Ayrshire Housing Part 1
Evidence presented by Bailie Thomas M'Kerrell, Miners' Agent, Kilmarnock and Mr James Brown, Miners' Agent, Annbank
1. Old Pottery, Parish of Ochiltree, near Drongan
(Owned by Countess of Hardwicke.)
This property consists of 5 single-apartment houses and 3 two-apartment houses. They are arranged in the form of three sides of a square. On one side there are 4 single-apartment houses, on the other side one house of two apartments, and in the middle row there are two houses of two apartments and one house of one apartment. Most of the houses are built of stone, and have thatched roofs. We measured one single-apartment house, and its dimensions were 12 feet by 13 feet. The roadway in front of the houses is unpaved, and pools of water and mud were at every door.
There is one earth-closet and open ash-pit for the whole property, and this provides for a population of 48. The open ash-pit is about 40 feet from the nearest door. The closet has no door, and, in fact, has not been built with the purpose of providing a door. Human excretion is littered about for yards round the entrance to the closet. This is probably due to the children not having sufficient accommodation inside. The stench was abominable, and originates round the closet and ash-pit which are within 40 feet of the nearest house.
No outhouses of any kind have been provided, and the people store their coals below their beds.
We discovered six inmates in a single-apartment house, and in another single-apartment house we discovered a family of four and a lodger.
The rent of the single-apartment houses is 1s. 5d. per week, and the two apartments 1s. 8d.
(owned by the Countess of Hardwicke.)
This village is situated on the main road to Littlemill, and the houses are built in rows on both sides of the road.
Row No. 1 -On the left-hand side going towards Littlemill there is a block of five houses and one of ten built of stone and slated. These houses are all two-apartment ones, but one of the apartments is so small that both apartments together are not much larger than an ordinary single-apartment house. The roadway in front of the houses is unpaved, and in a very muddy condition.
There is one earth-closet for the fifteen families and one ash-pit. The population for which this lavatory accommodation provides is 63. The closet has no door, and from the construction it appears that no door was intended to be placed there. There are three compartments in the closet, but they are all open. Owing to human excretion being littered about the floor of the closet and for some yards around it there was a considerable stench. From conversation we elicited the information that grown-up people seldom or never use the closet, and owing to want of privacy it is impossible for the women to use it. This leaves the grown-up people without any closet accommodation at all.
No outhouses of any kind have been provided, and the people store their coals below their beds. We observed one woman doing her washing in the open air while the rain was coining down so heavily that it was with the utmost difficulty that we could take our notes.
We discovered one house with a husband, wife, three of a family, and three lodgers. The rent of these houses is 2s. 1d. per week.
Row No. 2 - On the opposite side of the street there is a row consisting of 5 one-apartment houses, and one house of two apartments, built of stone. The roadways in front of the houses are unpaved and very muddy.
There is one earth-closet and ash-pit for this row. The closet has no door, and three open apartments, which provide for a population of 33. The ash-pit was in an abominable condition. It is, as is the case with regard to all the other ash-pits in Drongan, entirely uncovered, and in this instance fermenting matter was responsible for a very strong stench.
No outhouses are provided, and coals are kept below the beds.
In a single-apartment house (12 feet by 12 feet approx.) we discovered nine inmates.
The rent for the single-apartment houses is 1s. 5d. per week, and in the case of the house described as a two-apartment house (the family here has rented two single apartments), the rent is exactly double, viz. 2s. 10d. per week.
Row No. 3. - This is situated further down on the left-hand side of the street. There are 12 single-apartment houses. The conditions are similar to those described in the other rows, viz. roadways unpaved, no washhouses, etc. There is one closet for twelve families with a population of 46. The closet and ash-pit are in the same condition as the others previously described, but in this case the ash-pit is so far away from the houses that heaps of refuse have been thrown all over the yard immediately behind the houses, and it would appear to be a playground for the children as for many yards the kitchen ashes and fermenting potato and other vegetable refuse has been strewn about.
The rent of these twelve houses is 1s. 5d. per week each.
Row No. 4 - This row is situated on the opposite side of the street to Row No. 3. It consists of 4 blocks of houses with 8 houses in each block - 32 houses in all.
