Mary Muir Livingstone - Memories of Old Dundonald

Mary Muir Gillespie, married name Livingstone, was born in 1908, third of the five daughters of the Rev. James H., Minister of Dundonald from 1902 until 1942, and Mary Gillespie, née Muir. Mrs Gillespie died on 9th December 1940 and her husband on 23rd March 1951.

Mary Muir Livingstone’s only known literary venture is to be commended not only as a poignant evocation of a living community in a time now lost to the living memory but as a vibrant repository of anecdotes recalling an impressive tally of past Dundonald residents. Memories of Old Dundonald, edited by Gordon Stewart, received a print run some years ago, with profits donated to Dundonald Parish Church, but is now sadly out of print. In the sincere hope of providing this precious memoir with a fresh lease of life, an online tribute appears here by kind permission of the author’s daughter, Miss Mamie Livingstone.


Mary Livingstone, daughter of the Rev James Gillespie, was
born in the old manse in Dundonald in 1908 and lived all of her life
in the village. She took an active part in the life of
Dundonald Church and in many other village activities and was
a much respected member of the community. Toward the end
of her life she decided to record her memories of her early life
in Dundonald and the result is published in this little booklet.
Her lively account brings to life a period now well in the past
and it should be of interest to anyone with Dundonald

The editor would like to thank Mrs Livingstone’s family who
passed the manuscript to him as something which might be of
interest to him. He found that it was and also suspected that it
deserved wider circulation. The photographs which illustrate
the text came from a variety of sources in the village and the
editor would also like to thank those people to whom they


Growing up in the Old Manse       2
Drybridge and the Road to Dundonald       3
Up the Main Street       4
South of the Village       6
Down the Main Street       9
Farms Around the Village     12
Church Life in the Old Days     13
Communion Sunday     16
The Social Scene in Dundonald     17
Church Organisations     20
Education     23
Medical Services     25
In Conclusion     26

Memories of
Old Dundonald

Mary Muir Livingstone

Some time ago when I was recuperating from an operation in
Kilmarnock Infirmary I found I had great difficulty in sleeping
at night. During these long hours I seemed to drift away back
in time to my childhood days. I whiled away the hours by
going up and down the old village street trying to remember
who lived there – an easy task in these days as there was only
the Main Street.

I was born in 1908 in the old Parish Church Manse, the third
of five girls. Strangely, the then beadle and gravedigger, James


McAughtrie and his wife, who lived in the Manse Lodge, had
five boys practically the same ages as we were. My father,
who was parish minister in Dundonald for forty years, brought
my mother as a bride to the old manse in 1902. They were
both Glasgow born and the isolation of the village in those
days must have been strange to them. The main means of
transport out of the village was then by train. For this
adventure one usually had to walk to Drybridge station 1½
miles away along a very bleak unsheltered road, no buildings
till Ploughlands and Harperland road end, a row of cottages
and then Bogside Farm. Many carts carrying milk etc used
this road, the milk going by train in bulk. A horse and cab could be
hired at the Castle hotel. My father had a pony and trap and an
antiquated phaeton.

Growing Up in the Old Manse

There were no mod cons in these days and the old manse was a
rambling old place. The original part in the front of the house
had a stone floored kitchen in which there was a range with a
small tank at the right hand side which heated all the water
required; it was removed by turning on a small tap. When the
addition was put on to the house this was relegated to the back
kitchen and comprised a larder, a coal house, two large tubs for
washing and a boiler which we used to cook food for the pigs
which were kept in the two pig sties.

Ministers in the days before my father were allowed to farm
their glebe and probably grew most of their food. So we had a
stack yard in which my mother reared her chickens, a hay shed,
a byre with room for three cows and with a dairy house
attached with rows of slatted wooden shelves. All these were
lighted and aired by small skylight windows.


