Dunlop – the fortified hill at the bend of the river.
Dunlop Hill is situated west of the village, south of the junction of the Glazert and Black Burns.
Dunlop Hill is considered to be a ‘volcanic plug’.
Early area history.
The land in the vicinity of Dunlop, in the early A.D centuries was occupied by Britons (Brythonic Celts). They possibly fortified the hill, in defence against other Celtic races – Picts, Scots or Gaels and Angles. There is also the possibility of having to defend themselves against foraging Vikings.
It is considered that the Romans occupied Dunlop, as an outpost of Loudon Hill Fort, to protect their route between Carlisle and Dumbarton.
After the Romans, the Irish came to the area that was now under the influence of the Kingdom of Dalriada. The Kingdoms of Dalriada and Pictland were amalgamated under the first King of Scotland (Alba) – Kenneth McAlpin.
The Celtic Chief on Dunlop Hill took the title ‘Dunlop of Dunlop’.
The Normans gave Dunlop of Dunlop the title of Huntsman. The Dunlop family had left Dunlop Hill and built a residence on the banks of the Clerkland Burn, a couple of miles East of the village. This took the name – Hunthall. Subsequent to this a more substantial home was built nearby – Dunlop House. It was here that Robert Burns used to visit his patron and friend Mrs Wallace Dunlop. The last member of the family resident in the house was Mrs Houison – Crawfurd.
In 1932 the House passed from family ownership to become a County Institution catering for handicapped children. In the 1990’s, a private company who ran it as a research establishment owned it for a period.
The House has now been empty for several years, but it is hoped that conversion to residential flats will preserve the fabric of a historic building.
There has been a modern day use of the Hill. This time in the defence of the realm, as against the immediate surrounding area. In the 20th.Century, between the two World Wars, a Royal Observer Corps post was built into the west facing side of the hill. Personnel tracking enemy aircraft movement up the Clyde towards Glasgow would have manned the post. Development of more sophisticated radar tracking techniques after the 2nd. World War and the ending of the ‘Cold War’ rendered the post redundant.
The early Celts worshipped as Druids. To the north of the village is a 25 tonne stone known locally as the ‘Ogirtstane’ (Thougritstane on the O.S. map), possibly used in Druid religious ceremonies and cremations. It appears to have been deposited on the land during the Ice Age. Once standing on the surface 12 feet by 8, it is now sinking into the earth. This stone can be seen as you leave the village travelling towards Lugton. Leaving the village, the road bends to the left. Going down the hill, look directly in front and on the skyline; at the top of the field, you should just make out the profile of the stone.
Christianity came to Dunlop in the 6th. Century. St. Finbar, who had established a settlement at Kilwinning, converted Dunlop of Dunlop to Christianity. The parish of Dunlop came under the authority of the Abbey of Kilwinning. The monks of Kilwinning built a church on the site of an old Druid chapel, close to the Ogirtstane. This church of the Roman Catholic faith fell into ruin after the Reformation.
The appointment of the Minister at Dunlop, for many years was the prerogative of the Earl of Eglinton.
Dunlop Kirk – situated west of the village, above Straightbow Bridge over the Glazert Burn, in the area of the village known as Townfoot.
The first building was erected on the site in 1150, being superseded by a larger building in 1642, in turn further enlarged in 1832.
There have been some famous Ministers at Dunlop – John Major between 1518 and 1523 was the Vicar, later becoming a professor in Glasgow and tutor to John Knox. Hans Hamilton was the first Protestant Minister and his mausoleum is built onto the back of Clandeboyes Hall, which was built by Viscount Clandeboyes, son of Hans Hamilton.
Gabriel Cunningham in 1690 was accorded the honour of preaching at the first General Assembly of the Church of Scotland.
Early in the 19th. Century, a split in the congregation occurred due to a disagreement over the style of worship being practiced.
This led to the Free Church being built c. 1845 at the junction of Stewarton Road and Main Street. The two church congregations were re-united in 1958. The Free Church building is now utilised as a Church Hall by the present congregation, as is Clandeboyes Hall.
There have been 4 buildings in the village associated with children’s education.
The earliest was the Clandeboye’s Hall adjacent to the church in Townfoot.
The next was The Old School House in Main Street near ‘The Cross’.
The latest and current establishment (second building on the site), built in 1931, is in Main Street, opposite to The Old School House and is for the Primary education. Pupils receive Secondary education at Stewarton Academy. (3 miles from Dunlop).
For a short time in the early 1800’s, the Free Church ran a school in a building in Lugton Road.
The principal industry, for centuries, has been pastoral farming.
John Dunlop of Titwood Farm developed a breed of cattle which was highly regarded for it’s milk producing ability, The breed was initially called the ‘Dunlop Cow’, but is now known as the ‘Ayrshire Cow’. Barbara Gilmour Dunlop, whilst in Ireland, learnt to produce cheese from whole milk instead of skimmed milk. She returned to ‘The Hill’, a farm on the southern outskirts of the village. Here she started to produce cheese from this recipe, which came to be known as Dunlop Cheese. This cheese is still produced – now at Clerkland Farm.
There possibly was fairly extensive pig raising, because in the first half of the 20th. Century there were circa 13 Ham Curers operating in the village. One – Robert Wilson went on to found a nationally recognised company producing meat products in a factory sited in Eglinton Country Park. This company was ‘bought out’ in the latter half of the century. The new owners having gained the Wilson’s order book then closed the Eglinton factory.
Robert Wilson gave the land in Lugton Road, on which he started the business, to the people of Dunlop. There is now a Rest Garden on the site.
