Kilmarnock & District History Group · Kilmarnock · Ayrshire · KA1 3HY

Archibald Finnie Part 3

Archibald Finnie of Springhill and John Finnie Street and

order of Buildings (grey sandstone as well as red).



As Archibald Finnie of Springhill by this time has been dead for 7 years as he died in 1876 (he spent the last brief months at Diamond Cottage Troon, a building his father had built by the seaside because he had Cancer due to a lump on his face which he had had for 20 yrs and probably this was why he never sat for a portrait like his father. It is said he “Hid away as he faded away” Yet another son also took his place also called Archibald Finnie of Springhill but he did not have any interest in Local Government and by this time he is also dead, his death Certificate showing cause of death “Sea Sickness with irritation of the stomache” which he endured for four months, finally succumbing to “syncope with nervous debility” in 1883 at the age of 32.  This is when  Mary Ann, Helena, Margaret and Jean, his sisters start to operate Archibald Finnie’s Estate through a Trust and Manager for the Mines through which they continued 7/8 pits until only a pit at Fergushill was open in 1908. It probably was fitting that Fergushill was the final pit to close as that is where Archibald Finnie and Son started mining operations in 1836. The Colliery closed by 1918 and Archibald Finnie and Son appeared to cease trading.

  Jean married James Robertson Buntine, Sherriff Substitute, of Stirling and died as a widow in Kilmarnock in 1938.Three weeks later her spinster sister, Mary Ann, died at Springhill House. Helena, also unmarried, died at the age of 84 at Springhill House in 1942.The final sister, Margaret, married the coal master John Sturrock in 1895 and died, aged 90, at Thorntoun House in 1947. Neither of the married sisters appears to have had children. (all above an extract from Chris Hawksworth page 30/31 Ayrshire Notes 41 Spring 2011).


1883 Bruce and Sturrock Architects designed a Gothic set of halls for The Laigh Church which were called the Laigh Church Mission Halls. The proprietor of the halls was The Laigh Church and it was also the tenant except for the shops in its frontage which originally had ( this was a common feature of most buildings in John Finnie Street the shops helped to defray the cost of the upkeep of the halls). Bruce and Sturrock mainly designed Roman Catholic buildings. They also employed a woman professional architect which was unusual at that time and if a woman was employed she was likely to be of amateur status.  She was a Sturrock and related to the Kilmarnock Sturrocks. In 1885 the nearest relevant Valuation rolls for this new building shows that there are two shops, Two Mission Halls and a Workshop, owned by Laigh Kirk Session with James Hood Cabinet maker acting perhaps as an agent with his address 1 Cheapside Street and he maybe also be a tenant for the shop and workshop and the tenant of the other shop was occupied by Clothiers Dickie and Wilson.

The other building was number 2-4 Ossington Temperance Coffee House which at the time of the Valuation Roll of 1884/85 was still empty yet another building designed by the Ingram family, by this time James Ingram had died in 1879, but his name was still in the firm’s title of J and RS Ingram. At last the passengers approaching the New Railway Station would get a view of a Classical Building in the new Ballochmyle red sandstone at the top of John Finnie Street as it was the first building on the East side of the street and a grand feast for the passengers eyes. A street which was laid out some 20 years ago. Was this site occupied with a building up to then or was it a gap site? As part of the reason for laying out John Finnie Street was to give visitors to the town a good impression coming out of Kilmarnock Railway Station in 20 years, we have only 9 out of 20 magnificent Classical Buildings which would eventually grace the street. It is worth pausing to reflect that as the train passengers passed the top of John Finnie Street if they were frequent travellers some will have aged considerably by the time the street had a substantial quantity of the Classic Ballochmyle red sandstone buildings.

 There may be an explanation for the delay perhaps a lack of funds because of a recession. Developers perhaps underestimated the potential of the street which laid down restrictions on the type of building which were the best classical ones of the time being not cheap to build, probably they were worth waiting for.

