This extract from the 1914 voters’ roll for Ayr’s Main Street includes the Carnegie Library’s librarian, David Elder Edward. Only men are listed.


The 1918 voters’ roll lists not only librarian David Elder Edward but also his wife Jessie. Many other women appear. (Mr Edward’s bequest continues to be used for the cultural benefit of the people of Ayr.)

On 6th February 1918, the Representation of the People Act 1918 was given royal assent and became law. For the first time, British women were entitled to vote in general elections, provided they were over 30 and were property-owners. (Many women could already vote in local elections.)

The years immediately preceding the outbreak of the First World War had seen increasingly militant action being taken by the supporters of the campaign for women’s’ suffrage. When Ayr Racecourse was commandeered by the military soon after the commencement of hostilities, the club stand had just been rebuilt, having been gutted by fire one night in 1913. The culprit was a Suffragette who was never caught and who in recent times has been revealed to have been a Kate Taylor from Glasgow. There had also been a failed arson attack on Burns’ Cottage at Alloway by Fanny Parker, a niece of Lord Kitchener. One of the foremost Scottish Suffragettes was Janie Allan, who resided in Prestwick and was the daughter of the owner of the Allan Shipping Line. Fanny and Janie were both imprisoned – in Janie’s case for breaking shop windows. They both went on hunger strike and had to endure forced feeding.

On the outbreak of war, the mainstream Suffragette movement suspended their campaign and called on women to assist the war effort. In return, an amnesty was granted to imprisoned Suffragettes. As more and more men joined the Forces, women filled the gaps in the home workforce, and were able to confound those who had sought to deny them the vote on grounds of limited ability.

The only reference to the bill becoming law in Ayr’s local papers of the time was in a report of a meeting of the Ayr branch of the Women’s Temperance Association. The president, Miss C. E. Robertson, said in her opening speech that women had long sought for and fought for the vote, and now that they had it they should use it well. She went on to urge that they use it to enlist the support of candidates for the prohibition of alcohol.


Tuesday 26 September – Tuesday 31 October 2017

A special exhibition in Ayr Carnegie Library’s non-fiction lending area showcasing the original source material which has informed the professional archaeologists, as they prepare to dig deeper, and investigate what lies at the heart of Auld Toun. The Riverside Block on Ayr’s High Street occupies part of the earliest core of the Royal Burgh as laid out after the grant of its charter in 1205. Sitting between the late C15th Auld Bridge, and the C18th New Bridge, the original C13th plots were laid out falling from the High Street to the River Ayr. Representing Ayr’s commercial past, and the epitome of its 20th century development, this plot was never expected to become available as a site of interest.

Visit the Carnegie’s Local History department to see the maps, photographs and books which helped the Archaeologists understand the history of the site over 800 years, and, provide the clues as to what the dig might reveal!

Arrangements for our 2017 South Ayrshire History & Family History Fair on Saturday 3rd June are well underway with an exciting line-up of speakers.

Whether you’re interested in exploring your family roots or wanting to take a more specialised look at a particular topic, the History Fair – and the guest speakers – will help bring your interest to life.

The tomb effigy at Dunkeld Cathedral of Alexander Stewart, the Wolf of Badenoch, son of the first Stewart king Robert II (who died at Dundonald Castle) and Elizabeth Mure of Rowallan.

Our Speakers for the day are:

Thomas Rees, Rathmell Archaeology –  Demolition work for the Riverside Development in Ayr will include an archaeological investigation of a significant area of the historic town centre. Thomas will explain the project’s potential to uncover new evidence about the Royal Burgh’s medieval origins.

Tom Barclay, Local Studies Librarian, South Ayrshire Council – King Robert the Bruce is arguably the most important figure in the shaping of Scotland’s later medieval history. Tom will look at Bruce’s many connections with Ayrshire, and the traditions and sites associated with him in the county.

Professor Steve Boardman of the University of Edinburgh – Ayrshire’s Kyle district was an important power-base for the Stewarts in their rise to occupy the Scottish throne. Professor Boardman will speak about the career of one of the most notorious of the family, Alexander Stewart, Earl of Buchan, better known as ‘the Wolf of Badenoch’.

