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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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Staff at the Scottish and Local History Library, Carnegie Library, Ayr welcomed Ayrshire Bed & Breakfast Association members (and some of their guests!) on a special tour through their local and family history resources – maps, newspapers, printed books and photos, to mention a few. Designed to inform B&B owners on the sources we hold, so they can pass this onto their guests, we were delighted by their enthusiasm and interest!

“A wonderful resource on our doorstep”

The Scottish and Local History Library is located on the first floor of the Carnegie Library in Ayr. We hold a wealth of free resources for anyone who is researching their family tree or studying the local history of the area. We have dedicated, friendly, experienced staff who are happy to assist and give advice on all aspects of your research. We aim to help customers bring family names, dates and places to life.

The department currently has two PCs connected to the Internet available for Local and Family History research.  Customers can also access online Births, Marriages and Deaths Archive Search from the Ayr Advertiser: 1803-1835Ancestry Library Edition and Find My Past free. Customers can also use their own devices by taking advantage of our unlimited free Wi-Fi access.

If you have any questions or would like further information please contact us localhistory@south-ayrshire.gov.uk or tel: 01292 272231.


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‘Shanter Farm and Bay, Carrick’ by David Octavius Hill, from the 1840 publication ‘The Land of Burns’.

This image encapsulates the themes of all of the talks at the 2016 South Ayrshire History & Family History Fair at the Walker Halls, Troon on Saturday 4th June.

In one of his illustrations for the 1840 publication ‘The Land of Burns’, the artist and pioneer photographer David Octavius Hill imagined the farmer and smuggler Douglas Graham and his companions about to set off from the coast of Carrick. Their horses carry casks of smuggled brandy. The Fair’s first talk at 10am will be ‘The Smuggling Coast from Stranraer to Girvan’ by Frances Wilkins, a leading authority on this subject.

The scene is located at the ancient standing stone now on the edge of Turnberry Golf Course, with Maidens Bay in the background, and two of the day’s talks are about early human activity – ‘Ayrshire before History’, about the county’s early sites and their archaeology, by Tom Barclay of South Ayrshire Council Libraries at 11am, and ‘A Founder’s Workshop from the Bronze Age? Excavations from the shadow of Hunterston’ by archaeologist Thomas Rees at 3pm.

On foot and speaking with the smugglers is the teenage Robert Burns, taking time off from his school classes at Kirkoswald. (He is unlikely to have been so well-dressed at that time.) It is claimed that he later based his best-known character Tam o’Shanter on Douglas Graham. The 2pm talk is by Professor Chris Whatley and is ‘Men at War: securing Burns’ memory in the West of Scotland c.1859 – c. 1896’, about the race between towns in the region to have a statue of Burns.


The ancient standing stone overlooking Maidens Bay.

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This exhibition, on display at Rozelle House from 25th March to 23rd May, provides a glimpse into sport in Ayrshire, now and in the past. How did these sports start? Who played and where?

Why were these sports chosen? The exhibition team chose these five based on prior contacts and knowledge. Each to us seems to be particularly Scottish and they are strong locally. They appear on the international scene and in the consciousness of Scotland. We could have chosen others.

The five sports are curling, football, golf, ice hockey and rugby. The exhibition team have worked with individuals, organisations and sport clubs to be able to show this unique and diverse group of artefacts and images. Our grateful thanks to everyone who helped and loaned artefacts.


Curling’s origins are not well understood. Stones, channel stanes and ‘loofies’ exist from the early 16th Century and it is recorded throughout the 17th Century. From the 18th Century onwards it is a popular and flourishing sport. In Ayrshire, Robert Burns creates an image in verse of curling which is readily recognisable today.


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Ayr & Alloway Curlers at Rozelle Curling Pond


The game has changed a great deal, though. In the past, the vanquished often provided the dinner and drinks after the match.

In curling players meet as equals on the ice in a spirit of boisterous yet sociable competition, often lubricated by a generous tot of whisky. In an agrarian society it was played during the fallow season when Scotland’s farmers and shepherds were free to pursue it at will.

From the mid-19th Century, the birth of the Royal Caledonian Curling Club and a growth in dedicated curling ponds, such as at Rozelle, began the process of regularising curling and transforming it into the sport we know today.


The two senior Ayrshire football clubs are Ayr United FC and Kilmarnock FC. Many interesting and intriguing artefacts and photographs are on show here. The Kilmarnock Charity Cup is here reunited with its plinth for the first time in 100 years!


Spot the ball!

Ayr United or ‘The Honest Men’ play at Somerset Park. Probably Ayr’s most famous manager is Ally MacLeod who took charge in 1966. He guided Ayr back to the top division and took them to a Scottish and a league cup semi-final. He moved to Aberdeen FC in 1975 and appointed manager of the national team in 1977.

Kilmarnock Football Club, the oldest professional club in Scotland, were Scottish League Division 1 champions in 1964/65, Scottish Cup winners 1919/1920 and 1997 and League Cup winners in 2012. Commonly known as ‘Killie’, they play home games at Rugby Park.

