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History & Heritage

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Lewis Street to George Street

Hanover Street looking west

Continuing down Lewis Street, we have the town's courthouse on the left, partly used for years for county council offices and also containing the burgh hall. Built in 1872 and now used solely by the judiciary, it is still known locally as the New Town Hall.

A few yards along is an interesting relic in the shape of McWilliam's Pump, presented to the town in 1872 by John McWilliam, a blacksmith who owned thr forge in Sun Street where the pump was originally located. Some thirty years ago a corner redevelopment and housing meant the removal of the pump but it was carefully preserved and found its new home just around the corner when the work was completed.

Old parish church Straight on and into Church Street we pass the Old Parish Church, a reminder of one of the towns obligations under its charter. The first church was built in the vicinity in 1649, rebuilt in 1704 and replaced in 1784. Additions in 1809 proved to be unsatisfactory and the building we see today was opened in 1841.

Beside the church is the oldest churchyard in town with at least one grave-marker dated in the 1690s. The Church Street wall of the burying-ground has a stone plaque dated 1727, recovered and placed there when the wall was rebuilt in the 1940s.

At one time this churchyard extended farther into what is now George Street and when alterations were made on the ground floor of what is now the Stranraer Museum three skeletons were found below the floor.

The museum completed in 1792, was built as the burgh's courthouse and meeting place with an open, arcaded section below for various traders. There was also a market hall added early the following century, a project which was never successful and after the building of the Lewis Street courthouse the hall and upstairs rooms of the George Street building - which had then become known as the Old Town Hall - were let to a men's club known as Stranraer Athenaeum. This club went out of existence in 1966 and the premises shortly afterwards were refurbished and used for town council meetings until 1975 when local government changes saw town councils disappear.

Old Town Hall

Today's museum, when originally built had replaced what was known as the Tron, a building which had stood in the centre of George Street and opposite the entrance to Church Street. The Tron got its name because it housed the burgh's weights and measures but it had also served as a jail - with numerous complaints from prisoners about leaking roofs and damp straw - and it was because of its ruinous condition and the fact that it had come to be regarded as a traffic obstruction that it was swept away in the 1780s. At the west end of the Tron, its site still marked by granite setts in the middle of the roadway, stood the town's market cross. It is not known when the cross disappeared, nor, indeed, why it had been sited there, for the burgh's traditional markets had been held on seashore ground which later became Market Street.

A short walk down George Street brings us back towards our starting point, noting on the way the old Victoria Fountain opposite the entrance to Logan's Close. In 1897 the fountain was erected in front of the Old Town Hall to commemorate Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee but was twice shifted a few yards in George Street to accommodate changing traffic patterns. The traffic finally won when a vehicle backed into it and the iron-work was shattered into many pieces. However, it was painstakingly reconstructed by a local craftsman and when the lower part of George Street was being redeveloped it found a safer home in the pedestrianised part of South Strand Street. It no longer provides water for the thirsty passer-by but it still carries the exhortation to "Keep the pavement dry".

Where next? 

map the sea front (link to further information) Lewis Street to George Street (link to further information) Hanover Street and Hanover Square (link to further information) Portrodie to London Road (link to further information) The Strand into Harbour Street (link to further information)

The Strand l Portrodie to London Road l Hanover Street and Hanover Square l Church Street into George Street l The Sea Front

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