The Ardross-man



Unexpected items that I’ve found!

Dr. Richardson’s Magneto Galvanic Battery

As mentioned in a previous post, I found a wonderful pamphlet titled “Life & Work” with the sub-heading “Ardrossan New Parish Church” which had been hidden beneath the floorboards of the Barony St. John Church since 1893. ( The church was known as Ardrossan New Parish Church until 1929 when it became Barony Church then when the local St. John’s Church got demolished, it took their parishioners and in 1987 changed its name again to Barony St.John.)

This advertisement taken from the pamphlet is so good (in a weird and wonderful kinda way) that it deserved its own post; Dr. Richardson’s Magneto Galvanic Battery

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It was advertising an electro-therapeutic medical medallion, based on the 1880 patented design of Edward P. Caldwell.

It came in two designs, a heart shaped centre and a cross shaped centre, and was sold by A.M. Richardson & Co. through local agents in 1883. According to the advertising leaflet, which was published in 1893, they had sold over 3 million battery medallions over the previous 10 years. 

The blurb claims that the battery was “scientifically tested and guaranteed genuine” and gave “renewed life and energy” by “purifying the blood and improving the circulation striking at once at weak and nervous debility”.

The centre pages of the advert has the headline “The blood is the life, but electricity is the life of the blood” and it appears the amount of medical conditions it cured were almost endless;

Brings happiness and freedom after nauseas medicines fail. Relieves Neuralgia, Rheumatism, Pain in the Back, Nervousness, Chest Colds, Indigestion. Gives strength and vitality to the Nerve forces, uniform and healthy circulation to the blood.

“.…develop agreeable, curative currents throughout the body, the intensity of the currents being demonstrable by galvanometer. The Batteries are excited through mere contact with the body by the moisture of the skin, aided by the natural body heat.

DSC01721 DSC01722Richardson's_Magneto-Galvanic_Battery

Immediate relief is afforded in all cases of impaired or impeded Nerve action, as in Bronchitis, Rheumatism and Neuralgia, and in all cases of sluggish and dormant Organic action, as in general Debility, Biliousness and Constipation.

It also had many testimonials claiming that it also helped Loss of Appetite, Kidney Complaints, Liver Complaints, Lumbago, A Weak Chest, Quinsy and Dizziness, Depression and Nervousness”.

Basically, this magneto-galvanic battery pendant claimed to cure almost everything.

I’ve searched the internet and cannot find any information as to when these products went out of production or if any cases of false claims made against Dr. Richardson or his company. If any readers know anything more, please let me know.

Watch out for more eccentric items advertised for sale in the Victorian era including Y&N corsets, knock-about frocks and a post about Pears Soap that you’ll be shocked to read.

Bye for now.

Saltcoats Time

You may remember I told you all about how the Great Western Railway ordered that all the different local times throughout the country, set by the sun, should be synchronised under a single standard time, “London time”, for their train timetables (see The Definition of Time post). This was back in 1840 and led to the standard Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) that we all know and use today.

Well, I was walking Ben in Saltcoats today and I noticed that they had a giant sundial on the harbour.


But what really interested me about the sundial was the plaque at it’s base. It read; 

Your watch tells you the legal time based on the Greenwich Meridian. This sundial shows Saltcoats own local time by the sun. 

It seems that people definitely felt aggrieved when local time was replaced by “London time” or “Greenwich time”.

I wonder how long there has been a sundial at Saltcoats harbour. (But I much prefer our clock tower at the Barony St John in Ardrossan. 🙂

Knock About Frocks

In previous posts (Life & Work, Sale of the Century) I mentioned that I had found a pamphlet dated May 1893 containing sermons and advertisements in rubble that fallen from the gallery area of Barony St. John’s church.

One of the adverts was for The John Noble Knock About Frocks


This marked an era of mass produced dresses where women could buy garments “off the peg” at affordable prices instead of being made to measure.

