Tuesday 17th January 2017, Jim Craig from Craig & Wilson

(Dr) Neil Beattie & Rev Ian Stirling hosting Jim Craig

Ayr Rotary Club were pleased to have local, well known businessman, Jim Craig to speak at their recent meeting. Never having been a believer in the age old saying “school is the best days of your life”, he said he made really sure that he would be able to leave at the end of fifth year by attaining a good set of highers in that year. With a choice of university courses on offer at this point, Jim chose to forego the route of formal education and follow his forefathers and entered James Craig Ltd as office boy in 1973 at the age of 17. Having enjoyed the experience of the livestock mart from a very early age he was keen to make a career as a livestock auctioneer. Jim said he did actually sit the exam course set by the Institute of Auctioneers and Appraisers in Scotland and on his way to becoming a fellow of this body was awarded “the student of the year” certificate in his early twenties

In 1889, the original James Craig started selling livestock by auction within the county town of Ayr. He quickly grew the company, expanding geographically, and bought Newton Stewart market serving Wigtownshire in 1903, thereby creating the basis of the current business which is still thriving a century later. The main centre in Ayr, which used to be located adjacent to Ayr Railway Station, was modified and redeveloped continuously to service the changing livestock marketing trends over its ninety year history. Come 1993, a deal was struck with developers and Ayr Town Council to relocate the market to its present site, at Whitefordhill, a farm already under ownership of the Craigs. Incorporating the latest thinking in livestock handling and biosecurity methods, the company was well established to weather the storms created, firstly by BSE, and not long after, the debacle of Foot and Mouth. Many farming businesses faltered, and markets around the country closed, but the Directors, believing earnestly in the concept of the auction system, embarked on a project to expand the business yet again. Negotiations started with their close neighbours, the Wilson family, who operated sites in Kilmarnock and Paisley. Jointly the decision was reached to merge the two auction houses with Ayr as the flagship centre, and Newton Stewart remaining as its southern based satellite. Through this initiative it can be truly said the new business of Craig • Wilson Ltd services clients from the Solway to the Clyde … a considerable proportion of South West Scotland.

Jim continued stating that the new “Ayr Mart” is in fact now well into its 2nd decade of operation. Activity revolves around the mart concourse, off which there are two auction rings. With modern lighting and heating enhance the comfort of customers and spectators alike, this fine location on the Coast just overlooking Ayr and The Firth of Clyde is drawing stock not only from all over Ayrshire, but also from Renfrewshire, Lanarkshire, Wigtownshire, Kirkcudbrightshire, Arran and the Western Isles.

His audience were treated to stories from Jim’s recent holiday/fact finding trip to Australian auction marts and their practices where ‘beast’ numbers being sold, were on a vast scale in comparison to the UK.

Neil Beattie gave a worthy vote of thanks