Abandoned Communities ..... Ayrshire
By 1950 people from Woodside had started to move into other accommodation in the Tarbolton area. In February that year the third reunion of Woodside people took place. Held in the Claude Hamilton Memorial Hall in Coylton, it was attended by everyone still living in the village as well as a number of former residents. They ranged from toddlers to 89 year old Mrs Elizabeth Watters.

A full account of the reunion appeared in The Ayrshire Post, 24 February 1950.

The main speaker at the reunion was Mr David Shimmons, now living in Ayr. After praising the beauty of the countryside around Woodside he mentioned some of the places where residents might go for a walk. If you walked up the Townhead Road and down through the field you might come across courting couples sitting under a tree looking down on the lovely woodlands of the River Coyle. Alternatively you could take a walk along the River Ayr between the viaduct and Gadgirth bridge. If it was a Sunday and the weather was warm all sorts and sizes could be seen taking a dook in the river, with plenty of onlookers as well.

David Shimmons commented on the fact that many people in Woodside lived well beyond the age of three score years and ten in spite of their very basic living conditions. He attributed this to the quality of parenting in the village and the strong sense of community. Parents were kind-hearted, honest, and straightforward, who taught children what was right. If a family breadwinner was ill or injured a neighbour would go into their house, place some provisions on the table and say to the good wife “Now what can I do to help you?”. Tramps, having passed the night at the local brick works, knew they could always get tea, sugar, and bread in the village, not just a “piece”.

David Shimmons went on to mention the doctors who served the village, Dr McGill and his son James. Dr James McGill would never avoid a call-out, if necessary getting down on his hands and knees to crawl into a tinker’s tent and attend the tinker’s sick child. In those days the doctors would also have to find time to make up the medicines for their patients.

Mentioning the doctors’ duties reminded David Shimmons of a joke about a neighbouring village. The minister who had to take the service on Sunday morning arrived late on the Saturday night. Needing a shave and not wanting to leave it until the Sunday morning he was directed to the village blacksmith. The blacksmith applied the soap, spat on his hands and rubbed it in. The minister looked at him and said “Do you do that to everyone?”. “No, no,” said he, “to the folk ah ken ah jist spit on their face.”

A paraffin lamp, the main form of lighting in Woodside. It belonged to Jenny Saunders, but is now owned by her great nephew James Wilcox.