Memories of childhood holidays at Little Barone Farm

Anne-Margaret's father took the above photo during the family's stay at Little Barone Farm in 1955.
Anne-Margaret's father took the above photo during the family's stay at Little Barone Farm in 1955.

Reader Anne-Margaret Lawson of Gourock contacted The Buteman to share her memories of a lifelong love of Bute which started in the 1950s with a family holiday at Little Barone Farm.

Anne-Margaret takes up the story...

It was the summer of 1955 when the sun shone continuously from June until September and my family had a wonderful holiday staying at Little Barone Farm, then owned by the McKirdys.

While Mr McKirdy farmed his acres of farmland, Mrs McKirdy opened the large farmhouse to paying guests (as we holidaymakers were known in those days!).

We stayed for two weeks at the beginning of July at the Greenock Fair along with about 25 other guests, as can be seen from the group photograph.

This was taken by my father as we all assembled at the front of the farmhouse. Note how everyone was formally dressed, the men in shirts and ties - even in a heatwave!

The fortnight consisted of three full meals a day; breakfast, lunch and high tea, and of course, a supper to finish the day.

Not one of the guests owned a car and we spent a lot of the holiday walking up and down from the farm to the town and back in time for the superb meals. For the children it was a magical time with the freedom to roam and to enjoy all the farm animals.

One photo shows myself (back row, right) with fellow guest (back row, left) and the two McKirdy daughters of the farm. The cat and kittens seem to be enjoying the attention.

Also living at the farm that summer in a large caravan was an acrobatic couple who were performing each day at the Winter Gardens. They practiced their act every day on a large mat in the field beside their caravan and we were all entertained at no extra cost!

Each day my parents, brother and myself would head to the indoor swimming pool at Battery Place - heaven! - and it was where Derek and I learned to swim.

Remember the long pole with the harness used by the pondmaster to teach you to swim? My love of swimming has never left me and I go to the Gourock outdoor saltwater pool to swim each day while it is open during the summer months.

Rothesay in 1955 was an exciting holiday destination and the seafront would be crowded with holidaymakers and daytrippers.

Part of the excitement would be the sail ‘doon the watter’ to Rothesay with very often a band playing on board.

Our love of Bute was established in 1955 and in 1966 my parents bought a holiday house at Port Bannatyne and we, as a family, subsequently enjoyed the next 34 years holiday on Bute.

This love of the island all stemmed from a wonderful and memorable, carefree summer holiday at Little Barone Farm in 1955.

I wonder if the McKirdy girls remember that photo being taken all those years ago?

>> We love to hear memories from days gone by on Bute, and would like to invite any readers who are keen to share their recollections to please get in touch with us. The easiest way to get in touch is by emailing your stories and photos to

Alternatively, you can post articles and images to The Buteman, 5 Victoria Street, Rothesay, Isle of Bute PA20 0AJ. Please include a SAE if you’d like the images to be returned to you, and please include a contact telephone number in case we need to check any details.