A few months ago, we had received a letter from Mr. Donald L. Reid of Ayrshire, Scotland, informing us that there is yet another place on this planet that shares the name of the capital city of Bihar, Patna. Since then, we, at PatnaDaily.Com, had been toying with the idea of sharing this information with our visitors but for one reason or another, the idea remained just that, an idea!
This past December, however, things changed as Mr. Reid, a social historian who has written a number of books on the Valley of Doon in Scotland, its rich history and culture, once again expressed his fascination with Patna, Bihar, and the fact that his beloved town and our equally-beloved city shared more than just the name.
After exchanging a few emails, we, at PatnaDaily.Com, could not help but be drawn towards the culture and people of Patna, Ayrshire. We asked Mr. Reid to give us more details about his town in particular, and Valley of Doon in general, so we could share this wonderful information with our visitors.
Mr. Reid not only provided the text and pictures for this feature, he went one step further and sent us a personally autographed copy of his very absorbing book "Robert Burns' Valley of Doon - An Ayrshire Journey Down Memory Lane". The book gives fascinating details of the entire Valley of Doon, the home of Robert Burns (January 25, 1759 – July 21, 1796), the world-famous poet and the national bard of Scotland.
It is at the Valley of Doon Burns wrote "Auld Lang Syne" that is sung across Scotland at Hogmanay (New Year), and other poems and songs including "A Red, Red Rose," "A Man's A Man For A' That," "To A Louse" and "To A Mouse" that elevated him to a poetic height that is enjoyed by only a handful of littérateurs in the world.
Today Burns is revered and loved not only by the Scottish but also by every literature or poetry lover on this planet.
Coming back to Patna, Ayrshire, we believe our readers will enjoy its history and culture particularly in view of the fact that the two Patnas, though separated by thousands of miles, mountains, rivers and oceans, do in fact share some commonalities (river, mining, war memorial??) understanding of which could go a long way in appreciating the richness and goodness of both very historical, culturally rich cities.
So without further delay, let's begin our wonderful journey to Patna, Patna Ayrshire, that is.
- Editor, PD
Mr. Donald Reid in his letter to PatnaDaily.Com dated Dec. 27, 2006 wrote:
"A few months ago I was browsing the world wide web looking for sites relating to Patna, Ayrshire, as part of my research into the social history of Ayrshire's Doon Valley where I was born and raised. I was delighted to come upon the web site: www.patnadaily.com which deals with Patna in the Bihar State, India.
I know that the small village of Patna, Ayrshire has links with its somewhat larger neighbour on the banks of the Ganges. They are connected because Scotland's Patna was named after its Indian neighbour by William Fullarton, whose family had a close association with the Bihar State. Fullarton's uncle, William Fullarton in 1745 was in the service of the East India Company as Surgeon at Fort William, now Calcutta. He returned to Scotland in 1770. His brother, Major General John Fullarton of Skeldon on the banks of the River Doon near Dalrymple, Ayrshire, was also in the service of the East India Company and died in India in 1804. He was succeeded by his second son, William Fullarton (1775-1835) who was twice Provost of the Burgh of Ayr. Patna, he developed mining interests along the banks of the River Doon, made famous by Scotland's national bard, Robert Burns. Patna, Ayrshire was established about 1800 as a small coal and ironstone mining village and named after Patna, India. Coal mining was central to the development of many of the villages in the upper reaches on Ayrshire's Doon Valley.
I have had the privilege of being able to research at least some aspects of the social and industrial history of Ayrshire's Doon Valley and publish several small local history books, in the process preserving part of the history for those who follow in our footsteps.
As the world becomes even smaller, it is vital that there is great understanding between people of different cultures. As we journey through life, change is occurring so fast that there is a danger of forgetting the social and industrial influences which impact on communities, large and small.
Ayrshire's Doon Valley, once thriving with coal as its driving force, is now firmly in a post-industrial phase. Where there were six large deep coal mines and literally dozens of small ironstone pits over the past century, none remain, albeit there is a large open cast coal operation, employing small numbers of local people. Similar changes will be affecting Patna in the Bihar State, albeit because of its sheer size they will be far more complex in nature.
It is gratifying that the links between Patna, Ayrshire and its large neighbour on the banks of the River Ganges have been re-established by individuals making contact via the world-wide web. Perhaps this small spark may help to re-awaken and cement relationships, broaden understanding and enable people from different cultural backgrounds to celebrate the common bond of sharing the proud name, PATNA."
Ye banks and braes o’bonnie Doon,
How can you bloom sae fresh and fair?
