Cumnock Provosts

Researched by Bobby Grierson

Biographical details of the first 5 Provost are few but after 1901 all public figures were fully dealt with in Cumnock Chronicle articles at times of appointment, resignation and death. There were a total of 28 Provosts for Cumnock - this tradition began in 1866 and came to an end in 1975 with the passing of the The Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973. Over this period of 109 years many of the houses, public buildings, institutions and infrastructure needed for the operation of the town was put in place, the majority of which survive to this day.

In 1866 nine local businessmen signed a petition to the Sheriff of Ayr in terms of the General Police and Improvement (Scotland) Act, 1862 to have Cumnock declared a populous place and therefore a Burgh.

The first meeting of the Burgh of Cumnock and Holmhead Council was held in the Parish School at noon on 10th December, and at an adjourned meeting at the more convenient hour of 8 pm on 13th December when all could be present, William Dalgliesh was appointed Senior Police Magistrate and King and McGavin after a vote were elected junior police magistrates. Thereafter the Commissioners settled down to make plans for the appointment of the officials who would be required to assist them in the execution of their duties.

Burgh Senior Police Magistrate was the official designation from 1866 till 1892 and Provost thereafter. The 28 Provosts served Cumnock, running unbroken from 1866 until 1975 when the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973 (c. 65) came in. This was an Act of Parliament of the United Kingdom that altered local government in Scotland on 16 May 1975.

The Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973 (c. 65) followed and largely implemented the report of the Royal Commission on Local Government in Scotland in 1969 (the Wheatley Report), and it made the most far-reaching changes to Scottish local government in centuries. It swept away the counties, burghs and districts established by the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1947, which were largely based on units of local government dating from the Middle Ages, and replaced them with a uniform two-tier system of regional and district councils.

However, the sheer size of some regions meant that it became cumbersome to administer all functions on a region-wide basis. By 1977 Strathclyde Regional Council had established unelected sub-Regional Councils, which resembled the County Councils that the Regional Council had replaced.

The two-tier system of local government introduced by the act lasted until 1 April 1996 when the Local Government etc. (Scotland) Act 1994 came into effect, abolishing the regions and districts and replacing them with 32 unitary authorities – Cumnock was now Cumnock Doon Valley District.

In 1996 the two-tier system of regions and districts was abolished and Ayrshire was divided between the unitary council areas of East Ayrshire (covering the area of the former Kilmarnock Loudoun District and Cumnock Doon Valley District), North Ayrshire (covering the area of the former Cunninghame District Council) and South Ayrshire (covering the area of the former Kyle and Carrick District).

East Ayrshire is one of thirty-two council areas of Scotland. It shares borders with Dumfries and Galloway, East Renfrewshire, North Ayrshire, South Ayrshire and South Lanarkshire. The headquarters of the council are located on London Road, Kilmarnock. With South Ayrshire and the mainland areas of North Ayrshire, it formed the former county of Ayrshire.

The wider geographical region of East Ayrshire has a population of 122,100 at the last 2011 census, making it the 16th largest local authority in Scotland. Spanning a geographical area of 1,262 km, East Ayrshire is the 14th largest local authority in Scotland in terms of geographical area. The majority of the population of East Ayrshire live within and surrounding the main town, Kilmarnock, having a population of over 46,000 people at the 2011 census. Other large population areas in East Ayrshire include Cumnock, the second largest town in terms of population and area.

Willliam DalglieshWilliam Dalgliesh was born in 1825 in Sorn. He was the youngest son of Hugh Dalgliesh and Mary Borland. He married Agnes Drummond on 3 July 1867 in Old Cumnock, Ayrshire. They married late in life, when he was 42 and Agnes was 31.  They had a family of 6 girls and 1 boy. In 1881 he was residing at Holmside, Cumnock as a Justice of the Peace and woollen manufacturer employing 4 men and 8 women. Agnes’s father, James Drummond was a well-known snuff box manufacturer in Cumnock.

In 1886 on the creation of Cumnock as a Police Burgh, William Dalgliesh was appointed Senior Police Magistrate at the age of 41, a position he held for 12 years. During this time the elected council were hard at work. On 24th December 1866 a start was made by appointing as Clerk and Collector Andrew White, agent of the Royal Bank, and as Inspector of Nuisances David Smith who already was the Inspector of Poor for the local Parochial Board. In the New Year it was decided that meetings thereafter should be held in the Clerk's Office at the bank in Glaisnock Street, and to get down to business the Council formed committees - a Sanitary committee (January), a Water committee (February), and a Finance committee (June). The enthusiasm with which the council proceeded can be gauged from the work accomplished in the first year of office. William was instrumental in ensuring two main issues were addressed in the town.

The first; the provision of a water supply. What made the matter particularly urgent was that the spouts were drying up as pits were sunk. In February they considered analysing water from various sources and found the stream near Boreland farm as the best place for a reservoir. By August an approach was made to the Marquess of Bute regarding land for reservoir, filters, and water courses. The reservoir was built under financial difficulties but under the Finance Committee a loan of £2,000 was secured and work got underway in 1868. By January 1869 fifteen street wells had been erected and the first dozen or so more affluent residents had applied for a private supply. Fire-plugs were also installed throughout the town. Arrangements were made for the opening of the water works and work on the supply continued over the next few decades but continued to be beset with problems. It wasn’t until as late as 1936 that the town water supply was considered sufficient for demand.

The second; the provision of gas street lighting. Pre 1866 Cumnock was a dark town with no gas street lighting. Early on the council conferred with a committee of townspeople who had a scheme for lighting. The council took this over along with their funds and obtained lamps and posts then made arrangements with the private Cumnock Gas company to pipe and supply gas. Lamplighters were also employed and Cumnock became a lighter place at night although at first only in the centre of town.

Little else is known about William Dalgliesh. He died at Semple Cottage, Barrhill Road, Cumnock on 29 September 1889 at the age of 64.

John McCowanJohn was born in 1811 in Cumnock, the eldest son of William McCowan and Jane Hart. He married Elizabeth Crichton in Cumnock on 29th November 1836 and they had 3 sons and 2 daughters.

John McCowan was innkeeper of the Eagle Inn at the west side of the Square and an auctioneer. He served in the first administration of the Burgh of Cumnock and Holmhead and was a Police Commissioner on the Town Council from 1866 until 1881. He was elected Provost at the age 66 in 1878 and served for 3 years.

He died on 25th September 1884 aged 72 at Hartfield Cottage, Ayr Road, Cumnock and is buried in Cumnock old cemetery, Barrhill Road.

