Stories from the Rows – Thanks for coming along!

From August to November of this year, the Lost Villages project team hosted a series of events as part of Scotland’s Year of Stories 2022. The events were held in community centres across East Ayrshire, including Auchinleck, Dalmellington, Lugar and Muirkirk, as well as a special online event. These open events gave us the chance to share stories from the project with over a hundred local people, as well as gather more memories of the miners’ row villages.  

At each event, we shared a film edited by Dr Yvonne McFadden featuring oral history interviews from the project so far, as well National Library of Scotland Moving Images archive footage of the former mining villages which were cleared in the mid-twentieth century.

Attendees also heard Dr McFadden discuss the project, and had the opportunity to share their own memories of the former mining villages in writing on a memory board. We also had a memory booth, where people recorded their stories with one of our researchers. 

Groups of people seated around tables in a hall facing a large screen with a female speaker addressing them.

Image: Dr Yvonne McFadden discusses the project in Auchinleck

At the Dalmellington, Muirkirk and online events, attendees also had the chance to enjoy music from local singer-songwriter Seán Gray, and poetry from Ayrshire-based poet and former miner Rab Wilson. Seán and Rab have been collaborating on work relating to the history of Ayrshire and the mining villages, and it was brilliant to hear these works performed.

Man standing in next to an image performing

Image: Rab Wilson reading his poetry in Muirkirk

Image Attendees in Dalmellington enjoying Seán Gray’s song ‘The Great Stariski’, a work adapted from Rab Wilson’s poem of the same name about the legend of Johnny Stariski, who performed a handstand at the top of the Barony Colliery near Auchinleck

Many of those who attended brought along their own stories and memories of the villages. We spoke with members of the last family to leave the High Houses Row in Auchinleck, and one attendee even brought along a list with names of everyone who lived in the Grasshill Row and White’s Row in Glenbuck.

Image: A copy of the Glenbuck Co-operative balance sheet, brought along by Billy Burns. This was just one of the many treasures attendees shared with us at our events. 

Dr Yvonne McFadden said “These events have been wonderful and the feedback from the communities has been really positive. We were delighted to share the archive footage with everyone. From these events, we’ve gathered new oral histories from those who lived in the villages.

“We’d like to say a huge thank you to everyone who came along and got involved!”

If you have a story about the miners’ row villages you’d like to share, or would like to find out more about the project, please get in touch! Email

This event has been supported by the Year of Stories 2022 Community Stories Fund. This fund is being delivered in partnership between VisitScotland and Museums Galleries Scotland with support from National Lottery Heritage Fund thanks to National Lottery players.  

Also, thank you to the Coalfield Communities Landscape Partnership for their continuing support and the National Library of Scotland, Moving Images archive for their help with the archive footage.