Conditions are practically the same as in the other rows, viz. unpaved roadways very muddy, closet built purposely without doors, and open compartments. In this row the people are provided with coal-houses, which are within 3 yards of the doors, and one of the tenants informed us that when these coal-houses become empty they are often used as the dumping ground for refuse of all kinds, and that in the summer time the stench at the very doors is abominable. (The people in disposing of their refuse have to travel to the end of the block, and carry their refuse to the ash-pit behind, a considerable distance from some of the houses.) These houses are all two-apartment ones. This row appears to have suffered from a considerable subsidence. The windows and doorways appear to be badly twisted, and in some of the blocks several courses of bricks have been added to the stone walls to bring them up to the level of the roofs. The floors of the houses consist of large brick tiles, and the subsidence appears to have had the effect of breaking, cracking, and twisting the tiles. In one of the houses we inspected there was not a whole tile in the kitchen floor, and the surface was very uneven. In this house there was a hole in the floor several inches deep, and so large that one of the party put his boot right into it. Many of the houses are in such a bad state of repair that one woman showed us the bottom of her door where the holes were so large " that cats came into the house during the night." The holes were easily large enough to admit of that possibility. Many of the tenants complained of the condition of the doors, and told us that in the winter time the cold wind rushing through the house was almost unbearable. The houses are very damp.
The population of this row was 208, and the lavatory accommodation for this population was four doorless earth-closets. We discovered one house with thirteen inmates. The rent is 2s. 1d. per week.
Summary. - In the mining rows of the village of Drongan there are 48 two-apartment houses, 17 one-apartment houses, with a population of 350, for which seven doorless earth-closets, with open compartments, are provided.
The houses are all owned (we are informed) by the Countess of Hardwicke, and are inhabited almost wholly by miners who work in the pits of the Shieldmains Colliery Company and their families.
The village is supplied with gravitation drinking water.
Owing to the deplorable condition of the inadequate closet accommodation, grown-up people cannot use it, and the whole adult population of the village has therefore no closet accommodation at all.
3. Gasswater Rows
(William Baird & Company, Lugar.)
These rows are situated on the main road between Cumnock and Muirkirk, 4 miles from Cumnock. There are four rows. Two are built of stone and two of brick, and all are slated.
Row No. 1. - The first row (nearest Muirkirk) consists of eight houses, but six of them are unoccupied, and one tenant has rented two houses and pays 6s. 6d. per month. There are eight inmates.
There are no closets, no washhouses, and no coal-houses.
The only water supply is from a pipe running into a horse trough on the side of the road about 300 yards from the houses.
Row No. 2. - The houses in No. 2 row are built of stone, and are all single-apartment houses, but in some cases a family has rented two houses. . The house measures 15 feet by 12 feet.
There are neither coal-houses nor washhouses. There are two closets without doors and ash-pits without roofs. There are ten houses, but three of them were empty at the date of inspection (13th November 1913). The population was 26. The only water supply is at a pump about 200 or 300 yards away. The rent is 2s. a week. Pathways in front of houses are unpaved and very muddy.
Row No. 3. - This row is built of brick. There are ten single-apartment houses. There are no washhouses nor coal-houses. The people keep their coals below their beds. The apartment measures 17 feet by 14 feet. The rent is 2s. 2d. a week. There are two closets and ash-pits. The closets have no doors and the ash-pits no roofs. The population was 33.
Row No. 4. - This is also built of brick, and in the same position with regard to conveniences as Row No. 3. There are no washhouses, no coal-houses, and there is one closet without doors for the twelve houses in this row, and one ash-pit without a roof. There were two empty houses, and the population of this row was 30. The water supply is from the pump which supplies the other rows. The whole adult population of these four rows are without any closet accommodation, as owing to the want of privacy (no doors) they cannot use the accommodation provided. The surroundings of the closets are littered with human excrement. the houses are owned by William Baird & Company, and are inhabited by the workers of the pits belonging to that firm in the neighbourhood.
(William Baird & company.)
These rows are situated about three miles from Cumnock on the Cumnock and Muirkirk Road.
Row No. 1 - This row is built of brick, and the walls are cemented. The roofs are slated. There are eighteen houses in this row, and the population is 101. The houses have a kitchen 15 feet by 14 feet, and two small rooms 9 feet by 6 feet each. There are no fires in the rooms, and the tenants complain they are very damp. The windows are very small, measuring 4 feet 10 inches in height and 2 feet 4 inches wide. The windows are made so that they cannot be opened.
There are neither washhouses nor coal-houses, and the coals are kept under the beds. For this population of 101 there are three closets with doors on them, and three ashpits in front of the houses. A syvor runs down the front of the houses, and there was a considerable amount of filth at the grating at the end of the syvor. The refuse taken out of the syvor is dumped down on the ground immediately outside the door of the end house.