The Ayr Advertiser 2nd October 1884 records the following intimation and short obituary.
Cumnock – death of Mr McCowan, auctioneer – on Tuesday evening about 7 o’clock, the town was startled with the announcement of the sudden death of ex-Provost McCowan. Since the death of his wife his health has been failing, although he was still able for the most part to attend to his business. He was in the parlour conversing with his daughter when he suddenly fell forward, and was caught in her arms and expired. Deceased had a large connection as an auctioneer and appraiser, and was well-known all over the district. He was one of the first commissioners of the Burgh, and only retired from the Commission three years ago when his term as Provost expired.

Paternal great grandfather of R D Hunter.

George Torrance Samson was born on 1 September 1840 in Cumnock. He was the eldest surviving son of John Samson and Anne Torrance. His father was at one point connected to the snuff box industry in Cumnock and later a successful grocer and provision merchant in Cumnock and Castle Douglas which George inherited on his father’s death in 1893. He married Mary Dalgliesh on 10 July 1866 in Cumnock. They had a family of five boys. George started life as a Grocer’s Shopman in his father’s business in Glaisnock Street, Cumnock. By 1881 he was a magistrate and cheese dealer and resident at Broomhill House in Cumnock with his family and father John.

He was elected Provost in 1881 at the age of 41 and served two terms and as a Town Councillor from 1871-1887.

George was elected onto the first Parish School Board where he served for a few years and was elected president of Cumnock Curling Club in 1876. He played a prominent role in the opening of the Town Hall in 1885 and in 1890 he unsuccessfully contested the County Council Elections.

He died unexpectedly on 23 April 1894 between 4am and 6.45am at the age of 53 caused by a fall downstairs at his home at Broomhill, Cumnock. He is buried in Cumnock old cemetery, Barrhill Road. His wife Anne was Provost William Dalgliesh’s niece.

William McLetchie was born in 1833 in Cumnock.  He was the 3rs son of William McLetchie and Janet Dalziel. He married Jeannie Lusk on 22 December 1868 and they had one child, a daughter. He started his working life as a joiner and cabinet maker then ran a successful building business from Glaisnock Street, Cumnock.

William served in the first administration of the Burgh of Cumnock and Holmhead and was a Police Commissioner on the Town Council from 1866-1868 then elected Provost at the age of 54 in 1887 for a term of 3 years and a councillor from 1866-1877 then 1879-1890.

In the 1880s town housing was in crisis as the population continued to increase and new council housing was needed. The Marquess of Bute still held 99 year leases for the majority of Cumnock residents and thereafter the property and land reverted to him. Provost McLetchie and the town council met with the Marquess of Bute to discuss this but the situation continued for many years to come until it was resolved through various acts of Parliament.

On retirement from public life William continued his successful building business and moved from Cumnock to Troon and was latterly employed as master of works at the new Ayr racecourse.

William McLetchie died a tragic death at the age of 74 on 25 September 1907. He was knocked over by a run-away horse in Alloway Street in Ayr which had been startled by a nearby car. When he was knocked down the horse’s reins got entangled around his legs and he was dragged for twenty or 30 yards before being rescued. He died from head injuries at Ayr County Hospital shortly after. 

John Bannatyne was born in 1839 on the isle of Arran. He was the elder son of Charles Bannatyne, and Marion Stewart. He married Catherine Cook on 30 June 1865 in Ayr and they had six children, 3 boys and 3 girls, 4 of them born in Cumnock. He ran a successful drapery business in Glaisnock Street, Cumnock while the family home was in Tower Street.

He served on Cumnock Town Council from 1877-1893 and was elected Provost in 1890 and served a term of 3 years.

He died on 11 September 1906 at the age of 69 on the Isle of Arran.

Obituary from Cumnock Chronicle September 1906
The Late Provost Bannatyne
Last week we were reluctantly compelled to hold over a notice of the death of Mr John Bannatyne who was long resident in the town and who took a very active part in the public work of the Burgh. For many years he was a member of the Town Council which body was known as the Commissioners of the Burgh, and for three years held the provost’s chair. During his time of office, he worked loyally for the good of the community, indeed his whole career as a Commissioner was marked by devotion to duty. Of a thoroughly progressive turn of mind, whether in parochial or national affairs he came occasionally came into conflict with men who held very different opinions than him, but our recollections of Provost Bannatyne is that he was a difficult man to worst in an argument, no matter what the subject might be. A man of fine intellectual gifts he had read much and was particularly well informed in all matters relating to the land law. Indeed, he made a special study of our land laws, and being a ready and able speaker it was always a treat to hear him discourse on a subject which lay close to his heart. At all times was he animated with the true Highland spirit, and was therefore a warm friend or a straight-forward foe as the circumstances demanded. A good many years have passed since the Bannatyne family left Cumnock, but they are still remembered with kindly feelings by all who knew them. One of the sons Dr Charles Bannatyne of Salsburgh, Holytown has won distinction for himself as an authority on Highland literature and music while another son John Stewart Bannatyne is a solicitor who has on several occasions enriched the pages of the Chronicle wit articles dealing with the ancient laws of the country. Provost Bannatyne who had reached the age of 69 years died at Blackwaterfoot.

Thomas Hunter was born on 25 November 1850 in New Cumnock. Thomas was the second eldest son of William Hunter and Helen Laidlaw. He married Mary Ann Dalgliesh on 28 June 1876 in Cumnock. They had five children, 1 girl and 5 boys.

A Dux medalist in his early years, he began his career in banking, working at Ayr, Greenock, Glasgow and Newcastle before health reason saw him return to Ayrshire where by the time of his marriage at Templand Farm in 1876 he was working as a seed and grain merchant in Cumnock from premises in the Square.

He served as councillor on Cumnock Town Council from 1878-1896, and Provost from 1893-1896. He was a Liberal and instrumental in passing a Bill through Parliament ensuring that control of the main roads and side streets of the town passed from the County to the Burgh Councils, thereby saving the Burghs a considerable amount of money. By the end of his term as Provost he had made sure the debts on the newly built Town Hall were cleared. Thomas was a strong advocate for good secondary school education for the district and was elected onto the school board in 1885 and was chair from 1897 till its dissolution in 1919. He also served time as chair of the Ayr County Council Education Committee. He inspired many of the progressive developments and pioneered the development of education in Cumnock including the purchase of Hillside House. In 1926 he opened the new Cumnock Academy on Barrhill Road.

Along with his educational work he represented the Burgh of Cumnock on Ayr County Council for 40 years (1889-1929) and for 37 years of that time he was Convenor of the Finance Committee and also Vice Chair for two terms. Thomas was a member of the West of Scotland Agricultural College and took an active part in the development of Auchincruive Agricultural College and the Hannah Research Institute. He complied market statistics for the County for the official records for the Board of Agriculture for over half a century.

During his residence in Cumnock he was closely associated with Crichton West Memorial Church, Ayr Road where he held office in the Kirk Session and Deacon’s Court for 68 years. His wife was the daughter of Robert Dalgliesh, farmer and seed merchant at Templand Mains Farm in Cumnock. Robert was the older brother of the 1st Provost of Cumnock William Dalgliesh. Thomas and Mary were the grandparents of RD Hunter, Town Clerk and solicitor.

