Maucline Burns Club
"Born in Alloway, Died in Dumfries, Lived in Mauchline"
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Further to Messages below, Mauchline Burns Club are more than delighted to report that the new Committee ran a very successful 2015 Holy Fair.  We are hopeful that this has encouraged them to continue with this very successful event.



 The Mauchline Burns Club are very, very sad to say that, after thirteen successful years, we have decided that we are not in a position to arrange and run a 2015 Holy Fair. 

However, we are very,very happy to let you know that a Mauchline Holy Fair

will be held on  Saturday 23rd May 2015.

As a result of Holy Fair Meetings held in the village over previous weeks,

it has been decided that a small village sub group will operate under the Mauchline Community Action Group banner to ensure that the Holy Fair continues.

They have set up a facebook page (MauchlineHolyFair) which will cover all important Holy Fair News.

Contact them by E mail at :-


Mauchline Burns Club are very, very happy to see the Holy Fair continue

and will help the new organisation in every way we can.

Our people, who started the Holy Fair were in their fifties when it started and are now over seventy and the time has come when we have had to pass on the considerable work required to younger people. 

It has been good fun for us all! We thank everyone who has helped us and supported us over the last thirteen years and wish everyone well for the future.


                 2014 Mauchline Holy Fair

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Please click here for our Facebook Page





                  Friday 23rd May 2014

          was devoted to remembering those who  left for World War 1 and  didn't come back.        

On the Friday evening there was a march which started at 7.15pm from the Loudoun Street Car Park to the Mauchline War Memorial. This was well attended and there were many spectators. The march was led by the Isle of Cumbrae Royal British Legion Pipe Band and particular mention has to be made of the two Flanders Bands proudly marching in their WW1 uniforms. It was wonderful to see the support in the march from many other organisations - including young people - bearing their flags.

At the War Memorial, the very moving service led by Mauchline Burns Club President, Rev Tom Wilkinson took place with WW1 uniformed Flanders soldiers - who appeared to know exactly what to do - guarding the four corners of our memorial. The Bugler was Douglas Cameron and our Rev Tom Wilkinson, Rev John Paterson and Father McGrattan from Cumnock all played their part perfectly in the actual service.

                                          Some Friday Images

                            Lining Up in Car Park                                  Past President Hugh Brown leads the March with the Cumbrae Band

Flanders Earl Haig Band in March                                            Flanders Jocks (from France) and 'Gordon Highlanders' in the March

                                                                        Here They Come

                                                              WW1 Soldiers at War Memorial


And now a march back to the Car Park to round off the Friday Event with an hour and a half's  quality entertainment on the Holy Fair stage. As well as the Dalmellington Senior Band and the Isle of Cumbrae Royal British Legion Pipe Band, this included performances from Willie Stewart and Community Singing led by Willie Stewart - all accompanied by Mauchline Burns Club Musical Director Billy McEwen.

                                 Dalmellington Senior Band                                 The Finale - Dalmellington Senior Band on stage & Cumbrae Pipe Band in Front

Dummy Fundraising Tank at Mauchline Cross 1918      Mauchline Burns Club Dummy Tank at Mauchline Cross 2014

    (Original picture by Taylor Gibb)                                      (Thanks to Gavin Lyell for this and other pictures)


THE STORY OF MAUCHLINE WAR WEAPONS WEEK 1918 (When the first Dummy Tank was used)




                              WAR SAVINGS ASSOCIATION - 1918


Our ‘Tank Week' commenced on Monday 17 th June at 3pm and although we are late compared to the rest of Scotland, we venture to hope that our sum invested per head will create considerable astonishment when we announce it next week.


A very large crowd assembled at Mauchline Cross in front of a lorry which made a suitable platform. The chair was occupied by Mr Robert McCrone C.C. J.P, chairman of the War services association. Along with him on the platform were The Countess of Eglinton, Mrs McCrone and the Misses Anderson, Barskimming.


Mr McCrone in introducing Lady Eglinton gave praise to the Montgomery family on having been in the forefront of patriotism for hundreds of years. He referred to the great need of money to carry on the war and also to the safety and security offered by the government. He hoped Mauchline would give a good account of itself before the week came to an end. Lady Eglinton expressed the pleasure it gave her to come to Mauchline and lend a helping hand in this National enterprise. She was sure Mauchline would do its duty and not be behind any other part of the country. Rev Dr Mitchell proposed a vote of thanks to Lady Eglinton while Mr William Smith J.P. paid a similar compliment to Mr McCrone.