There was a stable with four stalls, mangers and wooden racks
for feeding of hay. Next was a coach house and last of all the
barn which we loved as children because a ladder led up to the
loft which ran right across the coach house and stable where
we had great fun crawling down into the mangers. One of the
pleasures of my childhood was hunting for eggs laid away
from the nests in the henhouse. My mother always reared her own
chickens and I remember how she tried to revive the sickly
ones by putting them under her armpits to keep them warm and
administered sips of brandy. I am afraid they very rarely
survived. We had a very large garden with a croquet lawn and
all the glebe and woods as our playground so we were never

Drybridge and the Road to Dundonald

Let me start my tour with Drybridge as I remember it. There
was Shewalton mansion house there, owned by the Kenneth


family which stood in the now SKF Co grounds beside which
was Shewalton Farm where the Richmond Family lived. Then
there was the village of Drybridge, not much more than a
miners’ row in those days, with the adjoining Shewalton Pit
where Oldhall stands. Holmes Farm lay just before the
boundary of the parish which was the river. Then up the weary road
to the crossroads. Kilnford farm to the right and Auchans
mansion house opposite, a beautiful house with lovely gardens.
On to the village, the old castle, no bowling green as we know
it today – the old one was where Winehouseyett cottages now
stand. My father built these houses with what came to him
from his father’s estate.

Up the Main Street

Then the village street started with Castlefoot Cottage right up
to the Manse gates. Many worthies stayed in these houses
and big families were reared in them. Names I remember – Miss

Grange and Miss Chase, Miss Inglis and Agnes Montgomerie,
the Owens family and old Mary Allan, Mr and Mrs John Allan


and family and Granny Mackay, the Wilson family, Miss
Wyllie and Miss McDonald. In Whinstone House Ruby
Gardiner kept a wee shop; her mother, who lived to be a 100
sat in the back room looking onto the old castle doing the most
beautiful Ayrshire embroidery.

Next there was the doctor’s house and accommodation for his
horse and cab and room for his man. Then a thatched cottage
where Johnnie Boyd stayed – a great flower grower who won
many prizes at the Glenfield Flower Shows. Next came Mr &
Mrs Duncanson. He was the cobbler, a fat jolly man whom we
loved to visit as he sat in his leather apron with his mouth full
of nails. His wife was small and thin an hid a kind heart
beneath her nippy tongue. She had to waylay the people who
came for shoes and extract the money as her husband just
handed the shoes over. My memory is hazy at times but the
next houses were two blocks. Each had a communal close –
families living on either side. I recollect the McCulloch and
Edgar families and a small house at the back where the Orr
family stayed. This is where the Post Office now stands. The
large house next was renovated by Mr Sproat whose people
had been natives of the village. Then where the hairdresser is
now Miss Gilchrist stayed. Her father (I think) was
gamekeeper or estate worker at Old Auchans and she, I think,
was the last person to actually stay there. I have a small
etching of Old Auchans as it was at the beginning of the
century. A beautiful old house in a lovely setting, a dower
house of Eglinton Castle in which the eccentric Lady
Susannah, Countess of Eglinton stayed, who kept rats. My
father lodged with this Miss Gilchrist when he came to
Dundonald as assistant to Mr Sime in 1900.

Where the café (now Gill’s shop – Ed) now stands another Mr


Boyd stayed, who must have been a carter of some kind as my
father used to hear his horse being led through the stone
passage when its day’s work was over. I remember we girls
sitting on our pigsty roof watching the fire which destroyed
the thatched roof of his house. The Apiary came next where the
Richmond Family lived. Many of this family still live in the
village and now the old house has been restored and is still a
Richmond home. This family an the Gasworks which stood
just behind Mr Hall’s shop (just below the Castleview).

Next came Hay’s building, of which my memory is vague,
which is now restored – no shop next door, but a house lived in
by the Watsons, a family I remember well. My patrol leader in
the guides was May Watson. The smaller house next door was
thatched and the home of the Tait family. I remember old Mr
Tait who walked to the quarry every day, there and back – he
was nearly bent double. Rose Cottage next – Mr Murray, the
worthy joiner who was missed very much when the joiner’s
shop closed down. Craigard where my memory is not so good,
but I do remember it because of the first hint of tragedy in my
life. We used to see a lady with a big hat on, and a parasol,
walking in the garden. We were too young to realise but one
day she drowned herself in the water butt in the garden. I think
they were incomers to the village but I still see that figure
walking in the garden. The lodge and manse were next and
then the Montgomerie Hall, once the parish school. The
Church which I have so much to write about but I will keep
this for another time.