The Banks O’Doon
Patna stands on both banks of the River Doon, some 10 miles south east of Ayr and 5 miles from Dalmellington on the A713. All the Doon Valley villages have a lot in common through their shared history of coal and ironstone. From the early 1960s integration has been helped with a shared secondary non–denominational education at Dalmellington. Piggots Directory of 1837 has very little information on Patna:
“Patna is a small village, in the parish of Straiton, situated on the banks of the Doon, which abounds with trout. Lime and coal are obtained plentifully in this neighbourhood, and give employment to the villagers. Andrew Kerr is a publican; John Dick a tailor; Thomas Dick a shoemaker, John McConachie a mason, James McCoull the schoolmaster, Alexander and James Ramsey joiners and Cartwright in the village.”
Patna (2004) has a population of around 3,500 and is connected to the A713 Ayr – Dalmellington road by two bridges over the River Doon, the Old Bridge of 1805 and New Brig built in 1960. From 1856 Patna had a thriving railway station on the G&SW branch railway between Ayr and Dalmellington. The passenger service ended on 6th April, 1964, albeit the line is still very busy operating coal traffic from Minnivey Loading Point.
Some historians have suggested that the name Patna is derived from the Gaelic, Pait ‘n Ath, ‘the water of the eminence’, for the old village was built upon a steep hillside west of the River Doon with a boat connecting the village to the east. However, it is more likely and now generally accepted that the village received its name from its founder, William Fullarton of Skeldon (near Dalrymple), whose family had connections with the city of Patna which stands on the banks of the River Ganges. Moore (1972) in his fascinating book Gently Flows the Doon outlines the background to the naming of Patna.
“Patna, the second surviving Doon Valley village, whose name conjures up visions of rice paddy fields, in fact owes its title to the great Indian city on the Ganges. It was founded in the early years of the 19th century by William Fullarton, whose family had a close connection with the Bihar State. Fullarton’s uncle, William Fullarton, in 1745 was in the service of the East India Company as surgeon at Fort William, now Calcutta. After a mixed career as a soldier and surgeon, he returned eventually to Scotland in 1770 where he bought the estate of Goldring (later Rosemount), near Kilmarnock. He died in 1805 with no family. This William Fullarton had a brother, Major General John Fullarton, of Skeldon (near Dalrymple). General Fullarton was also in the service of the East India Company and died in India in 1804. He was succeeded by his second son, William, then aged 24.”
It was in the early 1800s when William Fullarton, an enterprising young man, began mining for coal and limestone on the banks of the Doon a few miles south of Skeldon. He built houses nearby to accommodate his workers and he decided to call the hamlet Patna after the city in India where his father and uncle had such close associations. William Fullarton later sold the estates at Skeldon and moved to Ayr where he had a successful career in local politics, twice becoming Provost, around 1823 – 1825 and again from 1830 -1834. He died in 1835 at the relatively young age of 60 and is buried in the cemetery of Ayr Auld Kirk.
It is also worthy of mention that Fullarton proved himself to be a kindly benefactor to Patna. He built the first house actually in the village to house the manager of his coal mines. This, with offices attached, was to become known to later generations as Patna House. He then had the 16 houses of the former High Row built, each with a small byre attached to house two cows and he allowed them free grazing on Keir Hill. This helped the workers augment their wages as they were often laid off from mining in the summer. These were quickly followed by a further 16 houses known as the Low Row. Both rows were demolished in the 1920s. The houses were thatched and each householder had a small garden where it is said they often grew corn which was thrashed and ground locally.
One particularly useful service provided by Fullarton to the village was the provision of a pipeline which was built from Craignessie Well at the foot of Patna Hill and brought water into the village. This was the only water supply in the village until 1871 when the decorative fountain at the top of Main Street was gifted to the village by J Archibald Walker of Camlarg, Dalmellington. Despite some very severe droughts over the years this source of water was always available and dependable. Fullarton was also responsible for erecting the schoolhouse. This building, originally thatched with heather, later became the Workmen’s Institute. In 1805 it is reported that Fullarton was largely responsible for the construction of Patna Auld Bridge. The architect was Mr Gilbert McAdam, a relative of the inventive engineer who gave his name to the world-famous tar surfacing for roads. The strength and longevity of this narrow structure is a lasting memorial to the craftsmen of those early days. Never designed to carry the high numbers of heavy vehicles of the mid 20th century, the fact that it has stood the test of time is testament to the margins of safety built into these early bridges. Indeed this bridge was to serve Patna well for the next 155 years until the New Bridge was built and officially opened on March 25, 1960.
