Ayrshire  ~  1800 - 2017

Cultural Venues and Facilities Past and Present

1513
Loudoun Hall
Loudoun Hall, Ayr.   magnify 

ca 1730
Craigie House
Craigie House,  AyrMagnify

1830
Town Hall
Ayr Town Hall and the Sandgate.   Magnify

1863
Grand Hall
Grand Hall, Kilmarnock Magnify

1964
Craige Students
Students at Craigie College of Education ca 1967,  Ayr.  Magnify

1964
aerial view
Craigie College of Education from the air ca 1975,  Ayr.  Magnify



1816
Dansarena
Dansarena, Ayr   Magnify

1827
c
Stumpy Tower, Girvan.   magnify

1832
b
Rozelle House, Alloway. (Rear View.}   magnify

1889
v
McKechnie Institute, Girvan.   magnify

1932
n
Concert Hall, Troon.   magnify

Ayr

Rozelle:-Page Link

The Royal Burgh of Ayr held the Rozelle lands as part of the Barony lands of Alloway until the auction in 1754 to reduce the Burgh debt.   Acquired by Robert Hamilton formerly of Bourtreehill, for £2,000, the original mansion house was commissioned in the classical style of Robert Adam and was finished in 1760. Hamilton had built his fortune in the West Indies and the estate was named after one of his plantations in the Caribbean.   The House was remodelled and extended by David Bryce in the early 19th century.

Rozelle Estate flourished throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, but by the 1960s times were hard and much of the home farm was sold to property developers.  In 1968 the House, with none of its historic interior remaining and with much depleted lands, was gifted to the Royal Burgh of Ayr for recreational purposes, leading to its status today as South Ayrshire Council's principal Museum and Art Gallery.

When the property was transferred to the Royal Burgh the former owner, Commander Hamilton, retained a small number of family portraits.    These were gifted to the Maclaurin Trust on his death and now form part of the Maclaurin Art Collection.  The house was partially restored to the 19th century format utilising period doors and windows from an Edinburgh New Town property.  Outbuildings were left in their dilapidated state until the next decade.

In 1975–1976 the servant's quarters and stable block were converted into the Maclaurin Art Gallery with funds from the bequest of Mrs Mary Ellen Maclaurin.  For several years, management of the property was in the hands of the Parks and Recreation Department, who maintained the extensive grounds.  However, by the late 1980's management of the house had passed to the District Library Service, housing the main activities of the Museum and Gallery Service, operating alongside the Maclaurin Trust.


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Craigie College of Education, Ayr:-Page Link

Craigie College of Education was established in 1964 in response to increasing primary school rolls and a shortage of primary school teachers.

The policies and the associated Craigie mansion house and outbuildings, then in the ownership of the Royal Burgh of Ayr, provided a good location for the college intended to meet the needs of Central and Southern Scotland when the demand for primary education was developing along revised patterns with a national curriculum.  A new style of teaching was introduced to meet the needs of the 'Primary Memorandum', a scheme adopted by Scottish Government, and the demands of a more individual approach to education.)  

While offering places primarily to students from the South West, Craigie became both a significant local and a national resource under the direction of Dr Ethel Gray, the first principal.  Under her leadership the college made substantial contributions to the cultural life of the district which attaining the highest standards of adult education.

Craigie College flourished from the time of it's foundation in 1964 until the rationalisation of teacher training in Scotland commenced after 1993, when the college becaime part of the Univeristy of Paisley.  Despite the short period of activity as a teacher training college, staff showed an ability to work with the various Manpower Services programmes introduced by successive governments.  Cooperative ventures were established with the University of Strathclyde and Ayr Technical College.  Subsequently, in 1993, Craigie became a campus for Paisley University.  The site is now occupied by the University of the West of Scotland, in new building, with an emphasis on media and cultural studies.  The timber framed buildings have been demolished and replace by more modern and durable facilities.

Craigie house is thought to be the work of architect John Smith. The building follows the classical line, with the central block dating to around 1730. This building was built as a replacement home by Sir Thomas Wallace of Newton Castle and was named Craigie House after Wallace's ancestral seat of Craigie Castle.   In 1782/3 the estate was purchased by William Campbell whose family retained ownership until 1940 at which time Ayr Town Council purchased the estate for the sum of £12,500. The house was requisitioned during the Second World War by the Army, it later became a luxury restaurant, part of the Craigie teaching college, and is now used as a business centre.

This web site includes a comprehensive review of Drama activity within the College from 1964 to 1991.

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Carnegie Library:-  Page Link

The Ayr Library Society was founded in 1762, but Ayr‘s first Public Library was established in 1870, inheriting the book stock of other local libraries.   Like its predecessors, this Public Library was privately organised, and financed by subscription: the Public Libraries Act had empowered local authorities to provide a free library service from public funds, provided the ratepayers voted in favour.  There was no support for such action in Ayr.

