Penpont Heritage Centre

Famous People

A number of famous people, past and present, come from our area. How many do you recognise?


Robert Paterson (1716-1801)
known as ‘Old Mortality’, was a stonemason from Gatelawbridge and the inspiration for Sir Walter Scott’s novel of the same name.


Kirkpatrick Macmillan (1812-1878)
was a local blacksmith from Courthill, Keir, famous for inventing the pedal-driven bicycle. He died aged 66 and is buried in the old Churchyard, Keir.

Dr Thomas Boyle Grierson (1818-89)
was a well-known local doctor and antiquary who established a museum in Thornhill, and set up the Society of Enquiry of which Joseph Thomson was a member. He is buried in the family grave in Penpont churchyard.

James Shaw
James Shaw was headmaster of Upper Tynron Parish School from 1862 -1896. He was well known for his expertise in many fields including botany, astronomy, literature and public speaking. His works are recorded in ‘A Country Schoolmaster’ by former pupil, Professor RobertWallace. He is buried in Tynron.

Joseph Laing Waugh (1868-1928)
was a Thornhill-born artist, designer and writer in the Scots dialect. His most famous works were ‘Robbie Doo’ and ‘Cracks wi’ Robbie Doo’ 
Image supplied by kind permission of Dumfries and Galloway Libraries and Archive Service.

Richard Walter John Montagu Douglas Scott, 10th Duke of Buccleuch and 12th Duke of Queensberry
Nearby Drumlanrig Castle is one of his ancestral residences and a popular historical attraction.

Hugh McMillan
Hugh McMillan taught for many years in Dumfries and now lives in Penpont. He is an award winning poet, well published, anthologised and broadcast in Scotland and abroad. Many of his poems deal with a sense of place and time.

Andy Goldsworthy OBE
is a national and international artist, best known for his sculptures and photography in natural settings. Here he is building a sandstone cone as a millenium gift to his community.

Nicky Spence
was brought up in Keir Mill and is an internationally famous Scottish tenor often performing abroad in opera, oratorio and concerts.

Emily Smith
is an award-winning Scottish folk singer from Gatelawbridge, near Thornhill, who still lives locally. She often performs abroad.



 Who else can we add?
If you know  of anyone who can be added to our list, please click here to contact us.

If you would like to make a donation to the group, please click here to contact us. Thank you.



The Centre will open for the 2017 season at East weekend, Saturday 15 April and will be open Saturdays and Sundays thereafter until the end of September. If you wish to come to the centre at other times, we are very happy to arrange a suitable time. Click here to contact us.



 If you are looking for any heritage information please do not hesitate to contact us by clicking here.



We are currently on a volunteer drive to make sure the history of Joseph Thomson and the heritage of Penpont, Keir and Tynron continues well into the future.

We are planning a training package for volunteers and a buddy system for the first year. This means new guides will have support from the beginning to help their knowledge and confidence to grow.

If you are interested in becoming a guide and/or a member or the management group, please click here to contact us. 


Group Bookings

We welcome individuals, groups and school parties. Please contact us to arrange your booking.

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Become a Friend

Become a Friend

Would you like to help this Centre continue and flourish?

If YES you could:

1. Become a member.

2. Donate/loan materials to our archives.

3. Help fund running costs by becoming a friend.

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