He died at his home Heathfield, the Holm, Cumnock on 10 November 1943 at the age of 92.

James Richmond was born in 1850 at Townfoot, Tanyard Lane, Cumnock. He was the eighth child of John Richmond and Catherine Wilson. He married Elizabeth Hunter Thomson on 17 June 1874 in Auchinleck. They had no children.

He started off his working life as a stone mason and builder with a successful business in Tower Street, Cumnock which he ran for over 40 years.

He was a Cumnock town councillor from 1885-1901 then 1905-1917 and served as Provost on three separate terms at the age of 46; 1896-1899 then 1905-1908 and 1911-1917.

He died on 17 November 1917 at Cresco, Barrhill Road, Cumnock at the age of 67.

John Andrew was born on 3 March 1855 in Tarbolton, the third son of John Andrew and Agnes Wilson. He married Margaret Wilson on 13 August 1890 in Cumnock and they had one son.

John started his working life as an apprentice druggist and chemist in Glasgow and by 1881 he was working in Tarbolton as a pharmaceutical chemist. By 1891 he was living at Pitlochry cottage in Cumnock with his wife Margaret and had set up business as Cumnock New Apothecaries Hall as a chemist and famous bottler of mineral water. This was on the ground floor of the present Craighead Inn in Glaisnock Street.

He served on the council from 1892 till 1902 and then from 1905 until his death in 1917. He was closely involved in fundraising for the Soldiers and Sailors Families Association, the establishment of the Red Cross Hospital in South Africa, the send-off of Cumnock Yeomanry and Volunteers, the Indian Famine Fund, the local funeral service of Queen Victoria, the local Coronation celebrations of Edwards VII and with the coming of age celebrations of John Patrick Crichton-Stuart 4th Marquess of Bute.

He served as Provost from 1899 till 1902. He died on 2 January 1917 at the Brae, Ayr Road Cumnock at the age of 61 from heart failure due to influenza.

Thomas McCaughie was born in 1848 in Penpont, Dumfries-shire. His father, Alexander McCaughie and mother Janet Thom had eight of a family with Thomas being the second son. He married Agnes Sharp and they had three children, 2 girls and 1 boy. Agnes died in 1887 and he then married Janet Buck in 1895. They had no children.

He served on Cumnock Town Council from 1895-1905 and was elected Provost from 1902-1905.

He had a successful hairdressing business from his premises in Hamilton Place and a keen curler and angler. He also was closely associated with the School Parochial Board and the Parish Council with particular interest in supporting the poor of the parish.

Later in life he suffered the bad effects of an accidental gas explosion from which he never fully recovered despite seeking professional help from a professor in Glasgow. He served as a Justice of the Peace for several years before finally succumbing to a serious illness and died at the age of 59. He died at his home, Carco in Ayr Road, Cumnock on 25 October 1907.

James Richmond was born in 1850 at Townfoot, Tanyard Lane, Cumnock. He was the eighth child of John Richmond and Catherine Wilson. He married Elizabeth Hunter Thomson on 17 June 1874 in Auchinleck. They had no children.

He started off his working life as a stone mason and builder with a successful business in Tower Street, Cumnock which he ran for over 40 years.

He was a Cumnock town councillor from 1885-1901 then 1905-1917 and served as Provost on three separate terms at the age of 46; 1896-1899 then 1905-1908 and 1911-1917.

He died on 17 November 1917 at Cresco, Barrhill Road, Cumnock at the age of 67.

William Hill was born on 14 April 1846 at Daviesdykes Farm, near Wishaw. He was the 2nd son of William Hill and Catharine Gardener who had 5 other children. He married Jeanie Jane Hart McCowan on 19 November 1874 in Cumnock. They had eight children, 4 boys and 4 girls.

In his early life, when working on his father’s farm, he also worked in the small family-owned coal mine on his father’s land. Then as a young man in the 1860s he served as an apprentice in two drapery stores in Edinburgh, one of which appointed him Commercial Traveller and he worked the west and north coasts of Scotland.

In the 1870s he then gained employment with the drapers William McLaren and sons in Glasgow and for the next 44 years was their representative in Ayrshire, Dumfries-shire, Kirkudbrightshire and Wigtownshire and his business calls took him practically into every town and village in these four counties. These early business visits meant that not only did he build close relationships with customers but also formed acquaintances with the officials and other merchants in the towns. He retired from business in 1921 and the esteem that he was held in by his firm, customers and acquaintances was shown in the many gifts and well-wishes he received. It would have been questionable if there was a better known personality in the south of Scotland than William Hill. After his retirement he had time to take up his favourite pastimes of reading, gardening and visiting friends and colleagues throughout the area.

He took an active part in local public affairs and he served on the Town Council from 1901-1911 and was elected Provost from 1908-1911. He had a particular interest in prudent council budget expenditure and was a keen critic of the rising increases. He took a prominent part in local politics and was an enthusiastic supporter of the Conservative cause and for many years was an honorary president on the Cumnock Unionist Association. He was a Justice of the Peace for the County but was seen to be fair and lenient in his dealing with petty criminals through the local courts. He also treated deserving cases in a similar manner over his dozen-odd years as member of the Parish Council.

His one major interest was for the works and memory of Robert Burns. He was the founding member of the Cumnock Burns Club in 1891. Cumnock Burns Club met on a regular basis in the Dumfries Arms Hotel in Cumnock and he passed this love of Burns on to his grandson R D Hunter, the local lawyer and Town Council Chamberlain.

His wife’s father, John McCowan was the 2nd Provost of Cumnock.

He died after a short illness on 7 May 1927 at Hartfield Cottage, 48 Ayr Road, Cumnock at the age of 81.

James Richmond was born in 1850 at Townfoot, Tanyard Lane, Cumnock. He was the eighth child of John Richmond and Catherine Wilson. He married Elizabeth Hunter Thomson on 17 June 1874 in Auchinleck. They had no children.

He started off his working life as a stone mason and builder with a successful business in Tower Street, Cumnock which he ran for over 40 years.

He was a Cumnock town councillor from 1885-1901 then 1905-1917 and served as Provost on three separate terms at the age of 46; 1896-1899 then 1905-1908 and 1911-1917.

He died on 17 November 1917 at Cresco, Barrhill Road, Cumnock at the age of 67.

David Smith was born on 22 May 1851 in Woodside, Glenbervie, Kincardineshire. He was the 4th son of Adam Smith and Mary Caie who had a family of 5 sons and 3 daughters. He married Jessie Hewitson on 20 June 1887 in Barr, Ayrshire. They had no children.

