The launch of the Trail

The building at number 13, facing directly on to Main Street, currently the Panic Gallery, hides a long history. It was built in 1933 as Simpson’s joinery workshop, replacing an earlier building.

The former Simpson’s joinery workshop, on Main Street.

In 1735, the Simpson family established a joinery business at this site and it continued to trade until 1980. Much of the fine woodwork in many local houses, for example, Blairessan and Auchenibert, was made in their workshop. The buildings behind the workshop also provided stabling for the business’s horses (until replaced by a delivery lorry – the Simpsons were early adopter of mechanized transport) and a milking byre for a cow that grazed on the land occupied by the houses now at numbers 15–19 Main Street. There was also a saw pit there. By the time of its closure, it was one of Scotland’s longest-running firms. The building is still used by the Simpson family.

Black and white photo of a dog sat on a spiral staircase in a workshop with workmen around
Spiral staircase made in Simpson’s joinery workshop, Killearn for a house on Islay

The houses (numbers 15–21) next to the old workshop, known as the Simpson block, remain in the Simpson family. The first to be built on the block was number 21. It was originally a thatched building that provided the family home for the Simpsons as the joinery business developed. Number 19 was built in 1865 (the date is recorded on the front of the house), while numbers 15 and 17 were built in red sandstone around 1890. The ground floor of number 15 contained a general store, with a particular line in cakes and sweets made on the premises. The shop can be seen on many old photographs of Main Street.