Also allied to the meat trade were two Fleshers (Abattoirs) in Main Street.
Other major industries were started in the Dunlop area: -
Robert Howie & Sons started a small meal mill and sawmill moving to new premises adjacent to the railway, when the railway was built through the village. Later they built a grain mill (New Mill known locally as Tattie Ha’) on the Neilston road. At Lugton they started a Limestone works, crushing locally quarried Limestone for agricultural fertilisers, abrasive compounds etc.
There was another grain mill, Pickens Mill situated on the Glazert Burn near Lady’s Steps Bridge.
A Creamery was situated between the railway and Stewarton Road. There are now houses on the site, but the name Creamery Row is a reminder of times past.
Off the bend in the Stewarton Road, by the Railway Bridge, alongside the Glazert Burn was Hapland Mill, started by Mackie’s of Stewarton in 1832, producing woollen blankets until 1939. In later years it was spinning yarn for carpet manufacture. Unfortunately, the mill is now gone and the site seems destined to become a small housing estate.
Quarries – There were several around the village, the principal ones being at Mains and in the vicinity of Craignaught Farm, although a smaller one was close to Townfoot, across the road from the church, by the Black Burn. They were mainly for Whinstone extraction, which could possibly have been taken to Glasgow for use in the construction of streets and pavements.
Located in the village itself was a Hosiery and Spinning Mill.
Along the lane opposite the public hall were the premises of Mathew Brown’s Joinery. Hence the current name – Joiners Lane.
Across Joiners Lane, from the Joinery, was the village Smithy. There were several Blacksmiths between 1812 and closure in the 1970’s – Wm. Stevenson, Wm. Edgar, Andrew Douglas, Robert Parker and Bobby Mabon.
In the grounds of the Smiddy, Robert Parker’s brother started a garage, later moving to premises in Lugton Road.
There were two other Smithy’s, close to Dunlop, one being at Pointhouses, situated at the junction of Stewarton Road and the road to Low Gameshill Farm.
Prior to the arrival of Natural Gas supply, gas for the village was produced by a gas works located to the south of the village, in Stewarton Road, by the railway line. The site is now the yard of Robert Hall & Sons – Slaters.
In the 19th, through to the later stages of the 20th. Century, Dunlop must have been a bustling place as farmers and farm workers came into the village to purchase provisions etc.
Available were – Two Hotels, two Public houses, and at least one café.
Confectionery was catered for with several shops selling sweets and ice cream.
Foodstuffs – several grocers, a bakery and another bakers, a butchers and a dairy.
‘Fast food’ could be purchased from two places, which, at different times, sold fish and chips.
Clothing – there was a tailor and haberdasher, plus another haberdashery, which ‘took in’ washing and ironing, and a cobbler.
Solid fuel could be purchased from a coal merchant, whose premises were down Station Road.
To cater for motorists there were two establishments that sold petrol and a garage/taxi business.
Probably related to farming supply, there were two grain merchants. There were allotments whose owners might have purchased their seeds and bulbs there.
For personal grooming, villagers had the use of a hairdresser.
Finally there was a Registrar of Births & Death.
With the demise of many of the active farms, commercial activity in the village has diminished and at the present moment (2005) all that remains are two Public Houses, a Newsagents, a Post Office and a Bank which only opens two mornings a week.
In the Lugton area, additional to the Limestone quarries and crushing plant, was an iron works. When the iron works closed, a brick works operated using the spoil produced during the iron production.
The railway came through Dunlop at the end of the 19th.century.
Initially, from Glasgow to Kilmarnock, then extended to Carlisle via Dumfries with branch lines from key stations like Kilmarnock to the West coast line (Glasgow to Stranraer) and New Cumnock to Muirkirk and Lanark. Not only was it now easier for individuals to travel, but also it allowed local business to send their products to Glasgow markets, i.e. milk, cheese and meat products.
Originally this was a double track line, with a substantial station. The booking office and Glasgow bound platform were accessed along Station Road. The Kilmarnock bound platform could be reached using a pedestrian bridge, which stood alongside the road bridge. Unfortunately, all that now exists is a single platform, the remainder of the station and pedestrian bridge being demolished.
During the 20th. Century a wide range of sporting activities could be pursued:
A Badminton Club used to meet in the school.
A Dunlop Bowls Club still is still active – their ‘green’ is in Newmill Road past the station.
Dunlop Carpet Bowls Club play during the winter months in the Dunlop Bowls Club clubhouse.
Dunlop Corinthians is the local football team, playing its home games on the pitch in the park behind the school. Their biggest success came in the season 1952/3, when they won the Scottish Junior Cup. The Cup was presented to the team in the Village Hall by the famous Scottish international footballer – Willie Waddell. He was the manager of Kilmarnock F.C., later managing Glasgow Rangers.
Prior to the 1st World War a village team played on a pitch down near Over Borland.
The name Corinthians was the inspiration of a local schoolmaster. Corinthians at that time being synonymous with Gentlemen amateur players.
The team folded in 1964/5, and reformed in 2002, currently playing in the Lindsay Fencing League North Div.2.
A Tennis Club flourished for a while in Mansfield Terrace. Unfortunately, it has now gone, a private house now occupies the site of the court.
A Golf Club existed near Templehouse. The only surviving trace of evidence is a hollow (a former bunker) in the field opposite the ruins of Templehouse, where Minnie Gemmill the owner of the land lived.
A Cricket team played on a field in Netherhouses, by permission of the Howie family. The club ceased operations at the beginning of this century. The pitch is now overgrown, the only remaining evidence of cricketing activity being the scoreboard.