A trawl of the internet found some other John Noble garments and adverts like this one in an 1895 edition of The Daily News –

And this one from 1897 –


Further research into when John Noble Ltd of Brook Street Mills, Manchester was set up showed that they were established in 1893.

The garments were made of various fabrics including cheviot (a soft, luxurious but hard-wearing wool flannel weave) and a more hard wearing serge (a type of twill fabric that has diagonal lines or ridges on both sides, made with a two-up, two-down weave) which would no doubt be used for work wear / everyday dress wear rather than formal wear.

Unusually though, these affordable dresses were very fashionable incorporating all the latest styles (note the state of the art puffed ‘leg of mutton’ sleeves in the adverts above from 1895 and 1897 as opposed to the straighter sleeve in my advert from 1893) and could be purchased in a variety of colours including bronze, ruby, cinnamon and even electric blue.


But the part of the advert that really caught my eye and made me laugh is –
Observe closely the style, cut make and finish of these costumes. Of imitations there are many, but there is nothing in the world to equal The John Noble Half Guinea Costumes for stylish appearance, durability and actual money value  and intending purchasers are asked to remember that these garments are guaranteed made absolutely without any sweating of the workers
It seems sweatshops and cheap, forced labour were a worry even back then.

Temperance Tennyson

Hidden behind an old cupboard in the Barony St. John was a pile of papers which dated back to the early 1900’s (some 1906, 1907, 1909, 1916, 1924, etc.)

In amongst this paperwork was a small card about 3″ x 2″.

It is cream in colour and on one side shows an invitation to a “Special Meeting for Women” and admits the bearer and a friend to a meeting in nearby Saltcoats on Monday January 31st.

I’ve had a look at the calendar and 31st January fell on a Monday  in 1898, 1910, 1916 and 1921 so I’m thinking it’s either 1910 or 1916 as the majority of papers were from between those dates.

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The reverse (or front) of the card advertised a series of “thrilling lectures” from Tennyson Smith  at Saltcoats Town Hall and so I set about finding out more about this gentleman.

Mr. Tennyson Smith was an Englishman and a noted temperance and Prohibition orator who traveled around the world delivering “a series of thrilling lectures on the drink question” according to an article I found in the Granby Leader (Colorado, USA) from 1916.

img_2378And according to the South Wales Daily News of October 12th 1895, Mr. Tennyson Smith was “obliged in 1890 to leave England on account of his wife’s health, he went to Australia; and first in Adelaide, subsequently throughout the whole of the South Colony, he continued temperance work achieving marked success. His services being sought by the other colonies, , he made an extended tour of Queensland; and afterwards went to New Zealand…..Since his return to England, he has been warmly welcomed in different parts of the country, his meetings being crowded to excess.”

I found another article in the New South Wales (Australia) Riverine Herald from 1894 which read as follows:

Mr Tennyson Smith’s Crusade

“Last evening the congregation at the Tjeiri Perimee Hall on the occasion of the Presbyterian Church service, gave an indication of what was to follow, and, as soon as the service was concluded, numbers who had been waiting outside, poured in to hear Mr Tennyson Smith deliver Dr Talmage’s famous sermon.

There was scarcely standing room, and, though Mr Tennyson Smith had already introduced himself to the Echuca public at the children’s service in the afternoon, there was apparent that expectation which is always observable when something unusually good is expected.

A few introductory remarks by the Rev. R. Brown, chairman, some singing by a combined choir and the congregation, and Mr Tennyson Smith indulged in some pertinent and straight-out hitting, as a preface to the piece de resistance. He was very forcible in his denunciation of those who were in the habit of sitting in the church pews and “singing themselves to bliss.

He wanted people to show their Christian spirit by helping their follow creatures and personally exerting themselves to aid in the cause of temperance: Mr Tennyson Smith’s style of delivery bespeaks an elocutionist of ability and, though his voice is not over strong, his re petition, from memory, of Dr Talmage’s discourage was wonderfully good. The sermon, in itself, is very powerful and very striking, and it contains one of the clearest arguments against the liquor trail that could be given effect to on a public platform. The congregation listened with the greatest interest, and the three-quarters-of-an-hour of time occupied seemed to pass but too quickly.

