I did mention in one of my previous articles that I would return to the most iconic building in Girvan which is, of course, ‘Stumpy Tower’. I must be brief as the space allotted to me seems to get smaller every week.
The original Stumpy was built as a town jail and sited in the south-west corner of the market place.
It was a two-storey building with a thatched roof built in 1789, but that thatched roof was the problem, as it was easy for the prisoners to escape through.
Something more secure was required and it took them until around 1827 to construct a new town jail which, appropriately, took on the former jail’s name of Stumpy.
The new Stumpy, built at the other side of the market place from its predecessor, had three floors containing prison cells, with each cell having a hole in one corner where the prisoners could relieve themselves, the effluence draining into the river nearby.
No slopping out in Girvan’s prison. However, when using the toilet, the prisoners had to be careful that the prisoner in the cell above was not using it at the same time, as the hole serviced all the cells.
No thatched roof for this jail, as the top of the new stumpy was graced with a clock tower and a weather vane, which must have been proudly looked at by the good folk of the town, despite what it housed underneath.
The building was built at the junction of Knockcushion Street and Dalrymple Street, which, with the town hall and other properties built between 1825 and 1827, enclosed the town’s market place.
In 1908, the town hall and other properties were demolished and the McMaster Hall built, encompassing the whole area including the market place and incorporating Stumpy.
However, by that time, Stumpy was no longer the town jail as a new jail and police station had been built in what is now Chalmers Arcade car park.
I can remember seeing the old jail and police station before they were demolished for the car park.
The McMaster Hall is a tale worthy of itself, as it was a very fine building way ahead of its time, including many function rooms available to the people of the town.
The building was unfortunately destroyed in a fire in 1939 with the site cleared in the 1950s to leave Stumpy Tower proudly standing on its own.
Another wee tale which many must be aware of but nonetheless worthy of repetition.
See you next week.