At the close of the speaking, business became very brisk at the tank and will continue until Saturday 22 nd June 1918. Unfortunately the ‘Tank' was not a real tank but a faithful imitation all the same. The ‘Tank Bank' was under the charge of officials from Kilmarnock Post Office, Mr T.McHoul assisted by Misses Ribbeck, McCartney, Hislop and Smith.


During the week a brisk business was also carried out by Mr J.D.S. McMillan at the Commercial Bank in Mauchline. Shortly after the opening ceremony three aeroplanes appeared on the scene and hovered overhead and divided around the church tower. The whole village seemed to be on holiday and to enter with marked enthusiasm into the scheme.


A meeting of the War Savings Committee was held on Tuesday 25 th June in the Lower Temperance Hall, Mauchline when the chairman Mr McCrone C.C. J.P. announced that the total sum raised was 97,522 pounds and 5 shillings which was regarded as one of the highest sums raised per head of population in Scotland.


The money raised throughout Ayrshire would be used to purchase aeroplanes and submarines for the war effort.


Researched by James Davidson, Mauchline Burns Club



              2014 Holy Fair on Saturday 24th May

                     Jai McDowell headlined plus Scottish Rain, Kirk James, Jill Woodburn's Highland Dancers,

                         Jesse Garron, Flanders Bands, Huge Replica Fundraising Tank, Dalmellington Bands,

                               Jolly Beggars Cantata, Uncle Billy, Mauchline Burns Club Presents 1914,

                    Gordon Highlanders Re-creation Group, Vintage Tractors from 1914-18, a replica WW1Trench,

                   Children's funfair, street magicians and street entertainers, Old Mauchline 1914 Media Presentation,

                                       over 80 stalls and much, much more.

         2014 Saturday Programme


              A Selection of 2014 Holy Fair Images

                                              (Thank you to the various contributing photographers)

                                                                       The Official Photocall

                   Tank Builders at Boreland Mill                            Tank Leaving Boreland Mill

                Tank Builders at the Holy Fair                                                    A Young WW1Soldier

                        Who Built the Tank the Wrong Size? (See comparison images earlier)

                                                           EarlyCastle Street



     Images below are from the top of the Kirk Tower at the start of the 2013 Holy Fair

                            and are courtesy of Ayrshire



                                            History and Description

                                        THE MAUCHLINE BURNS CLUB'S HOLY FAIR  

  Mauchline Burns Club are grateful to Andrew Cooper and Andrew Bell who came up with the idea of a modern day Holy Fair                                                                                       

The Mauchline Burns Club's Holy Fair has - for the thirteen years since 2001 - become a showpiece for local talent in it's music and drama. The wide variety of stalls also displayed a wide range of local craft skills. These stalls regularly numbered over 70, attracting participants from all around.

It has been estimated that between 10,000 and 15,000 visitors were attracted to this remarkable event each year. Recent surveys showed people spending an average of over £15 per head, producing spending in Mauchline on the day of at least £225,000. Our thanks to everyone who attended.

Mauchline Burns Club were happy to do the work for those thirteen years and were pleased to receive the modest proceeds of our own Holy Fair Stall towards our Projects Fund. Thank you to those who bought from our stall over the years.

Our efforts and successes have been very much to the profit of the village, of East Ayrshire, of Ayrshire, and even of Scotland, (bringing many visitors from further afield and abroad) not only financially, but as a local annual Homecoming and by putting Mauchline to the forefront of the Burns' world, a rightful position many of us have struggled to achieve over the years.

                                              Burns, in his poem The Holy Fair emphasised the attendance in 1786 was- ‘In droves that day.'

                                                                          We have been lucky enough to repeat that each year.

                                                 Let's jump back in time, to 1786.

The Kirk Burns worshipped in in Mauchline was a 17th century building which he described as —‘as ugly a lump of consecrated stone as ever cumbered the earth.' The interior was as bleak, with a floor several feet below ground level due to subsidence. It was lit by six small windows supplemented by a few candles. The sermon was expected to last an hour and one passage of scripture was expected to be examined over several weeks. One year, eight verses of one psalm provided material for sermons for the next 19 months.


The Kirkyard was in as bad a state as the Kirk itself. The Session records describe it as- ‘ a sort of dunghill, a receptacle for all filthiness so that one can scarce walk to Kirk with clean feet. Disorderly people break the windows and break the tombs and deface the engravings .' And it was in this Kirk and in these grounds that the original Holy Fairs were held.

