The Ballantrae Smugglers’ Festival is set in the period between 1700 and 1820 when smuggling around the coasts of Scotland was still rife. In the 18th and 19th Centuries the Isle of Man held a Royal Charter giving exemption from excise duty on certain imports. This resulted in wine, brandy, silks, tobacco and other products which were highly taxed in Scotland being collected on the Isle of Man and smuggled to various rugged parts of the Ayrshire coast.
Very often the smuggling “runs” were organised by upstanding members of the community including doctors, members of the clergy and indeed sometimes the local lairds. When the smugglers boats landed their cargo they were met by ordinary local folk who supplied pack horses, ponies and carts to remove the goods to a safe hiding place before onward transportation to the larger towns and cities to sell on. Local men and women were involved.
During the Ballantrae Smugglers’ Festival last year, a number of people wore period clothes. This year we want to encourage more of you to do the same.
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