The Isle of Whithorn Agricultural History

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Baling Hay near the Isle of Whithorn
The Isle of Whithorn

The Isle of Whithorn

Buyers and Suppliers

Large lorries and better roads have brought massive changes for our suppliers and what we do with our produce. Years ago the mill in the Isle (behind the Queen’s Arms) latterly owned by Jas. Wylie and run by Hughie Maxwell, the miller, would grind the grain from the local farms. This ceased about 1944/5, although Boyach used the mill for a short time after that.

There were also a number of local mills, the largest being the one on the harbour in Garlieston owned by James Wyllie, who also owned the sheds on Harbour Row in the Isle. Even into 1970’s there was a feed depot in Whithorn where farmers could also get weed killers, detergents etc., also an agricultural machinery depot, a blacksmith and a vet. Now all we have is the vet, with the other services located further and further away. At one time the sea was the main method of transport with coal etc. arriving by boat. The advent of the railway to Whithorn had a dramatic effect with feeding - coal and manure being collected at the station, and products such as eggs, cheese and wool being dispatched in the same way. The local feed mills have all closed now, and feed comes in bulk lorries from mills in Cumbria, Aberdeenshire and further afield.

Stannock at one time made cheese but other than that all the milk, at one time, went to the creamery in Whithorn. That closed in 1974 and a new one built at Sorbie closed in 1992. At that time half the cheese left at Sorbie went to Unigate in Manchester and the rest to Bladnoch creamery, but that too closed only months later. These closures were a blow not only to the farms but to several village families who were employed in the creameries. The nearest factory for our milk is now in Stranraer, but it sometimes travels much further afield than that.

Our nearest market for stock is still in Newton Stewart, but much of the cattle and sheep from this area are sold privately or by deadweight, and are transported to Central Scotland or Northern England.


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