William Fullarton was a remarkable man. He might best be described as a benevolent autocrat, as he did leave Patna with some welcome benefits. Fullarton Place in Patna commemorates this kindly benefactor who did much for the village including building a school; creating employment in his coal pits and limestone works; providing housing for workers; building a school; ensuring that the village had a clean water supply and being a catalyst for the building of what today is known as Patna ‘Auld’ Brig. By any standard that can be applied this was a highly commendable contribution to the social and industrial development of Patna.
In the late 18th century Patna was very sparsely populated, the chief occupation then being wool and cotton weaving by artisans working from home. The land was more suitable for grazing than cultivation, hence the precedence of the home-based weaving industry which, incidentally, was common throughout Ayrshire. Patna, however, in addition to farming had a very profitable lime producing industry, with kilns giving a good supply for both the building trade and agriculture. The Patna workers were housed in two rows, each of five houses, known as High and Low Carnshalloch. A small mill, rejoicing the peculiar name Drumna-Driddle, stood on the banks of the Doon opposite Jelliston and continued to function until 1820. The mill pond was later to give many years of service as a curling pond, but disappeared completely during building operations many years later.
Downieston Thread Mill, situated south of the Old Bridge was owned by Messrs Marshall and Reid and had its power supplied by a dam on the upstream side of the bridge. The water was conducted through the smaller of the bridges two arches. The mill itself ceased production in 1850. On the lower side of the bridge a second dam provided the power for a corn mill. This closed down in 1852, but the buildings, known as Currie’s Mill, remained. There was also a mill on the river at Polnessan, but it was of much earlier origin and little is known of it.
Like its near neighbours, Dunaskin and Dalmellington, Patna relied heavily on coal mining and remained a very small village until the inhabitants of Lethanhill and Waterside were rehoused there in the mid 1950s with consequent building of local authority housing giving the village a boost which included a new school and improved local shopping facilities. Around 1817 the Rev J Paul of Straiton was conducting occasional evening services in Patna and by 1834 the villagers of Patna were delighted when Paul’s successor, the Rev R Paton, arranged for an evening service to be conducted in the village every third Sunday evening, providing continuity of opportunity for worship. A Parish Church and hall was established in 1837 with good attendance and it is recorded that there were high levels of giving by parishioners. However, it was not until 1849 that the congregation managed to secure a permanent minister for the village, the Rev McFadzean. Over the years there have been many ministers serving the village, but suffice to say that following a linkage between Patna with Waterside and Lethanhill in 1971 a further linkage with Dalmellington was formalised in 2004 under the leadership of the Rev Kenneth Yorke, Minister of Dalmellington.
In 1865, Patna is reported to have had one of the worst school buildings in Scotland. Patna Parochial School had one teacher and 134 pupils on the roll, although presumably they would not all have been present at one time, for the school only had one room. It was reported that the walls were damp and mouldy and the floor was of brick. Poor conditions by any standard and definitely not conducive to learning. The building later served as the village recreational institute and in the 1970s as an Orange Order Hall. A new school was built in Patna in 1960 initially as a secondary school, but shortly thereafter became and remains a primary school.
Another boost to Patna came in 1900 with the sinking of Houldsworth Colliery at a cost of £250,000 to the Dalmellington Iron Company and a marked change came over the district. Here was employment for the men and their sons to follow. It was hard and exacting work, but dependable, and in any case the Valley folk were no strangers to hard graft. From now on the Colliery with its top grade steam coal would play an important part in the life of Patna providing continuity of employment for the next 65 years. Wages in those days were not great, but security was important and many Patna men will proudly tell you that they ‘wrought’at Houldsworth. It produced its last coal in 1965 under the auspices of the NCB, but later reopened as a private mine for a number of years employing a small number of men.
The first Council houses in Patna were built at Jelliston in 1927 to be followed a year later by those in lower Main Street. By 1937 the nearby hamlet of Kerse was demolished and its population rehoused at the newly built and nearby Polnessan whilst others went to live in Main Street, Patna with some others dispersed to Dalrymple. Times were indeed changing. People today, of necessity, travel to Ayr or further afield to work. There is a small factory in the village adjacent to the New Bridge, BDF Healthcare, producing first aid products which provides welcome employment for a few local people. This factory formerly produced a variety of garments, but closed in the mid 1990s. There is a Community Centre, a large Games Hall, Patna Church, a library, several public houses and licensed clubs in the village.
