5 January

Just the one today, for an Ayrshire Strachan, and it includes a description of typical miners’ housing in 1918. Be grateful for today’s home comforts!

5 January 1886
Birth of Joseph Strachan at Hurlford, son of my great uncle coal miner Robert Strachan and Elizabeth Cairns and grandson of Joseph Strachan and Jeanie Haddow. In 1887 his father was admitted to the Ayr Asylum and died there in 1890 from “general paralysis of the insane” which would have meant he had syphilis. In 1890 his mother married widower coal miner John White. Joseph is with his mother, stepfather and half siblings in 1891 at Galston and they are still there in 1901, at Boyd Street, Joseph age 15 now a coal miner. In 1909 he married Grace Carel and they both living at Loudon Rows, Loudon. The 1911 census finds them at Loudon Rows with no children, as their only child had died, but there are births listed in the index after 1911 at Galston which indicate they had more children. Loudon Rows is described in a 1918 Housing Report. They were owned by mine owners Wm. Baird & Co, were built of brick with cement coated walls and whitewashed with tarcloth roofs, which earned them the local name of Tarry Rows. They comprised two rooms and had set-in beds. There were communal ashpits and closets (toilets) outside and wooden coal houses, but no washing room. The floors were of brick and uneven and let in water in wet weather, and were prone to flooding when the River Irvine overflowed its banks. Not a fantastic place to live in! Joseph Strachan died at Newmilns in 1936 at age 62.

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