The Ardross-man

Walter Dalgleish

In a previous post, I wrote about the ministers of the New Ardrossan Parish Church through until it became the Barony Church and latterly the Barony St John’s Church.

Last week, I was delighted to hear from a chap called Bob Dalgleish who resides in Ayr, who told me about his grandfather and his connection to Ardrossan and the church building. I’ll let Bob take up the story;

“My father was born in Ardrossan in 1907 and baptised in New Ardrossan Parish Church on the 18th February 1908. The service was conducted by the Rev John Kirkland Cameron who was the minister of the parish at that time. The only reason I know this is because it is so written on the reverse of the original birth certificate.

I was intrigued going through your blog to see that you discovered old parish records that mention the Rev John Kirkland Cameron. It is possible therefore that my grandfather Walter and grandmother Augusta attended this church during the time they lived in Ardrossan.

My dad never spoke of his childhood and its only very recently that I came across a photo of my grandfather. Whilst in Ardrossan, they lived at Kilmeny Gardens which although now gone, was close to Kilmeny Terrace. Grandfather Walter was a professional gardener and probably worked in the gardens of the nearby house which later became the Kilmeny Hotel.

(The photo is of grandfather Walter taken in 1929).

My dad James, was the youngest of three brothers, the others being Robert and Walter but there was only a year or so between them.

Sadly, my grandmother died in 1911 when my dad was just over three years old and, of course, I never got to meet her. So, reading about the history of the church in your blog brings a perspective to my family history research which I did not have before. I have searched for sometime but I have no idea where my grandmother is buried and I would dearly love to pay my respects. If you do come across any records regarding this, I should be so grateful if you were able to share them with me. My grandmother’s full name is Augusta Chads Dunlop Dalgleish, nee Paton, which is quite unusual.”

Despite wandering around the graveyard in Saltcoats, I have not yet found the grave of Augusta Dalgleish – perhaps YOU can.

Or if any reader knows of any records pertaining to Augusta’s death or can remember Walter (junior or senior), James or Robert Dalgleish please email me at and I will pass the information on to Bob.

In the meantime, if your great, great grandfather or great grandmother had a connection with the Barony St John / New Ardrossan Parish Church, please get in touch – especially if you have any old photos of the buildings. You can also read my blog at and find out what’s being going on since we bought it over in December 2014; or if you would like to know more about my charity, please contact us via or look us up (ScotCPS) on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.

Goodbye for now.


Winter is coming…

As the temperature changes, the plaster in the church becomes colder and colder. It shrinks and occasionally falls off.

This time, a large amount of plaster has fallen from the ceiling around the lower level.

And it has brought down a light fitting too.

This is always a heartbreaking sight for me – although the Design Team tell me its cosmetic as all the plaster will have to be taken off and renewed as part of the building redevelopment – but it is still a terrible time for me.

To be honest, I’m not sue how much more the church building can withstand.

My fingers are crossed that we get a funder or sponsor to come onboard with this project sooner rather than later.

Watch this space.

Happy New Year 2019

2018 has been a wonderful year for me, my charity (The Scottish Centre for Personal Safety) and for the Barony St. John Centre.

As many of you will know, I’ve spent my life helping and sometimes protecting people. On coming out of the military, I set up a social enterprise to help people gain confidence by teaching them how to stay safe and, if need be, defend themselves against an attacker. This evolved in 2013 into the charity it is today – and we have been growing ever since.

This year alone, we reached the London final of The British Quality Foundation’s UK Excellence Awards in the category of Equality and Diversity Excellence; the final of North Ayrshire’s Provost’s Civic Pride Awards in the category of North Ayrshire Community Group; I won a surprise “Trail Blazer” award in the North Ayrshire Partnership Staff Awards; we won the Pioneering Project award in The Scottish Charity Awards in Edinburgh; we reached the Liverpool final of the National Diversity Awards; we won the Diversity in the Third Sector award at The Herald Diversity Awards in Glasgow; one of our volunteers, Yvette Robertson, won the “Volunteer of the Year” award and our charity won the “Team of the Year” award at the North Ayrshire Community Sports Awards; another of our volunteers, Norma Baillie, reached the final of The Cream of Ayrshire Awards in the category of Unsung Hero; and to top the whole year off, I won the Lifetime Achiever Award at the Inclusive Companies Awards in Manchester.

So, I’m sure you’ll agree, a great year for me and a fantastic year for our charity – but what about the Barony St John Centre?

Well, we managed to get funding / raise enough money to replace the broken skylights in the reception, kitchen and office areas; we also renovated the reception / kitchen area and we turned the old vestry into an office. That’s a good eighty per cent of the Barony St John hall building now been renovated.

So what lies in store for 2019?

Well, I’m hoping to raise £35,000 to replace the windows in the main hall. The frames of these windows are rotten and crumbling with many of the window panes cracked and some letting in water.