South of the Village

Now up the hill to the convalescent home. Miss Smith, who
was matron, was a great friend to my mother. The beautiful


glen up the hill is now ruined by the quarry which was not
worked in these days. The farm of Hallyards, full of history,
was the last dwelling on the side of the road.

We start now at the top of the hill with the road to Harpercroft,
Highlees and down to Porterstone, where I remember an old
man named Baillie Ramsay, forerunner of the McKellar family.
Merkland Cottage, which my father built for the man who
managed part of the glebe, which he put into a market garden
to keep employment in the village. Down the hill to Tarbolton
Road. At the corner, as far as I remember, stayed Mr & Mrs
Kidd who had retired from Bogside Farm. The Priory
Cottage, home of Margaret Wilson who wrote “My Ain Wee

We used to visit her often and she wrote a poem about the five
girls in the manse but this has been lost during the years. My
father was the means of having her song published and she reaped
some benefit from it.


Mrs Brown next door did dressmaking. Along the road past
the weighing machine for weighing the carts, and on to
Broomhill, Craigs, Brownlee and Braidhurst which is now a
ruin. The road to Corraith past Langholm. Corraith was a
beautiful mansion house owned by Sir Peter Mackie of the
White Horse Whisky firm. He and Lady Mackie lost their
only son in the First World War and a memorial to this is a
large tombstone to his memory in our graveyard.

Back down to the Main Road to Crooks where Granny Smith
lived, whom we all loved. She made endless girdles of
pancakes and we used to go to lively parties in her stone-
flagged kitchen and she played games with us. She was one of
the bravest women I have ever met – she lost her husband and
two sons and was not strong herself but was always the same
bright loving person.

Now to the other side of the road and down to Laurieston Farm
where another Smith family lived in my youth. Another brave


woman who had to bring up her family and run a farm. Prices
for butter and milk in those days were very poor and life must
have been a struggle. On to Springwell Cottage where I can’t
remember any further back than old Mr Reid who was blind,
then the house where I now stay. Ingleneuk, Captain and Mrs
Alexander, Woodview in which the Johnson family stayed –
four girls and a boy – two of the girls were music teachers and
taught us before Miss Mackie came to the village.

Down the Main Street

Then up the Avenue to the United Free Manse and Church. In
those days there were two Churches and feelings were not
always very religious. The famous Dr Moffat was once
minister there and was a great friend of my father’s. Down the
Smithy Close and past Garden Cottage. Mr Nisbet was the
blacksmith and his son still stays in the old home Kirkstyle.
Next door Willie Louden stayed – he is the only one of his
family I remember and he became very eccentric.


Across the Smithy Close. I am vague about the next two
houses but I remember one of the next two was the Police
Station. My great pal when I went to school was Bessie
McGarvie who used to call in for me and if we quarrelled my
sisters always said when the bell rang at night “that’s Mr
McGarvie for you, Mary.”

The top pub was owned by a family Nimmo then two houses
one lived in by the McKellars. The Castle Hotel next where
Dan Sutherland and his wife stayed and Dan had a cab and
horse for hire. A large block of houses stood next door – the
Post Office with Miss Dunlop always on duty and living in the
back room. A house at the back where the McLean family
stayed, Mrs Robb and family upstairs.

Where St Giles now stands there was practically a ruin going
from bad to worse. My father got some wealthy people to give
him money to have these pulled down and eight little flatlets
erected, at very low rents, meant for old age pensioners or


young married couples. This property in due course came to
the church as all those who contributed to the erection were
long dead.

There was a little shop we called the smothered shop and kept
by a family Caldow where we used to buy sweets. Then the
Doctor’s Land, or Richmond Terrace as it is now called. At the
corner lived the large English family. Mrs English had lovely
red hair and was a real hard working woman. I still have chats
with those who are still here. Willie English told me the other
day that he was the first recruit from the village to the First
World War. And Johnnie Walker, who rang the church bell
and kept it right after Mr McAughtrie left to go to Troon, lived
above the corner house. He made porridge and put it in a
drawer and cut off a slab when he was hungry. Many familes
lived off the Land as we called it. The Roches, the Goodwins,
and many more

Then came Carrick Cottage, half of which was a grocer’s shop.
Mr and Mrs Gillies lived here. Next the joiner’s shop with Mr


