Saturday 2 June, 9.30am – 4.30pm

Looking for something different to do on the weekend? Join us at South Ayrshire’s History and Family History Fair at the Walker Halls in Troon.

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.

Visitors will have free access to a wide range of stalls between 9.30am and 4.30pm offering advice and guidance on family history, tracing your roots and exploring local and national history. There will also be a specialist Scottish bookshop.

Our Speakers for the day are…

10am Tom Barclay, Local Studies Librarian, South Ayrshire Council
“Stories from Ayrshire’s Great War 1914 – 1918″

11am Thomas Clancy
, Professor of Celtic, University Of Glasgow
“In the land of Noddsdale: Gaelic, Norse and other languages in the place-names of the district of Largs”

2pm John-James Atkinson, Archaeologist at GUARD
“Recent prehistoric discoveries of Neolithic settlement in Ayrshire and South Lanarkshire”

3pm Keir Murray, Collections Officer, South Ayrshire Council
“The tale of the three bridges over the River Ayr”


All day £10 / Half-day £5 / Single tickets £3 / Two or more £2.50 each

Tickets are available from Carnegie LibraryTroon Library or at the Walker Halls on the day.

FREE ENTRY to specialist stalls from 9.30am – 4.30pm

For enquiries and bookings please phone:

Tel: 01292 559318 or 272231 Fax: 01292 616301

Email: localhistory@south-ayrshire.gov.uk

Bookings can also be made by post using our flyer. The flyer and booking forms are available from all South Ayrshire Libraries or you can download them from our Booking Information page.


Lifting the Lid,’ the National Library of Scotland’s touring display, opens at Ayr’s Carnegie Library on Monday 11 June 2018.

This free display tells the story of food and drink in Scotland. Discover how the introduction of new ingredients and methods of cooking have changed and developed our tastes over the years.

Scotland has a rich and diverse natural larder with plentiful supplies of fish, game, cereals and fruit. ‘Lifting the Lid’ celebrates Scotland’s changing relationship with food and drink and explores the myths and traditions associated with its people’s diet.

Dates: 11 June – 14 August 2018
Venue: Carnegie Library, 12 Main Street, Ayr KA8 8EB

Explore over 200 years of history and access hundreds of historic newspapers from all over Britain and Ireland – FREE through your library.

This exciting archive can support users researching a wide variety of topics – from family histories to worldwide diplomatic relations! Whether you’re a history buff, genealogist or sports fan, there are resources to cover all interests.

To access The British Newspaper Archive you will need to register (don’t worry it’s free) from a South Ayrshire Library computer. To find out more about this fantastic resource visit your local library.

On the morning of Sunday 1 April 2018, exactly 100 years after the Royal Air Force came into being, a service of commemoration will be held at Girvan’s Doune Cemetery. The service will honour the memory of the man considered to have the best claim to be the father of the RAF, Sir David Henderson. Born into a family of Glasgow shipyard owners, he opted for a military career, but his family background of engineering gave him an interest in technical matters which would stand him in good stead. As an officer in the Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders, he distinguished himself in the 1899-1902 Boer War, and he rose to become the British Army’s foremost authority on military intelligence and tactical reconnaissance. 1903 saw the Wright brothers make the first successful powered flight of a heavier-than-air machine, and in 1909 Bleriot made the first flight across the English Channel. Only two years later, David Henderson learned to fly, having grasped the military potential of the new invention. Aged 49, he was at the time the oldest qualified pilot. He was instrumental in the formation of the Royal Flying Corps in 1912, and was appointed Director General of Military Aeronautics. When RFC squadrons were sent across the Channel to support the British Expeditionary Force soon after the outbreak of the 1914-1918 Great War, David Henderson went with them to take direct command of their operations at the Front. When he returned to Britain in 1915, Hugh Trenchard replaced him in this role.