There is another puzzle was there a building between the Ossington and the Operetta House or again a gap site as the Ossington built an extension in 1995. This was twelve years after the original hotel was built. Probably there was a certain glamour being built beside an Operetta house but the Valuation records and the Kilmarnock Standard and a sticker in the new rebuilt Opera House Window tells a different story. John Gilmour a Coal Master was declared bankrupt in 1883 he was Chairman and driving force behind the Operetta House. The notice in the new Opera House which is now Council Offices says “The Braehead Free Church held their first service and soiree in 1883.” I assumed the Operetta house were allowing them to use a part of their building and in those days it would be unthinkable to have Operettas on a Sunday, Kilmarnock being a God Fearing Town. In the Kilmarnock Standard in 1885 notes of a fire in the Braehead Free Church in John Finnie Street which was “formerly the Operetta House.” The main damage was in the shops at the front and this was described as “extensive” but the conversion of the 1000 seater Operetta House to the rear to a Church seating about 600 was undamaged. The cause of the fire was a chimney fire in one of the shops fronting the Braehead Free Church. So the Braehead Free Church might have taken over the site of the Operetta house as early as 1883 and no later than 1885. The Valuation Roll for 1884 shows that the Operetta House is ‘Empty at the time of the entry being made.’ The renowned Kilmarnock Historian Archibald McKay Fifth Edition which was edited and brought up to date in 1909 (McKay had passed away in1883 aged 82) by a native of Kilmarnock William Findlay M.D. at page 271 under an article describing St John’s United Free Church which became the name the Braehead congregation adopted in 1895 “ After lengthened negotiations the handsome new theatre or opera house, erected in John Finnie Street some ten years previously  , was secured as the church of the congregation, and on April 2nd 1885 possession was taken “ ( This is supported by Valuation Rolls of the time) .The Ossington Hotel being a Temperance Hotel probably felt more comfortable having an evangelical church as neighbours rather than a Operetta House next door to it. You could say that the Braehead Free Church by altering the Operetta House to a “Free Church” it had “converted” it to a mode more in keeping with that part of the town.  The Proprietor of the Ossington was Lady Ossington who as Charlotte Cavendish Scott Bentinck was the second daughter of the 4th Duke of Portland. Her brother John became the 5th Duke of Portland and when he died without any issue and as his three brothers had pre diseased him a portion of the wealth was inherited by the Female Line. This wealth  was restricted to the Scott blood wealth supplied by her mother Henrietta Scott ( half million pounds mainly gamblings as her father General John Scott just happened to be one of the biggest card and dice winners of his generation before his success at gambling he only had a few debts and a small army Commission and of course as  he was an MP for Caithness and was not paid in that role although MPs would probably use their position to gain influence and riches ) This consisted of the modest Kilmarnock Estate and The Marleybone Estate( which had been added to the Scott Blood part of the 4th Duke’s Will perhaps to compensate the Female line or others more closely related to the 4th Duke for some of the problems of selling of his wife’s Henrietta’s estates early and merging and sinking into the Duke’s property) in London which proved to be a Gold Mine. The present owners The Howard de Waldens are every year on the Sunday times Rich List as they are Billionaires because of ownership of the Marleybone Estate in central London which includes Oxford Street and Harley Street. Even back in 1882 when Charlotte inherited the two estates some sources said she was “the wealthiest woman in Britain”. She clearly knew who her wealth came from by changing her name by Royal Warrant to Charlotte Scott.  This was the name she used in the Valuation Rolls.

