The Reverend Matthew Kirkland in the New Statistical Account of the Parish of New Cumnock  (see also Limekilns introductory page) gives an overview of the lime works in the parish at the beginning of the 19th century. He pays particular attention to those in the Mansfield estate, namely Mansfield Haw (Hall of Mansfield), Mansfield Glen and Corsancone which is reference to the lime-works at Craigdullyeart.
Stuart-Menteath Baronet of Closeburn and Mansfield
The driving force of the working of the coal and limestone works on the Mansfield estate at that time was Sir Charles Granville Stuart-Menteath. He had some time before 1832 purchased part of the Mansfield estate with a view to extending the coal mining operations initiated by the previous owner on Grievehill.
John L Carvel in ‘The New Cumnock Coalfield’  writes
‘Sir Charles was never intended for industrial pioneering. He was a member of one of Scotland’s oldest families, with its roots in the days of feudalism, and his relatives had previously adopted an air of genteel contempt towards those “trading people”. It must have come as a big shock to them when Sir Charles turned down the comfortable prospect of living the quiet life of the Laird of Closeburn. And it must have been a greater shock when he gave as his reason a strong inclination to work the coal on Mansfield, from which he believed he could make a fortune. Family protests were unavailing, and Sir Charles eventually won their enthusiastic support for this project. He work long hours to get his trade organised on a secure basis, and he soon had the satisfaction of seeing it make steady progress under his energetic guidance.’
Some years later, and in the same year of the New Statistical Account, the Baronetcy of Closeburn and Mansfield was created on the 11th August 1838, for the now 69 year-old Sir Charles Granville Stuart-Menteath. The Reverend Kirkland’s account is brimming full of compliments for the resident heritor and the innovations he introduced in support of his principal interests of coal, lime and agriculture.
His market for coal and lime lay to the south in Dumfriesshire and so he established a depot at Sanquhar saving an additional 20 mile round trip for his grateful customers. To stock the depot he built an iron rail-road for horse-drawn wagons to take the coal to the county boundary where it was transferred to larger wagons. Downhill all the way, apart from three ravines which were overcome by the use of incline planes, the wagons were free-wheeled to the Sanquhar depot.
The Reverend Kirkland, who clearly is in receipt of much of his information directly from laird of Mansfield –
‘A large amount of waste land has been reclaimed within the last fifteen or twenty years. During the same period, the system of draining has been extensively adopted, and has contributed much to both the fertility of the land and the salubrity of the climate. The system of the irrigation has been acted upon a large scale by Sir Charles Menteath, of Closeburn and Mansfield; and the success of attending this mode of improvement has been fully attested by the splendid crops raised on his lands on the banks of the Nith.’ Sir Charles applied different approaches in the dry Dumfriesshire moorland of Closeburn and the cold subsoiled Ayrshire moorland of Mansfield. At New Cumnock the approach taken was to, ‘lime to the amount of 400 bushels per acre upon the surface,with open sheep drains, to remain in pasture‘.
In 1847 Sir Charles passed away at the grand old age of 78 years old and was succeeded by his eldest son Sir James Stuart Menteath 2nd Baronet of Closeburn and Mansfield. He was no stranger to the limestone deposits in New Cumnock as witnessed by this article in ‘The Edinburgh New Philosophical Journal (1828)'.
The article includes a section on the New Cumnock Basin of which he writes
‘The carboniferous or mountain limestone which underlies the coal of the New Cumnock basin, is found in great quantities, and may be said to fringe the coal in this basin. There are several limeworks in it, where it is burned and prepared for market. On the side of Corsencon hill, which is greywacke, and at a considerable elevation, the limestone which is of an excellent quality crops out. It is burned and supplies a great range of the country, not only in this basin, but that of Sanquhar.’ He goes on to add that ‘the farmers of the basin have employed the lime in ameliorating the soil and improving the pasture’ which is well used as the foood of the dairy cow, and in particular the Cunynghame or Dunlop cow, a small short horned animal from which ‘they make great quantities of butter and cheese which is exported to all parts of the kingdom.’
Perhaps it was Stuart-Menteath the Younger that supplied the Rev. Kirkland with the detailed informatiom about the Mansfield works for his statitical account of the parish.
The Mansfield Lime Workers
The men that quarried and mined the limestone and managed the burning of it at the various kilns lived with their families in cottages peppered along the Mansfield road.
- 1: Bows Cottage 2. Mansfield Mains 3. Hall of Mansfield 4. Hall Limekilns & Quarry
- 5. Mansfield House 6. Mansfield Cottages 7. Street
In the earliest Census Records of 1841 and 1851 the following limestome workers are found on the lands of Mansfield.