To keep down the subscription fees, money was raised from public lectures and in 1890, the library committee invited the Scottish-American steel magnate and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie to be one of their speakers. Mr Carnegie declined due to prior commitments, but further correspondence led to an offer from him of £10,000 for a new building if the town would adopt the Public Libraries Act.  The move was supported by ratepayers and the plans were made for a new library building.

The winning design for Carnegie Library came from the firm of Campbell Douglas and Morrison of Glasgow. Built in 1893, the original two-storey building fronting on to Main Street is of red sandstone in late Victorian Renaissance style.   The left of the building was originally home to the Carnegie Librarian.  This was closed in 1925 and the exterior was brought into harmony with the rest of the building.

Until the 1970s’ the Carnegie Library was used as an Art Gallery. There were annual exhibitions by members of Ayr Sketch Club in addition to a variety of open exhibitions alternating with displays from the permanent collection.  The A A Alexander museum collection, previously shown at Belleisle House, was housed in the Carnegie Library for a number of years prior to removal to Rozelle.

The downstairs lending area was extended rearwards to Garden Street in 1932, and a further extension at the rear accommodating a spacious lecture room/reference library was designed by the distinguished Ayr firm of James Kennedy Hunter (Hunter himself had died in 1929). This was opened on 22 January 1934 by Flight Lieutenant David McIntyre, who spoke about his pioneer flight over Everest the previous year. (McIntyre would later take a leading role in establishing Prestwick Airport.)

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Ayr Town Hall and Council Chambers:-  Page Link

The building is described by Joe Rock as, "... certainly one of the finest classical spires in Scotland".  The 225ft steeple provides Ayr's dominant landmark.

Prior to the building of the New Bridge, proposed in 1778 and executed several years later, the link between the burgh and the north bank of the river had been the five-arched 16th century Auld Brig.  The New Bridge linked the Main Street of Newton on Ayr with the Sandgate, entering the burgh on the line of the former Water Vennel. The vennel was renamed New Bridge Street and imposing Georgian buildings were created by Alex. Stevens (builder of the bridge) beside this imposing approach to the burgh.  

On completion of the New Bridge, the burgh's Malt Cross was removed from it's historic site at the foot of the High Street since it was impeding traffic. The cross, erected during the reign of Charles II and believed to be a replica of Edinburgh's Mercat Cross, was not retained.  At some point, Assembly Rooms were built on the corner of the High Street and New Bridge Street.

It became clear that the Tolbooth in the Sandgate would have to be demolished, to facilitate better access to the town. In 1824 the town council asked the Edinburgh architect Thomas Hamilton, designer of the Burns Monument in Alloway (1818) to consider a possible site for a new steeple. The new building was to house the services provided in the existing Tolbooth and and public assembly rooms.  It was decided that the site of the old assembly rooms would be the most convenient. The contractor Archibald Johnston, began work in 1828 and completed the building at a total cost of £9,965 in time for the inaugural ball to be held in November 1830.

At the end of 1881 the Ayr Town Hall was opened with a performance by the Ayr Choral Union of Handel’s Messiah.

The availability of a Town Hall solved the problems of a venue for concerts, but the desire of the choir to produce splendid musical results eventually led to financial disaster. However, the choir persevered and gradually things turned in its favour. Having entered an era of steady prosperity, the burning down of the Ayr Town Hall in 1897 caused serious problems, but the choir resolved to go on, little realising that it would be almost seven years before the Town Hall would be rebuilt.

On 31st March 1904, the choir was once again accorded the honour of formally opening the new Town Hall with another performance of Handel’s Messiah. In September 2006, the Town Hall was closed for much needed refurbishment including the rebuilding of the three manual organ. Once again, Ayr Choral Union had the pleasure of performing Handel’s Messiah at the formal re-opening of the Town Hall on 7th October.Some programme for events at this venue are available.  For further information, please follow this LINK.

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Robert Burns Centre, Alloway:- Page Link

The Robert Burns' memorial and garden was established in 1818 to designs by Thomas Hamilton.  In the years following the death of Robert Burns, in Dumfriesshire, this site was the venue for pilgrimages and activities relating to Burns and his works.  Separate from Burns's Cottage, that housed the Burns Museum for many tears,

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County Buildings, Ayr

A small number of portraits relating to Ayrshire County Council are displayed within the premises, mainly on the main staircase and in the upper floor corridor.

Works from the South Ayrshire Collections are displayed in the committee rooms together with artifacts relating to Strathclyde Region (Ayr Division) and South Ayrshire Council

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The Ayr and Alloway pages draw. in part, on material published by the Ayrshire Archaeological and Natural History Society [Ayrshire Monographs 20 and 24.]



Kilmarnock

Section under development

The Dick Institute

James Dick gifted the funds for a new building to replace the former Sheriff House and to house some of the Burgh's collection collection of books in memory of his brother. Dick was the successful son of a Kilmarnock merchant. Together with his brother, he had established a very lucrative business that manufactured longer-lasting rubber boots.