 After her death her youngest sister Lucy Joan Scott Bentinck the next daughter in the female line to inherit and she had children, five sons and one daughter so when she dies the eldest son would inherit (both her sisters mentioned were childless).  If the diseased brother and sisters are counted when Lucy Joan Scott Bentinck married Charles Augustus Ellis( Charles street and Place in Kilmarnock were named after him) 6th Lord Howard de Walden who was an Ambassador to Portugal in 1828 she was 8th in line to inherit her father’s fortune.  He probably thought that the Howard de Walden’s were unlikely to inherit much of the 4th Duke’s wealth. So it was with some surprise that his wife inherited a part of the 4th Duke of Portland’s  and by that time she was also the Dowager of the 6th  Lord Howard de Walden ( Charles Augustus ) as her husband had died in 1868 some 21 years ago . Most of her wealth seems to have come from a settlement she received from the death in 1854 of her father the Fourth Duke of Portland amounting to £40,000. Then when she inherited the share of the Scott Blood part of her father’s will she would be considerably richer. Most of her husband’s wealth seems to have depended on a small sugar plantation (250 Slaves) in Jamaica. When Charles, her husband died in 1868 he owed so much money the plantation was insolvent. Lucy using her own money then made the Plantation solvent and instead of handing it over to her eldest son Frederick she gave it to Evelyn her youngest and favourite thus causing a feud within her own family. She probably thought that Frederick was not to be trusted as he was a drinker. So possibly as a result of her actions two of her sons got married before this, they seemed confirmed bachelors. They both married and their wives had children but as Frederick was the eldest therefore, he was next to inherit his mother’s share of the 4th Duke of Portland Scott’s will. However he was to die in the year he inherited the two estates probably due to his life style having not lived long  to enjoy his fortune for 4 months. Then his only and estranged son Thomas Evelyn Ellis became the 8th Lord Howard de Walden in 1899. He seemed popular and owned Kilmarnock Estates and Marleybone Estates in London for some 46 years. He drove the first Tram in Kilmarnock at a ceremony to celebrate the tram service in the Town.

 1886 The Kilmarnock Equitable Co-op Society Ltd continued to prosper and added an extension this year which graced John Dickie Street using the architect of the main building in John Finnie Street Gabriel Andrew. Although the main building was three stories Gabriel was able to tease an extra story to form a fourth story.

1888 In any organisation eventually discord can arise and this happened to the Kilmarnock Equitable Co-operative Society Ltd. A small group of members broke away about 1887 and joined another Co-operative, The Kilmarnock Industrial Co-operative Society Ltd .They built their Building alongside the Laigh Church Mission Halls in the same Gothic architect style so that today you might think it is part of the Laigh Church Mission Halls. It has a Hall a Cooperative Hall, called” Unity hall.” I sometimes wondered why Kilmarnock had two Co-operative Halls and the explanation is that there were for a short period of time two Co-operative Societies in Kilmarnock. The breakaway society did not use the usual Co-operative architect Gabriel Andrew and turned to RS Ingram. The Building eventually numbered 39-41 consisted of a Shop Store Bakery and Stables and it provided a Co-operative style service being associated with other Industrial Co-operatives. Alas the Kilmarnock Industrial Co-operative Society Ltd went under about 1898 when a Masonic Lodge took over the building hiring out the converted building for Masonic use to the other three Masonic Lodges. They all moved in 1927 when a purpose built Masonic Hall was designed by William Forrest Valentine along London Road near the Dick Institute. Ironically the building back at 39-41 was bought by The Kilmarnock Equitable Co-operative Society Ltd and is usually remembered as their Bakery shop.

In 1889 Gabriel Andrew is the Architect for what was originally The St Marnock’s Lodge of Oddfellows Temple. Men were keen to join a Masonic Hall but many did not have the strict eligibility criteria Oddfellows was created for such men and the” Oddfellows” was used to describe them. It became very popular towards the end of 19th Century allowing the Oddfellows to build this magnificent example of Gothic architecture. Their famous tenants were Singer Sewing Company. In the Same block there is another Proprietor and she is Mrs Elizabeth Calderwood widow 2 Ellis Street Kilmarnock (is this a widow of Calderwood the Builder ?) and her tenants are amongst others are Portland Estates owned by this time by the 5th Duke of Portland( The Tunnelling and eccentric Duke who never visited Ayrshire but was quite generous to his workers and industrious monitoring his estates through his Factors  and the Turner Bros being his Factors for Kilmarnock and Ayrshire based in Cessnock House Galston their Ducal seat in Ayrshire with an office in Kilmarnock now on John Finnie Street and the Duke at the Ancestral Home at Welbeck Abbey Sherwood Forest in Nottinghamshire.