What a thriving town Echuca must be,” he sarcastically observed, when making a passionate exhortation to those present to come forward and take the pledge;

You have 48 houses of accommodation for travellers — that must surely be a good sign.

Mr Tennyson Smith is full of energy and lore, and his appeal, “Who will be the first to come forward ?” being answered by a young man from the back, amidst great applause.

A large number signed, the ordeal being freed from monotony by the singing of well-known hymns, interspersed with stirring remarks by the lecturer.


Another article in the same newspaper reads;

“For the sake of others” is the title of Gough’s most famous oration to be delivered by Mr E. Tennyson Smith, the popular Temperance orator, in the Temperance Hall this evening, and in view of the splendid reception accorded the lecturer and the favourable impression created on the crowded audience last evening there is no doubt another full house will greet Mr Smith on his re-appearance.  This particular oration has a peculiar charm in as much as it was this very lecture delivered by the great master himself which won Mr Tennyson Smith over to the ranks of total abstainers and started him on his life’s work which has proved so successful as to earn for him the title of “The Second Gough.”

The oration includes some of those wonderfully thrilling passages such as the description of a ship on fire, the coach driver’s terrible drive down hill in California and his appalling cry “I can’t find the brake” and the wreck of the lifeboat.

These illustrations are given with all the dramatic fire and realism for which the lecturer is noted, while the oration sparkles with those inimitable humorous stories for which Gough was renowned and which must be heard to be appreciated. In this respect the lecture will form a striking contrast to the more sombre and stately style of Dr Talmage’s discourse given last night. The mission will continue each evening till Thursday, when Mr Tennyson Smith will give his popular dramatic representation, “The trial of a notorious criminal,” undoubtedly the most interactive and entertaining evening of the series. Full particulars of the various meetings will be found in another column.

AN UNEXPECTED RESULT. A most interesting incident occurred during Mr Tennyson Smith’s mission to Shepparton one which promises to be of considerable importance. On the night of the “Trial of Alcohol,” in which Mr Tennyson Smith appears as “Council for the Prosecution,” the question was asked as usual, “Is anyone prepared to say anything in defence of the prisoner, alcohol ?” In response Mr Carpenter (a moderate drinker) held that the crimes committed by alcohol were largely the fault of the Temperance party. He said that; they did not provide places which would prove a counter-attraction to the hotel and asked, where are the young men of Shepparton to go to discuss football, etc., and urged that the prisoner, alcohol, might be acquitted, as the blame lay rather with the Temperance party. Although the argument for the acquittal of the prisoner was rather weak, it was received with much applause by the moderate drinking section of the audience, and it was evidently considered that a considerable blow had been struck at the lecturer. A great surprise was, however, in store for them, and a considerable disappointment for the supporters of the Liquor sale, when Mr Tennyson Smith used his opponents argument as a weapon to strike a blow at the trade. The lecturer on rising to reply said that with sadness he pleaded guilty on behalf of the Temperance party, to the charge made by Mr Carpenter, he confessed that it was a difficulty here, as in other places, as to where young men could congregate for social intercourse, but he said why should we not solve the problem so far as Shepparton is concerned. Why not start a Temperance Club, he then gave a few particulars of the first Temperance Club started in New Zealand, which was largely due to his efforts, and as the outcome of a mission and which, he said, was today a financial success. Said the lecturer – “Now, I will give a guinea to start a subscription list for such a club in Shepparton, who will give another?

I will,” “I will“, “and I will,” were the exclamations in several parts of the hall, followed by rounds of applause. Tho following day Mr Tennyson Smith conferred with Mr Carpenter, as representing the moderate drinkers, and Mr .J. H. Smith (chemist), and other temperance friends as representing the temperance party and suggested a “social” should be arranged (as was done in New Zealand) on the following Wednesday, and that he would return to Shepparton to be present, when the matter could be discussed and a committee formed to carry out the project. This was decided upon. Meanwhile information was collected as to ways and means, and a preliminary meeting held at the house of Mr J. H. Smith (chemist), when resolutions were formulated. The “social” took place on Wednesday, July 25th, and was a great success, the special feature being that fully as many moderate drinkers as teetotalers were present.

