The Ardrossan and Saltcoats Herald of 4 March 1921 carried the following report.


An important event in the history of Ardrossan Burgh took place last Saturday, when Castlecraigs in Glasgow Street, was opened as a Recreation club for the employees of the Ardrossan Dry Dock and Shipbuilding Company Limited.

This commodious house, with imposing baronial frontage and its extensive grounds, were purchased by the Shipyard Company over a year ago for the purpose of providing such a Club and since then a huge amount of work has been done in converting the buildings and grounds into their present condition. The interiors of the main building and adjuncts have been completely reconstructed, redecorated, fitted and handsomely furnished, and the grounds laid out to suit the present purpose; and a remarkable transformation has been achieved.

On the ground floor, the principal apartment is the boys' recreation and reading room. This room presents a very striking appearance. In the making of it, the old carriage house was utilised and a large archway was made in the dividing wall which lends an effective note to the aspect of the room. It is admirably furnished with tables and chairs, and the essentials for various kinds of games are provided - cards, chess, draughts, dominoes et cetera - while newspapers and monthly periodicals will also be available to the members. Another prominent feature of the facilities provided on this floor consists of the baths and lavatories. These are excellently fitted up and equipped. There are two large baths with hot and cold water, and also spray baths, and there is ample washstand accommodation. The staff bathroom, an office for the Welfare Supervisor, a room for ambulance outfit with medicines, splints, stretchers et cetera, a dark room for photographers, cloak room and the caretaker's house are also on the ground flat. Upstairs are the staff reading and recreation room and the men's reading and recreation room. The former is beautifully furnished with carpet, artistically upholstered lounge chairs, tables and piano, and its looks the very acme of comfort. The men's room, which has four windows, is larger, and it also is most comfortably furnished and presents a very inviting aspect. In both rooms, games and periodicals are provided, and every thing has been done to make them attractive. The outstanding feature of the club house is the gymnasium hall. This is a large brick building adjoining the main building and erected over the old courtyard. It is 87 feet 6 inches long by 47 feet 6 inches wide and has a steel girder roof. The floor is of maple with special springs underneath, and the hall, which presents a bright, pleasing appearance, is lavishly equipped with gymnastic appurtenances of every kind including all the latest Swedish apparatus, a standard boxing ring, punch ball, basket ball, etc. There is also at one end a large balcony which opens off the boys' well-furnished dressing room. The hall can be used for dances, concerts, and other functions. It is estimated that about 750 persons will be accommodated in the building, and that it will be able to hold about eighty couples at a dance. At the end opposite the balcony, an aperture opens into the kitchen, where there is a steam cooker, stove et cetera and where refreshments can be prepared on the occasion of a social or dance. Practically the whole building is heated with steam pipes and radiators and it is lit by electricity, which is generated by a petrol-driven motor engine with dynamo in one of the outhouses. In the grounds at each end of the building, two large tennis courts have been laid out in the most up-to-date style with seats for spectators, and in front of the house, a huge flagpole has been erected.

The caretaker, Mr Edward Renyard, was for sixteen years in the navy and acted as a physical training instructor there. He will be in charge of the gymnasium at Castlecraigs and, under a man of his experience, the youths of the club should receive a thorough training in physical exercises.

Everything about the building is done on an elaborate scale and the employees of the shipyard are indeed fortunate in having available for their use such a splendid club.

Prior to the opening ceremony, the Ardrossan Shipyard Cadet Corps to the number of about seventy, under command of Captain W Hamilton, and including the Corps Pipe Band under Pipe-Major Adams, paraded on the grounds in front of Castlecraigs and were inspected by Mr E Aitken Quack, managing director of the firm.

Mr Quack, following the inspection, addressed the boys. Some people claimed, he said, that a Cadet Corps was an encouragement of militarism, but he denied that. It was not militarism - it was citizenship. They had joined the Corps voluntarily in order to improve themselves and form friendships among themselves, and their membership of it would, in after life, stand them in very good stead. One thing they learned in it was discipline, and discipline did not include only the obeying of orders of those over them, but also included self-discipline. One thing that it was necessary the youth of the country should learn - and he was trying to teach his own boys - was self-control: and another thing was to be efficient. Whatever they did, they should try to be efficient, try to do it whole-heartedly. Their uniform was that of one of the best-known regiments in the British Army, and the tartan they were wearing was that of one of the oldest regiments. They had therefore a tradition to keep up. They must always remember that one of the things that Scottish regiments were famed for in France was their courtesy and kindliness to the inhabitants. There was no doubt the Scotsmen in France endeared themselves to the population by these elements. These constituted the essence and the basis of a gentleman. A gentleman did not consist of a man who was able to wear good clothes or to speak perfect English or to write grammatically. He must have these two elements of courtesy and kindliness and he hoped that was one of the things they would remember whenever they had the uniform on. They were getting a certain amount of military training in the Corps and when they reached 18 years of age, he hoped they would join the Territorial Force. All boys owed it to their country to put themselves in a position to be able to defend it, if necessary. The sneers from some quarters about this being militarism were entirely unjustified. It was every man's duty to be able to defend his country - not to be defiant but to be ready to defend. And he had no doubt that, like the rest of the boys in the country, they would be prepared in after life to do their duty if called upon. He was glad to be with them and inspect them for the first time. He congratulated them on their smart appearance and he hoped that as time went on the Cadet Corps of Ardrossan shipyard would always maintain a high reputation.