Row No. 2 - This is a replica of Row No. 1. The population was 113. The open cesspool was in a filthy condition. There are eighteen houses with three closets and ash-pits built in front of the doors. One of the tenants said to us at this row, "You should have come here in the summer time ; it costs us about 1s. a week for flypapers."
Row No. 3 - This row is in exactly the same position as Row No. 2, but there are only sixteen houses in this row, with a population of 73.
Row No. 4 - This row is built of brick, with walls cemented, but the roof is nearly flat and is not slated, but covered with tarcloth. There are twenty-four houses of two apartments. The kitchen is 16 feet by 9 feet, and the room 9 feet by 8 feet. There are no fires in the rooms, and the windows are permanently fastened. The rent is 5s. 6d. per month. There are three closets and three ash-pits for those twenty-four houses. About half of the houses were empty, and the population of those inhabited numbered 56.
Row No. 5. - This row is exactly the same as Row No. 4. The roofs are tarred instead of slated. There are twenty-eight houses with five closets and five ash-pits. The rent is the same as Row No. 4. A large number of the houses are empty. The population was 80.
Row No. 6. - This row is similar to Row No. 5. The houses are constructed in the same manner. There are thirty houses in this row, but on 13th November 1913, twenty-one were empty and only nine inhabited. There were five closets for this row.
Row No. 7. - This is a superior row built of stone, and inhabited by the schoolmaster, policeman, and foreman of various kinds. There are thirteen houses, 11 two-apartment houses. The kitchen measures 12 feet by 12 feet and the room 10 1/2 feet by 10 1/2 feet. The other two houses are one of four apartments and one of three apartments. Even in this row no washing-houses are provided unless the people build them themselves, and this has been done in several cases. In this row only are the people provided with coal-houses. The rent of the two-apartment houses is £4, 4s. per annum.
Summary. - The population of this village will be approximately 600, and there is not a single washing-house for the whole population. With the exception of the small Row No. 7, there is not even a coal-house. The windows are all permanently fastened. The pathways in front of the houses are all unpaved, and in the winter time they are in the condition of a quagmire. The village is supplied with gravitation water, and there are two wells in every row. The company employs a scavenger. The houses are said to be about sixty years old, are owned by William Baird & Company, and inhabited by the mining workers of that firm.
5. Stable Row, Parish of Auchinleck
This is a small row of 6 two-apartment houses and one single-apartment house. The rent is £5 per annum. The houses are built of stone. The kitchen is 16 feet by 12 feet, and the room 12 feet by 12 feet. The population was 37. There are no washing-houses and no ash-pits. The refuse is thrown about on the ground round about the houses, and the stench is abominable. The sewage runs as a flow of filth through the ground into a burn close by. The only closet is a miserable wooden erection, with two compartments. It measured 6 feet in height, 5 1/2 feet in width, and 3 feet from back to front. This is a horrible place. It is said to belong to the trustees of Sir Claud Alexander, of Ballochmyle.
6. Common Row, Parish of Auchinleck
(William Baird & Company.)
This row consists of ninety-six houses built together in a long line without an opening. They are two-apartment houses. The kitchen measured 14 feet by 12 foot, and the room 12 feet by 9 feet. The houses are built of stone, and the rent is 7s. per month. The population of the row was 506. There is not a single washing-house for all this population. The ash-pits, the closets, and coal-houses are all built together and placed only 5 yards from the doors of the houses. The closets have no doors, and two open compartments. There are seventeen of these erections for the whole row. The stench of the closet and ash-pits at the very doors of the houses is abominable. The floors of the closets are nearly all littered with human excrement, and owing to the want of privacy these closets cannot be used by females or grown-up persons. The pathways in front of the houses are unpaved, and when we visited the place on the 13th November 1913, the whole place was a perfect quagmire, and indeed it was hardly possible to step from a door without going up to the ankles in "glaur." An open syvor runs down the front of the row, and carries the filth past the doors of the houses to a settling tank, which is erected at the end of the row, from whence the sewage is discharged into the burn. The houses are owned by William Baird & Company.
Additional information from Thomas McKerrell, Minutes of evidence
In response to questioning regarding the issue of intimidation of those who complained about their houses - "In that famous Common Long Row, a miner, twenty or twenty-five years ago, wrote a poem about it, describing the amenities of the Row. I have tried to find it, but I could not lay my hands on it. The last line in the poem is to the effect that if the owners knew the author of the poem, " There will be nae ' oncost in my pey on Seterday."