Mr Gregson (banker), was voted to the chair. Resolutions were passed that a club should be formed, two separate committees of ladies and gentlemen being elected to carry out the project. Another was made by the committee of the Mechanics’ Institute to hand over the building, etc., to the committee on the most advantageous terms, and it appeared advisable to the club to he connected with it. Over £12 has already been subscribed and about, fifty persons gave in their names to join. The subscription being fixed at 2 shillings per quarter. We shall watch with considerable interest the development of this scheme and trust our Shepparton friends will know it a great success, be that other towns may be induced to follow suit in this”forward” movement.”

What a wonderful insight into a time gone-by.

Victorian Adverts 2 – Cure-alls

In a previous post (Victorian Adverts 1) I described some advertisements found in a pamphlet dated May 1893 which was rescued from some fallen masonry from the gallery area of Barony St. John’s church.

Some of the adverts were for magical cure-all medicines which seem to be favoured by the Victorians.

The first cure-all is Mellin’s Emulsion which the advert says was a mix of Cod liver oil and Hypophosphites (whatever they are) which was “very palatable“, “easily digested” and thankfully “perfectly safe“.

Mellin’s Food for Infants and Invalids  is described as “For infants, growing children, convalescents, consumptives, dyspeptics and the aged. A perfect nutriment in acute illnesses and all wasting diseases.”

I also managed to find this old coloured advert from 1880 on the internet for the emulsion –

img_2325  mellins

And these pages from an 1891 booklet to accompany Mellin’s Food for Infants and Invalids.


Another product advertised is Smedley’s Chillie Paste  claimed to cure Rheumatism, Gout, Lumbago, Bronchitis, Sore Throats, Neuralgia and Sciatica among other illnesses.

It contained oils from chilli peppers and although chillies had been used to treat inflammation for over a century in the USA, the chilli was still very much a novelty in Victorian Britain.

Smedley’s Chillie Paste was so popular that it later became known as “The King of all Cures” (once Edward VII came to the throne upon the death of Queen Victoria in 1901) as this colour advert I found on the internet shows –

img_2323  smedley

Lascelles’ Pills seemed to be taken “for the most obstinate cases” if the chilli paste didn’t work so I dread to think what might be in them. :-/

Allcock’s Porous Plasters also intrigued me and my investigations showed that Thomas Allcock (1815–1891) was the inventor (in 1854) and subsequent founder of the Allcock Manufacturing Company.

Thomas, although born in Birmingham, England, emigrated to the USA in 1845, settled in New York and opened a drug store. He was later called up and served as an artillery officer in the Union Army during the American Civil War (1861-1865).

I love the heading on my advert which says “Here you have a remedy that has made millions of ladies bless the maker of Allcock’s Porous Plasters” 😀 and this alternate advert which I found (on the left) which says that Allcock’s Porous Plasters can cure almost anything and could even be used to stop a cough. 🙂

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Symington’s Edinburgh Coffee Essences were produced in bottles alongside Symington’s Dandelion Coffee Essence by Thomas Symington & Co. of Edinburgh around 1880 which ties in with the 1893 date of this pamphlet.

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Symington’s coffee essences preceded the more popular and still going Camp Coffee in bottles produced by Robert Paterson of Glasgow from 1897 onwards.

Thomas Symington’s posters advertised that by adding boiling water to his essence, you could have “a cup of coffee in one minute” – the world’s first instant coffee.

Between 1880 and 1890, the Victorians recognised that the caffeine in tea and coffee could cause an increase in heart rates as well as stomach upsets and sleeplessness so Thomas Symington rose to the challenge and developed an alternative hot drink using dandelion roots –Symington’s Dandelion Coffee Essence.