Neil Fraser, The Scottish Cultural Resources Access Network (SCRAN) – SCRAN is an online treasure-house of images covering all aspects of Scottish history and culture, which is constantly being added to. Neil will give a presentation on the site’s resources which will highlight its extensive and fascinating Ayrshire content.


In addition to a full programme of informative talks featuring respected guest speakers, stallholders from various groups will be offering advice and guidance on family history, tracing your roots, and exploring local and national history between 9am and 4.30pm. There will also be a specialist Scottish bookshop. Admission to the stalls is free.

Location and Cost

As usual, the Fair will be held in the Walker Halls, Troon, from 10am until 4pm. The cost of the full day conference is £10, £5 for half a day.  Tickets for individual talks are priced at £3 each or £2.50 for 2 or more and will be available from Troon and Carnegie Library during the month prior to the fair.  Tickets will also be available to purchase on the day.

History Fair Enquiries

If you have any enquiries about the History Fair or would like to make a booking please don’t hesitate to contact us. Tel: 01292 559318 or 272231  Fax: (01292) 616301 or email: localhistory@south-ayrshire.gov.uk.

Engineers surveying the seabed of the Firth of Clyde and the North Channel on the route of a planned undersea power cable recently came across a wreck. It was identified as that of a First World War German submarine, or U-Boat, either UB-82 or UB-85. Much press coverage resulted, due to the bizarre claim made by the captain of UB-85 when he surrendered to a British warship. A sea monster, he said, had attacked his vessel and damaged it so badly that it was unable to submerge. It seems more likely that human error was actually to blame, and that the captain did not care to admit this.

The war saw the transformation of the submarine from coast defence novelty to wide-ranging commerce destroyer. The wreck discovery is a reminder of the threat posed by these craft in the waters to the west of Ayrshire’s southern tip, where the shipping lanes in and out of the Irish Sea, the North Channel and the Firth of Clyde all converged. This was the closest to Ayrshire that the shooting war came.

On 11 March 1915 the auxiliary cruiser HMS Bayano, a converted merchant vessel, was sunk by U-27 about seven nautical miles south west of Ballantrae. 195 men were lost, and 20 of the 26 survivors were landed at Ayr.

Sectional view of a mine-laying coastal U-Boat.

Sectional view of a mine-laying coastal U-Boat.

Some classes of U-Boat were equipped to lay mines, and many commercial craft including Clyde Coast paddle steamers were hastily converted to auxiliary minesweepers. The Ayrshire shipyards at Ardrossan, Irvine and Troon constructed a total of 31 purpose-built minesweepers.

The Carrick Herald of 6 November 1914 reports the latest restrictions on local lighting. These were progressively tightened and extended in all coastal areas, and transgressors were fined.

The Carrick Herald of 6 November 1914 reports the latest restrictions on local lighting. These were progressively tightened and extended in all coastal areas, and transgressors were fined.

Concern that U-Boats would use lights on shore to navigate after dark led to a blackout being imposed in coastal areas around Britain. When a U-boat fired shells at a chemical plant at Whitehaven in Cumbria in August 1915, it raised fears that Ayrshire’s greatest contributor to munitions production, Nobel’s British Dynamite Factory on the coast at Ardeer, might be similarly targeted or attacked by saboteurs coming ashore. A permanently-garrisoned fortified perimeter was constructed around the works with small coast-defence guns emplaced on the seaward side.

A snapshot dated April 1918, taken from a window in Wellington Square, shows an SSZ class Royal Navy non-rigid airship off the beach at Ayr’s Low Green.

A snapshot dated April 1918, taken from a window in Wellington Square, shows an SSZ class Royal Navy non-rigid airship off the beach at Ayr’s Low Green.

Not long after the sinking of the Bayano, a Royal Naval Air Service base for anti-submarine airships was established at West Freugh on Luce Bay, Wigtownshire, and these craft would have become a familiar sight off Ayrshire’s southern coast. Unlike the huge and complex German Zeppelins with their rigid framework, they were simple gasbags with a rudimentary compartment for crew and engine slung beneath. Their main weapon was the radio with which they could summon patrolling warships if they sighted a submarine. In November 1916 airship SS-23 force-landed near Girvan due to engine failure. Its gasbag was deflated, and it was taken to West Freugh by road to be put back into service.

