At the Cross in Auchinleck is one of the village’s oldest buildings, the Boswell Arms Inn.

It’s distinctive corner turret is often admired by those waiting at the traffic lights, and the lush pink sandstone used to build it is typical of the pink sandstone that was quarried in the vicinity of Auchinleck.

The use of this colour of stone is a good indicator of a building’s age, for by Victorian times the redder Ballochmyle sandstone became a more popular stone for building.

Auchinleck was anciently a small clachan built closely round the old church, which remains as the former Boswell Museum in the kirkyard.

It was known as the Kirkland of Auchinleck. However, in the eighteenth century there were many new villages established across Scotland in the new fashion for creating ‘planned villages’.

These were often laid out on a grid pattern, and depending on how successful they were, depended on how extensive the grid was to become.

In Auchinleck’s case, the original plan only had two streets, forming the Cross at the Boswell Arms.

Originally the village may have been started by John Cochrane of Waterside Castle (which stood roughly where Dumfries House Gardens are today), but in 1757 Lord Auchinleck purchased the old Kirkland plus the farms as far as the Common from the Cochranes.

In 1744 John Cochrane had issued leases for three houses in Auchinleck, one of which was the Boswell Arms. As it wasn’t owned by the Boswells at the time, it apparently went by the name of Gateside Inn.

The original 1744 lease of nineteen years was cancelled when Lord Auchinleck purchased the estate, and a new lease was issued.

Lord Auchinleck encouraged all sorts of tradesmen and labourers to settle in his new village, promoting weaving, shoemaking, carpentry and other trades.

Not all feus were filled at the onset, some took many years to lease, for by 1860 there were still a few vacant sites in Boswell’s plan. The Boswell Arms feu was sold at Martinmas 1766, when Lord Auchinleck issued a 999-year lease to John Kay, shoemaker. He built part of the present building then.

In August 1821 Lord Auchinleck’s grandson, Alexander Boswell, was officially created a


To celebrate the event many of the villagers of Auchinleck marched behind a fife and drum along the Barony Road to Auchinleck House.

Unfortunately, Sir Alexander was not aware this honour was coming his way and was out shooting grouse.

Cumnock Chronicle: The Boswell Arms in former times.The Boswell Arms in former times.

On the following day he paid for two hogsheads of ale at the Boswell Arms from which anyone who wished could freely drink his health.

Firstly, Sir Alexander and young James drank a toast to the good health of all their friends in the village.

Thomas Adams (of the Black Bull Hotel in Cumnock) owned the Boswell Arms in the Victorian period.

In 1902 the inn was partially rebuilt, the corner turret and bay windows being added to plans drawn up by Robert Ewan & Sons, architects, who had designed the Crieff Hydro.

William Jamieson Wood Morton was later to be the proprietor – he died in 1915 but the inn remained the property of his trustees for a good number of years thereafter.

The pub was then managed by John Ferguson Turnbull (1868-1922), followed by Mrs Brown in the 1920s.

The first Auchinleck Talbot game against another junior team took place on 7 August 1909 when a friendly was played against Kilwinning Rangers Reserve.

Though beaten 2-1, Talbot raised £5 at the gate; MacKie scored their first ever official goal.

The team members were: Hyslop, Waddell, Smart, Whiteside, Crawford, Macllwain, Mair, Irvine, Thom, MacKie and Martin.

After the game both teams dined in the Boswell Arms, followed by a social hour.

The Boswell Arms became the property of a brewery company and it was leased and managed by a variety of people over the years, including Walter Craig in 1976, Robert and Nan Holland and Tommy Kane.

Janey Dowds managed it until 1993, when Douglas Aitken bought the inn and renovated it.

The Boswell Arms was retained by Douglas Aitken until 2008, when it was taken over by Robert Beatson.

It still remains as a popular inn and restaurant within the village.