I’m also hoping to have the entire hall room cleaned (the walls are covered in mildew high up), repainted with damp proof paint and then painted again in a bright, airy colour.

Now that is a HUGE job as the walls are over thirty feet high!

I’m also hoping to get new flooring for the corridor as the existing flooring is patchy and, in some places, missing completely.

Many of you have also been asking what I plan on doing with the church building.

Well, it’s been three years since we moved into the Barony St John and I promised to try to save both buildings.

In 2017, I commissioned a feasibility study to see what we could do with the church building and following extensive discussions with many of you, we decided that the building could be made into an Events Centre with a William Wallace Visitor Centre to attract both visitors and tourists to the town.

In 2018, I made a crowd fund video which highlighted all the uses of the Events Centre (live bands, plays, musicals, pantomimes, weddings, art exhibitions, sporting events, etc. etc.) and the potential to encourage ten per cent of the one million tourists who go to Arran on the ferry every year to come to the William Wallace Visitor Centre (and then on to visit Ardrossan Castle and the rest of the town). I also highlighted the huge amount of jobs this would bring to the area – events staff, bar staff, café staff, caretakers, managers, etc. etc.

Sadly, the video did not generate as much public support as I had hoped – which makes it difficult to show potential funders that local people actually want the building to be saved.

And here is the rub – the roof of the church building is leaking in parts and this water ingress only serves to deteriorate the building further. If left to continue, the building will soon not be worth restoring. And that would be a great loss.

So how can YOU help?

If you want the Barony St John’s church building to continue to be part of Ardrossan’s skyline, please click on our crowd fund video at and donate the price of a cup of coffee (or more) to show your support for this project. Even commenting on the crowd fund video or dropping us a letter in our letterbox will help demonstrate to funders that YOU want to save these buildings too.

A special thanks must go to Sharon Stirling Smith who donated some of her hand drawn cards featuring her beautiful painting of the Barony St John buildings.

Sharon also offered us some of her Ardrossan calendars –

We will attempt to sell them at our craft fayres in aid of the regeneration fund.

Throughout 2019, I will also try my best to push this project forward. I’ll speak to the Council to see if they can back the project; I’ll contact potential funders and sponsors and see if they can help but if we are no further forward by the end of the year, I may have to accept that an Events and Visitor Centre with all its jobs and economy boosting impact, may never happen.

From my charity’s point of view, all is not lost even if the Events Centre plans fold. We can sell the church building and carry on in the hall building. But from a local community point of view, who will buy the church building and what will it become? Someone’s house? A Witherspoons pub? A carpet showroom?

It’s up to YOU.

So let’s hope 2019 is our year to put Ardrossan back on the map and to save the Barony buildings.

From myself, my charity and everyone involved with the Barony St John Regeneration Project, I wish you all a very happy and prosperous New Year.

If you would like to know more about my charity, please contact us via our website or look us up (ScotCPS) on Facebook or Twitter.

Goodbye for now and best wishes for 2019.


Christmas Cheque

Many thanks to the Phoenix Spiritualist Church who use our Training Room in the Barony St John hall building for presenting us with a wonderful donation this Christmas.

The Church have run two Psychic and Holistic Craft Fayres for us, one on Remembrance Sunday and one just last week with a Christmas theme.

It was a real pleasure to receive a cheque for £1,226.90 from Ann Smith who runs the Phoenix Spiritualist Church. The money will go towards renovation work at the Barony St John.

Pictured are (left to right); Mary-Anne Jones, a member of the Phoenix Spiritualist Church, Manager of The Scottish Centre for Personal Safety which owns the Barony St John, Alan Bell and Ann Smith.

Merry Christmas 2018

I mentioned in a previous post (Good Books) that I had found some old newspapers, a bible and a Victorian book in various parts of the Barony St John Church. Well, I also found an old Christmas card.

I’m not sure how old it is but, judging by the children’s clothing and the decorations, I would guess that it is set around the turn of the last century, maybe even Victorian.

The card itself is an octagon shape and around the central painting of the children are traditional Christmas holly leaves – but what makes the card stand out is that all over the white border are embossed holly leaves. A really beautiful card.

Now unfortunately, like many other people I find Christmas a sad time of year. I remember the wonderful Christmases I had with my children in the Highlands. The stockings hanging up around a roaring log fire, the inevitable snow, and the look on my children’s faces as they realised Santa had been and they began opening their Christmas presents around our six foot high Christmas tree adorned with wonderful white fairy lights and silver baubles. Magical.

Divorce meant I lost of all of that, and much more. I was heartbroken. Christmas has never been the same again. The magic and sparkle has gone….I guess a bit like this old Christmas card.

Although a really lovely card, the ravages of time have not been kind to the paper the card is made from and there are several stains, splashes of what looks like rust, dust and dirt covering it.