7. Darnconner, Parish of Auchinleck
(William Baird & Company.)
Darnconner consists of two squares of houses and several rows. The houses are built of brick with cemented walls.
Low Square. - This square consists of seventeen houses of two apartments. The rent is 5s. 6d. per month. There are no washing-houses, but several washing-house boilers have been erected. Whoever erected them forgot to build a house over them, and the women have to do their washing in the open air. There are two closets, without doors, for these seventeen families; and an open ash-pit in the centre of the square was filled to overflowing and the stinking refuse strewn about for yards. Another heap of refuse was dumped down at the corner of the houses. The coal-houses were so dilapidated that several tenants kept their coals below their beds. The kitchens measured 13 feet by 13 feet, and the room 9 feet by 5 1/2 feet. The population of this square was 99.
High Square. - There are also seventeen houses in this square, of the same description as in the low square. There is only one closet without doors, and two open compartments for these seventeen families. The population was 90. The ash-pit in the centre of the square is also here filled to overflowing and the filth strewn about everywhere. There are no pavements, and the "glaur " is inches deep at the doors of the houses.
Railway Rows. - These are two rows running parallel to each other. Each row has 12 single-apartment houses at the front and 12 single-apartment houses at the back, built back to back. In all they contain 48 single-apartment houses, twenty-four built back to back. In several cases families have rented two kitchens, and by means of putting through a communication have made them into two-apartment houses. The rent is 5s. per month, and where one family has rented two kitchens the rent is 9s. 6d. per month. For these forty-eight houses there are two closets without doors and two open compartments, and one closet in ruins, but surrounded by a sea of human excrement. The population of these houses is 137. The houses are very damp. The floors are brick tiles with a very uneven surface, and in one case where a tenant had attempted to improve the amenities, by putting in a wooden floor, the damp was so destructive that the floor rotted, and we saw a floor with half of the wood relifted and the other half of the floor with the original brick tiles. The unpaved roadways in front of the houses are in a horrible mess. Pools of water several inches deep lay at the very doors, and all the pathways were quagmires.
School Row. - This row contains 6 two-apartment houses, and has one closet without doors. The population is 17. It is in the same condition as the rows previously described.
Store Row. - This row has 6 single-apartment houses, with a population of 23, and has neither closet nor ash-pit, unless the people go across the road to use the conveniences belonging to the other rows already described. The pavement here is also a quagmire.
Summary. - The population of Darnconner is approximately 400, and there is not a closet, for the whole of the population, with a door on it. There is not a washing-house, and the whole place reeks of human dirt and "glaur." It belongs to William Baird & Company, and is inhabited by a mining population.
8. Ballochmyle Rows, Parish of Auchinleck
These are two rows of twenty-four houses each, facing each other on the main road. They are two-apartment houses built in blocks of four. The kitchen measures 14 feet by 11 feet, and the room 11 feet by 11 feet. There is an earth-closet with doors for each six tenants. The closets and ash-pits are situated at the back of the houses. There are no washing-houses and no coal-houses. The rent is 2s. per week. The population was 227. There is no pavement in front of the houses, and there is an abundance of mud at the doors of the houses.
9. Broom Knowe Cottages, Dalmellington
Model Dwellings. The Dalmellington Coal and Iron Company have built forty model cottages in close proximity to the town of Dalmellington.
The cottages are built in two rows, and are of brick and rough-cast. There is a small garden plot of ground surrounded with a wooden railing in front of every house. Each house has both a front door and a back, and the accommodation provided is two rooms, a kitchen, a scullery, with washing-house boiler and a water-closet and coal-house. The dimensions of the apartments are as follows:-
Kitchen, 21 feet by 10 1/2 feet (exclusive of set-in beds).
Room No. 1, 11 feet by 10 feet.
Room No. 2,11 feet by 10 feet.
Back kitchen or scullery, 10 feet by 9 feet.
The rent of this house is 4s. per week, including rates.