The opening ceremony was simple and brief. It took place in the gymnasium hall, and there was a good number of members of the club and townspeople present. Mr E Aitken Quack presided, and accompanying him on the platform were Mrs Quack and Master Richard Quack; Mr David Smail, a director of the firm; Mr S Turnbull, general manager; Provost G McKellar and Police Judge I T Fawcett.

The Chairman said he had great pleasure in welcoming them to that ceremony on behalf of the Company. The idea of the club germinated in the Welfare movement in the country. The firm bought that house, Castlecraigs, and they did what they could in way of improving it and them they built the gymnasium and formed the tennis courts. The only regret he had was that the club was not big enough. He would have liked to extend it, if possible, but the limited area of ground prevented that. It gave him great pleasure to welcome the Provost and members of the Town Council of Ardrossan. They had always worked in great sympathy with the Company, and the Company in the early stages, owed a considerable amount to their intelligent and sympathetic treatment of any question that they put before them. He hoped that the good relationship would continue. He them asked Mr David Smail to declare the club open.

Mr David Smail said that when he was asked by Mr Quack to open that club house, he accepted the invitation with very great pleasure. He had been connected with Ardrossan Shipyard for over twenty years and he had taken part in many functions in connection with it during that time but at none had he had greater pleasure than in being present at that function that day. He said that they had in that club sufficient evidence to prove how much the directors of the Company, and particularly their managing director, appreciated the fact that all work and no play was bad for the whole of us. A certain amount of pleasure was necessary in our lives. The time was - in Scotland, at least, and not so long ago - that anything in the nature of pleasure was taboo. If it was not sin, it was looked at askance. But happily these times had changed and we had a better appreciation of what life should be for the most of us. He referred to an advertisement in last month's Works magazine which stated that 'Success can only be built upon a solid rock of quality.'. And, he said, there was no doubt about it that unless those in business - whether it was large or small - worked together and thought together and pulled together and each decided to give the other a square deal, no lasting good results could be got. Referring to the new club house, he said it was not so big as they would like, but he thought it was big enough for the present at least, and he had no doubt that if it was found too small later on, their friend, Mr Quack, who was full of resource, would find means of having it extended. He was sure he echoed the sentiment of all the workers in the yard who were associated with Mr Quack, and the townspeople as well, when he wished him long life and prosperity, and when he hoped he would carry on in the future in the way he had done in the past. He asked for three cheers for Mr Quack, which were given right heartily. In closing, he made a remark about the serious times we were passing through, and the testing time that lay ahead of us, and he then formally declared the club open amidst applause.

Provost McKellar, on behalf of the town, congratulated the directors on their enterprise and consideration for their workers. He was sure that all the employees would appreciate the benefits that would accrue from such an institution as had been opened that day. He was very glad of the opportunity of saying personally to Mr Quack and his co-directors that they had the town and Town Council at their back. He, the speaker, was a son of the town and he well remembered the ebbs and flows of business here during his lifetime. And he was sure that never in the history of the burgh had it been so prosperous as it had been since the Shipyard came under the management of Mr Quack. Mr Quack had proved himself to be a man of resource, a man of great ability, and, if he might say so, a 'lad o' pairts'. All connected with the Shipyard were under a debt of gratitude to him and other directors for placing at their disposal that palatial and handsomely equipped building, and he hoped they would all thoroughly appreciate and enjoy the privilege. He also hoped that Mr Quack would be long spared to the burgh of Ardrossan because the burgh of Ardrossan could not very well spare him.

Mr Quack expressed thanks for the kind remarks that had been made regarding him and said that it was gratifying to him to hear that what work he was doing was bearing some kind of fruit. After all, there was no greater pleasure in life than to know that where one blade grew before you made tow grow. He thanked all present for turning out to the ceremony, and he hoped the members would appreciate the club. It was being run by the members' own committees; it was in their own hands and he hoped they would make the most of it.

On the call of Provost McKellar, Mr Quack was awarded a hearty vote of thanks.

The Cadet Pipe Band thereafter discoursed music in the balcony, and the company made a tour of inspection throughout the building.