The Ardross-man



Surprise Find

As you may know from previous posts, we have had a lot of renovation work done in our Barony St John Centre in Ardrossan over the past 3 months and we had a surprising find under the floorboards of our corridor.

Part of the renovations at our Centre included work in our corridor to renew pipework for a new heating system and replace rotten floor joists. It was when the old floorboards were taken up that I noticed what I thought was an old piece of paper.

Upon further inspection, it turned out to be folded like an envelope and there was a handwritten name and address on it plus a stamp and Post Office stamp.

The name and address is McIlvean???, Laurel Bank, 19 South Beach Road, Ardrossan and the postage stamp, with a very young Queen Elizabeth II on it, is stamped 17th August 1958 – just five years after her coronation.

Do the McIvean’s??? still live at 19 South Beach Road? Is the house still called Laurel Bank? If anyone knows the answer or can shed some light on who the McIlvean’s??? What was their connection to the former Barony St John Church hall (or the Barony Church Hall as it would have been known then), please let me know by emailing

Coincidently, the following day on 18th August 1958, regional postage stamps were issued in the United Kingdom.

Previously, as can be seen on our letter, the stamp represented the whole of the UK. We have a rose in the top left to represent England, a thistle in the top right to represent Scotland, the Welsh daffodil in the bottom right and Ireland’s clover in the bottom right.

As of the 18th August 1958, each country had its own stamp. Scotland had the Queen and two symbols on their stamp;

a saltire with a crown and a thistle with crown.

Wales opted for a dragon and leek on theirs.

Northern Ireland had four symbols on theirs; the Red Hand of Ulster, a six pointed crowned star, a field gate with Ulster pillars and the flax plant ;

the Channel Isles had the Crown of William the Conqueror and the Guernsey lily;

the Isel of Man had the tre cassyn (Three Legs) on a shield surrounded by a ring-chain pattern based on designs found on ancient Manx stone crosses.

The English stamp seems to have retained the original national emblems of the rose, thistle, daffodil and clover in a circle around the Queen’s head.

This is a fascinating glimpse back in history and if you would like to read more about our discoveries and the renovation work in the former Barony St. John’s church and hall buildings, check out my blog at or if you would like to know more about our charity, visit or search for ScotCPS on your social media pages.

Until next time, stay safe.

Our new bench

Our leather bench now completes our main hall renovation work. What do you think?


We have been lucky enough to receive funding from the Scottish Government’s Community Climate Asset Fund, The Robertson Trust, The Foyle Foundation and North Ayrshire Council’s Community Benefit Fund.

This project was enormous and saw our main hall and corridor floor joists get replaced / repaired; our main hall walls and ceiling get repaired and repainted; our entire heating system get replaced; destratification fans and heating controls get installed; the arched windows in our main hall get replaced with double glazed versions; new LED lights in the main hall and light sensors in our corridor and toilets; old electrical wiring replaced; the windows of our Training Room get repainted with new galvanised grills installed on the outside; external stonework and roof repairs completed; and new flooring in our corridor and kitchen / reception area.

The difference before and after this funding is huge as I am sure you will agree from the photos, but aside from aesthetically, we have already noticed a huge difference in the warmth of the building and these energy saving renovations will enable The Scottish Centre for Personal Safety to massively reduce our heating bills and our local carbon emissions. In fact, Resource Efficient Scotland have estimated that we will now save 52,998kWh of energy and 10.2 tonnes of carbon dioxide every year. Now that’s impressive.  

Incident at the Barony St John

Some say a strange light was seen in the sky over the Barony St John church followed by men in black holding pens with lights on them.

Some say a boat load of illegal immigrants led by Donald Trump sought refuge in the church.

Others say an international terrorist hiding in the church was taken out by the SAS who abseiled through a belfry window.

All I know is that there were 3 police cars, 2 fire engines and two Council vehicles.

There was a police presence from 11.30am and the area was sealed off with road blocks from 3pm.

The “official” line is that it was a broken window.

You decide. 😂…/18991492.police…/…

Barony St John church sold

The church building went to auction on Thursday 2nd December and was sold. This now leaves us with the hall building which we intend to focus our efforts on to ensure it is fully restored to its former glory. Watch this space.

For those of you interested, the buyer has put the church up for auction with a different auctioneer – apparently he makes his money from quick, cheap buys and quick sales.

The reserve for the original sale was £15,000. The reserve for the new sale scheduled for 11th December is £67,500.

Check it out if you are interested

Sale of the Barony St John church building

It is with a heavy heart that I have to inform you of my intention to put the former Barony St John church building in Ardrossan up for sale.


Almost six years ago, I bought the Barony St John buildings for my charity, The Scottish Centre for Personal Safety. Initially, we hadn’t planned on getting the church building as well but after seeing how beautiful the church organ and some of the windows are, we decided to make plans to try to use the hall building as our charity’s base and save the church building.

IMG_0012-2a dsc01158

Throughout 2015, we concentrated on getting our charity Centre up and running in the hall building – purchasing training equipment, developing a strength and conditioning area for our clients.

In 2016, we received funding for a Feasibility Study for the church building and we set about asking local residents what THEY wanted to see the church building used for.

By 2017, we had completed this Study and the consensus was that the most viable option was that we should develop the church into a music venue.

Capable of seating almost 1,000 people, the venue would be able to host live music, plays, pantomimes, weddings, art exhibitions, sports events – you name it. And it would bring in visitors from all over Ayrshire and beyond. A great vision for the church building and an inspiring regeneration plan for Ardrossan, as a venue of this size would bring jobs and economic growth to the area.

