Maybole history saved for future

John and the team
John and the team

The tiles rescued from the demolished Co-op building in Maybole are going on public display next month.

The tiles have been preserved mainly due to local contractor John Jamieson and he is keen that as many people as possible get the chance to see the tiles.

The exhibition is free and open to everyone and will be held in the Carrick Centre on Saturday, December 6 from 12 noon till 3pm.

The old Co-op building was opened in 1931 and closed in 1989, with it condition worsening as the years passed.

Talks had taken place for many years between Maybole Community Council and South Ayrshire Council regarding the dangerous condition of the building, but it was complicated by the owner living overseas.

The possibility of saving the tiles in the former butcher’s shop had also been requested by the community council.

The tiles were created by the ceramic tile artist James Duncan and it was decided to include an item in the tender to try to save some tiles.

John Jamieson Ltd, Maybole, duly won the tender process and at the pre-start meeting the significance of the tiles was raised again, with enquiries about the possibility of saving them during the demolition process. Mr Jamieson stated at the meeting that if they could be preserved he would endeavour to do so as they were important to the local community.

Once this part of the building had been made safe to enter, a meeting was held on site to view the tiles. Attending were officers from South Ayrshire Council, members of the community council and also an expert in Historic Shop Conservations, Dr Lindsay Lennie. She gave background information on the tiles and James Duncan.

The demolition proceeded and Mr Jamieson left the walls where the tiles were located to last. He then took it upon himself, at his own expense, to purchase equipment which allowed the removal of most of the tiles. The tiles are currently mounted on eight backing boards for display purposes and Mr Jamieson paid tribute to all of his team.

Mark Fletcher, community council chairman, said: “From day one, John said he would do everything he could to save some tiles.

“He and his team started the demolition working from the back to the front of the building and to everyone’s delight the tiled walls were intact, with the collapsed roof sitting on top of the walls.

“When it was safe, a small group was allowed to meet to photograph the tiles and Dr Lindsay Lennie an expert in the field was there to offer advice. It became apparent that saving the tiles was no easy task and there would be considerable cost implications.

“Undeterred, John continued with the demolition and the skills of his team soon became apparent. They cleared the site managing to leave the three walls with tiles standing.

“Then, painstakingly and with the use of a special cutting tool purchased by him, John and his team set about removing each tile individually and transporting them for safe keeping.

“They have now finished cleaning and mounting the tiles and with his kind permission they will be on display in the Carrick centre and open to all on Saturday.”