I am grateful to Willie Trotter and his cousin from Canada D’Arcy Hande for the information, story and photos.
Willie was originally interviewed by Stephen Kennedy in 2005 and I am pleased that the interview has now been reinstalled.
A Meeting With Willie Trotter
On the 27th of August 2005, I had the pleasure of visiting one of New Cumnock’s best known businessmen in his home at Pathhead along with Paddy Dornan. Present were Willie Trotter of John Trotter’s Sons and his sister Betty who is an amazing 97 years old. The meeting was arranged to pick Willie’s brain about old NC and days gone bye.
Willie proceeded to tell us about Trotters Shop in The Castle. John Trotter, Willie’s father was born at the Furnaces at the Bank. He worked for Cochran’s of Paisley for a few years before returning to New Cumnock to start his own business. The shop was built in 1896 by Gold and Anderson and operated as a drapers until 1911 when John Trotter bought the shop. In 1915 the factory was built and employed around a dozen workers on average. The Showroom followed around 1938. In the mean time, the company had expanded to Muirkirk in 1932 and the Dalmellington shop opened just after WW2.
Memories started to flood back as Willie browsed pictures from books and from this web site. He proceeded to tell us the shops and the people who worked in them or lived above them. He recalled Templeton’s shop and the four houses above it. There was Gold the plumber in the same building and Trotters drapers was housed at the back of Templeton’s in the beginning. Willies mother was also born in a house next to Templeton’s. Pagen’s park which is now a running track sprang to mind and across the road was the dump which is now Loch Park, home of Glenafton Athletic.
Then there was confirmation that finally ended a long standing debate. Was it Nelson’s or Neilson’s building? Willie assures me that it was indeed Neilson’s building,which housed James Hyslop’s Ironmongers, John Auld’s Butchers shop and Benedetti’s Cafe. Above the shops was a telephone exchange and houses where people such as the Veitch’s and Ferguson’s lived. Down the alley on the left, was the butchers slaughter house and Condie’s bake house, which was rumoured to be responsible for the fire that destroyed the Kirkland’s building in 1926. Also down the alley was the Gasworks and managers cottage and the Co-op garage. Behind Kirkland the drapers was McMillan’s stables Waterside cottage where Jean Ross lived. Dwelling in the Gas Works cottage was the manager George Hannah.
In the Henderson building there was Henderson the grocers and around the back and up the steps was what was known as the Golden Stairs run by Hugh McNeish I am sure many locals will recall this shop with fondness due to the many bargains which were to be found inside. Around the back was Bob Riddell the joiner which was frequented by many a miner taking their saws to be sharpened. There were two landings above the shops which housed four families. How many can recall McFarlane the butchers and his slaughter house behind the Henderson building or another drapers, Sturrock’s? People who lived in this area were Davie Robertson, a Grave Digger and Davie Walker who played for Partick Thistle.
Can you recall the original McKechnie’s paper shop which sat across from Sanny Gibson’s? On the Castle Corner was Peter Turnbull’s barbers shop, Trotter’s followed with the family living above the shop. Across on the other side of the street was Sanny Gibson’s fruit and sweet shop. Above the shop lived the Young’s, Willie, John, Mary and Jessie. Tam McMillan, the Steele’s and the Findlay’s all lived around this area. Mick Clark’s shoe shop was next and some of you may remember Mick working as the Janitor at the Toon School. Young the Solicitor’s was next and then the Castle Hotel, which was run by the Young sisters.
Willie recalled the thatched roof cottages at Afton Bridgend just after the old bridge on the left where Pollock’s, Shearer’s and Watson’s dwelled and along the road a bit was the Red Row which was home to the Steele’s and McLoud’s
Finally how about a wee quiz. Willie told me of a house known as Knockskae but how many of you can recall where it was. The house is still standing today, although not known by this name. I look forward to hearing from visitors where they think it was/is.
I would like to thank Willie and Betty Trotter for their hospitality, inviting a curious stranger into their home to reminisce over the good old days.