The History of Glengyron Row and Its Inhabitants

Parish of Old Cumnock, 1872–1940

by Kay McMeekin

Introduction

The author has been interested in Glengyron Row since taking up family history research. She knew her husband’s family lived there for many years, but unexpectedly found her great grandparents lived there too. By all accounts it was a close-knit community and fondly remembered by those who lived there. Facilities were primitive by our standards; they didn’t get mains water until 1880. Large families lived there in two rooms, often with lodgers for extra income.
Situated on a hill to the south west of Cumnock, it was built by the Eglinton Iron Company about 1872 to house its workforce of coal and iron miners.


Glengyron-Map

1888 Map — National Library of Scotland


It consisted of a single row of 44 north-facing houses with one room and one kitchen with box beds. By the 1911 census, two of the houses—No. 8 (Andrew Baird), and No. 37 (Hugh Blackwood)—were split differently giving them 3 rooms. The neighbouring houses still had 2 rooms so I don’t know how this was achieved (see the 1913 account below). Number one was the store at the west end of the row; latterly No. 5 was the reading room.
In front of the houses was a green and, beyond that, a railway ran past the front on a banking. I think there was a halt near the bridge. It was the Ayr and Cumnock branch line of the G&SW Railway. Nearby stations were at Skares, Dumfries House and Cumnock. The row was occupied from May 1872 (maybe slightly earlier, but after the census of April 1871), and many of the new tenants were miners, recruited from England—the Midlands, Cornwall, Durham, and elsewhere. Presumably, they travelled by rail to move to the area.

The earliest reference to the Row that I have found was the marriage of Elijah Penrose to Louisa Carne on 17 May 1872. Both lived at Glengyron Row. They were originally from Cornwall, fathers both copper miners:

1863 STATUTORY MARRIAGE: Parish of Old Cumnock, County of Ayr

married: 17th May 1872   at: Cumnock
After Banns, according to the Forms of the Church of Scotland

Elijah Penrose
His X mark, iron miner (Bachelor)
age: 25   of: Glengyron Row
father: John Penrose, copper miner
mother:  Elizabeth Polkenorn

Louisa Carne
(Signed), dressmaker (Spinster)
age: 19     of: Glengyron Row
father: Joseph Carne, copper miner
mother: Jane Liddicoat

minister: Rev. James Murray
witnessesEliza Rundell; Marion McGee; James Robertson (his x mark)

In the 1875 valuation roll, the owner of the row was Eglinton Iron Company of Lugar. The Prices and Yates (Yetts) were from the Dudley area; David Jackson and James McGavock were from Ireland. The 28 tenants in alphabetical order:

1875 VALUATION ROLL: Glengyron Row
Anderson, James McKay, John
Armstrong, William Murphy, James
Boyle, James Park, Samuel
Brown, David Price, Joseph
Campbell, Alexander Price, Joseph
Dunlop, Matthew Rankine, John
Fisher, John Russell, Alexander
Gardner, Laurence Scott, Samuel
Graham, Alexander Simpson, Adam
Hill, James Simpson, Alexander
Jackson, David Wallace, Drummond
Macbride, Thomas Wardrop, William
Macgarock [sic], James Yetts [sic], Abraham
Macgown, Joseph Yetts [sic], Joseph

 

The 1881–1911 censuses, and the 1920, 1925 and 1930 valuation rolls are at the end. There was a report on miners’ rows published in 1918:

Glengyron Rows, Parish of Old Cumnock

(Owned by William Baird & company.)
Glengyron Rows are about a mile from Old Cumnock, and are owned by William Baird & Company, Limited. There are 44 two-apartment houses. Of these, two families have three apartments at the expense of another two families, who have now only single apartments.*
The kitchens measure 15 feet by 12 feet, the rooms 10 feet by 9 feet.
The rent is £4, 16s. a year, exclusive of rates.
The paths are unpaved, but not very dirty when we saw them on 4th December 1913.
There is one dry-closet for every three tenants, coal-houses for each tenant, and a washing-house for every six tenants. These are all under one roof which, in our opinion, is a bad arrangement. Some of the closets we saw were ill-kept, one with the door off, and very filthy.
The houses are in a bad state of repair. In one house we saw rain getting in and being caught in a basin. Another we saw with half of the window of the room boarded up. We were informed that it had been in this state for a year, in spite of repeated inquiries of the tenants as to when it would be glazed.
The floors are of brick tiles, and broken.
There is a supply of gravitation water taken from the supply of the Burgh of Old Cumnock.

