A Stroll round 1960s Saltcoats

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down south
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A Stroll round 1960s Saltcoats

Post by down south » Sat Aug 15, 2009 1:10 pm

Welcome everybody to a stroll round Sunny Saltcoats in the 1960s. Well, we hope it'll be sunny; if for some strange reason it isn't , there are plenty of cafes, shops and places of entertainment to shelter in on our route. It's the 1960s, and mainly the latter part, because that's the time I know best, but we'll look backwards and forwards a little sometimes if the occasion arises.

It's also the 1960s because the town centre of Saltcoats, always the metropolis of the Three Towns ( and as such familiar, unlike Ardrossan or Stevenston,to all Threetowners ) , is arguably at its peak . Holidaymakers are still flocking there in their thousands at Glasgow Fair, and all the attractions are still there to cater for them. And it's definitely the heyday of the town as a shopping centre. All through the decade there were new building projects going on round town, as local businesses expanded or branched out, and bigger outside firms moved in. Only by travelling to Kilmarnock, Ayr or Glasgow would you do better for shops; Irvine had comparatively little to offer for its size until the new precinct was built as part of Irvine New Town.

I was certainly impressed from an early age by the sheer number and variety of Saltcoats shops. I first set out to list them at the age of about eight; an idea I very soon thought better of at the time ! But many years later, in a fit of nostalgia not long after leaving town, I made a much better list; not complete in some of the less familiar parts, but much better than I'd have managed from scratch now. With the aid of this; a 1967 phone book, very useful for sorting out the order of shops; and some old receipts and advertisements, some of which I'll add as illustrations; we can I hope restore Saltcoats in some detail to its former glory. And hopefully you''ll all have lots of memories and extra information to add to the picture.

This is going to be a leisurely stroll; anyone who's in a hurry can go and hang out in a cafe , take in a film or amuse themselves in an amusement arcade while the rest of us catch up. Since walking into Saltcoats always, for me, happened down Ardrossan Road, that's where we'll begin, with the aim of walking down Hamilton St . Whether we cover a street at a time or go all the way round on one side and back on the other; venture into less popular streets or stick to the main ones; we'll decide in due course.

Let's make a gentle start, as we reach the town end of Ardrossan Road, by looking across to Ness Gardens at the bottom of Caledonia Road Brae. There could well be "Welcome to Saltcoats " written in bedding plants on the raised part by the bus stop, after all; it was usually something of the sort.

There was very little land between Ardrossan Rd and the railway anywhere on that side; the houses can't have had much in the way of gardens. At that far end it narrows down to a sliver, and it was at the start of the sixties that someone had the idea of turning this piece of land into an ornamental garden. I can just remember it being new, and solemnly walking round all the paths in the lower part ; they occupied almost as much space as the beds, it was a tiny place really.

I've seen old photos showing buildings squeezed into that plot, huddled against the retaining wall . So perhaps someone can tell me, since I don't remember that far back; what were they, and had they been demolished recently to make way for the gardens, or at an earlier time ? And also perhaps where the name " Ness Gardens " comes from.

Susan

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Re: A Stroll round 1960s Saltcoats

Post by morag » Sat Aug 15, 2009 4:32 pm

Susan, I'm going to relish your walk because, as you say, Saltcoats was the hub. I'll chip in where I can!
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Re: A Stroll round 1960s Saltcoats

Post by Penny Tray » Sat Aug 15, 2009 4:57 pm

Susan,

I've been looking forward to the start of this walk. Your very eloquent description of the town circa 1960 is a bonus. As I read through it my first question was going to be "How did Ness Gardens get its name?" and then you go and query this yourself. Something was running in my mind that it was a tribute to a local lady who reached 100 years of age? Maybe I'm talking nonsense though.
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Re: A Stroll round 1960s Saltcoats

Post by wellparkno9 » Sat Aug 15, 2009 5:21 pm

Hi, In the '50's Bobby Lennox's aunty lived in the wee cottages,so did a family called Conwell.The gardens were named after Miss Ness a local school teacher ,she did live to be a 100 years old. Sam.

