 years.

Private Archibald MacKenzie (1st and 5th Sherwood Foresters)

Born at Rottenyard farm, he enlisted while working as a ploughman at South Boig. Archibald contracted pneumonia and was brought home but died in Glenafton Sanitorium.

Sergeant Robert Paterson (29th Canadian Infantry British Columbia Regiment)

  • A farmer at Coalcreoch he emigrated to Canada and served in the Canadian Overseas Expeditionary Force. Robert died of his wounds in a casualty clearing station in France, 6th April 1918, age 39 years.

Soldiers: Collage_Ross_Galston_Dick

Private Archibald Ross (Royal Scots Fusiliers)

  • His father Hugh was a grocer and spirit dealer at Craigbank. Archibald moved to Cathcart where he enlisted. He contracted pneumonia and died at Victoria Infirmary 22nd July 1918, age 19 years.

Private James Galston (1st and 5th Royal Scots Fusiliers)

  • Son of a Glasgow clogmaker he moved to Pathhead to work in the coal mines and later married a local girl. James died of his wounds in France, 17th September 1918, age 27 years.

Private Thomas Samuel Dick (31st Machine Corps, Infantry)

  • He lived with his family at Boig Road and worked in the local mines. Thomas died at Kilmarnock Infirmary of tubercular peritonitis 19th August 1919, age 20 years.


  • Our project team are indebted to the fantastic endeavours of Mr. Richard Bain.  Please visit his remarkable research resource here

New Cumnock Community Action Plan 2014-2019

Had a fantastic time at the New Cumnock Community Action Plan event in the Community Centre. What a tremendous turnout and great to see so many people taking an active interest and having their say in shaping our future.  Add to that the superb entertainment provided by our young folk and those younger at heart….. New Cumnock’s got talent indeed. Of course the tea, coffee and home-baking went down a treat too!

To the business of the day ……


We asked you what you wished for your community by the year 2020.

Here is a summary of the collective vision for the future of New Cumnock taken from the household survey and stakeholder interviews.

  • We will have a healthy local economy creating jobs, and provide quality amenities, goods and services for locals and visitors.
  • We will be known as an attractive place to live and visit.
  • We will have made the most of our local heritage and environment.
  • We will have good community and recreational facilities for locals and visitors …… and good community organisations, activities and events.


I was delighted to host a stall on behalf of the New Cumnock Liaison Group and share the progress and plans for our Auld Kirk and Village Heritage Trail.New Cumnock Community Action Plan 02

Thank you to everyone who visited the ‘Auld Kirk and Village Heritage trail’ stall and sharing their memories of the kirkyard. It was great to hear how some people had only noticed the Auld Kirk ruins, now that ivy had been removed, while out on their walks to the lagoons.

Help for our Heroes

ayrshirememorialsRussell Brookes and his team from Ayrshire Memorials have made great progress on the four soldier headstones we thought worthy of the most immediate attention. Below we have some before and after photographs we would like to share.

William Sloan, Roughside

  • William’s headstone is in danger of being broken on its base.
William Sloan

William Sloan

Walter Scott Murphy, Bluebell Cottage

  • Walter’s headstone had fallen face-down with the inscription hidden.
Walter Scott Murphy

Walter Scott Murphy

Archibald MacKenzie, Rottenyard

  • Archibald’s fallen headstone had been re-erected at the wrong location and with the inscription facing away.
Archibald MacKenzie

Archibald MacKenzie

Robert Paterson, Coalcreoch

  • Robert’s headstone had fallen face down and to make matters worse the face had previously suffered from mindless graffitti – hopefully we can attempt to have it cleaned.
Robert Paterson

Robert Paterson


New Beginnings at the Auld Kirk


aa_HLF_auldkirk01Things are moving along at a great pace in the Auld Kirk.

  • Vegetation has been removed from the ruin to reveal parts of the Auld Kirk that have never been seen for generations.
  • The next phase includes essential masonry repairs to part of the ruins.
  • Followed by a programme of lime pointing



Work has started on cleaning and repairing some of the headstones

Reverend Thomas Hunter

The lair of the Reverend Thomas Hunter and his family lies against the Auld Kirk walls. He served the parish for 50 years and died in 1760, aged 95 years.  His first spouse Christian Ker lies and son Joseph lie buried here too.



A number of the family headstones which remember their sons fallen in the Great War required to re-set in new foundations.  Local firm Ayrshire Memorials from Auchinleck came to the rescue with an amazing piece of kit that could lift the fallen stones, some weighing 1.5 – 2 tonnes.


  • Ayrshire Memorials at work


New foundations with securing pins now in place.

Of course on occasions the Auld Kirkyard doesn’t only allow us ‘to walk in the footsteps of  our ancestors’ it delivers some wonderful sunsets.



Uncovering our parish roots

StoneTimberLineLogoStone, Timber & Lime Conservation are have started the work on preserving the ruins of the Auld Kirk.

  • Removing the roots of the ivy is beginning to reveal parts of the kirk that haven’t been seen for many years.

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  • The east entrance to the old kirk with the window revealed and the top of the bell tower.


  • Stone TLC tell us this is a good example of a traditional harl finish, a technique for providing a weather-proof finish. The lime deposits in New Cumnock at both Benston and Mansfield were known its property of being able to bind under water, and used in bridge building.

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All photos courtesy of Stone TLC

Stone, Timber and Lime Conservation

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Click on logo

On Wednesday I met with Stephen Kerr and Wendy Corrigan of our project conservation architects Wylie Shanks Architect at their Glasgow Office and was introduced to Graeme Frew of Stone, Timber and Lime Conservation who will be carrying out the conservation work on the Auld Kirk ruins and on five lairs in the kirkyard  – Rev Thomas Hunter, Rev James Young, William Arthur and Hyslop of Bank.


I am also delighted to announce that after discussions with  one of our  funders it has been possible to realign some of the grant to reset four of the soldiers headstones that have tumbled – we believe this is a more meaningful use of the money, particularly with next year being the 100th anniversary of the start of the Great War.

StoneTimberLineLogoThe work is scheduled to take five weeks and begins tomorrow morning.

Welcome to our project, Stone TLC.