David grew up working on his father’s croft where he and his siblings were schooled at home due to the lack of a nearby school. He worked at a very early age herding cattle, looking after horses and general heavy farm work. As he got older he looked for work in Glasgow for 3 years. Soon after this in 1875 his brother in law, Robert Pyper who was in the Ayrshire Constabulary, encouraged him to apply for a job and he quickly started and was posted to Irvine where he policed the Renfrewshire Militia riots on Irvine Moor. After a short period in Irvine he was stationed at Troon then Barr where he met and married his wife Jessie. A return to Irvine and Troon followed by 3 years in Ardrossan, then a few months in Beith and 6 years in Kilburnie where he was promoted to the rank of sergeant in 1887 and then transferred back to Troon. From Troon he was then transferred to Cumnock in 1893 where he remained until he retired in 1906 at the age of 55. At around this time he owned several properties at the Holm in Cumnock.

In the year of his retirement he was elected as Councillor on Cumnock Town Council and served from 1906-1932 and was elected provost from 1917-1919. He held all the convenorships on the council. He was created a Justice of the Peace during WW1 and after his term as Provost he was appointed Police Judge and presided over the Burgh Courts.

In his free-time he kept cattle and sheep in a field at the Holm and was a regular visitor to livestock markets throughout the local area. He also enjoyed spending time at the Baird Institute in Lugar Street.

He died at Rosewood, the Holm, Cumnock on 1 September 1933 at the age of 82.

Andrew Miller was born on 3rd January 1869 in Ayr and was the 5th son of William Bruce and Elizabeth McClelland. Andrew married Janet Alexander Paterson in 1896 in Cathcart, Lanarkshire and they had 7 children 5 girls and 2 boys.

On leaving school he was employed by the Bara photographic studio in Ayr and later by Wilhelm Hess in Ayr and in 1891 he came to Cumnock as the manager for Hess’s studio in Ayr Road after the death of photographer John Ballantine whose studio Hess took over. By 1905 he had opened his own studio at 46 Barrhill Road, Cumnock and became a well-respected and successful photographer in his own right. His work was considered as among the best in the country. There was a connection between the Ballantines and Andrew Miller – at Andrew’s wedding, Duncan Paterson Ballantine, nephew of photographer John Ballantine, was one of his witnesses.

He was elected to Cumnock Town Council in 1907 and served till 1922 and served as Provost from1919-1922 and in 1914 he was appointed a Justice of the Peace. He presided over the unveiling of the Cumnock War Memorial in June 1921.

During his time as Provost the first of Cumnock Council’s housing schemes was completed at Shankston Crescent and in December 1921 when the scheme was officially opened his wife was presented with a gold key by the contractors. He was also president of the Liberal Association, the Total Abstinence Society and Band of Hope, the Angling Society and vice-president of the Horticultural Society. He was an elder and member of session in the Crichton West Memorial Free Church in Ayr Road, Cumnock and took an active part in the management of Cumnock Bute Hospital at Barrhill Road where he acted as chair of the Hospital Committee.

He was a passionate horticulturist and developed a successful business in the cultivation and sale of plants and seedlings. In his younger days he was a keen and prominent footballer and played in the original Ayr Parkhouse team. In later years he took up tennis and was a member of the Cumnock Tennis Club at Ayr Road where he won the Alexander McDonald gold medal a trophy which he highly cherished.

Examples of his photographic work can be seen in many of the iconic views of Cumnock that appear in various formats from postcard to full-size prints.

He retired from his business in Cumnock in 1928 and sold his business to Robert Duncan of Catrine. He then went to live with his son William at Law Farm in Tarbolton until his retiral to Glenmuir Cottage, St Phillans Avenue in Ayr.

A fortnight before he died he had been working in his garden and contracted a cold which quickly developed into bronchitis. He died on 27th June 1945 at Glenmuir Cottage, St Phillans Avenue in Ayr aged 76.

Born on 27 May 1873 in Edinburgh, Charles was the elder son of the Rev Andrew Taylor and Elizabeth Grieg. He studied at George Watson College and began his early working life as a Publishers Apprentice. In 1902 he married Annie Johnstone and they had one daughter.

Charles and his brother Andrew came to Cumnock in 1901 when they took over the engineering firm of George McCartney where he was responsible for the business side of the enterprise. The brothers operated the business successfully until 1933 when a trade recession forced them to close.

He then worked for Stevenson’s Dairy Farm in a managerial capacity before he retired. Charles served on every Council convenorship, passing through the appointments of Junior and Senior Baillie to the Provost’s position. He served a total of 18 years on the Council. He was appointed a Justice of the Peace in 1920 which he held until his death. During WW1 he helped organise several charities and served as a sergeant in the local Volunteers.

After the war he was convener of the welcome Home Fund and of the Cumnock War Memorial Committee which raised funds for the erection of the memorial. He also convened this after WW2. He was a Senior Elder in Old Cumnock Old Church and was instrumental in the restoration of the Boy Scout movement in Cumnock and was chair of the Cumnock Scouts Group committee and chair of the RSPCC Cumnock branch for many years.

He had a time as chair of the Baird Institute Trustees. His brother Andrew’s son Stanley Taylor was a keen amateur film-maker and shot many iconic scenes in and around Cumnock.

He died at Buenavista, 104 Barrhill Road, Cumnock on 25th October 1963 aged 90 after an extended period of ill health.

Allan McCall was born on 15 June 1873 at Ayr Road in Cumnock. He was the 5th child of William McCall and Agnes Johnston. He married Annie Ferguson and had six sons and three daughters.

Allan started his working life at the age of 12 down the mines. He was a miner for 30 years and occupied the post of Treasurer for the local branch on the Miners’ Union for 34 years by continuing to serve the branch for some time after he left the pits and started in business.

His association with the Union makes interesting reading. He joined in 1892 at the age of 19 and in 1901 he was appointed a member of the Miner’s Committee and in 1912 he became secretary to the Cumnock Branch of the Scottish Miners’ Approved Society. During the 1921 strike he was Convenor of the committee throughout. It was in the year of the lock-out when one of his sons had an accident and was told to adopt an open air life that Allan entered the fruit business.

In the following year he opened his first premises in Glaisnock Street and in 1934 became a market gardener at the Manse Gardens in the Glebe and continued here till after the war when the ground was requisitioned by the Town Council for housing purposes. In 1939 he opened his fruit, confectionery and vegetable business, two doors up from his original shop.

He was associated with the Rechabites Order for over 30 years and was on the Board of Cumnock Co-operative Society where he served a time as President until it was absorbed into the Auchinleck Co-operative Society. He was also one of the first members of the Independent Labour Party which he joined in 1900, held the post of both treasurer and secretary and campaigned vigorously in and around the Cumnock area for the Labour cause. He was a lifelong member of the Cumnock Labour Party where he also held most of the official posts. Allan was a close friend of James Keir Hardie and an ardent campaigner on his behalf, holding the chair at many of Hardie’s most memorable meetings. As one of his sons remarked, “Keir Hardie was revered in our house. My father and mother always thought of him as lawyer, doctor, friend and counsellor all rolled into one.”