From 2018 until 2020, we have tried our best to get backing for this project, not just financial backing but also project support from the Council and various “movers and shakers” in the area.

Despite our best efforts, unfortunately we could not get this project off the ground and when Storm Brendan hit and devastated the connecting corridor back in December last year, I began to think maybe it was an omen.


The church building now has several leaks from various missing roof tiles and this combined with the lack of heating for well over a decade in the building has caused plasterwork to collapse and window frames to become loose.

Every year the building is left derelict sees the chances of it being saved reduce further.

The time has come to let someone else have a go at saving this building before it is too late.

My charity will still operate out of the hall building but within the next month, the church building will be put on the market and hopefully this will give it a new lease of life.

Any and all reasonable offers will be considered…and when you think that properties on Arran Place, one tenth of the size of the church building, sell for between £500,000 and £750,000, you begin to realise that this could be a great investment for a budding property developer or someone keen on creating their dream home.

Any interested parties should contact the charity on


Over 100 years of Poverty

A couple of years ago, I mentioned that I found a sheaf of paper from 1908 in the former Barony St John Church titled “New Ardrossan Parish Magazine”.

The back of this leaflet has several notices but the one I focused on was the “Poor Fund”. It mentions;

“In course of this month we expect to send out to the poor our supply of coals. The interest of the Crawford legacy has been apportioned by the Poor Fund Committee and given to widows in necessitous circumstances. The annual collection for the poor will be taken as usual in January 1909.”

And under the heading of “Charity Concert”;

“As we are all aware, there is a great deal of poverty in the town at the present time. It is arranged that a Miscellaneous Concert will be given in the Assembly Hall on Wednesday evening, 23rd December. It is hoped that a sufficient sum may be realised so that the deserving children in the town may be supplied with boots. Kindly keep the concert in mind.”

When I first read this, I was shocked at the levels of poverty in Ardrossan in 1909 and I included a photo of some barefoot kids on Princes Street around this time.

I finished the article with; “Aren’t you glad you live in this era though? Times (and lives) were tough then.”

So imagine my surprise when I read a short article in the Ardrossan & Saltcoats Herald a few weeks ago under the heading “Foodbank” which read;

“Due to the current shortages of a significant portion of items required to go into a food box, the North Ayrshire Foodbank (based in Ardrossan) are advising their voucher issuing agencies and food box hosts that they are currently unable to fulfil requested orders.”

The foodbank hoped to resolve this via a “promised donation” and they hoped to “harvest donations from church and school services”.

It is utterly shocking that in the 110 years between the first article I found in the Barony St John and the foodbank article in last month’s newspaper, that we have not eradicated poverty in Ardrossan.

According to the foodbank’s Facebook page, they gave out 5,124 three-day emergency food supplies to people in crisis LAST YEAR ALONE.

You can turn a blind eye to all this poverty and have as many gala days, music events and fun parks as you want but the reality is, Ardrossan needs jobs. Ardrossan needs a cohesive economic development plan to bring tourists, visitors and businesses to Ardrossan.

Why hasn’t this happened?

As I’ve asked you to do over the last few weeks, anytime you hear of huge amounts of money being spent on projects, ask your local councillor what’s in it for Ardrossan? What’s in it for YOU? Will YOUR business benefit from increased sales? Will the town benefit from more visitors spending in our local shops? Will there be jobs for the unemployed so they don’t have to visit a foodbank for emergency supplies of food?

If the answer is “No”, ask for the money to be spent on a project that does generate economic benefit to our area. One that does bring jobs to the town.

As always, feel free to email me on and tell me your opinion or visit our website or look us up on Facebook.

Goodbye for now.

Halloween 2019

It’s that time of year again folks…. Halloween at the Barony St John Centre.

Happy Halloween

Bum Burn

You may remember, it was back in late 2016 when I wrote about our drainage problems in “Money flushed down the drain“, well we had another blockage.

It’s not really to be expected as we now have about 450 people a week using our hall and I’m guessing it wasn’t really designed for that. Admittedly, the hall was built to seat one thousand people back in 1887 but I think that many people would not have wanted to go to the toilet in a church – unless they had really been caught short. And I would bet that, sitting in for a number two would be unthinkable back then.

But we have over a hundred children using our Centre now and they are more than happy to fill our toilets with number ones, twos and lots and lots of toilet paper (there is one night of the week where we will go through two toilet rolls in a three hour period).

In other words, our toilets and drains take a pounding!

Last week, the female toilet blocked – which blocked the disabled access toilet and then the male toilets and then the kitchen sink (as they are all connected in a row).

I tried plunging it with a mop but to no avail and then I remembered a trick my mother used to do – boiling water down the drain. It softens up any blockage and hopefully allows water to flow again.

So, two full kettles of boiling water down each of the toilets and I left them to do their magic.

Unfortunately a middle-aged female went in to use the ladies toilet – and she needed a number two.

The first I knew of this was when I heard her scream.

It seems that the splash of her ablution hitting the water below caused a backsplash of boiling water which had scalded the checks of her posterior (it could have been worse, if you ask me).

She was not a happy person – especially when I told her I would have to log the incident in our Accident Book.

She refused to give her name or any of her details and she refused my kind offer of First Aid treatment deciding instead to leave the building instead of taking part in the spiritualist medium session that was about to commence.

Bet she didn’t see that coming. 🙂

Related image

Blog at

Up ↑