We visited all of the places that John Campbell my great, great grandfather lived and worked with his ever growing family. It's quite a lot to take in as they moved around such a lot. Duing our journey, my mum had lots of questions so I put the information (below) together when we returned.
It was an exciting trip. We discovered the old mineral railway line at South,hook, we passed through Sourlie on our way to Benslie, which is a lovely little hamlet. We sae Fergushill Church and then, best of all saw what remains of the Fergushill Rows where my great, great grandfather lived. It was great being able to bring the research off the place and discover that all of these places actually exist.
In 1861 John Campbell, your great grandfather, had settled in Benslie.
He lived at 55 Benslie Square with his wife Margaret Blair.
Their children John, Alexander, Catherine and Margaret had all been born in Fife but Janet was born at Benslie.
Their other children Andrew and Matthew were either born in Benslie or Fergushill, while for some reason William was born in Fife.
Andrew, your grandfather, was now seven years old and attended Fergushill School. The school closed in 1950 and it’s been demolished.
Fergushill Church in Benslie was built to serve the local rural and mining communities of Doura, Fergushill, and Montgreenan. It was consecrated on Sunday, 3 November 1879 and the first minister was then Rev. William McAlpine. It got its name from the Fergushill Mission which was based at Fergushill school. The church had its spire blown down in a gale in 1968, also damaging the roof; the building was repaired in 1969. The Church of Scotland Presbytery of Ardrossan decided to close the church in June 2009; over a hundred people attended the final Sunday service.
In 1871, the family lived at 6, Burn Row, Fergushill, the colliers village was established around 1835. Fergushill miners' village, was owned by Messrs. Finnie & Son. It was composed of 7 rows of cottages. There were ten thatched cottages. One room, measuring 9 feet (2.7 m) by 6 feet (1.8 m), held thirteen persons. The rows had names like Wellington and Burn. At one time there were 78 houses in the village, with a population of 363. It was demolished and nothing now remains at the site, other than a small building at North Fergushill farm now used as a barn.
John Campbell, now aged 45 and his son John, 22, were both working as coal miners at the nearby pits.
1881 finds John and Margaret Campbell with their younger children in a smaller cottages with only two rooms at 9 Southook, near Knockentiber (west of Knockentiber, where the road crosses the Garrier Burn, past West Plann Farm), Kimarnock in Ayrshire. He is now age 55 with Andrew being the eldest child at 16, still living with the family.
Archibald Adamson walking through the area in 1875 remarks on the handsome railway bridge and his view of the Plann estate and the extensive fireclay works of John McNight and Son, the senior partner being the owner of the estate of Plann. A pit had been sunk near the mansion house and to the surprise of all the experts, good quality ironstone was found. Top quality coal and fireclay were also found in the vicinity. He describes Knockentiber as being a row of old houses occupied by miners.
The County Council in 1932 planned to demolish most of the old miners' rows, a local case being Southhook Row near Southhook farm. (possibly now called Plann Farm).
Ten years have passed again and the family have moved, this time to Sourlie, back to the area they first moved to from Fife in 1861, living at 18, Low Sourlie. By now, John who is 65 and Margaret, 63 have only their son, Matthew, 22, living with them.
Andrew, your grandfather, has married Sarah Kilpatrick and is living nearby at 10, High Sourlie with their first child, Agnes, who is only one year old.
Over ten years, Andrew and Sarah Campbell's family grows rapidly and are now living at 22, Auchenharvie Cottages, near Stevenston, Ayrshire. Their house had two rooms, not a lot of space for this growing family.
Agnes is 11, John 9, Maggie 8, William 6, Andrew 4 and Jeannie is only a one year old
Matthew Campbell was born on 16th August 1904 at Kirkland Rows, Springside.
The old school house still stands at the Overtoun end of the village.
Muirside pit was situated near to the Kirkland miners' row. The access track from Overtoun road is still in use today and is known as the 'pit road'.
Springside had many, built by the mine owners for their workers. Corsehill, Sprigside and Bankhead were constructed by J & R. Howie, Archibald Finnie & Sons and A. Kenneth & Sons. Others rows were at nearby Overtoun, also Warwickhill row, and Kirkland row.
Springside railway station or Halt opened in 1890, and closed permanently to passengers on 6 April 1964. The station never had any freight facilities and trains ran from Kilmarnock to Ardrossan where they connected with Clyde coast steamer services to Arran and Millport.
The County Council in 1932 planned to demolish most of the old miners' rows and this was largely carried out with new housing erected.
At the foot of Thorntoun Brae, just before the Garrier Burn on the right looking towards Thorntoun, was the site of the curling pond.
KIRKLAND ROWS, SPRINGSIDE, PARISH OF DREGHORN
Kirkland Rows. Summary.
These three rows contain in all 69 houses, 41 of them single apartments and 28 of them two apartments, and of the latter 22 have rooms not much larger than a cupboard, and they can hardly be called two apartment houses. The houses have gardens in front, and in many cases they are cultivated. Each row is provided with two wells for the supply of gravitation water. The roadways in front of all the rows are in a horrible condition with mud, and nearly all the houses are damp, and tenants complain that their carpets rot in a short time. The houses are owned by Messrs. A. Finnie & Sons, coalmasters, Springhill, and they are inhabited by their workmen and families.
Andrew and Sarah Campbell have now been married for twenty-one years and have ten children. Agnes, now twenty-one, and Maggie, 18, no longer live at home but the rest of the family from John, aged 19, William, 16, Andrew 14, Jeannie 11, Alex. 9, Barbara 8, Matthew 6, to Cathie aged just one are all living at 8, Gilmour Street, Kilmarnock, a three roomed home.
By now, Andrew, Sarah and the younger members of the family, including Matthew, have moved to Braehead House at Selfish Hill in Hurlford. Cissy was born here in 1913.
By 1919, the family are at 28, Gilmour Street, Kilmarnock and Matthew would be 15 years old.