However, there was no Baptist Church in New Cumnock , the nearest was 5 miles off in Cumnock and
George Sanderson explains ' open air meetings were conducted in places like Burnfoot and Coalburn,
in all weathers; people were baptised in Dalleagles Burn, defiant hymns were sung in a room at the top
of Blair Street, sermons preached in the Town Hall. '
James Adair, although still a coal-miner had emerged as the leader of the Baptist community in New
Cumnock and by 1893 was known as Pastor Adair. He tried to spread the word about his church
activities including writing to the Cumnock Express. The editor however, was clearly suspicious of this
'common working man - a collier without any credentials - doing the work of ministry as he did last
Sabbath in the presence of two or three hundred crowd' and he refused to publish the letter.
Pastor James Adair
George Sanderson in 'New Cumnock Far and Away' provides a brief sketch of the life of James Adair
describing him as the 'founder of the Baptist church in New Cumnock'. James was born in New
Cumnock in 1862, his parents had come from Ireland to the developing coal-fields of New Cumnock and
lived at the small, single miners row at Lanemark Row, or Knowetop as it was known locally. Like many
others in coal-mining communities of Scotland at that time the Adair family were strong Baptists.
In 1896, personnel tragedy struck when James'
wife Janet Brown died in childbirth and James
died soon after leaving six orphans behind.
Sadly, their new-born daughter Janet did not
survive and she too died at the home of her
uncle David Brown at Connelpark.
In 1900 the first Baptist Church of New
Cumnock was finally erected, described by
George Sanderson as a fitting 'tribute and
memorial' to Pastor James Adair of Knowtop,
James' younger brother Major Adair and his
sons James and Robert Adair emigrated to
Nova Scotia, Canada
Blair Street, circa 1900 Courtesy Donald McIver.
History of the Parish
of New Cumnock
by Robert Guthrie