The Farming Community

The Farming Community

Star InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar Inactive
 

Despite the ever growing incoming population of industrial workers engaged in the expanding textile industries within Mearns, the farming folk maintained a very healthy presence in the community. By 1841 upwards of 110 farms were being worked in the Parish of Mearns, many of which had become relatively prosperous enterprises.

Within this community emerged a number of families who through time were to expand their influence over several farms through marriage and the extension of family units. This habit of intermarrying amongst farming families had the effect of binding the community together and developing a strong local identity, which is apparent even to this day.

To view details of farm owners and tenants from Census records for 1841 to 1901, click on the following link. The Census pages have been compiled by Brian Bittle, who has kindly allowed us to use them on our website: Mearns Farm Occupants 1841 to 1901.

Despite this kinship through family, association and occupation, there was always a welcome for fresh blood in the community, and from information in available records, several instances of farmers from outwith the parish choosing to farm in Mearns can be identified.

Often with new settlers came new ideas and this was apparent with some of the farms expanding their product range from dairying to crop management. Potatoes were one such crop often grown to supply the demand from the nearby towns.

In the 1920’s, one Mearns farmer even turned his attention to growing strawberries, much to the delight of the local children who not only gained seasonal employment picking the crop but no doubt pleasure in tasting it at the same time.

Through time the more affluent farmers were able to purchase their holdings thus ensuring relative stability for their families and freedom from the pressures of landlords. Many of the farmers in Mearns today are descendants of these families.

Despite the hard work and long hours, farmers did find some time for relaxation. There was an annual outing to Auchincruive. The one in the picture below was just before the war.

Annual Outing to Auchincruive

 

On another occasion in December 1916, a number of farmers met in the Newton Inn “Resolved on drinking tea”. The purpose of the meeting was in fact to raise money for “The Scottish Farmer” Ambulance Fleet. A convivial evening was held and further funds were raised by selling copies of the poem, reproduced below, which describes the evening’s proceedings. For ease of recognition, the names of the farms are highlighted.

 

A MEARNS FARMERS’ SOCIAL

A poem written to raise funds for “The Scottish Farmer” Ambulance Fleet in WW1.

 

At a social held at Newton Mearns,

December twenty-three,

The members of the Union met,

Resolved on drinking tea.

 

When tea was passed, the tables cleared,

And every man had come,

It quickly did appear to me

That things were gaun tae hum.

 

We first began to ca’ the crack,

Then singing did commence;

The fiddle, tae, was on the job,

It nearly made us dance.

 

So Balgray sang the “Bull and Bush”,

Bogside sang “Scotland Yet”;

Then Blakehouse gied “A Pint o’ Wine”.

Each man he did his bit.

 

John Clark laid aff “The Star o’ Burns”,

The king of sangs, they say;

And Westfield on the piano played

That fine tune, “Robin Gray”.

 

Young Star then sang “The Whinny Knowes”,

Green then did ane by Burns,

Sheildhill next gied twa comic sangs;

We laughed and cheered by turns.

 

John Glassford sang us “Half Past Ten”,

It was the best of a’,

And when we ‘cored, and ‘cored again,

He gied us “Johnny Raw”.

 

The nicht drave on wi’ fun and Glee,

The toasts began at nine.

So Blakehouse did “The Croupier’s” health,

Lofts did “The Chairman’s” fine.

 

Says Sandy Kerr of Balgray Stane,

“A toast I’ll give to you,

Here’s tae the boys, the nation’s stay,

The boys that haud the plew”.

 

Langrig took up the kindred theme

Of crops and cultivation,

Proved to the hilt, should farming fail,

Down with it goes the nation.

 

Of industries, greatest was

The farming, he did boast,

Bade each arise, with glass in hand,

And “Agriculture” toast.

 

Townhead was last of a’ to speak,

His toast was “Mr Wren”.

And sae the speeches winded up

Just on the stroke of ten.

 

Langrig ─ of chairmen a’ the king ─

Kept order up tae time;

And sae we closed a rattlin’ nicht

Wi’ “Auld Lang Syne”.

 

Then each and a’ made tracks for hame,

A lot o’ merry Scots.

May every Branch its Social hae

‘Twixt Mearns and John o’ Groats.

 

 

Blakehouse,

Newton Mearns,

9th January 1917.

___________

 

P.S. – Frien’s, dinna grudge a bob or twa

For my bit silly rhyme;

It’s just to help the boys wha fa’

Within the firin’ line.

 

Despite the dramatic change in the landscape of Mearns brought about by the rapid expansion of housing developments covering vast areas of agricultural land, some of the original farms still exist to present times. Not all survive as working farms, indeed many were sought after for conversion into private homes by persons with no farming connections. The vast number of incoming residents may not be aware of the great debt owed to the earlier farmers of Mearns in maintaining the pleasant appearance of the area and creating the environment now enjoyed today.

 

 


© 2019 Mearns History Group. All Rights Reserved. Designed by Nuadha