When the Royal Flying Corps made its first sorties over the Western Front in 1914 it was under the command of David Henderson


In the summer of 1917, Germany escalated the air war by sending their new twin-engined Gotha bombers to attack London. Damage was negligible, but many lives were lost, and the sight of large formations of enemy aircraft flying over the capital in broad daylight, virtually unopposed, dealt a heavy blow to civilian morale. Prime Minister Lloyd George asked the South African General Jan Smuts to draw up a report on Britain’s air defences. Sir David Henderson was seconded to Smuts to advise on aviation matters, and was largely responsible for the contents of the report. There was competition for resources between the Army’s Royal Flying Corps and the Royal Naval Air Service (which operated many land-based aircraft in similar roles to the RFC). Their operations were poorly coordinated, and were subject to the requirements of their parent services. The Smuts report recommended that they be merged to form an independent Air Force, on an equal standing with the Army and Navy, and this was the basis for the creation of the RAF. It was Hugh Trenchard who was appointed Chief of the Air Staff, and Henderson then resigned from the Air Council. Trenchard would successfully fight to keep a strong and independent RAF during the defence cuts of the inter-war years, but always insisted that it was Henderson, and not he, who should be regarded as father of the service.


Sir David Henderson

Sir David Henderson


Among the training facilities taken over by the RAF were the RFC’s No. 1 School of Aerial Fighting at Ayr Racecourse and No. 2 (Auxiliary) School of Aerial Gunnery at Turnberry (where the golf course had been commandeered as an airfield, with the hotel as HQ, officers’ mess and hospital). In May 1918 they were amalgamated to form the RAF’s No. 1 School of Aerial Fighting and Gunnery with all operations located at Turnberry – the name was soon changed to No. 1 Fighting School. The aviators sent there to refresh their combat skills after a spell away from the Front included Captain Ian Henderson, David’s only son. He was an ace fighter pilot credited with seven victories over enemy aircraft, and had been awarded the Military Cross. On 21 June 1918 he and another ace, Harold Redler, took a DH 9 two-seater up from Turnberry to test-fire the rear gun. Something went terribly wrong, and a crash took the lives of both men – a terrible blow for David Henderson. Harold Redler’s body was sent to his home county of Somerset for burial, but an open motor lorry took Ian Henderson’s flag-draped, flower-covered coffin – brother officers seated on either side- along Girvan’s Dalrymple Street – lined by townspeople – to Doune Cemetery. The cemetery contains the graves of thirteen Great War airmen, including Australians and Americans. After the end of the war, an airmen’s memorial paid for by public subscription was erected on Turnberry Golf Course. It bears the names of 33 RFC and RAF aircrew, two pilots of the Australian Air Corps, and four of the US Army Air Service. The names of many accident victims of the Second World War, when Turnberry was again a training airfield, would later be added.


Turnberry Memorial

The memorial to fallen airmen on Turnberry Golf Course


Sir David Henderson was involved in the peace negotiations which brought about the end of the war. He was then appointed Director General of the newly-formed League of Red Cross Societies, but while serving in this capacity he died in Geneva on 17 August 1921, aged 59. His arduous war service was considered to be the cause of death. In accordance with his wishes, his ashes were brought to Girvan and scattered at the grave of his son Ian. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission headstone at the grave is inscribed with the names of both father and son.



The headstone in Girvan’s Doune Cemetery commemorating both Captain Ian Henderson and his father Sir David


Hugh Trenchard also had an Ayrshire connection. He was an Englishman, but when he received his officer’s commission in 1893 it was as a lieutenant in Ayrshire’s county regiment, the Royal Scots Fusiliers. He served with the regiment in India and South Africa before transferring to the Royal Flying Corps, and maintained a close association with it for the rest of his life. From 1919 to 1946 he held the honorary rank of Colonel of the Regiment, and when Ayr War Memorial was unveiled on 13 April 1924 it was Air Chief-Marshal Sir Hugh Trenchard who performed the unveiling ceremony and gave the address.


Sir Hugh Trenchard

Sir Hugh Trenchard




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.