Murray, where Willie Davidson, Jimmy McQuiston and many
young boys trained in joinery. Boyd’s Farm next which
became more a contractor’s business. I remember Jamie Boyd
always brought our carts of coal, £1 a ton from the pit head –
changed days. Maggie Gray had a tearoom next door where
Mr Laird now has his shop. (Now the surgery – Ed). The
bungalow where a Dr Smith lived and later Miss Richmond
who was our Girl Guide Leader and she now lives in Loans.
The landward side of Loans village is in Dundonald Parish.
Redholm where the Agnews stayed as far back as I can
remember. Across the road the school where I went before
going into Troon – walking to Drybridge day and night.

Farms Around the Village

Beyond the school was Gulliland Farm where the Millers
stayed. Newfield House – now a ruin – Newfield Mains with all
the different lodges. The Tannock family in the South Lodge,
Nurse Sproat in the North Lodge. Miss Wallace at
Galrigside – she came there from the old Bogend Farm which
stood on the old road opposite Grant’s Holding. A new house
is now there.

Many other farms hold memories for me. Harperland,
Cockhill (where we went to many happy parties), Nethercraig,
Lavemill where there was always a warm welcome,
Parkthorne, Hillhouse, Crummieholm where the Misses
Hutchison lived who were great stalwarts of the church and
great characters. Craiksland, Clevance and Crossburn (the last
named were near Loans in whose village school my father held
evening services and a thriving Sunday School was run by the
Richmond family.)


The parish boundary was the burn after Crooks Farm so
Dankeith House was in Symington, but I remember well the
night it went on fire, but it was rebuilt by the Mann Thomson
family. Rowanhill, Fortacres, Templeton – all these I
remember well. We always got our cheese from Fortacres and
in these days it was a whole cheese, delicious with a thick skin
on it. Our milk was brought to us daily by a village boy in
what we then called a pail and I must have drunk gallons of it
in my youth. Nothing was wasted in these days – my mother
always had a henspot in which all scraps were boiled and then
thickened with a mixture of meals; in the winter time eggs
were put in water glass.

The old garden abounded in fruit – apples, plums, pears,
gooseberries, strawberries, raspberries, black and white
currants and a peach tree in our greenhouse, and many
vegetables. My mother made cwts of sugar into jam – mostly
on an old stove in the back kitchen and we had a shelf of jam
which ran the whole length of the kitchen. We all had to do
our stint in the garden – my father was very fond of it and our
roses were always beautiful. No electric mowers or
mechanical hedge cutters in those days, but whoever stayed in
the lodge usually kept the avenue grass and hedges in lieu of

Church Life in the Old Days

In the days before my father came to Dundonald, Troon and
Fullarton in Irvine were in Dundonald Parish. Dundonald is
the mother parish and is a very old one. In my father’s day the
then Marquis of Bute – a staunch Roman Catholic – asked my
father if he might be allowed to have the Old Parish Records
made into a book. This was done and the records are now


printed in beautiful volumes – this was very enlightened
behaviour in those days. Captain Crichton Stuart, who then
lived in Fairlie, was a cousin of that Marquis of Bute and he
and his wife – both staunch Roman Catholics – took a great
interest in the village. The Earls of Eglinton were the patrons
in those days and I remember Eglinton Castle before the roof
was removed. My father had an amusing story about his
predecessor, Mr Sime. The Earl had invited Mr Sime and the
village doctor, Dr Alexander, over for dinner. At the dinner
table game was served and the Earl, noticing that the Doctor
was taking some time over his portion, and to cover an
awkward silence said to Mr Sime “This game comes from your
beautiful Parish of Dundonald.” Very aptly Mr Sime answered
“And by the look of it most of it is returning there!”

