Personal Recollections
By Chris Lees

Below are some memories supplied in late 2001 and early 2002 by Chris Lees, then 76, of names for local places around Sorn Village, in the 1930s. Starting at the Mauchline end of the village.

Dan's Brig: The bridge just as you turn into the back road to Catrine, that takes you past the old sawmill site.

Peden's Cave: Up the Cleugh glen not too far from Cleugh Cottage.

The Peth: The old road running up the hill from the corner coming into Sorn, before the New Cemetery. There were huts built in the field in the 30s for housing unemployed people, mostly from the Glasgow area, who did work in the area, mostly on the farms.

The Manse: Where we used to pinch the Minister's apples.

Craigend: Where Morrisons stayed. There used to be a house between it and the Manse Roadend, called Damside.

The Wee Wood: Across from the entrance into Anderson Crescent. The Puddock Road took you to Tinkers Acre.

The Greyhound Inn: Landlord was Tam Brodie and his wife Bessie, and Jenny. Jimmy Collins and Peter used to garage his coal lorry, and bag their coal in a lean to shed, where the entrance to Treesbank Cottages now is. Auld Jimmy was nicknamed "Juck", owing to being wee and fat. He had something wrong with his legs, and went about with a stick, which made him waddle like a duck, hence the nickname.

The Smiddy: Where we were always about, watching Jimmy Alston at work, shoeing horses and repairing farm machinery.

The Constitutional Hall: Next door to Brodie's pub.

Anderson's Shop: Across the road from the school.

The School: Headmaster was James Robb at that time.

The Well Road: Pronounced the "Waal" Road, was a path which ran from the Main Street, along the East wall of the Schoolmasters garden and boys playground, turning left to run parallel with the river, all the way up to Sandbed, at the "new" Bridge. About 20 yards past the cobbler's hut there was a water pump, like the one in the rose garden. The cobblers hut, was where Auld Jimmy Thomson repaired boots and shoes. Jimmy lost a leg in the first war, and had an artificial one. He stayed in Kilknowe. His son Jimmy used to cobble, before going into the garage when William Anderson gave it up.

The Pen: Was an archway between the houses across the road from the Well Road, approximately where the road is now to Fir Park. John Murdoch the plumber lived in the Pen.

The Tim Entry: This was a passage through between Rab Lightbody's house, and Sadie's shop, to the house at the back.

Sadie's Shop: This was a sweetie shop, owned by George Lightbody, who worked in Glasgow. Sarah Harrison, Nan and Ruby kept the shop before they got married. We used to buy plates of peas at the weekends. You sat at tables in what used to be the built in beds, when it was a house. We played "guesses" in the shop window as kids, like "I spy".

Sorn Inn: The Duncans had it when I was a boy, then Tam Muir and his wife took it over. Tam would have been in it for about 20 years. Elias Harrison garaged his lorry in the pub garage. He sold coal and briquettes. He also went to Ayr market with calves, hens, and pigs on a Tuesday, and Kilmarnock on a Friday. In between this he worked with council roadmen.

William Anderson: This chap had the garage across from the pub, selling petrol, and doing repairs and taxis.

Lightbody's Garage: This old black garage was next to the petrol station, and attached onto the gable of Robert Baird's house. We used to call Lightbody "Speedy". They used to say he went underneath a barrow to paint it!

The Post Office and Registrar's Office: This was what is now Robert Baird's house. The owner/ postman was David Watson, and his sister. He was a dapper wee man, very quick on his feet.

The Polis Station: Bob Bell was the first to stay in the station. Before that it was three doors up, where Joe Ray stayed. The polis was at that time called Gibson, but he died before my time, although I do remember his wife and family.

Skittery Lane: This was the lane which ran from the Main Street, to a cottage by that name at the waters edge. Quite how it got that name I don't know.

Jane Harley: Jane was an old woman who stayed across the road from Skittery Lane. She was always at the door, with a water pail in her hand. She would get you to go to the water pump and fill it for her. As soon as you filled it, she took it to the back door and emptied it down the drain, and be back at the front door to way lay the next one who came along. In her younger days, Jane worked in Gilmilnscroft gardens.

The Pailing: This was a wooden fence, where the bus shelter is now. The men used to gather there and chat and gossip. If any youngster as much as stopped there, they got a kick on the arse, and sent on their way smartly.

As boys we spent many happy days on the "Wee Knowe", with "Girds and Cleeks", "Bogies",and old bikes with no seats, only a bag tied onto the frame and a bit of wire through the forks and wheel for a spindle. It was quick to stop when the wire broke. We used to go into the pottery wood with these bikes, and go flying down the path to see how far we could go. Sometimes it wasn't that far till the wire broke, and you went for a purler, over the handlebars. Many were the bumps and bruises we went home with.

Another thing we had was the wee quoiting ground at the end of the New Bridge, infront of Beechgrove. Our main area though, was the fitba park. We spent hours at nights kicking a ball there. During the holidays, we played games against teams from Catrine and Mauchline, or the young farmers. We were hard to beat. Hillhead Farm Beas' used to come down the "Coo Pad" from the Miller's Park and graze on the fitba field, and we used to have to hunt them back up before we could start the games.

The Tortank used to be where Ian Joss's garden is now, and we spent a lot of time there. The council traction engine and roadroller was parked there at nights. We would be as black as the lum when we went home, between soot from the engine, and tar. Guy Howie was the fireman on the traction engine, and Alan Stewart was the driver. The roller man was Hughie Deenan from Galston.

The summers were great then with long sunny days from mid April to well into September and October. When we got our school holidays, the days were spent up the water at the Heigh Dam, and Timmer Brig dookin. About every kid in the village was there. The first thing you did was make a fire, not for heat, but to make the tea, or boil tatties or roast them in their skins. The tatties were usually guddles out of Jimmy Donald's field, as were turnips. Sometimes we would go to Wither's bing and get eggs, where the hens had layed away among the rubbish. I used to spend days and days on the water, between dookin and fishing for troot. Sam Robertson always came up to Sorn on school holidays, to stay with his Aunty Jean, and Uncle Tam at the Sorn Inn. Him and I used to go fishing up the water. These were the days when the river Ayr was full of trout and greyling.

The winter time was another season when we passed a lot of our time at nights outside. There was sledging in Bob Reynold's wee field, or as we got braver, we went to Kilknowe field. We made slides on any smooth surface, usually it was the lassies playground the best slides were made.

When I look back at our young days, and recall how we enjoyed ourselves with next to nothing, and I mean nothing. I look at todays kids, with their computers, bikes with all the fancy gagets, designer clothes, motor bikes, and cars to take them to where they want to go, holidays abroad, the lot, and still they complain they have nothing to do, or the worst word every invented, I'm BORED! The person who first used this phrase should have died thinking about it !!!

Chris Lees February 2002

Sorn Historical Reference