Along with the two professional clubs in Ayrshire there are 24 Junior football clubs who compete in their own leagues and play for the Scottish Junior Cup every year.


Golf is known to have been played in Scotland since at least 1457, when golf and football were banned as distractions from archery practice.

The earliest known equipment was long-nosed woods, crude irons and featherie balls. Play was often on common land, especially seaside links. These have evolved, and the rules with them, to the high tech equipment used today. Examples of historical equipment, some associated with key players, are on show.

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Girvan Golf Club

Within South Ayrshire are three Open Championship courses. Prestwick Golf Club founded the Open Championship and ran it until 1870. Prestwick no longer hosts the Open, but remains a major golfing venue. Troon hosted its first Open Championship in 1923 and Turnberry in 1977.

The rise of the railways in Britain was key to the growth of golf. In 1910 the route from Glasgow to Ayr was dubbed ‘The Golfers’ Line’ by Rail and Travel Monthly – it served 14 links courses.

Ice Hockey

An exclusive pastime of the wealthy in the 19th Century, British ice hockey became an extremely popular spectator sport through the 1930s and 1950s. In Britain, the sport has had several periods of boom and bust. Glory days were triggered by the national team’s Olympic triumph in 1936. Bust came in the early 1960s, when the sport almost died. There was a period of struggle, before regaining popular appeal over the last 40 years in an era of new arenas and European competition.

The story of ice hockey in Ayr is equally varied. Ice Hockey’s sense of community is important. Still a minority sport in the UK, it is very much a major sport in localised areas, like Ayr.

The first Ayrshire team was Doonside, with their first match at Crossmyloof in 1929. Ayr’s first ice rink opened in 1939. It closed in 1972, but the sport continued at the Limekiln Road Rink. In 1996 ‘The Centrum’ rink opened to a capacity crowd, but this was not to last. The Ayr Scottish Eagles relocated to Glasgow’s Braehead Arena in 2002, leaving Ayr without a hockey team. Sadly ‘The Centrum’ closed in 2004 and now the sport is kept alive in Ayr by the commitment of the junior and recreational players back at the Limekiln Road Rink.


Ayr Rugby F.C. began on the evening of Wednesday 22nd September 1897, at a meeting in the Kings Arms Hotel, High Street, Ayr. A Secretary, Treasurer and Captain were appointed, along with a Selection Committee. Northfield Park was settled on as the playing fields.

The inaugural match took place on Monday 27th September 1897 versus Glasgow Second XV of Clydesdale. The final score of 0-8 to the visitors was deemed ‘a satisfactory start’.

The sport became quickly established and just 4 weeks later a Second XV was formed.

From that site, and from that time of only 162 members, the Club has grown in both strength and accolades. They were League Winners 2008 – 2009, 2012 – 2013, Cup Winners 2010, 2011 & 2013 and Bill McLaren Shield Winners 2013.

Since 2011 they have offered a Rugby Academy, which works to support and develop the talent within the youth teams. Ayr Ladies was formed in 2012 and now competes in the BT Women’s National League Division 1.

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Photographs taken of the King’s Arms Hotel and the views across the river from its rear. The hotel was near the foot of the High Street and was demolished in 1925. This hotel along with the Black Bull Hotel in River Street survived from the 18th century. After demolition F W Woolworth appeared in its place. The original hotel was renewed in 1833 by its owner William Noble after a fire.

In 1820 there were over thirty carriers transporting goods to and from Ayr by horse and cart. A four-horse passenger coach left twice daily from the Kings Arms for Kilmarnock and Glasgow alternating each month with the Black Bull across the river.

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Due to it’s popularity our Picturing the Past exhibition at Ayr’s Carnegie Library has been extended until the end of February 2016.

The bygone days of the town and its people are celebrated in this exhibition of images from the library service’s photographic collection. Special features include Gray’s carpet factory and Daniel Wyllie’s chemical works.

Carnegie Library, 12 Main Street, Ayr KA8 8EB

The exhibition is on display in the Non-Fiction Lending Department.

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Next of Kin Touring Project

The anniversary of the Battle of Loos takes place this week, marking 100 years  since the costly battle in which Scottish infantry battalions made up half of the British assault force.

One of the key personal stories featured in the Next of Kin touring exhibition is that of George Buchanan, who was killed on the first day of the battle, 25 September 1915, aged 27. He was born in Bathgate, West Lothian, and was a railway platelayer by trade. He enlisted as a volunteer in 1914 and served with 8th Battalion Seaforth Highlanders.

Facsimile photograph of Buchanan in uniform. This image was enlarged and framed later to hang in the family home. © National Museums Scotland

He kept in touch with his sister and mother in Portobello, Midlothian. On display is an embroidered postcard and letter sent to his sister concerning family news and the cold weather. Written on 11 September…

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