* This is not borne out by the 1911 census


A 1916 photo supplied by Mrs Scott, 4 Gemmell Avenue, was published in 1966 in John Strawhorn’s “The New History of Cumnock”

A 1916 photo supplied by Mrs Scott, 4 Gemmell Avenue, was published in 1966 in John Strawhorn’s “The New History of Cumnock”


Community

It was a small, close-knit community and many families lived there for years, their children marrying neighbours’ children. Widows continued to live on in their miners’ cottages.
David Jackson, born in Ireland, appears in the 1875 valuation and lived there until his death in 1909:

  • his daughter Harriet married neighbour Joseph Price
  • son Samuel married neighbour Elizabeth Yates who was a kinsman of the Prices
  • daughter Elizabeth married neighbour John Penrose
  • daughter Mary Ann married neighbour Andrew Baird
  • son James Jackson married Mary Hyslop from nearby Garrallan (maybe he had a bike!).

 

In all, he had 11 known children. Sadly, son Joseph, aged 4, had a horrible accident in 1876 when he fell in front of a wagon at Glengyron “lye”, as reported in the Edinburgh Evening News. He died half an hour later.
As well as from Ireland and places in Scotland, families moved in from Cornwall and the Black Country in the English Midlands:

  • The Yates, Prices, Rolinsons, Hunts and Jones were all related and came from the Black Country.
  • The Penroses, Burleys, Mitchells and Smetherhems were originally copper and tin miners from Cornwall. Some of them stopped off in Durham or Cumberland on their way north.

 

In the twentieth century, miners from further afield joined the community. In the 1911 census, a Lithuanian family, Gustitas (or Gostar), was at No. 11, and a German family under the name of Thomson at No. 31. Victor Carballo from Spain was present in 1925 and 1930.

The two-year-old Willie Gustitas died after falling into an open fire in 1909 while his mother Catherine went to the store. She was found guilty under the Children Act of failing to take reasonable precaution for the safety of her child, and was fined 20 shillings (£1) or 7 days’ imprisonment.

Around 1939–40, people were moving out of Glengyron Row to live in the new houses in the town. In the 1940 valuation roll, many of the Glengyron Row houses were empty or “uninhabitable”. The annual rent was £6/8/-; that is £6, 8 shillings (£6.40p). These were the remaining tenants:

1940 VALUATION ROLL: Glengyron Row, Old Cumnock
3 Thomas Bell, miner 31 Andrew Bell, collier
8 Thomas McMeekin, collier 32 Victor Carballo
12 John Hall, boiler fireman 33 James McCreadie
13 John Hutchison jnr, collier 34 William Docherty, collier
14 Mrs Marion McKay, widow 37 Robert Fleming, collier
19 James Brown 39 George Johnson, collier
26 Robert Faddes, collier 40 Gilbert Wilson, labourer
29 Henry Carruthers, labourer 41 William Jolly, labourer
30 Mrs Sarah Bradford 44 Mrs Mary Fleming, widow

 


They were rehoused in newly built council houses at Glenlamont and Glencairn. In the 1940 valuation roll, the tenants had not been present for the whole year (which ran from Whitsunday). The annual rent was £13/8/-, considerably higher than at Glengyron Row. In Glenlamont, odd numbers (1–31) were all occupied, and the even numbers (2–20) were “in the course of erection”. In Glencairn, odd numbers 11–17 and even numbers 26–40 were “in the course of erection”.
Joseph Price Jolly (son of William) was in 42 Glengyron Row in December 1939, and in December 1940 he was at 23 Glencairn (marriage certificates of his brother William 31 Dec 1939, and his own 27 Dec 1940).

David and Isabella McMeekin left in 1939 (according to their son John) to 48 Glencairn, and her mother, Mrs Mary Fleming, (still at 44 Glengyron Row in 1940) was across the road. James Anderson’s family moved from 18 Glengyron Row to nearby Glenlamont.

Glengyron Row was demolished soon after this and only the foundations and the gardens and the railway were left. Now there is nothing to see.

From “Cumnock Chronicle” c.1977 – photos by James McCreadie, former resident of No. 33

From “Cumnock Chronicle” c.1977 – photos by James McCreadie, former resident of No. 33

[The small boy in the front row with the cap is also a James McCreadie, son of the photographer. Information supplied Feb 2020 in comments to this post by Jim McCreadie, grandson.—ed.]