The health benefits of dandelion coffee were promoted as almost a cure-all aiding everything from stomach upsets to gout and even bad tempers. 🙂

Both Symington’s products were sold throughout the British Empire and into the USA, winning many medals and prizes for their exceptionally high quality along the way.

Symington’s continued to be sold until 1975 when the company was acquired by G R Lane Health Products and is apparently still available today from specialist health stores.


Omen 10 – The Haining Omen

From the very beginning there has been something weird drawing me to the Barony St. John buildings in Ardrossan as a base for my charity.

Little coincidences or quirks that I’d refer to as “omens” which seemed to be telling me that this was my destiny.

Yes, I know, this all sounds fanciful and I have detailed all the Omens in previous blog posts – but let me summarise them to date –

Omen 1. The Ardross-Ardrossan – this highlighted the similarity between the name of the village where I lived in the Highlands (Ardross) at the time I bought the buildings and the town where the buildings were (Ardrossan).

Omen 2. The Instructor Omen – not knowing exactly where in North Ayrshire Ardrossan was, I contacted a group I had trained as instructors from North Ayrshire to see if they had heard of the church – and it turned out that the leader and a couple of instructors actually lived in Ardrossan,  giving my charity a supply of ready qualified, local instructors.

Omen 3. The Star of David Omen – when visiting the buildings for the first time with my brother David, I noticed it had a Star of David (Jewish) symbol in the hall window and in the church window. Strange for a Church of Scotland building but a coincidence since David was here with me.

Omen 4. The Church Omen – After putting a bid in for the hall building, we were informed it had been accepted and we would be getting the church building too.

Omen 5. The SAS Omen – As the Three Towns of Saltcoats, Ardrossan and Stevenston often gets abbreviated to SAS (as in the SAS Explorer Scout Unit) it was a coincidence since SAS was the abbreviation of my organisation prior to it becoming a charity, Security And Safety.

Omen 6. The Owner Omen – how strange to find out that the only other person on the title deeds to the church buildings was Robert Bell in December 1844 and now, exactly 170 years later in December 2014, my name was added – Alan Bell. Only two people on the title deeds, both named Bell.

Omen 7. The Elder Omen – Having found the accounts from 1906 and 1909, I was surprised to see that David Bell was a church elder. The same name as my brother.

Omen 8. The Wolf Omen – Having decided to look at getting the church ceiling painted with a fresco, a local painter had the idea of painting a Celtic horoscope with animals and trees representing the various star signs. Her plan of work showed various animal drawings of a stag, salmon – and a wolf drawing which was identical to the emblem of my children’s Primary School….in Ardross.

Omen 9. The Wallace Omen – A chance meeting with World Karate Champion Bill “Superfoot” Wallace saw him agree to open my Centre…..on the 720th anniversary of the original William Wallace’s taking of Ardrossan castle just behind the church buildings.

And now, one of my new instructors comes up to me having read one of my blog posts regarding (Omen 7. The Elder Omen) and asks me if I noticed her name in the list of church elders.

Daisy Haining is currently our youngest instructor. She is 17yrs old and was actually born in Stevenston (one of the Three Towns) where she lived for the first two years of her life before moving to Ardrossan.

Her father was originally from Stewarton in East Ayrshire (15 – 16 miles away from Ardrossan) so no immediate link with Ardrossan until 15 years ago.

And here’s the thing – Haining is a pretty uncommon name. In fact, Daisy has never met anyone else with the same surname other than her relations!

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But yet, here in the list of church Elders in the New Ardrossan Parish Church annual report of 1906 and 1909 is a Mr D. B. Haining.

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Now, if you look carefully at the list of Elders, you’ll notice there is something really strange about D.B. Haining – it’s the only name abbreviated to initials. All the other names are written in full.

D.B Haining was also the “Representative Elder to Presbytery and Synod” (I had to look up “synod” and apparently its either “an assembly of the clergy and sometimes also the laity in a diocese or other division of a particular Church” or “a Presbyterian ecclesiastical court above the presbyteries and subject to the General Assembly”) and D.B Haining was one of only three Elders who were on the Poor Fund Committee – the other two being James Barbour and David Bell (same name as my brother).