White crosses mark the graves in Girvan’s Doune Cemetery of French sailors Adolphe Harre and S. Brajuel, drowned when the Longwy was sunk in 1917.

White crosses mark the graves in Girvan’s Doune Cemetery of French sailors Adolphe Harre and S. Brajuel, drowned when the Longwy was sunk in 1917.

The French merchant ship Longwy was heading into the Firth of Clyde with a cargo of iron ore from the Spanish port of Bilbao when she was torpedoed by UC-75 on the night of 4 November 1917. She went down in the same area where the Bayano had been lost. The weather was rough and none of the 38 on board survived. The bodies of three of the crew, including the captain, Joseph Huet from Saint-Malo, were washed ashore near Girvan and were buried in the town’s Doune Cemetery. The following appeal appeared in the local press: ‘It would be a graceful thing on the part of this community, if there were a representative attendance at the interment’. Captain Huet’s remains were later returned to France, but at Girvan, crosses bearing the legend ‘Mort pour la France’ mark the graves of Adolphe Harre and S. Brajuel. Telegraphist Harre was one of an eight-strong French Navy detachment on board.

Although it eventually brought America into the war, the German U-Boat campaign took Britain to the brink of starvation before shipping convoys were belatedly introduced.

Book Week Scotland 2016 Banner.png

Saturday 26 November, 6pm at Ayr’s Carnegie Library

Join us as we celebrate Book Week Scotland with a visit from Professor of Modern History at the University of St Andrews, Rab Houston. Rab will be talking about how an independent Scottish nation emerged in the Middle Ages, how it was irrevocably altered by Reformation, links with England and economic change, and how Scotland influenced the development of the modern world.

This event will be a concise, lively, and at times opinionated account of Scottish history, politics, society, religion, and culture – both past and present.

Carnegie Library, 12 Main Street, Ayr KA8 8EB Tel: 01292 286385
Free event, but booking required

South Ayrshire Libraries Blog

Patricia Andrew.pngThursday 17 November 2016, 7pm
Carnegie Library, 12 Main Street, Ayr KA8 8EB 
Free event, but booking required Tel: 01292 286385

Dr Patricia R. Andrew FSA, FSAScot, AMA, FRSA, whose career has been mainly in museums and galleries in Scotland and England, is now a freelance consultant, researcher and lecturer. She has written many exhibition catalogues and has published widely on varied art-historical topics from the 18th to the 21st centuries.

A Chasm in Time: Scottish War Art and Artists in the Twentieth Century – voted Scottish History Book of the Year 2015, is the first study of Scottish war art and artists of the twentieth century and is a fascinating visual record of Scotland’s experience of conflict, both on the home front and in theatres of war.

Muirhead Bone, Britain’s first Official War Artist and currently the subject of an exhibition at Rozelle House Galleries, will be featured in…

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Déniécourt Château, Estrées © IWM (Art.IWM REPRO 000684 36)

‘Inspiring Landscapes’ exploring the life and times of WWI Official Artist, Sir Muirhead Bone, is now open at Rozelle House Museum & Galleries, Ayr. Supported by funding from Museums Galleries Scotland, this project has involved local people researching the life and times of Sir Muirhead Bone, and creating Fine Art Prints inspired by the South Ayrshire landscape.

The exhibition runs from 29 October – 29 January 2017. Entry is FREE.

We are also proud to include the prints created by participants at our associated Rozelle Print Studio workshops. We asked people – including 3rd year Art pupils of Ayr Academy – to bring along their South Ayrshire based ‘inspiring landscapes’. Master Printmaker Ian McNicol then guided them through the printmaking process, exploring the techniques Muirhead Bone would have used.


Attend one of our FREE printmaking taster workshops taking place throughout the exhibition:

Saturday afternoon’s from 1pm – 4.30pm on:

• 12th November 2016

• 26th November 2016

• 10th December 2016

• 21st January 2017

To find out more, and to book your place please telephone Rozelle House on 01292 445 447 or visit Rozelle House, Rozelle Park, Monument Road, Ayr KA7 4NQ