In 1890 three red sandstone buildings were built,  two in John Finnie Street and one in Grange Place and all  were in the same style as the previous grand red sandstone buildings in John Finnie Street. The first one we will look at was the Kilmarnock Arms and I do not know who the architect was. Strangely its name does not appear in the Valuation Rolls for any year up to 1940 but there is a public house mentioned I have been told that the Kilmarnock Arms occupied the entire red sandstone  three story block, the ground floor the Public House, the next floor entertainments and lounge, the top was accommodation It was on the east side of the Street and one of the last buildings built on that side of the street. In 1869 the Kilmarnock Football Club was founded and sometime after 1890 The Kilmarnock Arms became a favourite of Kilmarnock Football Club Supporters.  The Valuation Rolls from 1895 and right up to 1940 strangely does not use the name “Kilmarnock Arms” but eventually it lists a Public House at John Finnie Street in the Valuation Roll of 1905 and in 1895 The Proprietor was John McCormack Joiner with Factors being Waugh Broadfoot and Reid  and the Tenants being (1) selves ( John McCormack changes to )(2) Alexander Stevenston Auctioneers (3) William Easdale Bird Restorer (4) George Cairns Joiner (5)  Elder Plasterer the Auctioneer must have had a good trade as his rateable value was £40 a year much higher than anyone else in the block! Kilmarnock Arms is long gone now and businesses at that location are varied with numbers from

Across the road is next of the trio of 1990 and it was built for The British Linen Bank strangely listed in the 1905 Valuation Rolls as “The British Company’s Bank” and Linen would be substituted for Company a bit later  and in the town Valuation Rolls . The Architects were Edinburgh Peddie and Kinnear. Yes it is in Classical style and red sandstone adding to splendour of the street. It was to the credit of the Council that Ballochmyle red sandstone would continue to be the norm for John Finnie Street.

The last of the three building is not really in John Finnie Street but it is up Grange Place South end and for years it was the Offices and Print Works of The Kilmarnock Standard Newspaper a red sandstone Classical building whose Architect was Gabriel Andrew. It is opposite the Grain Store Built for The Scottish Wholesale Co-operative Society in 1881 whose Architect was Gabriel Andrew as well.


1895 The Valuation Roll contains on the West side of John Finnie Street at number 89 and on investigation it is a red sandstone two storied but clearly not up to the standard of the other buildings in the street of the same stone. It is the Artillery and Brigade Offices and Houses with two other houses. Its Proprietor is Colonel John Guthrie Sturrock (Colonel Commanding the 1st Ayr and Galloway Volunteer Artillery) and two Tenants are listed (1) Sergeant Major Samuel T Sheffield (2) Sergeant Major Edward Dolphin. In the Ordinance Survey Map for Kilmarnock for 1896 the building is large and has a Drill Hall to the rear. This Voluntary force probably replaced the Militia in Scotland whose funding was denied by Central Government because of certain parts of Scotland involvement in the “Jacobite Rebellion of 1845” and before. Even when we were threatened with invasion from Napoleon we  were denied money from the Government and had to rely from money from local landlords such as Fullarton at Troon who funded a private Army which eventually made him bankrupt, which probably enabled the 4th Duke of Portland to acquire Fullarton’s Estate with the small village of Troon,Mansion and Harbour at a “Knock down price” which was useful for that end his Railway.