When he was elected to the Town Council in 1912 he was the first Labour Councillor to be elected and one of his prized possessions was a congratulatory telegram he received from Keir Hardie at that time.  He was a member of the town council for 34 years until he retired in 1946 and during his long spell filled all of the Bailieships and was convener of most of the sub-committees. He was best known however for his convenorship of the Housing Committee and in this connection he was largely instrumental in setting in motion the plans which made Cumnock’s housing record the envy of comparable burghs throughout Scotland. Under his convenorship the Town Council produced houses for rental at the lowest rates in the country.

In his early years, Allan was a talented horticulturist and a member of Cumnock Horticultural Society where he specialised in growing sweet peas and marigolds and won many prizes for his exhibits at the annual Cumnock Flower Show. He was a keen sportsman and was associated with Cumnock Bowling Club where he won most of the major club competitions as well as competing in the Scottish championships at Queen’s Park, Glasgow on two occasions. He was a life member of the Baird Institute in Cumnock where his skill with the billiard cue was common knowledge. His sporting interests extended to football and he was a keen follower of Cumnock Juniors and a member of the club where he was treasurer of the finance committee for some time.

He served on Cumnock Town Council from 1912-1946 and was elected Provost from 1925-1928.

He died at 4 McCall Avenue, Cumnock on 27 August 1954 at the age of 81.

James Neil was born on 11 August 1861 in Lugar. His father John Neil and mother Mary McGowan never married and they only had one child, James. He married Elizabeth Hyslop who died shortly after giving birth to their only child Agnes. He then married Elizabeth Kerr and they had 3 boys and 2 girls. All of his sons fought in WW1, two of them dying on active duty.

James started off his working life as a miner then a brief time as an insurance agent then moved on to work as a commercial boot and shoe traveller for the Maybole firm of John Lees and Co where is sales area covered Cumnock, Dumfries and Castle Douglas which he worked for 25 years. In his mining days he was a close friend fellow and campaigner of James Keir Hardie.

James first stood unsuccessfully for election in 1904 and every successive year until he was elected onto the Town Council in 1907. He remained on the Council and was elected Provost in 1928 and served a 3-year term and was the first Provost to wear the Provost’s robes which were presented to the Burgh in 1929 by ex-Provost James Richmond, a personal friend. He served on the Council until 1936.

From an early age he was a flute player with the Cumnock Orchestra and had a keen interest in writing and was correspondent for several daily papers and wrote short poems for the Cumnock Chronicle. He was one of the first members of the Cumnock Debating Society and also Chair of the Cumnock Old Folks Party.

He died at 13 Lugar Street, Cumnock on 11 July 1950 at the age of 88 and is buried at Cumnock new cemetery on Glaisnock Road.

John Carruthers was born on 21 July 1868 at Shankston in Cumnock. The 5th son of Hugh Carruthers and Margaret Frew. He married Edith June Cocks in 1913 in Bromley, Kent. They had three sons during their marriage.

In 1893 he took over the boot and shoe business of Hugh Kennedy at 45-46 the Square with his older brother David which they ran until David emigrated. John then took over the business in his own name until he retired in 1947. He was a member of Cumnock Business Association for many years and succeeded Robert Livingston as chair, a post he held with distinction for many years.

He served on Cumnock Town Council from 1904-1907, then 1919-1934 and was elected provost from 1931-1934.

In 1909 he was created a Justice of the Peace for Ayr County and was a member of the Ayr District Licensing Board from 1935 until 1950. For a number of years, he was a member of the Ayr County Insurance Committee before the National Insurance Scheme came into operation.

In 1919, in his second term as councillor, he was appointed council representative on the School Management Committee for No 5 Area, a position he held for 11 years. He also spent some time as Chairman of the Parish Committee.

He was a dedicated Mason, a member of the Cumnock lodge and attained high office within the Masons on a wider Scottish basis.

For 70 years John was associated with the Congregational Church, Auchinleck Road and was president of the congregation for most of that time. His link with the church went back to his original membership of the church when it was situated to the north of the Square. He also held presidential office during his long connection with the Cumnock YMCA.

He was a keen golfer and member of the Cumnock Golf Club where he was Captain from 1921 until 1930 when he became Club President. One of the last organisations he was associated with was the Court of Referees for the district, whose duty it was to consider matters of military services under the National Service Acts

He died on 15 August 1953 at Holmhead Hospital, Cumnock at the age of 85. His usual residence was St Margaret’s on Glaisnock Street, Cumnock.

Born on 10 July 1894 at Tonypandy, Glamorgan, Wales, the son of Rev JR Hughes and Annie Williams. He was educated at the council school at Abercynon, Wales and Leeds College of Education.

As a schoolmaster and journalist at Pontypridd and the Rhondda, he became an enthusiastic member of the Labour Party and came into close contact with ;James Keir Hardie. In the general election of 1923 he stood unsuccessfully as the Labour candidate for the Bosworth division of Leicestershire.

Between 1931 and 1946 he edited Forward, the newspaper of the Socialist movement in ;Scotland. Hughes gained a wide experience of the activities of local government, experience which proved of great benefit to him following his election as Labour MP for south Ayrshire at a by-election in February 1946 caused by the death of Alexander Sloan, the sitting Labour MP.

Hughes was re-elected in the general elections of 1950, 1951, 1955, 1959, 1964, and 1966. As a left-winger and pacifist, Hughes was a frequent rebel against the party's leadership. He twice had the whip withdrawn, between November 1954 and April 1955 over German rearmament, and between March 1961 and May 1963 over nuclear weapons. His Constituency Labour Party always supported him in his clashes with the leadership. He continued to represent this division in Parliament until his death. He edited a Scottish edition of Tribune ;after World War II. Throughout the rest of his career he stood on the left wing of the Labour Party, he remained on the back benches of the House of Commons and he was considered a fiery rebel. In 1952, Hughes caused further controversy by calling for a reduction of the civil list payments to the British Royal Family. During the debate, Hughes identified himself as an anti-monarchist and a republican.

He was elected Junior Bailie to Cumnock Town Council in 1933 and was a champion of injustice for Cumnock and the surrounding areas as can be seen by his successful representation in the local court of the rights of residents at Pennylands Housing Camp in the nearby Dumfries House Estate in 1949. As Labour councillor on the town council him and his wife Nan Hardie worked together for slum clearance and the provision of council housing. He served as Provost from 1934 – 1935. He was also a member of Ayr County Council for 14 years.