Sources

National Library of Scotland maps (A slider on this map allows the viewer to see the modern map as an overlay)
Scotland’s People for censuses, valuation rolls, and vital records
Scottish Mining Website
Strawhorn, John; The New History of Cumnock, 1966
Wikipedia article: Ayr to Mauchline Branch

Memories of family members
Cumnock Chronicle
The Scotsman

See also:

Cumnock Connections family tree for more on the people
Cumnock History Group website for a wealth of information and photos


Census and Valuation Rolls

Head of household and any other surname only. Please check Cumnock Connections tree or Scotland’s People for the full details. [For the following tables, I have added some additional details for anyone appearing in our family tree. Also, direct ancestors are marked in purple, and extended family members are marked in green —ed.]

1881 CENSUS: Glengyron Row, Old Cumnock
1 Shop
2 Fisher
3 Abraham Yates
4 Joseph Yates
5 Joseph Hunt
6 empty
7 Emmanuel Rolinson
8 James Rolinson
9 empty
10 empty
11 James McGowan
12 Charles Dunsmuir
13 James Ferguson
14 Adam Comlin
15 John Kelly
16 Alex Russel
17 Jane McGavrick
18 James Goorlay
19 James Anderson
20 empty
21 Andrew Wilson
22 Samuel Scott
23 Elizabeth Murdoch James Rae
24 Mary J McVicker
25 George Brown and Woods; b. England
26 John & Elizabeth McKay and: Andrew; James; Jane; William; Robert; David; Agnes
27 empty
28 empty
29 James Hancock brother-in-law of Joseph Price
30 David Jackson father in law of Joseph Price, and Elizabeth Yates d/o Abraham
31 Joseph Price married to Harriet Jackson, nephew of John Rolinson
32 empty
33 Janet Russell
34 empty
35 John Nolans
36 Hugh Blackwood born in Chile
37 empty
38 James Broadford
39 David Gordon
40 James McMillan
41 James Broadfoot
42 James Bradford married to Sarah Nicol
43 William Armstrong
44 Robert McLean

 

1891 CENSUS: Glengyron Row, Old Cumnock
1  empty 23 James Dunsmuir / Caddis
2 Fisher / Laing 24 Andrew McMurdo / Comlin
3 Ann Yates 25 Joseph Cree
4 Joseph Yates 26 Samson Mitchel
5 empty 27 Robert Fleming
6 empty 28 Mrs Adam Combin
7 Gourlay 29 Jane Robertson
8 John & Eliz McKie (William, Robert, Agnes) 30 empty
9 John & Elizabeth Penrose 31 Jackson
10 Brown 32 Price
11 McGowan 33 Hunter / Dunsmuir
12 Kath Dunsmuir 34 Potter / Chas Dunsmuir
13 Kelly / Wilson 35 Houston
14 Agnes Comlin 36 Hewitson
15 James Rae / Helen Yates 37 Blackwood / Bryden
16 James & Cath Stewart 38 Kerr
17 Alexander Russell 39 McBride / Thomson
18 McBride / Ethridge 40 Hancock
19 Anderson / Cameron 41 Samuel Jackson
20 John McMeekin 42 Hugh Bradford
21 Andrew & Lizzie McKie (Jessie, Mary) 43 George Ranken
22 Thomas McMurdo / Stevenson 44 James Bradford

 

1901 CENSUS: Glengyron Row, Old Cumnock
1  Shop 23 Connor
2 24 Ranken
3 25 Gourlay
4 Broadfoot 26 Robert Fleming
5 Dunsmuir 27 Baird
6 John & Ann Yates 28 William Burley
7 John McMeekin 29 Kerr
8 John Mitchell / Ellen Yates 30
9 Furnace / Sloan 31 David Jackson
10 John & Elizabeth Penrose 32 James Jackson
11 Samson Mitchell 33 Hunter / Blair Dunsmuir
12 Armstrong 34 Pendergast
13 Cunningham 35 McGregor
14 Kelly 36 Edward Burley
15 William McKay 37 Blackwood
16 Robertson 38 Nicol
17 Stewart 39 Healy
18 Richard & Kate Penrose 40 Thomas Penrose
19 Dunsmuir 41 Alfred Harris
20 Robertson 42 McCutcheon
21 Robertson 43 Joseph Price
22 Lucas Burley 44 Corbett

 

