Pic: The Parliament Wall. As early as 1758, the handloom weavers of the village would meet at the village pump to discuss all manner of current affairs. In those days, meeting in groups and especially to discuss radical ideas, was outlawed and dangerous. However, the Parliament Wall provided a perfect location for meeting to discuss radical ideas where the men could talk in the shadow of the wall, while their wives and children could stand watch on the three converging roads and notify them of any dangers. At the Wall nine master weavers and seven apprentices formed a plan to work together to regulate both the prices they paid for yarn and the prices they would charge for completed cloth. A charter, which made this legal, was signed by the Fenwick Weavers on 14 March 1761 in Fenwick Church, thereby creating the first Co-operative Society in the world. The Charter and Record Book of the Society are in the safekeeping of the National Library of Scotland.
Pic: William Guthrie’s House. Born in 1620, educated at St Andrew’s University and ultimately a highly regarded preacher it is reported that people came from far and wide to hear William Guthrie preach, with reports of up to 3000 people coming to the village on weekends. Licensed to preach in 1642 and ordained in 1644 he was called to be the first Minister of the new parish of Fenwick. During his first two years in the village, he lived in a house on this spot, whilst the Church, and the Ministers House opposite it, were being built.Fenwick Parish Church has the highest number of Covenanting memorials in Scotland. Guthrie had made public his support for the Covenanters and many villagers followed his lead, indeed dying for the cause. Guthrie was imprisoned on several occasions for his support of the Covenanters but always remained true to his beliefs. Despite being tempted to richer and larger parishes uthrie served Fenwick until he died on 10 October 1665, aged 45. He was buried in Brechin but has a memorial in the parish churchyard.
Pic: Weavers’ Cottages Externally, is a row of Grade B Listed weavers’ cottages and is much like what it was in the Eighteenth Century. The original thatched roofs have been replaced with slate tiles and one has had a second story added. Having two windows close together was a typical feature of such cottages, though some in this row have had the second removed, with a further one on the opposite side of the door. The room with two windows was generally where the weaver had his loom, providing the best possible day-light source for working. Living quarters tended to be in the room with the single window as well as rooms at the back of the house. Many of these cottages also had ‘kailyards’, a kitchen garden, to provide home-grown food for the family.
Pics: The Fulton Memorial Hall past & present
The Fulton Memorial Hall. In 1918, a committee was formed to build a public hall and library to celebrate the memory of John Fulton, the builder of the famous Orrery. Led by William Brown of the Schoolhouse in Fenwick they sought to raise £1,200 to buy and equip what had been the Guthrie Memorial Church. The Guthrie Memorial Church (1843) had been set up as a splinter from the Orr Memorial United Secession Church, the scene of the famous visit by Frederick Douglass. The original church bell of the Church remains in the safekeeping of East Ayrshire Council. Over the next two years, they received subscriptions from all over the world, one of the first being from the Hon (later Sir) George Fowlds in New Zealand, who had married Fulton’s niece. Indeed, judging from the large number of subscriptions from New Zealand, it would seem that George played a very active part in the fundraising. By the end of 1919, they had achieved their aim, and took possession of the Hall, which was opened in 1920. The Hall remains the public meeting hall for the village, and is now managed by East Ayrshire Council.