Agricultural Change and ImprovementIn the 18th century, social, economic and scientific factors brought about major changes in society. One of these changes was agricultural ‘improvement’. This involved changing the way land was used, to make it more productive and profitable for the people who owned it. It led to the eventual disappearance of townships like Auchindrain.
Some townships became single-tenant or owner-occupied farms. Others were developed into crofting townships. Each family rented a small piece of land on which they had to build their house, and had access to an area where animals could graze, shared between everyone. The amount of land they were given was deliberately too small to support the family, meaning crofters had to work in local industries – often owned by their landlord. In some areas, townships were forcibly cleared of people so that the land could be used in other ways, for large-scale sheep-moors or private sporting estates.
Joint-tenancy townships were demolished, modernised or allowed to fall into ruins. Auchindrain was one of the few to survive the 19th century. By the time the last tenant retired in 1963, it had for some time been the last one still inhabited: the Last Township.