So yes, it is a Mr rather than a Miss. And yes, it is D.B. Haining rather than D. Haining. But there is no denying that this is spookily weird.

I buy the church on behalf of my charity and two of my six instructors have the same surnames as two of the twelve church Elders from over a hundred years ago.

Even spookier, two of the three members of the church’s Poor Fund Committee have the same surname’s as two of my instructors and one has the exact same name….the other is the only person to have their forename as an initial instead of the full name, making this name D. Haining the same as my instructor D. Haining.

And so, ladies and gentlemen, I think you will agree that this new revelation does indeed qualify as Omen 10. The Haining Omen 😀

Internal organ

As I am fascinated by the amount of history in the Barony St. John’s church, I wanted to let you know about the beautiful organ which first gave me the “Wow factor” when I entered this building for the first time.

Just to the left of the staircase to the pulpit in front of the organ is is a hidden doorway into the internal workings of this beautiful work of art which was originally installed in 1889.

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As you step through the doorway, you find a very narrow set of ladders which lead up to behind the extremely dusty organ pipes – it was a tight squeeze with barely enough room to get two feet side by side on the ladder.

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Coming back out and to the front of the alter area, you’ll find the keyboard for the organ – lift back the lid and the keyboard is revealed.

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img_2370       img_2369   img_2372   img_2371

As you can see, there is a small plaque which reads J.J. Binns, Fitton & Haley Ltd. Bramley, Leeds. I have tried to track this company down but it appears that they went bust back in the 1950’s.

A notice in the London Gazette states that there was “a Meeting of the Creditors on 11th August 1953 at 3pm in accordance to The Companies Act 1948 regarding the winding up of the company“.

But inside a little cupboard to the side of the organ I found the organ tuning log books which date back to 1963.

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And a lovely hymn sheet copyrighted to former church organist Stuart McMahon dated 1993.  img_2376



All in a Lather

This is my 150th post since starting writing last November (2015) about my discoveries and escapades as I try to save two old church buildings in Ardrossan, North Ayrshire, Scotland. Thank you for reading them and I hope you continue to enjoy my posts.

Anyway, as mentioned in a previous post, I found a wonderful pamphlet titled “Life & Work with the sub-heading Ardrossan New Parish Church” which had been hidden beneath floorboard of the Barony St. John Church since 1893.

Inside the pamphlet were some fantastic advertisements including the following for Pears Soap;


Initially, I was excited to see the drawings – the front cover featured a tin bath of a shape I hadn’t seen before (I always thought tin baths were oval shaped but this one is like a keyhole – a bigger end for sitting in and a longer end for your legs) and two ladies dressed in beautiful Victorian dresses of the day. 🙂

The inside of the advert declared that the soap was by special appointment to Her Majesty the Queen (who would have been Queen Victoria) and His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales.

DSC01727     DSC01726

But as I thought about writing this post and telling you all about my find, I thought I’d like to know more about Pears Soap – and my investigations revealed a darker side to what was the nation’s favourite soap;

Pears transparent soap was first produced and sold in 1807 by Andrew Pears at a London based factory. It was the world’s first mass-market transparent soap and Pears’ clientele included many wealthy socialites who took pride in their appearance.

In a change from current trends, the fashion among the wealthy of the period was for pristine white complexions (tanned faces were associated with the lower classes who laboured outdoors).

Andrew Pears found that his powders and creams were frequently being used to cover up damage caused by soaps and other beauty products, many of which contained arsenic or lead, so he began to experiment with soap purification and eventually managed to produce a gentle soap based on glycerine and other natural products.

The clarity of his soap gave it a novel transparent appearance and its floral scent, which reminded people of their gardens, gave Andrew Pears a huge marketing advantage especially overseas in America (not yet united as the Civil War was fought from 1861 – 1865).

