Growing up in the biggest garden in Scotland!

Childhood memories

 

When I was two years old I moved with my mother, father and brother to live in Belleisle Estate and living there was an amazing experience.  At Belleisle, it felt as if we had

 

•   the biggest garden in Scotland - the whole Belleisle Estate

•   the biggest greenhouse in Scotland -the Belleisle Conservatory

•   the biggest house in Scotland - a two-bedroom apartment that spanned the Stables and Courtyard;

•   and the biggest collection of pets in Scotland -the former Belleisle Pets Corner.

 

My brother and I roamed the park from end to end and used to visit the Conservatory practically every day to say hello to the statue of the Black Lady, The Water Carrier, and tickle her toes for luck. 

Below our house was where the Greenkeepers for the Belleisle Golf Course kept their ride-on lawnmowers and other equipment, and behind us there was the tractor shed that housed a red Massey Ferguson and a blue Fordson Super Dexta. My brother and I were fascinated by these huge vehicles.

My father worked for Ayr Borough Council Parks Department. My mother had three jobs, working at Belleisle Hotel as a waitress, as a cleaner at private houses in Alloway and in the kitchen at the Land 'O' Burns Centre.  During our teens, my brother worked on a milk round before going to school and worked as a waiter in Belleisle Hotel in the evenings; and I did a paper round (starting at 4am) for Doonfoot Stores.

We had no car, no TV and no landline telephone. We were a very poor family in the middle of the two very affluent areas of Doonfoot and Alloway. Our school friends used to love coming to ours for a sleepover at weekends.

School days

While attending Alloway Primary School, I used to enjoy riding my bike there and back and when I had saved up enough money to treat myself to a new Raleigh Chopper MK1 in horizon blue, I felt like a King!

Sadly, not long after leaving Alloway Primary School and moving to Ayr Academy, I started to resent living at Belleisle Stables as I was frequently bullied. The bullies used to jump on my back slapping and kicking me saying that I must be a horse as I live in stables!  My father spoke numerous times to the Rector, but nothing ever got done about the bullying. 

Eventually, my father approached the Post Office about changing our address and soon it became 61 Doonfoot Road, Ayr.  However, the bullying continued until I couldn't stand it any longer and I rarely went to school.

After reaching the age of 16 and leaving school behind, I landed myself a job as an apprentice motor mechanic in Troon. Soon my family had a car (1968,Hillman Hunter), a landline telephone (number 0292 43747) and a television (26in, Black and White, Ferguson). Life was getting better.

In the early 1980s I moved down south and reinvented myself. I became an actor and worked for ITV as a supporting artist on Coronation Street.

 Reflections and Optimistic Outlook

I cannot tell you how heartbroken I still am when I go back to my old house at Belleisle and see that it no longer exists. The Stables Cafe and Golf Professionals Shop have been built on the site. It's as if I never lived there. I spoke with a young waitress at The Stables Cafè the last time I was there and I said, "I used to live on the spot where you are standing right now" - she looked at me as if I was mad!

However, my memories of living at TheStables are undimmed and I still value having had the experience of living in the biggest garden in Scotland!

As I reflect on the demolition of my former home, I am excited to know that Belleisle Park and the Belleisle Conservatory are still well maintained and available as a resource for the people Ayr.  I am also excited to learn of the innovative Alloway Railway Tunnel Project

I was born too late to know the Ayr to Girvan Railway while it was operational, however I do remember the Alloway Railway Tunnel for many reasons. When we attended Alloway Primary School, my brother would dare me to go through the tunnel. It was a dark, damp and scary place to go alone!  However, when our parents sent my brother and me to Sunday School at Alloway Church Hall, we never went, we just hid together in the tunnel until it was time to go back home.

I also fondly remember the Black Steam Train which for many years was sited on Dunure Road outside the original Butlins Holiday Camp.   I am so pleased to hear about the Alloway Railway Tunnel Project which will preserve the memory of the railway.  We need to remember and look after the past for generations to come.

 

Allan Scott

 

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