Netta Parker - The Lost Village of Abbey Burnfoot
It was a lively village with about ten families living there. There was a Hall which was used for Sunday School, Carpet Bowling, and the Rural meetings. A Minister would come down from the Manse in Dundrennan every four weeks to take the Sunday School, it was Mr Christie then.
Dundrennan is two miles away and we had to walk to school and back each day. My brother Jim cycled every day to the Academy at Kirkcudbright and Eva went to Douglas Ewart High School at Newton Stewart [Eva's son is John Davidson who lives at the top of Main Street in Auchencairn]. I could have gone to that school but I didn't want to leave my mother alone so I stayed at Dundrennan School until I was 14.
Burnfoot was one of the many harbours used for smuggling in the early nineteenth century and is mentioned in Maxwell Wood's book; Smuggling In The Solway. In 1862 a deep underground cellar was found under the foundations of an old house in Abbey Burnfoot where the smugglers hid their goods. Up on Barcheskie Hill, just north of Burnfoot, some workmen found a lot of hidden brandy. This was shared between them and taken and hidden in the fields and. farmhouses, according to the book.
In those days, before the Second World War, there was a lot of people coming in and out of Burnfoot. A man in Dundrennan kept a small hut in the village and every Sunday he would come down and open the hut up and sell ices, lemonade and biscuits. He probably chose Sundays as that is when we had most visitors. There wasn't much for the visitors to do except play football on the grassy part in front of the beach, or put up their-tents, or buy from the hut, yet every Sunday in the warm weather they would come down in their cars to look at the sea.
I remember once a lot of boats moored up in Burnfoot bay and the sailors came and made friends with us. One sailor gave me a slate and pencil and I treasured them for a long time. We had a lot of places to play in and knew the area very well. There was one cave nearby but although we looked into it we didn't enter as we were too scared. It had probably been used by the smugglers in the past.
Unfortunately, when war broke out the army had to extend their training ground at the Range and everybody and everything had to go. As soon as Burnfoot was cleared, in 1939, the army went in and took all the roofs off and knocked the houses down, so there was no going back. We were offered a house in New Galloway but we knew no-one there and turned it down. We managed to get the house next to the pub in Dundrennan. In those days there was a Post Office and two shops in Dundrennan as well as the pub.