Thomas J. Barratt, sometimes referred to as the father of modern advertising, married Mary Pears (Andrew’s granddaughter) in 1864 and he began a worldwide sales campaign for Pears Soaps – part of which were these removable advertisements (not just printed in newspaper and pamphlets but adverts which could be removed and taken to your shopkeeper or chemist where orders could be placed).

The first Pears soap advert (below) would be deemed racist nowadays and would never be allowed to be printed but back in Christmas 1884 it was seen in publications throughout the British Empire.


It would seem a lot of their advertising centred around turning black skinned people white or at the very least trying to improve their hygiene as on the reverse of the advert I found was this rather racist advert;


It may be difficult to make out as it is water damaged but it features a black native complete with feather headband staring at an apparently naked white woman who is coming out of a giant clam shell on the beach. The heading reads;

Good Morning! Have you used Pears Soap?

I’m not sure if this is supposed to be the black native asking if the white woman had used Pears Soap perhaps trying to explain how she had turned white (as in the previous advert) – or is it the white woman asking the black native if he had used Pears Soap as a nod towards his lack of hygiene? What do YOU think?

Meanwhile, if you would like to know more about my charity, The Scottish Centre for Personal Safety, search for us on Facebook or peruse our website at

Goodbye for now – and here’s to the 150 posts. 😀



The Mystery of the Church Hall extension

You may remember, in a recent post (Sexy Mary) I explained how we had a visit from a former Ardrossan resident, Mary Buswell, and how she thought the small hall room which we aim to turn into a Training Room was much larger when she was a child?

I thought this explained why the buildings were named as “Barony St John Church & Halls” (halls, plural). The Training Room was at one time much larger and therefore another hall.

I also thought that this would explain why the back wall of the Training Room is made of brick and the rest of the walls are stone – maybe the room extended down along Princes Street and at some point in the past, the adjacent land was sold and the building “squared off” cutting it in half?

Well, now I’m not so sure again.

You see, the architects involved with compiling a feasibility study for the former Barony St. John’s church building found this street map of Ardrossan dated 1910.


The first thing that struck me was the shape of the hall building.

The current shape is an L-shape but this map showed a straight building parallel to the church building and linked via a corridor.

So, here’s a photo of the hall building – and as you can see, there is a bottom spur attached to it to give it its L-shape (this is the Training Room);

the-barony  img_3245

Now take a closer again at the roof above the red side door in the photos – it looks weird doesn’t it? Like it’s been added on as an afterthought.

Looking at the 1910 map, I’m thinking that the side door and the main body of the building were all that was there when the hall building was built in 1889. I’m thinking the Training Room section was added on at a later date, obviously after 1910.

With this in mind, I walked around the building to the back area –

img_3246        img_3247

Now, you can clearly see where the wall is different. The stone wall stops at the corner and is replaced for the length of the Training Room by a brick wall (which is why Mary might be right in thinking this room was larger). It then goes back to stone, level with the main hall building, then switches back to brick before going back to the stone of the main church building.

img_3248       img_3249

Now this middle stone section is also shown on the 1910 map because the church hall building and the church building are level, connected only by a recessed corridor.

You can see from the photos below that there used to be a window in the original back wall that has now been bricked up. In fact, it was easily seen when we took the plaster off the walls while renovating the toilets last year –

 img_3251    image

So, I think at some point after 1910 the building was altered, probably to install toilet facilities. The corridor was extended level with the rest of the external wall and a kitchen and small room (which may or may not have been larger than it is today) were added. This whole new section was then roofed at right angles to the main body of the church and hall buildings giving the roof its odd look.

Now this is good news because trying to find someone alive today who remembers the original buildings of 1889 is impossible and although finding someone who remembers them from 1910 is a similarly impossible task, if the building was altered after 1910 to include indoor toilets, this may mean that the alterations never took place until the 1940’s, 50’s or even into the 60’s – which means, someone may still be alive who can tell us exactly what the buildings looked like and how they have changed over the years. 😀

If you think you can help, have a photograph or know of someone who may remember the original layout of the hall building, please get in touch.

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