My father’s stipend, or salary, was paid by the heritors and
farmers who had church land. This had to be calculated on the
price of barley in those days. Barley was only grown on the


east coast and was therefore a late crop. When the price was
fixed this was calculated in boles and pecks and dispatched to
the landowners. One of my sisters reminded me that on one
occasion one large heritor wrote that “gambling debts had been
so bad that my father would have to await a more favourable

The heritors kept the church and manse in reasonable repair but
my father knew a less favourable day was coming and he
started seat rents and the envelope system to establish a fabric
fund. There were many wealthy families then connected with
the church. The Finnie family of Springhill, who installed the
beautiful chancel windows and the organ always gave
generously. The Mortons of Lochgreen, Troon, who lined the
chancel with oak, installed the First World War Memorial
Bronze Tablets and the choir stalls in memory of their son who
was killed along with many village lads in that war. Before the
choir stalls were erected the choir sat on rush bottomed chairs,
and in those days we had rousing tenors and basses. Mrs
Thorneycroft of Hillhouse, who gave the stained glass window
in the gallery in memory of her husband, was another generous
supporter of the church.

My memory only goes back to Mr and Mrs Wilson in Auchans,
but I know that Major Coats and his wife gave my father £100
cheque every Christmas to help people in need. Many thought
them fast for their days but they did not forget about less
privileged than themselves. The pews in the church were dark
brown and my father raised money and had them all scraped
and lightened and walls panelled and felt put on the seats. In
my young days only the heritors had padded coverings. They
sat in the front pews of the gallery – each house had its pew
and the servants sat behind. When the Misses Finnie came to


church they stabled their horses in the Manse stables and when
they went to Barassie in the summer the same procedure was
followed. Perhaps you think “feudal days” but no-one seemed
to question it. My parents always said that when they came to
the village all the boys saluted and the girls curtsied – I do not
think this was servile but really polite.

Communion Sunday

In the olden days tokens were distributed for communion – not
cards – and the old pewter vessels which are now on display in
the church were in use. These were unearthed by Mrs Duff and
myself and a shelf made and lighting added in memory of our
late husbands who were cousins and also elders in the church.

The beautiful silver communion cups and flagon were a present
from the Finnie family and were in constant use in the old
Parish Church before the union of the Churches. My father,
sensing that the use of individual cups was looming, introduced
spoons so that the beautiful cups would still be in use by the
congregation. Some of the older congregation did not take
kindly to the giving up of the common cup but with the union
of the Churches the individual cups were introduced. The
spoons were sold by the Women’s guild and I use one every
day in my sugar bowl. Perhaps sacrilegious but better than
being in a display cabinet.

On Communion Sunday the elders all came to dinner in the
manse after the service and then met to distribute the special
collection always taken for the poor of the parish. I always
helped father to mark the Communion Roll which was kept like
a register and the laggards noted for rounding up.


As children we loved Communion Sunday as there was always
trifle and goodies which we polished off with relish after the
meal was over. In olden days music for services was provided
by a precentor who led the congregation in unaccompanied
praise. The old double decker pulpit stood where the beautiful
chancel window is now. When an organ was installed it was in
the back gallery and was frowned upon as a kist of whistles.
We are privileged now to possess a very beautiful organ and
should be proud of it.

The Social Scene in Dundonald

Although you may think Dundonald was a sleepy wee village –
quite isolated – it was not backward. My father had a violin
class for young men, he was very musical and could play by
ear after hearing a tune. My mother had a sewing class for the
girls and produced little musical plays with the help of Mr
Corson, the organist, who cycled out from Kilmarnock every
Sunday and also took a Sunday School class. The Sunday
School had to be held in the Church, which presented

One August our manse was lived in by a minister called
Peebles whose son was keen on cricket and I think played for
England in later years as I. A. R. Peebles. (He did and became a
cricket journalist.) He got some of the village lads interested
and later this bore fruit as we had a flourishing cricket team.
This team was formed by Tom Jack who was organist for many
years. He came by motor bike from Kilbarchan and lodged in
the village for the weekend. The cricket pitch was in the field
adjacent to Old Auchans – there was a pavilion and the team
went from strength and in the year 1935 it won the
league cup (which league I am not sure). But this was


presented by Mr T. Ferguson of Kilmarnock Cricket Club on 4th
October, 1935. I still have the programme. I was, and still am,
interested in cricket and watch the test matches avidly. I often
scored for the team, made tea and travelled to Kirkstyle,
Dunlop, Caprington etc. to support it. On my rounds with
meals-on-wheels I was shown with some pride by Haldane
Richmond Senior (who played cricket) the framed studio
photograph and a red cap with gold lettering on it. Just before
writing this I had a talk with Tony Dunlop’s widow (sadly she
has since died) and she still has the cup he received for
achieving the hat trick, and the cap.