Patna Railway Station was very busy in the early 1900s as evidenced by the eight staff on the G&SW branch line from Ayr to Dalmellington. The line opened in 1856 and closed for goods traffic on 15 May 1856 and passenger services began on 7 August 1856. Passenger services ceased on 6 April, 1964. However, the line was later reopened for coal traffic to Chalmerston Loading Point and is still very busy with up to three train loads of coal wending their way along the Valley of Doon.
The area is well served by local elected members. Mr George Foukes is the Member of Westminster Parliament for Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley; Cathy Jamieson is the Member of the Scottish Parliament for the same area and at the time of writing served as Minister for Justice, and Councillor Elaine Dinwoodie represents Patna and Dalrymple on East Ayrshire Council whilst Councillor Elaine Stewart represents Dalmellington. All are very much involved in supporting and encouraging positive community development.
Many of the older inhabitants of Patna formerly lived in Lethanhill and Burnfoothill (the ‘Hill), their fathers before them having been miners. With the gradual depopulation of the ‘Hill villages including Waterside, villagers came to Patna in the early 1950s, but many of them have strong ties to what they still consider to be home. Indeed it can be haunting to visit the remains of the ‘Hill to discover that flowers, wreaths and cards have been left in the ruins of a former home or tied to the branch of a tree. The whole area where Lethanhill was situated is now covered in 40 year old spruce trees, a very unsatisfactory situation indeed from the viewpoint of former villagers. So, the links with the past remain solid and people do remember their loved ones who lived a tough life on the ‘Hill.
What then is the future for Patna? It is likely that locals will have to continue travelling to Ayr and further afield for work. The Doon Valley area provides plentiful opportunities for recreational and sporting activities including hillwalking, bowling, golf, fishing, brass banding, football, shooting, geology and natural history. The social history of the valley is important too, recalling the Covenanters; poets such as Robert Hetterick (1769 – 1849) of Dalmellington and Matthew Anderson (1864 – 1948) of Waterside; the proud contribution in encouraging a love of brass band music in local men and women through the efforts of talented musicians and supporters of the Dalmellington Band, formed in 1864 and Dunaskin Doon Band of slightly later vintage.
There are sites of Special Scientific Interest at Dalmellington Moss, Dunaskin Glen, Benbeoch, Bogton Loch, Ness Glen and Loch Doon. The development of the industrial museum at Dunaskin linked to the work of the volunteers at the Scottish Industrial Locomotive Centre at Minnivey who have plans to relocate to Waterside sometime in the near future. All these elements are closely linked to the Cathcartston Visitor Centre at Dalmellington where an interesting range of displays of the social and industrial history of the area covering subject such as weaving, farming, mining, village life, and brass banding are among those regularly held. Working together as they do these museums and visitor attractions can be a catalyst to attract tourists to learn more about the fascinating social history of the Doon Valley. There are indeed opportunities and challenges lying ahead for Patna and the people of the Doon Valley, but all the indications are positive.
Nae treasurers nor pleasures,
Could make us happy lang;
The hearts ay’s, the part ay,
That makes us right or wrang.
Some famous sons of Patna, Ayrshire
Mr. Patna – Alexander Aitken
Aft hae I rov’d by bonie Doon
To see the rose and woodbine twine,
And ilka bird sang o’its luve,
And fondly sae did I o’mine.
The Banks o’Doon, Robert Burns
Alexander ‘Sanny’ Aitken was arguably Patna’s best known character of the 20th century. His love for and knowledge of the village and district was extensive and many of his recollections appeared in the columns of the Ayr Advertiser around 1962 through the efforts of the Patna correspondent for many years, Mr Jim Harvey, who also had a great knowledge of this part of the Doon Valley. The following tribute, with additions, appeared in the Ayr Advertiser of April 8, 1971. Many of the village’s older residents of today will have fond memories of ‘Sanny,’who for many years worked at Waterside Station.
The death of Mr Alexander Aitken came suddenly, but peacefully, at his home at Castle Garden, Patna, on Tuesday, and with him there died something of the old original village of Patna. For, bordering on 83 years of age, he was one of the very few people still surviving who, from information handed down from their own grandparents, were in a position to make authentic reference to the very beginnings of the peaceful village which nestled at the foot of Patna Hill before the days when it sprawled out into a new housing area.
With his extensive knowledge and amazing memory, “Sandy” was an accepted authority on local history and many times we, personally, have been indebted to him for confirmation of information of facts passed on to readers in these columns. His home, timber-built on the very edge of the River Doon and called “Castle Garden,” typified his love for the Patna of yore. For, back in history, a small castle or fort had stood on the top of the access road, and his home, erected some forty years ago, stood on the ground which had actually been the garden of the castle. With his tongue in his cheek, he was fond of acknowledging that he had been born in “Buchanan Street”; for this was the rather imposing title conferred upon “Stewart’s Close” by villagers whose sense of fun was evidenced in the nickname given to people and places. A philosopher in his own right, Sandy was a strong advocate of education and still more education. He was born in an age when rules regarding schooling were much less rigid than now, yet he was still attending further education classes (“Night School”) in the days when he was married.