He married Keir Hardie’s daughter Nan Hardie in 1924 who shared his political philosophy and ideals, and her death in 1947 was a heavy blow to him from which he never fully recovered. He married Martha Cleland in 1949 daughter of a Glasgow schoolmaster and continued to make his home at Lochnorris, Cumnock, the house of the late James Keir Hardie.

Emrys Hughes published a large number of biographies and other works, among them Keir Hardie a volume which gave him particular pleasure.

He died 18th October 1969 at Lochnorris, Cumnock while still a member of the House of Commons.

Nan Hardie Hughes, socialist, political activist and Provost of Cumnock was born Agnes Paterson Hardie in Cumnock on 5th October 1885, the eldest daughter of James Keir Hardie, socialist and politician, and his wife, Lillias (Lillie) Wilson. Keir Hardie had two sons, James and Duncan, but it was Agnes who became his political heir. She developed an unusual political awareness and insight into labour politics and socialism, augmented by contact with many of her father`s associates.

On 8 August 1924 Nan married Emrys Hughes acting editor of Forward and a well-known journalist. He was active in the labour movement and an advocate of Keir Hardie`s attitudes towards pacifism and socialism. Nan placed herself mainly at his disposal, acting as housewife in Cumnock and supporting her husband`s ambitions in the Labour Party. She was involved in Hughes`s successful attempt to become Provost of Cumnock.

In the 1930s, however, Nan became more active in municipal politics, with a particular interest in housing and welfare provision. In 1933 she was elected to Cumnock Town Council, and she became Convener of Cumnock Public Health Committee the following year. In 1935 she succeeded her husband as Provost and the two of them initiated a major programme of slum clearance and council-house building. Opposition from the chief landlord in the area, Lord Bute, was eventually overcome, with the result that by the start of the Second World War three-quarters of Cumnock`s population had been rehoused in low-rent, partially furnished accommodation.

Nan`s also helped to make improvements in the leisure and welfare facilities in Cumnock – these included the open-air swimming-pool and the Woodroad park. As a magistrate of the juvenile court in the late 1930s, she was able to encourage the participation of youth within the community through sports activities rather than imposing draconian sentences. A measure of her popularity in the area was her appointment during the war as joint chairman of the Cumnock Red Cross and War Work party. This enabled her to officiate at all public meetings and to help to alleviate the wartime exigencies imposed on the inhabitants.

In 1946 Emrys Hughes was elected as Labour MP for South Ayrshire, with Nan having relinquished her council duties during the campaign tour. When he became ill soon afterwards, Nan again absented herself from duties, only then to fall seriously ill herself. This illness ended her public career. She had served unopposed on Cumnock town council for more than 11 years, playing a part in the transformation of the area`s welfare and housing facilities.

She was described as having a distinctive and well-defined bone structure and her face had a forthright and warm expression. In later years her white, wavy hair was offset by broad, dark eyebrows. Nan died in Ballochmyle Hospital, Mauchline, Ayrshire, on 27 June 1947, and her funeral took place in Cumnock, attended by many prominent members of various local government bodies in Ayrshire; she was buried at the New Cemetery, Cumnock. Emrys Hughes continued his career as a journalist and an MP. They had no children.

James Lindsay Holland was born on 7 August 1901 in Drongan. He was the 2nd son Thomas Holland and Mary Lindsay. He married Susan Hart Morrison McKissock on 19 September 1923 in Ayr and moved to Cumnock at the end of the miners’ strike in 1926.

He served on Cumnock Town Council from 1932-1935 then 1937-1962 and was elected provost from 1947-1954. In 1932 he became Convenor of the Property and Cleansing Committee under whose auspices Cumnock swimming pool was started in 1934 and opened in 1936. In 1955 he was honoured for his public service by being presented with a portrait in oils at a ceremony at the Dumfries Arms Hotel. In 1931 he was elected to the Cumnock School Management Committee on which he served a total of 31 years until his retiral in 1962. He also served as magistrate for 20 years.

At a civic dinner in the Royal Hotel, Cumnock in 1963 he became the first person in Cumnock to receive a Burgess Ticket. He was presented with a silver casket and Burgess Ticket from Provost J K H McTurk which read, “At Cumnock on 20th May 1963 the Provost, Magistrates and Councillors of the Burgh of Cumnock and Holmhead hereby admit and receive Ex-Provost James Holland as Honorary Burgess of the Burgh in recognition of his long and faithful service.”

He worked in mining for 5 decades including Whitehill Colliery for more than 30 years. While at Highhouse Colliery he was awarded the British Empire Medal in 1966.  A member of the labour Party for 42 years, he was also a keen bowler and a past chairman of Cumnock Bowling Club and a frequent competition winner.

He was represented on various boards and committees including; Ayr County Council, Ayrshire Burghs Association Area Youth Panel, Ayrshire Education Committee, Southern Ayrshire Hospitals Board, Ayrshire Food Executive Committee, Duke Street Education Committee, Cumnock Ambulance Committee, Whitehill Colliery Consultative Committee, National Union of Miners, Cumnock Amateur Swimming Club, and Cumnock Bowling Club.

Built in 1954 Holland Crescent in Cumnock is named after him.

He died in 1977 in Old Cumnock at the age of 76.

John was educated at Carrick Academy and Glasgow University where he graduated in 1922 with an MA (Hons) in Economic Sciences. During WW1 he served with the Scottish Rifles and with the Machine Gun Corps and took part in the fighting is France as a machine-gunner. He was married to Janet Howie.

On the completion of his university career in 1922 he taught for a time at Kelvinside Academy before taking up his first Ayrshire appointment at Kilmaurs School then at Stevenson Higher Grade School. Later, under an exchange of teacher’s scheme, he travelled to Canada and taught in Ontario for a period of ten years which was extended at his own request. He became Associate Examiner of the University of Toronto and travelled to many parts of Canada. This love of travel revealed itself at an early stage in his career and during his student days he used his vacation periods by acting as a tourist guide in Belgium, France, Italy and Switzerland.

He returned to the UK just before the starts on WW2 and took up a teaching post at Carrick Academy in Maybole. In 1940 he was appointed assistant teacher of English at Cumnock Academy and in 1947 he became Principle Teacher of English and History. He had been a Further Education lecturer at Kilmarnock and Cumnock Academy. He played a leading role in the life of the school, showing a keen interest in the annual concert, the publication of the School Magazine and organising the activities of the Debating Society.

His belief in the educational value of travel was reflected in the large part he played in organising pupil’s excursions to the Galloway Coast, Arran, Stratford-on-Avon, London and many foreign trips.

During WW2 at Cumnock Academy he was the Equipment Officer with the Cumnock Academy Air Training Corps; a uniformed youth organization affiliated with the Royal Air Force aimed at providing opportunities to teenagers aged 12 to 18; centered mainly around flying, gliding, shooting, and activities of the RAF. He was Rector at Cumnock Academy from 1959 until his retirement at Christmas 1967.