Now we stay on the West side and look at a new Ballochmyle red sandstone building  in the free renaissance style at the top of John Finnie Street the first building just after the embankment and Dunlop Street  which is the The Kilmarnock Club of 1898/9 by R.S. Ingram  whose elder brother William Ingram was involved  in the initial drawings for the design of the building but unfortunately he died in 1889. The Club was originally founded in 1884 when influential and well-known men came together in the George Hotel Kilmarnock’s main hotel then, now Manson and Murphy Corner. Some Club Members included the likes of T. Kennedy of Glenfield and Kennedy, G. Clark of Saxone Shoes and R. Blackwood of B.M.K. The original Club was in Green Street but the premises eventually became too small and the old Parochial Offices which was on the Club’s present site and the land was acquired as another purchase from the Miss Finnie of Springhill for £900. The Club’s premises are situated on the first floor approached by a pitched pine staircase from which you can observe a fine glass engraving to a landing from which there is access to a spacious Billiard/ Snooker room containing two tables and Club Meeting Room/Reading Room with both these large rooms having a grand view of John Finnie Street. There small bar accessed by the landing or the Club Meeting Room. The Club is Managed by a Clubmaster who in turn is managed by a Committee. In the past the Clubmaster was resident and had a two storied house situated on the ground behind the Club equipped with its own drying green!  Similar to other buildings in John Finnie Street the Club had four shops along the front ground floor. The most notable was Emile Morgenthaler Hairdresser who occupied two shop units as did James Hair Cabinetmaker. The occupier of the House was Alan Duncan Clubmaster.

1894-5 George Tannahill & Sons at 75-77 still open and one of the few grand buildings surviving. In Valuation Rolls of 1895 George Tannahill is listed and is the Proprietor of five premises on that site with the workshop and House , Warehouse and another House being Tenanted by themselves and two other Houses being Tenanted by (1) William Pollock Builder (2) James Black Insurance Agent.


1905    The next building had to wait for a school to be removed which was built in College Wynd, in front of the Laigh Kirk, about 1864, the same year John Finnie Street was laid out, but was not sufficiently large to impede the laying out of the new John Dickie Street in 1874. The school in question was the forerunner of St Joseph College which by 1903 had some 700 pupils. The Council persuaded it to close down and move to Rennie Street to a site which recently known as St Columba’s School as in our time St Joseph’s College had moved onwards to Grassyards in New Farm Loch. This enabled a building to be built which occupied the entire side of South side of John Dickie Street in 1905/06 The original proprietor was Kilmarnock’s oldest whisky makers from start to finish,  Wallace and Co. The architect was J M  Pearson of Pearson and Ronaldson and although the more famous Johnnie Walker took this Company over early in the Twentieth Century the original occupier on this site is remembered because this magnificent red sandstone building is named in stone letters as “Wallace Chambers”. The decorative end of this building projects onto John Finnie Street filling the space between John Dickie Street and College Wynd.


1907 - Kilmarnock by this date had an enough population to justify a Crown Property Post Office and a transfer of the Post Office from   Baillie Matthew Muir’s Building at 72-84 John Finnie Street. Architect of the new Post Office was W.T. Oldgrieve of HM Office of Works in grand tradition of the street’s other commercial buildings but the Baroque style more typical of its date.


1915 Valuation Rolls at 43/49 seems to suggest that James Hood Cabinet Maker has built a new red sandstone classical building in keeping with the buildings at 51/53 Archibald Finnie and Son and 39/41 the Masonic Halls and Bakery and James Hood is also the Tenant. I do not know who the architect was or builder and would be grateful to anyone who could supply these. I also wonder what was in this large space before or was it a gap site?


1930 Central Evangelical Church by William F Valentine. A similar building to Valentine’s building in London Road for the Masonic Lodges. Originally this building opened as a Christian Brethren Church.


1940 So far, the last Red Sandstone to be built in John Finnie Street and only 2 stories and not so grand as the usual East side 3 storey.  A Funeral Parlour for S.C.W.S. Ltd 95 Morrison Street Glasgow C5. Also an important change of Tenant appears at numbers 43/49 John Finnie Street when The Commercial Bank of Scotland leases the building which was the showroom and workshop of cabinetmakers and furniture suppliers James Hood and Son, the Proprietor being Trustees of the late Alex l Hood per Hugh Burnett& Co Solicitors Grange Place.

In a lighter vein there was a Billboard in John Finnie Street from1884/85 to 1940/41 with the Tenant being a Local man Andrew Wilson in 1884/85 whilst by 1940/41( the last years we have access to at present ) a national advertiser based in Glasgow takes over the Billboards in John Finnie Street.