Stumpy Tower

Stumpy Tower is a former gaol in Girvan, South Ayrshire, Scotland. It has been suggested that its popular name "Auld Stumpy" comes from the Gaelic Olladh Stiom Paidh, meaning "Great Circle of Justice". (The name of Knockcushan Street, upon which the tower sits, means "Hill [or Knoll] of Justice".) It is a Category B listed building.[1]

Stumpy tower


The original tower was erected on the corner of Knockcushan Street and Dalrymple Street in 1787.[2]

The first mention of the present day tower was in the town council minutes recorded on 14 January 1825, when it was agreed by a meeting of the Burgesses to “rebuild the two houses on the Town’s property adjoining the King’s Arms and erect, another house on the front leading to the shore, and also a Gaol and Steeple adjoining the present market house to complete the square”.[3] The relocation of the tower, together with the construction of three new houses was undertaken by local builders, Denham, Davidson and McWhinnie, for £1,633.[2]

The gaol was inspected 1935 by the prisons inspector who reported that "a marked improvement in the peace of the town is said to have followed the building of this prison".[2]

It would appear that when the gaol was decommissioned the main reason why the tower was left standing was because it was a prominent landmark, the tower being 29m tall.[2]

McMaster HallEdit

In 1908 the buildings around the tower were demolished to make way for the McMaster Hall, of which construction began in 1909 and took two year to complete, opening in August 1911.[4]

The McMaster Hall was given to the town by John McMaster, a local banker from Kirkoswald residing in Canterbury. Among the many functions of the McMaster Hall it was primarily the Town Hall, serving purposes such as Town Council meetings but more recreationally as a Dance Hall. In 1939 the McMaster Hall was destroyed by fire, leaving the tower still standing.[2]


  1. ^ Historic Environment Scotland. "Knockcushan Street Town Hall Tower  (Category B Listed Building) (LB32148)". Retrieved 25 April 2021.
  2. ^ a b c d e "Girvan, Knockcushan Street, Girvan Steeple". Canmore. Retrieved 25 April 2021.
  3. ^ Girvan Burgh Council Minutes, 14 January 1825
  4. ^ "Bell in Girvan's landmark tower revealed as dating back to 1826 after clue from the Caribbean". Daily Record. 21 April 2017. Retrieved 25 April 2021.

External linksEdit

Coordinates: 55°14′36″N 4°51′22″W / 55.2432°N 4.8560°W / 55.2432; -4.8560