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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

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scotlandspeople

We are delighted to announce that the Valuation Rolls (VRs) in Scotland for 1895 have just been added to the ScotlandsPeople website. 

The new records, comprising 2,095,707 indexed names and 75,565 digital images, cover every kind of building, structure or dwelling that was assessed in 1895 as having a rateable value, and provide a fascinating picture of Scottish society during the late Victorian era.

What do the 1895 Valuation Rolls contain?
The Rolls contain the names of owners, tenants and occupiers of each property – and in many cases, occupations are also included. The head of the household is usually the named person, although sometimes a husband and wife might both be listed – interestingly, wives are often the named tenant in rented property.

 As the Rolls contain individuals from right across the social spectrum – from dwellers in Scotland’s tenements to famous property and land owners – they reveal some very interesting features of social history in Scotland during the late Victorian era.

If you have any questions about Valuation Rolls, visit the dedicated FAQs page on the ScotlandsPeople website.

scotlandspeople_logoWhat can I learn from the 1895 Valuation Rolls?
You can find out who was living at a specific address, and whether they rented or owned the property. You can also see the rent that was paid for the house or flat, as well as the rateable value of the property, As the 1895 VRs appear between the 1891 and 1901 censuses, we believe that these new records will help family history researchers to find ancestors who have gone ‘missing’.

Scotlandspeople vouchers are available to buy in the Carnegie Library, Ayr.

  • Starter vouchers £7.00 for 60 credits
  • Top ups £5.60 for 30 credits

These vouchers can be used in the library and at home. This enables users to access records for the whole of Scotland online.

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St Andrew’s Day on 30 November is significant for Russia as well as for Scotland, as St Andrew is also that country’s patron saint. Here are a few of the connections which link South Ayrshire and Imperial Russia.

Surgeon Thomas Garvine, the son of an Ayr merchant, was one of many Scots who entered the service of Peter the Great as he strove to modernise Russia. Thomas worked at the hospital in the new city of St Petersburg, and there opportunity beckoned when a request for the services of a skilled physician arrived from Kangxi, one of the greatest emperors of China. Thomas duly set off as part of a Russian diplomatic mission, and in 1715-1716 he made the long and hazardous journey across Siberia and the Gobi Desert to the Chinese imperial court in Beijing.

Invisible within his palanquin, Kangxi, emperor of China 1661-1722, enters Beijing. Many of the onlookers wear blue robes and red fur-trimmed caps similar to those presented to Thomas Garvine.

Invisible within his palanquin, Kangxi, emperor of China 1661-1722, enters Beijing. Many of the onlookers wear blue robes and red fur-trimmed caps similar to those presented to Thomas Garvine.

His treatment of the emperor having apparently been successful, Thomas returned to Russia in 1718. He eventually made his way back to Ayr, and in 1724 became provost of the town, a post he held for most of the period between then and 1755. After his return to Scotland he had his portrait painted by Thomas Mosman wearing the Chinese robes which had been gifted to him. This painting used to hang in Sundrum Castle near Coylton (Thomas was related by marriage to the Hamiltons of Sundrum), but it is now owned by the Wellcome Trust. It can be viewed here on the BBC website.

1818 saw a tour of the British Isles by the twenty year-old Grand Duke Michael of Russia, the youngest brother of the Emperor Alexander I. To complete his visit to Scotland, he and his entourage travelled from Glasgow to Ayr. They arrived on 17 August and were accommodated in the King’s Arms Inn on High Street. Next morning, at a special meeting of the magistrates and council, the grand duke received the freedom of the town from Provost Hugh Cowan, being made an honorary burgess. The following day he continued on his journey, travelling to Portpatrick and crossing to Ireland.

The Ayr Advertiser of Friday 20 August 1818 reports Grand Duke Michael’s visit to Ayr.

The Ayr Advertiser of Friday 20 August 1818 reports Grand Duke Michael’s visit to Ayr.

More information on Grand Duke Michael, including a portrait, can be seen at:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grand_Duke_Michael_Pavlovich_of_Russia

On the point just south of Lendalfoot village, an attractively-landscaped area of seafront parking offers motorists on the busy A77 a haven of calm. From the centre of this area rises an impressive bronze monument in the shape of a cross. It bears the dramatic image of a four-funnelled warship steaming into action. The monument’s unveiling on 8 September 2007 was attended by representatives of South Ayrshire Council and by many Russian dignitaries and sailors. They had come to honour the gallant crew of one of their country’s hero-ships, the cruiser Varyag. (A commemorative plaque had already been installed on the site in July 2006.)

Cheered by the crews of neutral warships, Varyag and Koreets set out from Chemulpo to do battle with the Japanese on 9 February 1904.

Cheered by the crews of neutral warships, Varyag and Koreets set out from Chemulpo to do battle with the Japanese on 9 February 1904.

At the outbreak of the 1904-05 Russo-Japanese War, Varyag and the little gunboat Koreets found themselves trapped in the Korean port of Chemulpo (now Incheon) by a Japanese squadron of six cruisers and nine smaller vessels. They were summoned to surrender, but despite the impossible odds against them (the Japanese flagship alone was greatly superior to Varyag) the Russians chose to come out fighting. When Varyag was too badly damaged to continue the battle any longer, with scores of her crew dead or badly wounded, both Russian ships were abandoned and then scuttled.

The Varyag Monument at Lendalfoot

The Varyag Monument at Lendalfoot

Varyag was raised and repaired by the Japanese, but when the two countries became allies during the First World War, the Russians bought her back. She was in a British port at the time of the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution, and was taken over by the Royal Navy. In 1920, the now-derelict cruiser began her final voyage to a breakers’ yard under tow, but a storm drove her aground off Lendalfoot. Much of the wreck was dismantled, but a substantial portion remains buried in the seabed. By a happy accident, Varyag’s last resting place lies off one of the most picturesque stretches of South Ayrshire’s coastline, now further enhanced by the monument and its surroundings.

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