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Re: A Stroll round 1960s Saltcoats

Post by Wildfowler Lounge » Sat Aug 15, 2009 5:25 pm

It's a poor contribution, but 'Ness' is from Gaelic from Old Norse and means 'headland' (a bit like the 'rosán' in Ardrossan). Given the lie of the land where the gardens are, I think we really are looking for some kind of more recent naming than at pre-English placename. Hope that saves someone heading down a cul-de-sac. :)
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Re: A Stroll round 1960s Saltcoats

Post by morag » Sat Aug 15, 2009 9:00 pm

Back stepping a bit, Dr. McCann lived on Ardrossan rd. I was taken there after hours and he stitched up my hand. Very nice man. My aunt and uncle rented a house there one summer at the back of the garden was an alley and then the beach - how sweet was that? :)
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Re: A Stroll round 1960s Saltcoats

Post by Penny Tray » Sat Aug 15, 2009 9:41 pm

Having seen Sam's contribution, I'm more convinced than ever that the gardens were a tribute to Miss Ness when she reached the ripe old age of 100.

And, yes, Dr. McCann did live in Ardrossan Road. He wasn't my doctor but as a representative of the emergency services, I can tell you without fear of contradiction he was a gentlemen and answered his telephone 24 hours a day. He was always available. I never met Mrs. McCann but she sounded Irish when you spoke with her on the phone and whether it was 3 o'clock in the afternoon or 3 o'clock in the morning she always left you feeling that she was delighted you had disturbed her.

I think Dr. Leahy was in partnership with Dr McCann and he was equally conscientious.
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Re: A Stroll round 1960s Saltcoats

Post by morag » Sat Aug 15, 2009 10:08 pm

That's right, P.T. and along with Dr. Griffin, a bit more acerbic but a good doc nonetheless. Strolling on to St. Mary's quite an old church and quite small. We used to go there for Lenten mass as it was the only service that got us to school in time after, freezing cold early morning March , April. There was a counter opened round the corner, a bakery or dairy? where we could get a roll and hot drink.

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Re: A Stroll round 1960s Saltcoats

Post by brvhrtjimmy » Sat Aug 15, 2009 10:22 pm

yes miss ness was a primary school teacher at kyleshill school,she was my teacher when i started school,she lived in sharphill road and i think she stayed with her mother.
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Re: A Stroll round 1960s Saltcoats

Post by canfactory » Sun Aug 16, 2009 12:14 am

down south wrote: There was very little land between Ardrossan Rd and the railway anywhere on that side; the houses can't have had much in the way of gardens. At that far end it narrows down to a sliver, and it was at the start of the sixties that someone had the idea of turning this piece of land into an ornamental garden. I can just remember it being new, and solemnly walking round all the paths in the lower part ; they occupied almost as much space as the beds, it was a tiny place really.
Susan
In the very early 60's I remember a large house being on fire and completely destroyed in the area just behind Ness Gardens. My my memory is now a bit hazy but do you recall? I think perhaps it was on Arthurly Place right next to the rail bridge. It was a specatacular fire (to this wean!) and later you could look down at the ruins from the bridge itself as you headed down to the roundabout at the Clyde Coast offices, Ness Gardens on the right.

C.

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Re: A Stroll round 1960s Saltcoats

Post by wellparkno9 » Sun Aug 16, 2009 5:23 am

Hi Canfactory, I thought the fire was in the late 50's.It was in Artherly Pl. and there is still a gap site left to this day.At least one man died ,a Mr Lee.He was a brother of Hector Lee who owned the Albion.He had 3 sons and a daughter and his wifes name was Ailsa. Sam.

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Re: A Stroll round 1960s Saltcoats

Post by bobnetau » Sun Aug 16, 2009 7:04 am

I went to school with a girl called Ailsa Lee who I seem to remember lived in that general area. May have been her father who died. Ailsa later married Matt Stevenson who owned the Reaper in Ardrossan. I believe she died not long after 1979( we saw her when we were home then)
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