- 1841: David Vass (50) lime burner
- 1841: Thomas Beattie (25) limestone miner, son of Andrew Beattie (agricultural labourer)
- 1841: James (21) and John McKnight (19) both limestone miners and sons of Andrew McKnight (undertaker)
Bowes Cottages (or Bowhouses as it was also known) was row of six terraced cottages that sat just side of the today’s modern cottage.
- 1841: Archibald Murray (53) limestone miner
- 1851: Archibald Murray (23) limestone miner and his father Archibald (63) retired
Mansfield Cottages was a row of three detached cottages with two remaining today.
- 1841: James Chapman (53) limestome miner
- 1841: Peter Black (60) limestone miner
Although the name of Craigends appears in the 1841 Census Records (and the addresses of Craigend No. 1, Craigend No. 2, Craigend No.3 in later records), it is not to be found on any maps of that time. From the order these dwellings appear in the records these are likely to be the property known locally as Street sitting between Garclaugh Cottage (Pendicle) and Glen farm; the latter the only one now remaining.
Mansfield Lime Work Managers
John L Carvel in his account of the New Cumnock coal-field writes ‘in 1858 the collieries and lime-works operated by Sir Charles Stuart-Menteath were taken over by a company consisting of Robert Kerr and James who seperated in 1864, after which Kerr carried on alone‘. The seperation actually came about following the death of Robert Kerr in 1864 and he was laid to rest in the Auld Kirkyard, New Cumnock. (See Mansfield & Pathhead Collieries and the Auld Kirkyard) .
His son John Kerr, a coal salesman stepped into his father’s shoes and in the 1865 Valuation Rolls he appears as John Kerr, Coalmaster with a lease of ‘not under 19 years or upwards’ of the ‘Minerals, Coal and Workmen’s Houses‘ owned by Sir James S. Menteath, Bart. In the same roll there were similar leases for Peter Steele for ‘minerals lime‘ and N. Jamieson & Son for ‘Hall Limework and House‘ on the lands adjacent to the Hall of Mansfield farm.
Peter Steele was a limestone miner and lived and his wife Janet Houston and their family at nearby Mansfield Cottage.
Ninian Jamieson had previously worked as a limestone quarrier at Auchentiber, Kilwinning, as a lime burner and later as a lime merchant as Thirdpart, Barrmill near Beith. Sadly, Ninian died the same year of the Valuation Roll (1865) at the Royal Infirmary Dumfries, from ‘lacerated wounds‘, suggesting an accident in the limestone quarry. He was only 49 years of age. His 16 year old son William was perhaps too young to take over the Hall limeworks and more than likley this task fell to Peter Steele, who appears in the 1871 Census records as quarryman and at the time his death in 1880 at Mansfield Cottage he was a limekiln contractor.
Sir James Stuart-Menteath died at Mansfield House on 27th February 1870, leaving his widow Lady Jane as liferent proprietrix of the Mansfield estate. Sir James’ nephew James Stuart-Menteth succeeded as the 3rd Baronet of Closeburn & Mansfield. However home to him was in New York state and Lady Jane assumed the duties of heritor, alone at Mansfield House. It was the 3rd baronet that changed the name from Menteath to Menteth.
In 1871 William Jamieson was living as Stepends Cottage in the Bank estate with his widowed mother Mary and sister Elizabeth where he worked as a gamekeeper. That same year he married Elizabeth Park the daughter of Mansfield Village grocer John Park and his wife Mary McKnight. By the following census of 1881 the family was living at Mounthope on the Mansfield Estate, where William was now working as a gamekeeper and domestic servant to Lady Jane Stuart-Menteath, his yoinger son William would later work as a farm-hand at the Hall of Mansfield.
With the lime works in decline the occupations of those living in the cottages along the Mansfield road changed with the times. The Beattie family were still in the Bowes Cottage with Andrew senior the toll keeper and Andrew junior a master mason who would go on to make his mark in New Cumnock. In the Jamieson’s house at the Hall limekilns (Hall Cottars House) lived John McLure, a ploughman. Dwellers at Mansfield Cottages included John Clingan, butler and John Wilkie, coachman. Along the road at Craigend (Street) was Samuel Millar, railway pointsman on the nearby Glasgow-Dumfries railway line.
Only ruins remain of the Stuart-Menteth mansion but the family’s impact on the improvement of the landscape of the estate of Mansfield, driven by the mining and quarrying and burning of limestone, thankfully remains to be seen.
Mansfield Mains is the major property on the Mansfield estate .
Mansfield Limeworks today
Select the limeworks of interest from the menu
-  The New (or Second) Statistical Account of the Parish of Old Cumnock (1837) Edina http://edina.ac.uk/stat-acc-scot/
-  The New Cumnock Coalfield (1946), J.L. Carvel
-  The Edinburgh New Philosophical Journal (1828).
- Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland.
- National Library of Scotland http://maps.nls.uk/index.html
- Census Records
- Valuations Rolls
- Births, Marriages and Deaths