He was first elected to Cumnock Town Council in 1945 and his first convenorship was of the Town Hall Committee. He was appointed Honorary Treasurer of the Council when it was created in 1949 and continued in this capacity until he succeeded James Holland as Provost at the beginning of May 1954 until 1957. During his time with the Council he played a large part in the preliminary planning and implementation of the sewage scheme at Underwood, the provision of good playing fields for the town and in attracting light industry into the area. As Provost he was instrumental in ensuring a smooth and interesting visit by the Queen and Prince Philip to Cumnock in 1956.

He was one of the founders of the Cumnock and District Hospitals Auxiliary Association of which he was chair. He was a member of Ayr Executive Council of the National Health Service and served on the Cumnock Ambulance Committee and was president of Cumnock Burns Club in 1954.

He llivd with his wife Janet at 5 Robertson Avenue, Cumnock and died at Ballochmyle Hospital, Mauchline in 1971 aged 73.

John Alexander Weir was born on 9 January 1906 at Gasswater, Lugar. His parents Andrew Pringle Weir and Jean McCleod 8 children, John being the eldest. He married Mary Taylor Feely Geddes on 18 February 1931 in Glasgow. He died on 5 April 1967 at Ballochmyle Hospital, Mauchline, at the age of 61.

Johns schooldays were spent in Auchinleck and he started his working life at the George McCartney Engineering Works in Cumnock before taking up employment over a period of 10 years in various pits including Barglachan, Barony and Cronberry Moor. He changed his occupation in 1931 when he started working with the Scottish Motor Transport Bus Company as a bus driver and moved to Cumnock 8 years later. He was first elected to Cumnock Town Council in 1945 when he was second top in the poll with John Edgar. In 1947 he was appointed to the office of Bailie and two years later he became Honorary Treasurer. John had been the Council representative on Ayr County Council for 8 years preceding being elected Provost in 1957.

From his earliest years John had been a keen swimmer and was a member of the SMT relay team which gained considerable success in the 1930s. He was also a member of the SMT staff football team for some years. His swimming skills stood him in good stead in 1921 when he saved a child from drowning in Ayr harbour for which he was awarded the Parchment of the Royal Society. He was secretary of the local branch of the Transport and General Workers’ Union for several years and president of the Social Welfare and Sick Fund at the SMT Depot. He became a member of the Cumnock Labour Party in 1945.

By the time of his death John was employed as a Security Officer at Barony Power Station. He died on the 5th February 1967 at Ballochmyle Hospital, Mauchline. His usual address was 31 Richmond Terrace, Cumnock.

Harry Entwhistle Turner was born in 1902 in Tottington, Lancashire, England. He was the only son of George Turner and Annie Entwhistle. He married Margaret Madge Young on 2 April 1931 in Dumfries-shire and they had one daughter together. His wife Madge died in 1934 and he then married Jane Wilson in 1939 in Dalry and they had two children together.

He was Educated at Bury Grammar School where he was chosen to put up the flag at the end of WW1. He left school at the age of 16 to study Chemistry at Manchester University and graduated in 1922 with BS Hons Chemistry at the age of 21. His early career in the dyeing industry began with McCallum and the British Cotton and Wool Dyers Association in Paisley and went on to obtain the high position of Works Chemist to Courtaulds Ltd at Saxon Mill, Droylsden where he was engaged in research work in connection with the introduction of artificial silk. It is worth noting that his grandfather Joshua Turner was a Woollen Mill Manager and his father George a Dye Works Secretary and Cashier.

He then trained at Jordanhill, Glasgow and his first teaching post was as assistant at Webster’s Seminary, Kirriemuir then for a short time at Strathallan boarding school in Perthshire. In 1928 he became science teacher at Dalry Junior Secondary School in Kirkcudbrightshire. His first headmastership came when he was appointed to Kirkdale Public School, Creetown, Kirkcudbrightshire in 1932. Two years later he returned to Dalry where he stayed as the science teacher then a short time in New Cumnock in 1942 until 1944 when he was appointed to Cumnock Academy where he became principal teacher of science in 1953 and was appointed president of the Ayrshire branch of the Educational Institute of Scotland a year later. His association with the EIS dates back from his time in Dalry when he was a member of the executive.

He was elected to the Council in 1947 as a Labour member, elected Junior Bailie in 1948, Senior Baillie in 1949, Police Judge in 1954, Honorary Treasurer 1957 and served as Provost from 1960 – 1963. As a Justice of the Peace since 1950, he presided regularly on the bench of the local Burgh Court. His interest in youth work found an outlet in organising school treks and he was also a member of the Juvenile Panel Committee and chairman of the Juvenile Court. During his Council work he had a special interest in Road Safety and gave talks at the Royal Society for Prevention of Accidents in both London and Glasgow. He was instrumental in slum clearance in Cumnock, the pedestrianisation of the Square and contributed to the adoption of the Cumnock Town Council motto - Prompt in Progress.

During the War he was a member of the Special Constabulary. He was Sunday School superintendent from 1944 and a member of the local Scout Committee and badge secretary to the Cumnock district in addition to being a member of the Cumnock Ambulance Committee and local Scientific Reconnaissance Officer in Civil Defence. In 1951 he was instrumental in organising the Festival of Britain celebrations in Cumnock and took part in the Cine Film ‘Cumnock Celebration, June 1951’ by John Nimmo. In 1961 he was guest speaker at the Cumnock Chronicle’s Diamond Jubilee where he proposed the principal toast.

Harry was a keen Robert Burns supporter and a member of New Cumnock Burns Club for many years. He had a long Masonic connection which started at Lodge St John in New Galloway and continued through Lodge St Barnabas in Cumnock of which he was a former treasurer. He was also Scribe to the Royal Arch Chapter in Cumnock and a well know figure in Conclave Masonry at Ayr. In his younger days he enjoyed tennis, badminton, curling, was a keen angler and enjoyed travel abroad and was a keen car owner. For many years he was a leading member of the Scripture Union and had done a considerable amount of lay preaching.

In 1962 he then decided to give up his successful teaching career and enter the Ministry and entered Trinity College and Glasgow University on 4th October 1962 where he studied divinity and graduated a year later. In July 1963 he was licensed to preach by Ayr Presbytery at a ceremony in Cumnock Old Church in the Square.

He ministered at the Church of Scotland in Lyne and Manor in the Scottish Borders before retiring in 1983 to Dunoon to stay with his eldest daughter Margaret.

He died in 1987 in Dunoon, Argyll, at the age of 84 and was cremated in Greenock.

James Keir Hardie McTurk was born in 1919 in Cumnock. His father George McTurk and mother Agnes Lamont had 6 children with James being the youngest son. He married Elisabeth Burgoyne on 21 November 1851 in Kirkoswald, Ayrshire.