The Dick Institute was built at the turn of the 20th century, to designs by Robert Samson Ingram (1841 - 1915) of the W. and R. S. Ingram partnership, to house both a library and a museum for the burgh. In 1909 the building was damaged by fire and much of the collection, including material from the Hunter Selkirk Collection, was lost or dispersed. Rebuilt in 1910, to a classical design by Ingram and Brown, the building was re-opened in 1911.

Within the building there is a square stairwell with tiled entrance floor; timber panelled corridor leading to libraries to left and right; art galleries behind; museum space and further galleries at the 1st floor.

The Dick Institute is a B listed building together with properties at 10, 12 and 14 London Road. (Date of Listing 09-MAR-1971.)

Originally, the Dick Institute housed the Braidwood Collection, assembled by Dr Hunter Selkirk, together with the Burgh's collections of books and the fine art collections that include a strong element of Scottish Genre works and material by Robert Colquhoun added during the latter part of Ute 20th century.

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Ref. Rambles Round Kilmarnock
A R Adamson (1875)
Published by T Stevenson, Kilmarnock Standard

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Section under development

Troon

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Section under development

Irvine

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Section under development

Maybole

 


Girvan

McKechnie Institute

A bequest by a local businessman. Thomas McKechnie. resulted in the creation of the McKechnie Institute

Built in the Scottish Baronial style. with some Renaissance detailing. the facility that opened in 1889. 

The ground floor originally contained a Library, Reading Room and Ladies Room. On the first floor was a billiards room and beyond that the Librarian’s House. A contemporary report states 'Every evening the places are all but crowded with labouring men, fishermen, tradesmen and others…'

After the transfer of the library to a new building in 1975, the McKechnie Institute was unused for a number of years and the collections were dispersed.  However, after restoration by a Manpower Services Scheme in the 1980's the building found new life as popular community venue, showing exhibitions of items from the former McKechnie and the South Ayrshire collections, extended by a variety of local the med and incoming exhibitions.

The McKechnie is the venue for many local group meetings, Councilor's surgeries, art classes and similar activities.  Paintings from the former Girvan Burgh Collection are usually on display.

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Stumpy Tower

Occupying a key position at the junction of Girvan's Knockcushan Street and Dalrymple Street, Stumpy Tower was purpose built as the Town Jail in 1827. Stumpy Tower is a Grade B listed building. Stumpy and the adjacent properties at one time enclosed the town's former market with a square of buildings which included the town hall erected around 1822.

TopMcKechnie Institute

A bequest by a local businessman. Thomas McKechnie. resulted in the creation of the McKechnie Institute

Built in the Scottish Baronial style. with some Renaissance detailing. the facility that opened in 1889. 

The ground floor originally contained a Library, Reading Room and Ladies Room. On the first floor was a billiards room and beyond that the Librarian’s House. A contemporary report states 'Every evening the places are all but crowded with labouring men, fishermen, tradesmen and others…'

After the transfer of the library to a new building in 1975, the McKechnie Institute was unused for a number of years and the collections were dispersed.  However, after restoration by a Manpower Services Scheme in the 1980's the building found new life as popular community venue, showing exhibitions of items from the former McKechnie and the South Ayrshire collections, extended by a variety of local and incoming exhibitions.

The McKechnie is the venue for many local group meetings, Councilor's surgeries, art classes and similar activities.  Paintings from the former Girvan Burgh Collection are usually on display.

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Stumpy Tower

Occupying a key position at the junction of Girvan's Knockcushan Street and Dalrymple Street, Stumpy Tower was purpose built as the Town Jail in 1827. A Grade B listed building, Stumpy and the adjacent properties enclosed the town's market with a square of buildings which included the town hall erected around 1822.

The original Stumpy, built in 1789, was a two storey thatched roof building in the former market place and had to be replaced because of the prisoners often making good their escape through the thatched roof.  In January 1825 the Burgesses decided rebuild the two houses on the Town’s property adjoining the King’s Arms and erect, another house on the front leading to the shore, with a jail and Steeple adjoining the existing market house to complete the square.

The jail was in use from April 1827 and a marked decrease in crime in the town was recorded; this continued for the next 34 years of operation.  When the jail was closed in 1862 the tower remained to serve as the Clock Tower for the burgh.

In 1908 the Buildings around Stumpy were demolished to make way for the McMaster Hall that opened in August 1911.  The McMaster Hall was given to the town by John McMaster, a local banker from Kirkoswald then resident in Canterbury. The Hall was primarily the Town Hall, serving purposes such as Town Council meetings but more recreationally as a Dance Hall. It also housed the Burgh's developing Art Collection which included substantial gifts from Richard Edmiston and Thomas Davidson.  Happily, the bulk of this collection was saved when, in 1939, the McMaster Hall was destroyed by fire.

In the mid 1950s the shell of the McMaster Hall was removed leaving the tower as the only relic of the civic buildings.

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