The following intimation was read out at the first service in Patna Parish Church following the death of Sanny Aitken:
“It is with regret, tempered with thankfulness at the quietness of his going, that we have to note the recent death of Mr Alexander Aitken of Castle Gardens. His life was long and his interests in what it had to offer were many sided. For him life was indeed a many coloured thing. To those of us who knew him he was a fund of “wise and witty sayings.” A genuine character of whom the world today is too poor.
Patna had lost a wonderful character and much loved son.
And there’s a hand, my trusty fiere!
And gie’s a hand o’thine!
And we’ll take a right gude-willy waught,
For auld lang syne.
Auld Lang Syne
Ian Muir is a Patna lad who has made his mark on the musical stage. One of Scotland’s great accordion players, Ian appeared in nine Gaeity Whirls over the years and has played with greats such as the legendary Sir Jimmy Shand, Johnny Beattie, Kenneth McKellar, Andy Stewart, Calum Kennedy, Peter Morrison and Denny Willis. He has toured in UK, Europe, USA, and the Middle East. Ian formed his own Scottish Dance Band in 1994 and broadcasts regularly of BBC Radio Scotland “Take the Floor” programme. His many TV appearances include Thingummyjig, Shindig, Welcome to the Ceilidh and Northern Nights. For the past 4 years he has featured on GMTV live at Hogmanay from the shores of Loch Lomond. As well as a hectic playing schedule he is Senior Accordion Tutor at the prestigious Royal Scottish Academy of Music & Drama in Glasgow, a post that he has held for the past 8 years. He now lives in Ayr, but is very proud of his Doon Valley roots.
Patna's Knight – Professor Sir David Campbell
Another proud son of Patna who rose to become a Knight of the Realm. Sir David Campbell, professor at Aberdeen University, was a contemporary and great friend of Alexander ‘Sanny’ Aitken and often called on him at “Castle Garden” on his frequent visits to Patna. Sir David was knighted in 1953 and was later to receive the honorary degree of LL.D. at the opening of Liverpool University’s medical school by Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother. He received his early education at Patna Public School, Ayr Academy and Glasgow University. He was always acutely aware of his roots by the River Doon in the village of Patna and made many return visits to the area.
PatnaDaily is indebted to Mr. Donald L. Reid, the author of Robert Burn's Valley of Doon, An Ayrshire Journey Down Memory Lane (ISBN: 0 9522720 2 4) and a number of other local history books, for his extreme generosity in providing text and pictures of Patna, Ayrshire for this featured article.
It was his personal interest in Patna, Bihar, and his initiative to establish a cultural tie between the two Patnas that led to this feature. PatnaDaily.Com is thankful to him for his efforts and troubles.
Mr. Reid is a retired police superintendent having served in the Ayrshire Constabulary and Strathclyde Police from 1967 until 1999. He was Superintendent serving in Glasgow City Centre area for the last 7 years of his service.
Raised in Dalmellington, he is very proud of his Doon Valley roots where his father grew up at Beoch and his mother at Craigmark, two of the Lost Villages of Doon Valley. He now lives in Beith with his wife, Kathleen and daughter Elaine. Son, Fraser and his wife, Heather and their son, Taylor, live nearby.
Mr. Reid has now produced eleven local history books since 1994 mainly about the Doon Valley and Garnock Valley areas of Ayrshire. He is the Beith correspondent for the Ardrossan & Saltcoats Herald and the leader of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, Beith Open Award Group, helping many young people to achieve success in the award challenge. He is also the president of Beith Writers and Speakers Group and past president and secretary of Barrmill Jolly Beggars Burns Club.
The author is a sought after speaker on subjects ranging from Robert Burns, Dr Henry Faulds to the Doon Valley and Garnock Valley. With his good friend Iain D Shaw, they give an illustrated presentation on the life and works of Robert W Service, a truly international poet with close links to Kilwinning. This is entitled: Robert W Service – Poet of the People.
Mr. Reid is the founder member and secretary of the Dr Henry Faulds Society which achieved a fitting memorial in Beith in 2004 to the Beith born medical missionary, writer and pioneer of fingerprint science and is a board member of the Radio City Association, helping to revitalise Kilbirnie and a member of Beith and District Community Council.