The fair was actually an opportunity for people from all round Mauchline to take communion. Some Kirks held communion irregularly, so hordes flocked to Mauchline on the second Sunday in August for the service. The occasion lasted 3 days: Saturday for cleansing and preparation, Sunday for the services, and Monday for reflection. It was also a continuation of the Covenanters open-air conventicles.

In 1788, 1800 people took communion, 400 only being Mauchline folk, but the Kirk could cope with only 200 at a time. So the crowds had to mingle in the Kirkyard for hours as they waited. Two elders stood at the gate opposite Poosie Nansie's with the collection plate. Stalls like Punch and Judy shows, offered pulpits to local preachers. The communicants entered the Kirk in groups of 80 taking 15 or16 sessions to cater for the crowds. Tents supplied food and drink while various hucksters offered other entertainment, and Racer Jess, Poosie Nansie's daughter, plied her trade at the gate.

Did Burns make all this up? Did he exaggerate?

Certainly not.

A 1759 pamphlet, written as a complaint to the Scottish Kirk authorities is a prose version of Burns' verses. It concludes -‘in this sacred assembly there is an odd mixture of religion, sleep, drinking, courtship, and a confusion of sexes, ages, and characters.'

There is an idyllic painting in the Burns House Museum of the crowds. Everybody is behaving doucely, listening attentively to the preachers. The only transgressor is an old fellow, who has succumbed to the joys of 40 winks. But this idyllic picture of an important religious celebration is far from the truth. And it is thanks to Robert Burns that not only does posterity have an accurate, realistic picture of the event, but also as a result of the poem being printed in his Kilmarnock Edition, the scurrilous, bawdy, scandalous circumstances, were reformed by the Scottish Kirk.


Could we do it?
Yes we could.

Mauchline Burns Club are proud to announce that we now hold the World record for the biggest haggis ever cooked at 1234 pounds, some 534 pounds above the previous record.

Seen below, left to right, are Mauchline Burns Club members, (the late) Fergie McCartney, Peter Scally (who masterminded the cooking) and Jim Davidson.

The biggest haggis the world has ever seen was cooked in Mauchline and it was a half-ton highlight of the Mauchline Holy Fair.

This great chieftain was truly the greatest of all time - a massive 1234 pounds.That's 534 pounds more than the previous record, so the Mauchline record should stand for years to come.

Slow cooking of the haggis began two days before the Holy Fair.

It was cooked in a specially made giant stainless steel tank and no-one could be sure of what would happen. Would the haggis burst open and provide the largest tank of haggis soup the world has ever seen? And, even if it held, would such a monster cook right through?

Would it even survive being lifted out of the tank?

Mauchline Burns Club member Peter Scally, an ex-army cook, was in charge of the process and he watched over the haggis like an expectant father. 

By the morning of the Holy fair, the haggis showed a small split on top and Peter feared it might also be splitting at the bottom. But his nerves were calmed when liquid was drained from the bottom of the tank - and it was clear.

The bag survived cooking and lifting and was duly cut open and addressed in the traditional way by Mauchline Burns Club's Andrew Cooper (see below) before free samples were passed round the crowd.

The great event took place on the Bleaching Green, where Burns met wife-to-be, Mauchline girl, Jean Armour.

Witnesses of the record attempt included Chris McCarthy, managing director of old - established butchers, McKechnie Jess of Greenock, who provided the haggis.

Others were Provost Stephanie Young of East Ayrshire and Torquil MacLeod, Director of Homecoming Scotland.

Mauchline Burns Club are grateful to the many people who helped enthusiastically to create this World Record.


Mauchline Burns Club's International Haggis Addresser, Andrew Cooper, addresses the half ton haggis with a 'knife' worthy of it's size.                                             


On the
Bleaching Green
Were you part of an official attempt to break the Guinness
World Record for the Largest Haggis ever cooked?

Cumnock Chronicle of 8th April said:-

The 800 lb Haggis was provided and donated by McKechnie Jess of Port Glasgow and cooked by Mauchline Burns Club Member, Peter Scally, who is an ex-Army cook, and The 29th Field Kitchen.


Maucline Burns Club
Maucline Burns Club
"Born in Alloway, Died in Dumfries, Lived in Mauchline"
Maucline Burns Club
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