Francis Lopez, a proud New Cumnockian, in collaboration with his friend and colleague Kenneth Caldwell from nearby Mauchline have succeeded in capturing key milestones in New Cumnock's past in their enchanting video 'Back to the Fields'. Launched to a rapturous reception at Afton Court Sheltered Housing Unit in November 2000, in the company of many people whose reminscences helped shape part of the film, it represents another excellent contribution to the local history of our small town, 'a town on the route to somewhere else'
























































































History of the parish of New Cumnock, Ayrshire, Scotland

© Robert Guthrie


  'From the Ice Age to the new millenium, Scotland has changed. Places and people have changed with her. From war to revolutions in church, agriculture and industry, from general strikes to mining disasters, the country has developed and grown.

How have national events affected one small and seemingly insignificant place ?

How has the passage of time taken its toll on New Cumnock, a small town like any other?

Situated between the Afton and Nith valleys, it was and still is, a town on the route to somewhere else, somewhere more important. But to the people who have grown up and lived there it has always been at the centre of their world. '

'Back to the Fields' includes expert contributions from New Cumnock authors. Donald McIver gives an historic overview from ancient burial cairns through to Robert the Bruce's adventure with his bloodhounds in the Carcow Burn. Chris Rollie takes us on a tour of a mini-Burns Country within the parish, for New Cumnock most certainly was on the route to somwhere else (Mauchline to Ellisland) . George Sanderson dips into his awesome works on New Cumnock and the last centuries of the millenium . Add to this Dane Love's (prolific author on all things Ayrshire) contribution on the Killing Times of the Covenanting period, and the history of New Cumnock is well served.

It was also pleasing to discover that my own derivation of the place-name Cumnock was acknowledged and duly supported with a fine view of the confluence of the Afton Water and the River Nith. For the place-name Cumnock comprises the Gaelic elements comunn ach 'place of the confluence

'Back to the Fields' most poignant moments are the film clips from the recent past, a past that was deeply rooted in the coal-seams that lay under the parish of New Cumnock. Old film footage from miners rows, the Miners Strike of 1984 and of course the Knockshinnoch Disaster of 1950 when 13 miners lost their lives and 116 others were entombed before being sensationally rescued. Sombre accounts of 'The Disaster' are given by survivors, rescuers and on-lookers alike and these alone ensure that 'Back to the Fields' is a memorable landmark in the social and industrial history of New Cumnock.

The stars of 'Back to the Fields' are of course the local people and their abiding memories of growing up and living in New Cumnock. Stories from the war years, from the coal-mines and from the variety of communities that make up the parish of New Cumnock from the miners' rows. Old film footage of the local Gala Days , Farming Shows and from Glenafton Athletic's ill-fated first Scottish Junior Cup Final in 1963. Thirty-years of hurt and the Glens finally capture the most sought after trophy in Scottish football. See John Millar's cup-winning goal against Tayport in the 1993 final and the jubilant scenes as the Glens parade the Scottish Junior Cup through the streets of New Cumnock.

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