Visitors to Ballantrae from Pinwherry cannot have failed to observe the neat and thriving Carrick village of Colmonell. Situated on the north bank of the Stinchar, 5 miles from the sea-shore, and overshadowed by the conical hill of Knockdolian, the twin sister on land of Ailsa Craig in the sea, and the ancient Castle of Craigneil, a fine ruined fortalice of the 13th century, it has a most interesting and deep historical association. The village itself is a model of neatness, the inhabitants intelligent and enterprising, and in the surrounding district agriculture is well attended to. In keeping with time, in social and intellectual progress, a Public Hall was wanted for the village and district, and on the 1st of August 1889, at a public meeting, it was resolved to build a hall, with rooms attached for library and billiards. At this meeting a large and influential committee was appointed to collect subscriptions and carry out the resolution.

The committee without difficulty raised from 130 subscribers the handsome sum of £760-6s., to which was added £8-11-6d of bank interest on account, making a total of £768-17-6d. The total cost of the whole building was £764-0-5d, leaving a balance on hand of £4-17-ld after all was paid up. The architect of the building was Mr Allan Stevenson, Ayr. It is designed in simple cottage style, the Ballochmyle red freestone dressings and dark coloured square dressed serpentine rubble facing of the front, harmonising well with the surroundings. The accommodation provided consists of billiard room, library, and anti-room, with attendants' rooms in the front, and behind is the public hall, capable of accommodating 400 people. The contractors were - W McQuaker, jun. mason, Barrhill; Wm McWhirter, joiner, Colmonell; john Forsyth, slater, Girvan; J Kerr, plasterer, Girvan; who have completed their several works in a highly creditable style, and to the entire satisfaction of the architect and the committee.

On Friday, the llth inst. by the Hon. G.R. Vernon, the hall was publicly opened by the Hon. G.R. Vernon M.P. and a grand amateur entertainment and assembly. The platform end of the hall was tastefully decorated with plants and cut flowers and curtains by the Misses McConnel and other ladies from Knockdolian, to whom the Entertainment Committee are especially indebted, and likewise in supplying a large party to make up the evening's amusement on the sudden illness of one of the performers who was to act in "Box and Cox" a part of the programme which had to be left out. The performers were led on to the platform by Mr Cos playing the bagpipes, which had a charming appearance and effect. Though about 400 were present in the hall, from 100 to 150 were unable to get seats. Mr John McConnel Knockdolian, presided; and, in opening the proceedings, expressed his great pleasure that such a fine hall had been erected by public subscription for the benefit of Colmone11 and neighbourhood. The list of subscribers had reached the large number of 130 thus showing how wide the interest in the undertaking had been. Subscription had ranged from a few shillings to over £100 He further drew attention to the fact that the local subscribers had been substantially supported by many friends from far and near - (cheers) - contributions having come from Australia and the Colonies. He proceeded to observe that the hall, no doubt, would prove to be a great acquisition to the district and found useful for a great many purposes such as lectures, political meetings, and social gatherings. After some further remarks, the Chairman called upon the Hon. G.R. Vernon, M.P. to formally open the hall.

Mr Vernon, who was received in a most cordial manner expressed his gratification at being present on such an interesting occasion. It was now more than four years, he said, since he had appeared before a Colmonell audience. Some might think he ought to have been here before. He regretted that, owing to his many engagements, he had not, but was much pleased to be with them on this occasion (cheers) - not in any political capacity, but to take part with them in the opening of this splendid new hall (Cheers); He congratulated the people on their public spirit, without which no such building could have been erected (cheers). After expressing his sense of the honour done to him, he declared the hall open, and expressed the wish that it might long be a great benefit to the community (cheers).

A very interesting musical and entertaining programme was then proceeded with in a most successful manner which lasted with unabated delight from 8 to 11 o'ciock.

  • Pianoforte solo, Miss Waugh; song My Old Friend John
  • Mr Semple; song Braw, Braw Lads
  • Miss Morton, Girvan; conjuring tricks
  • Mr Johnstone; song She Wandered Down the Mountainside
  • Miss Lawson song My Love is Like a Red, Red Rose
  • Mr Watson; song, Oh For the Bloom of My Ain Native Heather
  • Mrs Tannahill; song My Pretty Jane, Miss Dill.

HUDSON'S SURPRISE PARTY was given by a large company of ladies and gentlemen from Knockdolian, who were beautifully dressed in character for the occasion, and who gave many sentimental and humorous songs, jokes, etc. to the intense delight of the audience.

BOX AND COX was to have finished the performance, but owing to the serious illness of one of the party it was not given.

On the motion of the Chairman, who regretted that owing to the time at their disposal they had been unable to allow them to respond to the encores called for, a hearty vote of thanks was given to the performers.

The Hon. H.F. Elliott, M.P. proposed a vote of thanks to the committee, and referred to the success which had attended their efforts to supply a long-felt want in the neighbourhood, coupling the vote with the name of Mr John Cathcart Wason, chairman of the Committee (cheers).

Mr Wason in reply said that their work had been wholly a labour of love, but that the success which had crowned their efforts was far more than a sufficient recompense. (cheers). The Committee had been actuated throughout by spirit of entire selfishness, believing that in doing what was best for themselves, they would be doing what was best for everybody else. (cheers). He referred to the fact that the Committee had been greatly assisted in their work by their energetic secretary, Mr Aitken (cheers) a gentleman who by his labours in connection with the erection of this hall had laid the whole community under a deep debt of gratitude to him.

The Rev. Mr McFadzean said that in the unavoidable absence of Mr Eugene Wason of Blair, it had fallen to him to propose a vote of thanks to the Chairman (cheers). In doing so, he referred to the fact that Mr McConnel had presided that night as his father's representative (cheers). In the course of some further remarks he made mention of the great interest Mr McConnel had taken for many years past in the people among whom he resided (enthusiastic and prolonged cheering).

The Chairman in acknowledging the vote in a few suitable words thanked Mr McFadzean and the audience for the hearty manner it had been proposed and seconded (loud cheers).

An assembly followed in which about 120 couples were engaged. Almost all the elite of the district being present to take part in it, and a most advanced and lengthy dance programme was completed. Mr Wallace, Ayr supplied superior music, and Mr Dalziel, Ayr sent a fine Collard & Collard piano for the concert. Mr Cox of the Boar's Head hotel purveyed refreshments in the billiard room, which was largely taken advantage of.