The Orchards of Kilwinning

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Shaun Dowse

Mar 12, 2021, 6:39:10 AMMar 12
to Ayrshire History

I'm Shaun, and I'm working on a dissertation which looks at improving community connections with local heritage. I am focusing on the grounds close to Kilwinning Abbey and the Old Parish Church.

The OS 1st Edition Six-inch map of Kilwinning was published in 1860, from a survey made in 1855. It shows orchards all across the town, but particularly at Greenfoot, at Woodwynd, and at Pathfoot. Many can remember fruit trees growing at these locations until fairly recently...

I'm looking for stories from people who remember the orchards in Kilwinning. Do you have any relatives who grew up in the town? Perhaps you remember fruit trees in their garden? Did you ever pinch apples from one of the orchards mentioned? What did they taste like or look like?

I'm trying to build up a picture of the way people used to connect with the countryside. Wild foraging is becoming lost to time, globally. Industry, urban sprawl and convenience shopping is largely responsible. We're fortunate in Kilwinning as there are still loads of opportunities for getting out and picking fruit, but it could be better...

We went out with our young kids in Autumn during lockdown, picking brambles along the river. The expressions on their faces; they were beaming for hours. The whole experience extended for weeks afterwards, as we made it into jam, ate it on toast and gifted jars to family and friends...

I can tell you, the whole process of connecting with a few wild berries one sunny afternoon had a knock-on effect, and gave us an opportunity to connect with family during lockdown through a jar of jam and a story!

Any memories you have would be hugely helpful...

Shaun :)

Mar 12, 2021, 10:50:48 AMMar 12
From nearer Stewarton - but may be some ideas for you?

1960s. Remember picking mint by the streams, and other herbs. Sorrel I think was called soor dook.
There were unmade tracks to farms & lost habitations with healthy hedgerows, and a mix of plants across the fields and woods. The turning of the soil for potatoes & swedes (formerly cattle winter feed) would have brought the wildflower & herb seeds to the surface. 
This was prior to intensive farming: the use of herbicide in crop rotation prior to planting and also to remove broadleaf plants prior to reseeding with grass.
1940s - my mother said that boys were allowed to miss school to lift potatoes for the farmers. Those boys would have been younger than 15.

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Janice Menzies

Mar 13, 2021, 5:16:25 AMMar 13
From much further north, Kincardineshire and Deeside - when we moved here in 1985, the October break was, and still is, referred to as the 'Tattie holidays'. As soon as they were in secondary school, our son and daughter spent the holiday picking tatties for various local farmers.  They were picked up in the local car park at the back of 6am, worked until late afternoon, came home caked in mud. Hard work, but they earned some pocket money, and enjoyed the camaraderie.  Farmers used to send them home with a bagful of the substandard tatties for their tea!  I think some children still do it, but not in such numbers, as there is so much mechanisation nowadays.
We've always picked brambles, and blaeberries from the woods, and yes I too remember Soor Dook!
Have never quite trusted my own judgment enough to risk eating any of the plentiful fungi in nearby woodland, 'though  - have watched too many murder mysteries on television!

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Subject: Re: [Ayrshire History] The Orchards of Kilwinning

Iain Tulloch

Mar 13, 2021, 12:06:25 PMMar 13
Sorry I can't help  Shaun,but good luck -I wonder if anyone can help me. I am very interested in the history of Prestwick and in particular Prestwick Golf Club. I have read somewhere,probably in a Strawhorn book, that the men of Prestwickused to play golf from the salt houses on the St Nicholas course to the pow burn. Does anyone know anything about this?It would be great to show that golf in Scotland and perhaps theUK was first played on the Prestwick links.
Kind regards to all,


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Iain Tulloch
9 Seagate
Ayrshire KA9 1AY

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