Keir was educated at the local Academy and he later took up employment in the Public Assistance Department of Ayr County Council where he served until 1948. He then had six years’ war service with the Royal Navy during which he sailed with many of the Russian convoys to Murmansk where he served the greater part of his time in HMS Norfolk, flagship of the 1st cruiser squadron. With this ship he took part in the Bismarck hunt and the Scharnhorst sinking off Norway’s North Cape and Mediterranean service followed. The Norfolk also played a part in the North African landings and took part in the Battle of the Atlantic. He was mentioned in dispatches and his Royal Navy connection was one which continued to be a source of quiet pride in post-war years and was evidenced by his subsequent membership of the Fo’c’sle Club in Cumnock.

In 1947, at the age of 28, he was elected to Cumnock Town Council, topping the poll as he did on each occasion he stood for re-election. In 1957 he became a Police Magistrate and served on the bench of the Burgh Police Court. He was then made a Justice of the Peace in 1959 and he became a valued member of the Juvenile Court Panel in Cumnock. He filled the various offices of the council, ultimately serving as Provost from 1963 to 1966. In 1966 he was elected to represent Cumnock on Ayr County Council, thereby following in the footsteps of his father, Mr George McTurk, OBE. He was a member of several County Council committees, including education, social work and finance. He was also a member of the Ayrshire Burgh’s Association of which he was chair.

He served as Chairman at various times on Cumnock Municipal Bank, the Joint Cemetery Committee, the Horticultural Society, the Working Men’s Club and the Senior Citizens’ Club. Keir McTurk was for many years a member of the River Purification Board in Ayrshire, ultimately becoming chairman. In this position he spared no effort in the board’s drive to safeguard the condition of Ayrshire’s rivers. He was also associated with the Cumnock Academy Parent-Teacher Association and served on the local Education Sub-Committee.
A lifelong member of Old Cumnock Parish Church, he was an Elder of that church for many years and served for a time as Treasurer before succeeding his late brother, William McTurk, as Session Clerk and President of the church’s Men’s Guild. He served as Chairman of the Cumnock Labour Party branch and represented the Council on the Barony Pit Co-ordinating Committee.

He was honoured in April 1972, by being given the Freedom of the Burgh as a mark of community respect. The granting of the Burgess Ticket at that time marked 25 years’ unbroken service to the Town Council and this continued to the present with his membership of Cumnock and Doon valley District Council, on which he was Vice-Convener.

On the occasion of being made a Freeman of Cumnock it was said of him “He has an intimate knowledge of the intricate machinery of most public bodies and has educated himself in the conduct of public affairs to a pitch and level few can aspire to. This has involved a great deal of determination and a singular strength of purpose. Some things in life are easily acquired - but this Burgess Ticket is not one of them. It has been well and truly earned. Many men have contributed much less and have been awarded a Knighthood for their efforts.”

After the war Keir was employed at the Department of Health and Social Security as a Civil Servant at Catrine and Mauchline from 1938 until 1940 and he continued in this work at the Ministry of Pensions and National Insurance at Ayr Road until being admitted to Ballochmyle Hospital in October 1975. Keir and his wife Betty had lived for some years at The Hillocks, 72 Glaisnock Street, Cumnock. He died on 28 October 1975 at Ballochmyle Hospital in Mauchline at the age of 56 and is buried at Cumnock new cemetery.

Following his death the James Keir Hardie McTurk memorial bridge was erected in 1978 in his honour. This is situated behind Tower Street and links the car park at Ayr Road with the Tanyard Bus Station.

Thomas Finn was born at 61 Glaisnock Street, Cumnock on 24 May. He was the 2nd son of Patrick Finn and Mary Connelly who had 5 sons and one daughter. He married Mary Jarrett on 7 August 1945 in Cardiff, Glamorgan.

Thomas was educated at St John’s in Cumnock and continued in Kilmarnock at St Joseph’s then at St Aloysius in Glasgow. He graduated from Glasgow University in 1935 with an MA. His early teaching career took him all over the country until he was appointed headmaster of St Conval’s School in Cumnock in 1961 then in 1971 he was appointed to a similar post at St Andrew’s Academy, Saltcoats.

Elected to Cumnock Town Council in 1951 and served as Provost from 1966-1969 his term in office coincided with the burgh centenary year in 1966. He served on the Council as Honorary Treasurer, Convenor of the Property and Housing Committee and held numerous other convenorships. He retired from public life in 1978.

He was a member of the Ayrshire and Bute Water Board and a representative on the Ayrshire Children’s Panel. He was also chair of the Ayrshire Head Teachers Association and a member EIS and served on the salaries sub-committee.

While in Cumnock he was a life-long member of St John’s Church and served on many church organisations at local and diocesan levels.

He died in 1993 in Cumnock at the age of 80.

David Brown Lorimer was born 1924 in Cumnock. He was the youngest son of Hugh Lorimer and Jessie Young. He married Jean Richmond McClean in Cumnock in 1945. They had two children during their marriage.

He served as Provost from 1969 – 1972.

He died in 1992 in Cumnock, at the age of 68.

28th Provost. John King. Pit Engineer. Served from 1972-1975  

John King was born in 1921 in Auchinleck. His father, John Welsh King and his mother, Isabella Ewing had four children, John being the eldest son. He married Isabella Scott Wilson in 1949 in Auchinleck. They had two children during their marriage.

He joined the Council in 1968 and served on various committees including convenorships of Cemetery, Cleansing, Housing, Municipal Bank and Streets and Lighting committees. He was appointed Honorary Treasurer in 1969 and helped to form the Council’s Accident Prevention Committee of which he was Convenor. As Parks Convenor he took a keen interest in the Woodroad Park and its facilities where a personal interest in caravanning led him to press for better facilities and he brought forward the plans for the toilet and shower block which served the camping and caravanning community who were regular and numerous visitors to the park in its heyday. John was also keenly interested in facilities for the elderly and was instrumental in the redevelopment of the Town Centre including the pedestrianisation of the Square, the modernisation of older council tenanted properties and upgrading of roads and lighting throughout the town and served as Provost from 1973 – 1975.

As a young man John served his apprenticeship as a mechanical engineer at Lugar Works under Baird and Dalmellington Ltd and transferred to the Barony Colliery in 1939 at the age of 18. At the time of his service to the Council John was the assistant chief mechanical engineer at the preparation plant at the Barony Pit. He was life-long member of Cumnock Labour Party and as a boy was a regular attender at Labour Party meetings with his late mother Bella Ewing.

He died on 29 May 1995 in Cumnock at the age of 74.

John was the last Provost of Cumnock. This ancient office disappeared on 16th May 1975 when the new Cumnock and Doon Valley District became fully operational and the Burgh of Cumnock and Holmhead became a part of history.