1911 CENSUS: Glengyron Row, Old Cumnock
1  Shop 23 empty
2 Adam Simpson 24 George Rankin
3 Samson Mitchell 25 Daniel Skillin
4 John & Ann Yates 26 Robert Fleming
5 27 Thomas Kinnaird
6 John McMeekin 28 William Burley
7 Thomas Connor 29 William Jolly
8 Andrew Baird 30 George Penrose
9 Thomas Dunsmuir 31 Jos Thomson / Patrick / Tomelas  [German]
10 John Mitchell 32 James Jackson
11 David Fleming 33 James Bradford
12 James Smitherham 34 Arthur Burely / Samson Mitchell
13 Thomas Bradford 35 Adam Bradford
14 William McKie 36 John Kelly / William Kirk
15 William Robertson 37 Hugh Blackwood  [South American]
16 John Hastings 38 Terrance Nicol
17 William Gustitas  [Lithuanian] 39 Hugh Fleming
18 Lucas Burley 40 Blair Dunsmuir
19 James Bradford / Young / Nicol 41 Alfred Harris
20 William Findlay 42 Thomas Connor
21 Hugh Bradford 43 Joseph Price
22  empty 44  empty

 

1920 VALUATION ROLL: Glengyron Row, Old Cumnock
1 23 James Smetherhem
2 24 George Young
3 Peter Pollock 25 Thomas Burley
4 John Mitchell 26 Robert Fleming
5 27 William Blane
6 John McMeekin 28 James Hutchison
7 John Yates 29 Henry Carruthers
8 John Hastings 30 James Bradford
9 Adam Montgomery 31 Arthur Burley
10 John Hewitson 32 Mrs Kelly
11 David Fleming 33 James Bradford
12 James Anderson 34 Alexander McPheators
13 James Stewart 35 James Hampson
14 Mrs Marion McKay 36 George Rankin
15 William Morton 37 Robert Milligan
16 Mrs Andrew Duncan 38 Terence Nichol
17 James Ross 39 William Hampson
18 Thomas McMillan 40 Blair Dunsmuir
19 Dennis Stewart 41 Alfred Harris
20 John Coughtree 42 William Jolly
21 43 Mrs Harriet Price
22 Hugh Bradford 44 Hugh Fleming

 

1925 VALUATION ROLL: Glengyron Row, Old Cumnock
1  Store 23 Thomas Smith
2 George McMurdo 24 George Young
3 Thomas Scott 25 Thomas Burley / Stewart
4 John Mitchell 26 Robert Fleming
5 27 David Mawhinney
6 John McMeekin (reading room) 28 James Hutchison
7 John Yates 29 Henry S. Carruthers
8 James Bradford 30 James Bradford
9 Robert Galloway 31 Andrew Bell
10 32 Victor Carballo
11 David Fleming 33 Thomas McMillan
12 James Anderson / Timpany 34 Alex McPheators
13 James Stewart 35 Isaac Hewitson
14 Mrs Marion McKay 36 George Rankin
15 William Morton 37 John Coughtrie
16 Mrs Andrew Duncan 38 Terence Nicol
17 James Ross 39 George Johnson
18 John Edgar 40 Blair Dunsmuir
19 Mrs Stewart 41 James McCreadie
20 George McCabe 42 William Jolly
21 John Robertson 43 Mrs Harriet Price
22 Hugh Lorrimer 44 Hugh Fleming

 

1930 VALUATION ROLL: Glengyron Row, Old Cumnock
1  Store Eglinton Iron Works 23 Mrs Thomas Smith
2 William Rankin 24 David McMeekin, collier
3 William McCallum, collier 25 Martin Dignam, collier
4 John Mitchell, collier 26 Robert Faddes, collier
5 selves 27 Charles Spiers, collier
6 James Stewart, collier 28 James Hutchison, miner
7 William McFarlane, collier 29 Henry Carruthers, labourer
8 George Young, collier 30 James Bradford, engineman
9 David Walker, collier 31 Andrew Bell, collier
10 Samuel McComb, collier 32 Victor Carballo, collier
11 David Fleming, collier 33 James McCreadie, collier
12 John Hall, boiler fireman 34 William Docherty, collier
13 John Hutchison 35 Isaac Hewitson, collier
14 William McKay, collier 36 Henry Harris, collier
15 Thomas Burley, collier 37 Robert Fleming, collier
16 Mrs Christina Duncan, widow 38 Terence Nicol, miner
17 William Edgar, collier 39 George Johnson, collier
18 James Anderson, labourer 40 James Duncan, labourer
19 Mrs Katherine Stewart, widow 41 Alfred Harris, collier
20 Allan Lorimer, collier 42 William Jolly, fireman
21 Robert Findlay, collier 43 Mrs Harriet Price
22 Robert McMeekin, collier 44 Hugh Fleming, collier

 

1935 VALUATION ROLL: Glengyron Row, Old Cumnock
1 23
2 24 David McMeekin, collier
3 25
4 26
5 27
6 28
7 29
8 30
9 31
10 32
11 33
12 34
13 35
14 36
15 37
16 38
17 39
18 40
19 41 Jane Harris
20 42
21 43
22 Robert McMeekin, collier 44