There was also a very enthusiastic tennis club which flourished
for many years. Major Jack Coats of Auchans gave the parish
an artificial curling pond with a beautiful pavilion. This was
surrounded by very high netting. When flooded in winter this
was used for curling and during the summer for tennis. For
some reason this fell into disuse and vandals ruined the
clubhouse - so vandalism in no new thing.

There was a hockey club – female only – run by the Junior Imps
(Imperialists) – the junior branch of the Conservative Party
which was in these days represented in Parliament by Major,
now Sir, Charles McAndrew of Newfield. We had many a
wild game of hockey and bashed legs to show for it. This
association gave concerts and entertainments, trained by the
Misses Mackie of Stamford House and Miss Nan Ballantyne of
Troon who belonged to the Scottish National Players. I am
sorry I cannot give any details about football. For the older
men there was an excellent indoor recreation room in the
Montgomerie Hall with carpet bowls etc.


A Literary and Debating Society was run and many interesting
evenings enjoyed. The same Tom Jack who was organist,
choir master and instigator of the cricket team formed a
Musical Association with the help of the MacArthur family
from the schoolhouse. This grew from strength to strength.
Cecil MacArthur stage managing, Mrs MacArthur painting
scenery and John Allan looking after the lighting effects. This
association started with simple operettas like The Bandalierro
and The Legend of St Yvonne – all local talent, orchestra as
well. My father played first violin, my youngest sister also
played the violin, a Miss Jackson from Gatehead played the
cello and my sister Katherine and I shared the piano playing.
As we became more ambitious we undertook such works as
Merrie England, the Gilbert and Sullivan works The Sorcerer,
H.M.S. Pinafore, The Pirates of Penzance, The Mikado. With
these ambitious works some talent came in from outside and
the orchestra was much enlarged. Rehearsals were always held
on Saturday nights and in evidence of the popularity of this
venture attendances were always good. The Mongomerie Hall
was booked for a week, patrons were easily found and we
managed to have the hall filled for all performances – seats
being booked in advance. The hiring of costumes and payment
of royalties made it necessary to raise a considerable sum
which meant hard work for all concerned.

Church Organisations

There were the usual Church organisations, Women’s Guild,
Girl Guides, Choir practices, Sunday School and Bible Class, a
very good Boys’ Brigade had been started with an excellent
pipe band. My father was the main instigator of the B.B., Mr
Beckett, then Station Master, was one Captain and Mr
Anderson of Troon another one, so far as I remember. The


pipe band was led and trained by Mr Bell who was butler to
Mrs Thorneycroft of Hillhouse. I remember Willie English
playing the big drum. This band played for all occasions
especially parades but was really disbanded, as the company
was, by the First World War. In later years the B.B. restarted
under my father and Mr Magee. I took on the Junior Boys,
known as Lifeboys, and I still see many of them about the

The Girl Guides were started by my mother. She was
approached to launch the company but felt she was too old for
drilling and flag waving so Miss Minnie Richmond of Loans,
who taught in the school, agreed to be the first leader. Under
her captaincy the company was formed and I have many happy

memories of my Brownie and Guide days. Everything was
very simple in those days – mostly drilling, nature study, some
first aid and housewifery. Our treats consisted of being asked
to the various big houses in the neighbourhood, Corraith – the
two daughters of Sir Peter Mackie were lieutenants in the


Company – Fairlie House – Miss Cecilia Crichton-Stuart was
also a lieutenant at one time and came to camp with us –
Hillhouse where Mrs Thorneycroft gave us a lovely tea.

We had to walk to all those places and as the uniform in those
days was navy blue, very scratchy serge, black shoes and
stockings and large floppy hats this was quite an ordeal on a
hot summer’s day. I remember with much pleasure a guide
camp in a barn in Glen Coy at Brodick in Arran. We slept on
paliasses filled with straw provided by the farmer and then lay
on top of this in the forerunner of the sleeping bag – a soldier’s
blanket made into a long bag. We washed at a tap of cold
water outside and lived on simple fare and had a marvellous
time. I did not care so much for County Camps. At one held
in a hangar in the old aerodrome at Turnberry my eldest sister,
much to her consternation when washing the dishes, forgot the
cutlery was still in the basin and saw it vanishing down the
open drain along with the dirty water.

