Hardie, James KeirJames Keir HARDIE 1856-1913(miner, journalist, founder of the Labour Party and first Labour M.P). moved to Cumnock c1880, the year he married Lillias Balfour WILSON of Hamilton. In August 1881 the newly formed Ayrshire Miners’ Association (of which James Keir Hardie was secretary) called a strike for a 10% wage rise. Hunger forced the men back to work after 10 weeks and the Union could no longer afford to pay Hardie.
It was a difficult time for his family but his luck changed. A local minister who acted as a weekly contributor to the “Cumnock News” became ill and Hardie took over the job for 4 years. He wrote a weekly feature “Black Diamonds” which he signed “The Trapper”.
In 1887 Hardie launched a monthly journal “The Miner”. Hardie had known eviction and wished for security for his family. A supporter, Adam BIRKMYRE offered Hardie a loan and “Lochnorris” the family home was built.
In 1886 Keir Hardie became the Secretary of the Ayrshire Miners Union and on 26th August 1888 founded the Scottish Labour Party. He was elected MP in 1892 representing West Ham until 1895. In 1900 he was re-elected MP for Merthyr Tydfil in Wales and was still their MP at his death on 16th September 1915.
It was in Cumnock that he formed his political philosophy. Many of his speeches and writings were composed in the solitude of his summerhouse at the bottom of the garden, overlooking the River Lugar.
The Lochnorris Collection was presented to Cumnock and Doon Valley District Council in order to form a permanent memorial to James Keir Hardie and his family. Hardie brought up James, Duncan and Nan at Lochnorris, living there until his death in 1915.
Hardie’s wife Lillie died in 1924. Nan married Emrys HUGHES in 1924 and they lived at Lochnorris, both becoming active in local politics. After her death Emrys Hughes remarried in 1949 to Martha CLELAND and it was she who bequeathed the Lochnorris collection to Cumnock and Doon Valley District Council in 1982 before selling Lochnorris in 1983. She died later that year.
James Keir Hardie
Lochnorris in Auchinleck Road
Election Poster for Methryr Tydfil