The kitchen is fitted up with a large press reaching from the ceiling to the floor, and is arranged so that one compartment serves as a wardrobe and another serves as a cupboard. The back kitchen, the water-closet, and coal-house are built like outhouses, but joined to the main building. There is no ash-pit, but the people put their refuse in pails, and this is collected by the scavenger every day. This is almost an ideal house for a miner's family. The addition of a bathroom would have made it complete, and it will be observed that the length of the kitchen, 21 feet, leaves almost sufficient room to take a portion of it for a bathroom, and still leave an ordinary sized kitchen. This could have probably been done at a cost of another 3d. per week on the rent. We are of opinion that if this were done, and houses of that description supplied to the miners, the housing problem, so far as these workers are concerned, would be practically solved. We desire to draw the attention of the Commissioners specially to a consideration of this house. We consider that although in the case of a miner who is the only breadwinner the rent would be a little high, it is less than is usually paid by the artisan in the towns for a room and kitchen in a tenement building, and that the rent could easily be afforded by a miner who has some of his family working. The house for the accommodation provided is, in our opinion, very cheap.
10. Loudon Rows, Galston
(William Baird & Company.)
There are three rows running parallel to each other. They are built of brick, and the walls have a thick coating of cement and are whitewashed. The roofs are round shaped and covered with tarcloth instead of slates, and they are therefore better known as the "Tarry Rows." There are eighteen houses in each row. The houses are two-apartment ones. In the row nearest the Burgh of Galston the kitchens have two set-in beds, and the rent in this row is 7s. 3d. per month, including rates. In the other two rows the kitchen has only one set-in hod, and the rent is 6s. per month. There are three erections with ash-pit and closet built together, and placed only five yards from the doors of the houses in front of the buildings, for each row. The houses have no back doors. Wooden coal-houses have been provided, but there are no wash-houses, and on the date of our visit (24th November 1913) we saw several women washing in the open air. The floors of the houses are brick tiles, and many of them have sunk considerably since they were laid. The surface of the floors is therefore so very uneven that some of the tenants complained to us that during wet weather the water sometimes lay 2 inches deep on the sunken tiles near the door. The houses are said to be very cold in the winter time, for the walls seem to be only 9 inches thick. The houses are said by the tenants to be so very damp that the water runs down the walls in wet weather. The windows are permanently fastened. The houses are situated so very near the river Irvine that when the river overflows its banks they are inundated with water. We are informed that during the last nine years on three occasions the houses were so flooded that the water rose so high as to put out the kitchen fires. The pathways in front of the houses are unpaved, but owing to a good coating of ashes there was very little mud. A scavenger is employed by the Company to keep the place clean, and his efforts appear to have been very successful, for there was an absence here of that filth which characterised most of the rows we have previously described.
11. Kinloch Square, Gauchalland Rows, Galston
(Galston Gauchalland Coal Company.)
There are thirty-six houses in this square and these rows. They are built of stone. There are 6 single-apartment houses and 30 two-apartment houses. The rent of the two-apartment houses is 2s. 3d. per week and the single-apartment houses 1s. 6d. per week, with the exception of six houses in the High Gauchalland Row, where the rent of a two-apartment house is 1s. 9d. per week. The front row, facing the main road, has a plot of ground surrounded by a wooden railing in front of the houses. There is one closet for every two families, and one washing-house for every six tenants. All the tenants have coal-houses. The outhouses are situated in the centre of the square and a respectable distance from the doors of the houses. A slight subsidence has had the effect of causing cracks in some of the walls, and the brick-tiled floors are very uneven. The pathways are unpaved, but at the date of our visit they were not very muddy. the tenants in the back row complain that their houses are very damp. The houses are said to be about sixty years old, and are inhabited by the mining population of the Gauchalland Coal Company. There is a plentiful supply of gravitation water.
12. Maxwood Rows, Galston
(Littlejohn & Sons)
These rows are situated just outside the boundary of the Burgh of Galston in the direction of Newmilns. There are two rows. One row consists of 10 single-apartment houses and the other 10 two-apartment houses. The houses are built of brick, with walls thinly cemented. The rent is - for single-apartment houses 1s. 7d. per week, and for two-apartment houses 2s. 6 ½ d. per week, inclusive of rates. There are four closets for the twenty families, and four ash-pits. The closets have doors, but the ash-pits have no roofs. Each tenant has a coal-house, but there are no washing-houses. We saw several rents in the walls, which appear to have been caused by a subsidence. The tenants complain that the houses are damp. The closets and ashpits are at the front of the doors. The pathways are unpaved and muddy. There is only one well to supply water for the twenty families. It is gravitation water, and a tank has been built to store it, but the tenants complain that very often the supply of water is so very scarce that they have to wait for a long time before getting their pails filled. This may be due to the fact that the houses are built on a considerable elevation. The measurement of the single-apartment houses is approximately 16 feet by 11 foot. The houses are owned by Messrs Littlejohn & Sons, coalmastors, Galston, and are inhabited by workers and their families.