The Big Dig
The excavations revealed the predominantly sandstone built street frontage wall of the property, in addition to small fragments of the south eastern gable foundation, which appear to be the only surviving elements from the original late 18th century construction. A small brick built extension with typical 19th century brick foundations and a slate damp course was identified to the rear of the property at its eastern end, at some point in the early 19th century as they can be seen on the first edition Ordnance Survey map (1860). This extension had survived as an internal room of the pub.
Terrazzo flooring, most likely dating from the 1930’s or 1940’s was located in what was the door way on to Lugar Street and covering the floors of the former toilets towards, what would originally have been the rear of the property. However, several large displaced blocks of concrete were encountered amongst the demolition rubble, which were also covered with Terrazzo tile work underneath subsequent floor coverings, suggesting that Terrazzo had been used extensively throughout the property at that time.
Extensive renovations were clearly undertaken sometime between the late 1950s and early 1970s as seen from the extensive use of bricks from the local NCB Skares brick works. The changes undertaken during this phase of alteration included rebuilding the gable fire place at the far south east end of the property, inserting a new suspended floor throughout the ground floor and completely rebuilding the elements of the property along Kilnholm place.
It seems likely that it was during this phase of redevelopment that the legendary dance floor ‘Up the stair’ was added. Probably as part of these renovations, the original gable wall, that separated numbers 4 and 6 Lugar Street, was removed to increase the amount of space in the lounge bar at the front of the property, along the north western side of trench 4. This may ultimately have contributed to structural failures observed shortly before its demolition in 2002. Several members of the community described seeing large cracks in the walls.
The latest phase of development was the insertion of concrete floors throughout the north western range of the buildings along Kilnholm Place, allegedly after someone had put his foot through the pre-existing, rotten wooden floors. A trench excavated through part of this concrete floor revealed a ‘Tudor’ brand crisp packet dated Best Before July 1993 – indicative of the floors having been laid that year by a builder who threw his empty crisp packet under the plastic sheeting prior to pouring the concrete.
While the cultural heritage investigated through historical research and especially excavation in Raising the Bar is not of a kind or period often given high value in academic discourse, because of the pub's relevance to Cumnock and its role in social life during living memory, its investigation has made a significant contribution to the community's sense and appreciation of heritage, especially in combination with the oral history research undertaken.
The desk-based research carried out as part of the project included extensive archival research as well as map regression work. This has generated a great deal of detailed knowledge of the historical development of Cumnock, its street plan and architecture. It also unravelled the social history surrounding the pub, a communal space that played an important part in the life of Cumnock's residents from the 1860s and throughout the 20th century, and provided historical context for the excavations.