Some seasonal scenes of old Ayr and Alloway
December 20, 2012 by South Ayrshire Libraries
When it came to selecting images from our files for a seasonal post, a set of winter scenes from the collection of the late Jean Kennedy was an obvious choice. These photographs are printed on cards bearing the inscription ‘Bara, Ayr & Troon, N.B.’. (N.B. standing for North Britain.) Evidence in the images dates them to between spring 1902, when the tram line was extended to Alloway, and 1909 when Ayr Grammar School was extensively altered. In fact, they are likely to have been taken during the winter of 1902-03, as Bara’s Troon studio seems to have closed around that time or soon after.
4-6 Citadel Place, Ayr, designed by James A. Morris as a photographic studio for Ambrose Bara and built in 1883.
In 1876, John Joseph Ambrose George Barat married Eliza (Lily) White in Kensington, London, and soon afterwards they moved to Ayr and took over a photography business in what is now Citadel Place. It was as Ambrose and Lily Bara that they chose to be known. In 1883 a photographic studio, designed by the distinguished Ayr architect James A. Morris, was built for Ambrose Bara in Citadel Place. Ambrose’s principal assistant for nine years was Alexander Monnickendam, who set up his own photography business in Ayr around 1893. At the age of only 36, Ambrose died in December 1890 as the result of a tragic accident. Having been overcome by a fit while passing through Prestwick on horseback, he fell to the ground and sustained fatal injuries. Lily carried on the business for a time. By 1911 she had moved to Devon (where she died in 1936) but the Bara photography business in Ayr continued in existence until the beginning of the 1920s.
The essential starting point for research on early photographers in Ayrshire is the data assembled by Rob Close, which can be viewed here:
Apart from the long-vanished riverside structures on the left, little has changed in this view of Ayr’s 1878 New Bridge, and the buildings flanking its southern end which form a gateway to the town centre.
Activity in the High Street south of the Wallace Tower has turned the snow to slush, but icicles still hang from the eaves. To the left can be seen the butcher’s shop of Andrew Climie and the Sun Inn Bar, and further along on that side of the street is Matthew Dickie’s Ayr Arms Hotel. On the right, the cooperage of William Mair & Son sits above the shop of William Higgins, boot and shoe maker. Although no trams are visible, their tracks and the poles supporting their power cables are in evidence.
Ayr Corporation Tramways commenced operation in September 1901 and ceased in 1931. As seen here, the track south of the town centre changed from double to single at the junction of Carrick Road and Midton Road. Ayr Grammar School appears here with James A. Morris’s 1882 extension to its original 1868 building. The school took on its present appearance in 1909 when it was considerably enlarged by architect James Kennedy Hunter.
Snow lies thickly on Carrick Road. The original southern terminus of the tramway was at St Leonard’s Church, the spire of which can be seen in the background, but in May 1902 an extension to Alloway was opened.
The old churchyard at Alloway, made famous by Robert Burns in his poem Tam O’Shanter as the scene of Tam’s encounter with the witches. Part of ‘Alloway’s auld haunted kirk’ can be seen on the left, and the new parish church of 1858 is on the right.
At Alloway, the tram line passed the birthplace cottage of Robert Burns to terminate at the Burns Monument Hotel (now Brig o’ Doon House Hotel).
Longhill Avenue in Alloway still looks the same today. If you look closely enough you will see the snow covered Burns Monument in the distance.
We would like to take this opportunity to wish all our of customers and readers of our blog a most enjoyable festive season.