 

1940 VALUATION ROLL: Glengyron Row, Old Cumnock
1 [ some uninhabitable ] 23 [ rent = £6/8/- ]
2 24
3 Thomas Bell, miner 25
4 26 Robert Faddes, collier
5 27
6 28
7 29 Henry Carruthers, labourer
8 Thomas McMeekin, collier 30 Mrs Sarah Bradford
9 31 Andrew Bell, collier
10 32 Victor Carballo
11 33 James McCreadie
12 John Hall, boiler fireman 34 William Docherty, collier
13 John Hutchison jnr, collier 35
14 Mrs Marion McKay, widow 36
15 37 Robert Fleming, collier
16 38
17 39 George Johnson, collier
18 40 Gilbert Wilson, labourer
19 James Brown 41 William Jolly, labourer
20 42
21 43
22 44 Mrs Mary Fleming, widow

 

1940 VALUATION ROLL: Glenlamont & Glencairn
Glenlamont Glencairn
1 Terence Nicol 11–17 under construction
3 Campbell Samson 19 Robert McMeekin
5 Geron. Donis 21 William McCall
7 Mary Margaret Walker 23 William Jolly snr
9 John Mitchell 25 Duncan Cameron
11 William Walker 26–40 under construction
13 Isaac Edgar 42 Henry Harris
15 William Fleming 44 Mrs Agnes Hewiston
17 Thomas Burley 46 John Anderson
19 William McKay 48 David McMeekin
21 William Edgar
23 Alexander Anderson
25 Mrs Mary McCrindle
27 Mrs Margaret Lorimer
29  Mrs Janet Smith
31 Mrs Isan Dignam
 2–20 under construction

Comments

Glengyron Row — 9 Comments

  1. My late father, Robert McMillan was born in Glengyron Row in 1926 the son of Thomas Pearson McMillan and Maria Jamieson McMillan (nee Young). All male members of the family were miners.
    He was one of 11 and, I believe, the newspaper picture from the year of the general strike shows his brother Willie.
    I was born in London but frequently visited relatives in Cumnock throughout the 60’s and early 70’s. As child in the 1960’s I was taken up to Glengyron by my Dad’s brother Kenny to see what was left.
    The family moved from Glengyron to Skerrington in Cumnock.

    • Hello John,
      Great to hear from a fellow “Glengyroner”! I’m just back from holidays, so I apologise for the slow reply.
      I see Thomas McMillan at No.18 in the 1920 Valuation Roll and at No.33 in 1925. The family seems to have moved by 1930, and weren’t there in 1911. The Cumnock Family History Group is very active, so you should be able to trace family members through their website.
      My wife and I have visited Cumnock several times in the last few years.

  2. My great grandfather was Terrance Nichol/Nicol who lived at Number 38 for many years. His son John, my grandfather, was killed at Arras in 1917 whilst serving in the Seaforth Highlanders.

    • Hi Andrew,

      Yes, I can see Terrance Nicol was at Nº38 in the 1901, 1911 censuses and the 1920, 1925, and 1930 Valuation Rolls. No doubt having lived there for 30 years, he would have known some of my McKay and McMeekin family members. I visited the site a couple of years ago, and there is barely any evidence that Glengyron Row ever existed.

      Interestingly, my wife’s GGG-Grandfather, Walter Ferguson, was in the 72nd Regt. of Foot from about 1799 to 1820, and served in Ireland and South Africa. The 72nd were the precursors to the Seaford Highlanders. He was invalided out in 1820, and returned to Cumnock. He lived at Townfoot and Skares in the years after his retirement (died in 1861).

  3. My late papas dad (my great grandfather) was george johnstone of no. 39. (not Johnson as spelled above)
    He had a daughter, margaret/maggie, who died at home aged 17 in 1939. Does anybody have any info about her?

  4. Hi,I vaguely remembered seeing this picture a number of years ago and I am glad that I have found it again.
    My Grandfather James McCreadie, (Jimmy) also known as the (Devil), no idea why, was the photographer and my father also James (jimmy) is the small boy with the cap in the front row.
    My father passed away in Dec 2016 aged (94) and as requested had his ashes scattered as close as I could remember to number 33.

    Thanks

    Jim

    I bet that wasn’t a surprise.

    • Hi Jim,
      Many thanks for that information. I’ve added a comment under the photograph with your father’s name. I see that James McCreadie was at 33 Glengyron in the 1930 and 1940 Valuation rolls. When do you think the photo was taken?

      Alan

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