I suppose it’s like my own and maybe your own Christmas; no matter what kind of year you’ve had, you’ve weathered the good times and the bad, the occasional good days and perhaps the more frequent bad days. But Christmas is a time to forget all those worries, a time of adding light into your life by putting up the tree and fairy lights, splashing some colour to your home with tinsel decorations and giving presents – adding a little cheer … if not to your life, then to someone else’s.

Isn’t that what Christmas is all about? The joy of giving rather than the receiving?

Maybe this old Christmas card has a lesson for us all.

Merry Christmas from everyone at the Barony St John Regeneration Project and The Scottish Centre for Personal Safety – and if you want to give a little something to help me regenerate the Barony buildings, please check out our crowd fund page at


or pop a wee donation in an envelope in our letterbox. Every penny will go towards saving and  restoring the Barony St John buildings.

I hope Santa is good to you. Best wishes – and I’ll see you in the New Year.



Good books

I previously mentioned how myself, Emma Paterson and her daughter Ami had been scouring the debris of the Barony St John church and found some old pamphlets in the rafters. Well, we also found a bible.

Now this bible was lying open and obviously had been lying up there for years. What we cannot understand is how it got there. It is too big to fallen down the gap between floorboards so we can only assume that at some point, the floor in the upper gallery was exposed and a bible has fallen down.

The page that it was open at was in the Book of Psalms and the line that caught my eye was “Thou puttest away all the wicked of the earth like dross”. Very apt for the work my charity does. 🙂

And we found another book on the same day behind the church organ.


Despite it’s age and the discoloured, dusty cover, the inside pages were immaculate.

The book was titled “Lindsay’s Letters on the Holy Land” and is the Third Edition dating from 1839.

A quick internet search revealed that Lord Alexander Lindsay was the 25th Earl of Crawford and 8th Earl of Balcarres. He was born on the 16th October 1812 at Muncaster Castle in Cumbria. He went to Eton and Trinity College before travelling around the world collecting art (how typical of a Victorian member of the aristocracy LOL).

He spent 1837/38 journeying across the Middle East and writing his “Letters on the Holy Land” which seems to have been a huge hit as it was republished at least three times.

He also published “Progression by Antagonism” in 1846 and “Sketches of the History of Christian Art” in 1847. His art collections are still on display in many galleries around the world.

Lord Alexander Lindsay died on the 13th December 1880 aged 68 in Florence, Italy. He was brought home for burial in the family crypt at Dunecht House near Aberdeen but soon after his burial, his grave was robbed by a local poacher. His body was eventually recovered from a shallow grave fourteen months later. A monument marks the shallow grave where his body was found at Dunecht but his remains were reburied in the family vault in Wigan.

Why Wigan? Well, Alexander’s father, James Lindsay, was the Tory MP for Wigan from 1820 to 1825 before becoming the Baron of Wigan in 1826. After his death on 23rd December 1869, he was buried in the family vault at All Saints’ Church in Wigan – where his son would join him 11 years later.

Psychic & Holistic Fayre

Following on from my last post – we arranged a Psychic & Holistic Fayre on Remembrance Sunday (11th November) in the Barony St John’s former church hall building in Ardrossan.

The cost of admission was £2 including a free cup of tea with all proceeds going towards the Barony St John Regeneration Project and a donation to The Poppy Appeal.

There was a crystal demonstration / talk by renowned spiritualist Joan Frew at 12 o’clock; an insight into Auras with John Seery at 1.30pm; a psychic medium demonstration from international medium George Whyilie at 3pm; plus a vast choice of tables offering Tarot / Angel / Buddha card readings, Crystal hand readings, Reflexology, Reiki, The Cove, The Wandering Star, American handbags and lots, lots more.


The day went well with 98 people attending despite the wet weather. And we raised a total of £908.20 for the charity as Ann Smith who organised the event on behalf of The Phoenix Spiritualist Church, who use our Training Room as a venue every Tuesday, donated all proceeds to our cause.

Many thanks to Ann and all the members of the spiritualist church who helped man the door, take raffle tickets, give out refreshments etc. plus everyone who came along and made this day a success.

Remembrance Sunday 2018

Every year since 2015, I have put a poppy on the Remembrance plaque of the parishioners of the Barony who fell in the Great War.

This year I put a soldier silhouette as well to mark the 100th anniversary of the War – and someone came in with some knitted poppies for the plaque too.

Lest we forget.

Spiritual movements?

Some weird goings on have been happening in the Barony St John recently. We have had CCTV installed and the monitor shows some strange orbs flying around the hall.

The video is better viewed on our Facebook page – Barony St John Regeneration Project – but here are a couple of photographs which hopefully you can make out the orbs and the trails they leave across the floor.

Very weird.

And the video has sparked interest from a Paranormal Investigation Team who want to conduct some experiments in our hall.

What do you make of it?

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