Monday, January 31 was a momentous day in the history of in the South Ayrshire town of Maybole.
It was also an emotional day. There was happiness for many — it was a dream come true — but also a sad day because the late Peter Mason wasn’t there to see it.
Peter chaired the community council’s A77 Maybole Bypass Committee for over 20 years and it was a touching moment when his wife, Senga, was asked to cut the ribbon to open the bypass.
That committee did great work lobbying for a bypass; there was a petition signed by over 3,000 people; marches on the High Street, even a sit down by some activists; leaflets; a logo competition; visits to Holyrood; and visits to the town by Transport Ministers.
The street was dangerous, people were frightened at times and felt as if they were taking their life in their hands every time they walked on it.
It was built centuries ago; Robert Burns’ parents met at a fair on Maybole High Street in 1756 before marrying in a local church the following year. That was over 250 years ago!
Rabbie himself stayed with friends on the High Street and had a drink in a local hotel across the road which was where the horses and coaches arrived.
Last century, conditions got worse; excess traffic, congestion, air pollution (not helped by the tall buildings), the narrow pavements were a hazard as people were hit by vehicle mirrors, lorries touching and some even going on to the narrow pavements to pass.
The case was compelling, and conditions were made worse as lorries got heavier and safety concerns increased.
Shops were closing and tourism was restricted. The town is steeped in history dating back to at least 1193.
Maybole is the ancient Capital of Carrick and Robert the Bruce, Earl of Carrick, was born at Turnberry in 1274 and knew the town.
The community council and the Bypass Committee worked hard to make the case for a non-political bypass.
It attracted cross-party support from the four main parties at Holyrood, all of whom visited to discuss the way forward and how they could help.
With the support of the Scottish Government, MPs, MSPs, successive council members, local residents, businesses, travelers and visitors, the bypass is now open.
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Wills Bros have done great work in the face of recent restrictions due to Covid and we thank them in their 50th anniversary year. A bypass had been promised several times, the last being a scheduled start in 1991/2.
Thirty years later, the town has its bypass thanks to the work and support of many people.
Hopefully, Maybele will prosper, its people will be safer, healthier and will enjoy the High Street again.
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George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.