Bust of James Keir Hardie outside Cumnock Town Hall
The Glaisnock Street Cemetery in Cumnock contains the grave of James Keir Hardie the socialist and Labour leader. He was born at Laigh Brannock, Lanarkshire on 15th August 1856. He started work in a coalmine at the age of ten, and continued to do so into his twenties when after being blacklisted by mine owners he became secretary of Ayrshire Miners Union. Between 1883 and 1886 he was editor of the 'Cumnock News'. After a short spell as M.P. for West Ham he lost his seat at the 1895 General Election, but returned to Parliament five years later as member for Merthyr Tydfil. He continued to represent that constituency until his death. In 1893 various labour organisations united to form the Independent Labour Party with Hardie as chairman, a position he held till 1900. He became leader of the Labour party in the House of Commons in 1906 but was forced to give up this position a year later due to ill health. He became chairman of the International Socialist Bureau at the outbreak of the war to which he was so strongly opposed. It came as a shock to him and within months his health broke down again. He died on 23rd September 1915 at the age of 59. He first settled in Cumnock in 1880 and over the next 35 years, much of his time not spent on party or parliamentary duties was spent here. (No. 144)
Another politician, although this time in local gout and of a different party was Mr James Richmond, Provost of Cumnock for a total of 12 years, and the 'father' of Cumnock Town Council having been associated with it since its inception. (No. 79) He had been president of the local Liberal Association, an office-bearer in the South Ayrshire and Scottish Liberal Associations, and during the First World War was chairman of the Local Tribunal. He figured prominently in local business as a builder and like many of his class and politics at the time was active in the temperance movement, being president of the local association and a director in the Scottish Temperance League and the Permissive Bill Association.
One of the most famous of local poets and authors was Adam B Todd (No. 256) who died 31st January 1915 at the advanced age of 92. Among his published works are ‘The Circling Year and Other Poems’; ‘Homes and Haunts of the Covenanters’; ‘The Scottish Martyrs’; ‘The Hermit of Westmoreland’, ‘The Covenanters Revenge and Other Poems’; ‘Lord Nelson: A Poem by John Johnstone’, with a biographical sketch of his life by A B Todd. (Johnstone is mentioned in Cumnock Old Cemetery No. 29); ‘Poems, Lectures and Miscellanies; Covenanting Pilgrimages and Studies’; The Poetical Works of AB Todd.
There is also a war memorial, which stands in the centre of the cemetery.
No. 256 - Todd “The Cross has ended in the Crown/ Heavens highest bless for Earth's brief Brown.”
No. 44 - Smith “One less at home! The charmed circle broken -a dear face missed day by day from its accustomed place but cleansed and saved and perfected by grace, one more in heaven.”
No. 177 - Wilson 'We know not the day/ we know not the hour/ for we fleet like the sunbeam/ and fade like the flower.”
No. 199 - Fleming “Not spilt like water on the ground nor buried in a sleep profound, not lost upon a boundless sea, not dead but living unto thee.”