My first experience of sleeping under canvas was at Hunterston
at a County Camp there. I thought our little company camps
were so much nicer – more friendly and less red tape. This
first company was the first in Ayrshire to have its name
embroidered on the County flag but unfortunately no trace of
this can be found. I still have my original Guide brooch and
certificate dating from 1919. I remember during the first
world war we collected sphagnum moss for use in dressing
wounds and made collections of waste paper.

Much later the guides were captained by Miss Jean Gillespie, I
was Tawny Owl of the Brownies under Mrs Young (née
Caldwell of Cockhill) and then Brown Owl when she went to
Canada. I am glad to say once more we have a flourishing


Boys’ Brigade, Girl Guides, Brownies and Scouts.

The Women’s Rural is an Institute which fills an important role
in the life of the village, and is still flourishing. My mother was
a founder member but, as Thursday night was the choir
practice, I was never a member. Many new services are
running now in the village such as Meals on Wheels, Darby
and Joan Club, Young Wives and Mothers, Playschool, Creche
and Badminton Club – the Community Council and Social
Services now helping to look after the needs of the Parish.


I am going to conclude my memories by telling you something
about the village’s past educational and medical care. The

educational needs of the village were provided by the village
school – in those days quite modern – the now Montgomerie


Hall was the old Parish School run by the School Board.

In my young days Mr Hugh Gibb was the headmaster – he was
a very clever man and a strict disciplinarian which made him
feared by the badly behaved. Miss Brownlie who came from
Mauchline but stayed in the village was the benevolent Infant
Mistress – she also taught in the Sunday School. Miss Minnie
Richmond of Loans also taught me. For anything fancy – like
French or Latin – the pupils had to travel to Troon or Kilmarnock.

We went to Troon Higher Grade School which had an excellent
Headmaster, Mr Winning. There “Lowers” were acquired –
for “Highers” it meant Kilmarnock, Irvine, or Ayr Academies.
As girls we went to Glasgow and stayed with my mother’s
brother and sister and attended the Girls’ High School and also
stayed there for University or Domestic Science Training. My
mother was keen that we should all have a career. I came
home but found that my Domestic Science training stood me in


good stead when I was left a widow comparatively young with
three children to bring up.

Medical Services

On the medical side for many years the village had no resident
doctor until Dr Mackie came, I think around 1920-30. Most of
the villagers were attended by Dr Macfarlane of Dreghorn.
For his services one left a note at the Post Office. He was a
loveable, genial man and a great friend to my parents and to us
as children. There was no Health Service as such – a district
nurse – resident in Winehouseyett – and as all or most babies
were born at home she was a busy woman. The finances were
looked after by the local Nursing Association comprising
public spirited ladies, my mother being one of them. Money
was raised by collectors going round the parish. For many
years I cycled for miles sometimes for one shilling. There was
no prenatal or postnatal care and that was the day of big
families. I remember well my mother’s remedies – castor oil
administered with the juice of an orange – a horrible memory;
sulphur and treacle in the spring; plenty of porridge and milk
and good plain food with plenty of fruit and vegetables from
our large garden. Early to bed and early to rise and we all

We had to use our legs to walk everywhere, no radio or TV,
but we were read aloud to and as Dickens was my mother’s
favourite author we were brought up on him. In cases of
serious illness admittance to Kilmarnock Infirmary for those
less well off was by a line. These lines were issued to people
who gave donations to the infirmary and were often handed on
to my father who distributed them in cases of need. Beds were
endowed by wealthy patrons and often as part of a memorial.


We do not realise how lucky we are in these days of free
medical care and no doctor’s bills to face, although most of us
do our share of tax and rate paying.

In Conclusion

Looking back over my life in Dundonald I often long for the
quiet of the old days when I knew everyone I met in the village
street, but time does not stand still for anyone.

In conclusion I apologise for omissions and mistakes but
memory is fickle and I now remember, or am reminded of,
other events of the old days. Wishing the modern Dundonald
the best of futures, I now finish this chronicle.


Dundonald Family History Project