South Ayrshire Image
Ayrshire Image January 13, 2015
Page in Preparation
The Tolbooth, or ancient Prison of Maybole, was formerly the town residence of the Lairds of Blairquhan; and before the recent alterations, the remains of the castle turrets facing the Straiton Hills could plainly be seen. But the old building has been so crushed out of shape now by the new one that it is difficult to trace its former appearance. However, the accompanying drawing, taken from the Royal Bank corner, may help to recall its old look. The prison cells were then on the ground floor, and the Court Room above. Outside the entrance door hung the " Jouggs to receive the prisoner's neck, while in the topmost storey lay the "Stocks" to receive his feet. Notwithstanding these precautions, however, there is a tradition that a "deserter " from Girvan, confined for the night in the top storey, managed to free himself from the stocke, squeeze his body through the iron bars of the window, drop into the garden beneath, and escape, to the great confusion, doubtless, of the authorities.
Those three ancient buildings, the Castle, the Tolbooth, and the Collegiate Church, give an air of antiquity to our town which few places have, and an observing writer in MacGibbon's Scottish Architecture thus alludes to this fact: "This little town, which stands on a hill-side sloping to the south, may be cited as a good example of the local centres, or provincial country-towns of early days. Such centres were then, when roads were bad and travelling dangerous, much more numerous than now, when travelling is easy and rapid; but few have preserved their pristine features so little altered as Maybole. Here we still find the castle of the Lord of the Bailiery standing guard at the east end, and that of the Laird of Blairquhan at the west end of the main street, while the remains of the Collegiate Kirk nestle quietly in the centre."
About four years ago, the old town buildings were shoved to the side, and the present new buildings erected. Certainly, the accommodation now is greatly improved, and the new Town Hall, capable of holdings 750 persons, has supplied a long felt need. All the same, I cannot help regarding it as a pity that the New should have so rudely jostled the Old out of sight. Surely the two might have been allowed to remain side by side without detriment to either; for it must be acknowledged that the engraving of the New Buildings, herewith presented by favour of Provost Marshall, makes matters a good deal better-looking than they really are. In former days, the out-buildings of the Blairqnhan Town House, like those of the castle, stretched nearly across the street, but they were by-and-by removed, although unfortunately the present " Spoon-creel" was allowed to be erected on their site. The cost of the New Town Buildings was about £3000.
This text draws on material published as "Places of Interest about Maybole with Sketches of Persons of Interest"
The Clock Tower is all that remains of the Ancient Tolbooth and the Town Hall was built adjacent to it last century to form the Town Buildings. These contain a large hall for concerts, dances, etc., a smaller hall for lesser functions and the Council Chambers. The latter contains many interesting items, such as the Town Staff, Visitors Book, pictures of local interest, etc. It also contains the old town bell which was cast in the town bell foundry by Albert Daniel Geli a Frenchman. on 6th November. 1696. It was in this chamber that General Eisenhower was made a Freeman of Maybole.
Guide to Maybole 1970