Monday, 6 December 2010

The KDHG PROGRAMME for January to March 2011

Here is the list of speakers and topics for our 6 meetings between January and March 2011.

11 January Ewen Donaldson - Glasgow Botanic Gardens

25 January Dr Tony Pollard - Rorke’s Drift

8 February KDHG Members - History on the Web

22 February Mrs Sandra Liquorish Fairlie House- It’s Architects and Inhabitants

8 March Graham Boyd - Konigsberg or Kaliningrad??

22 March Alastair Dinsmore - AGM + The History of Glasgow Police

Sunday, 14 November 2010

A Royal Engagement

Please note the change of venue and starting time for this Tuesday's(16 Nov)meeting. We will be hearing from Bruce Morgan, Linda Fairlie and their colleagues about their latest exhibition entitled, "A Royal Engagement". We will also be given an opportunity to see behind the scenes into some of the storage areas of the museum. A bit like an iceberg, there's a lot more below the surface than is actually on view. Don't miss this great opportunity.
We meet in the Dick Institute at 7pm on Tuesday 16th November.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Aviation in Scotland

Another excellent talk last night on the history of aviation in Scotland by Dugald Cameron. Dugald, who was Principal of Glasgow School of Art before his retiral in 1999, is an aviation artist and historian.

The meeting was attended by over 80 members, who were treated to a first class presentation on Scotland's contribution to the development on heavier than air machines.

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

First Meeting of the Session

Last night KDHG held its first meeting of the 2010 - 2011 session. It was attended by over 90 members. Almost a full house!
The audience heard a wonderful talk by John Millar on the history of the Lithuanians in Scotland. John himself was born in Scotland in the 1920s to Lithuanian parents and he gave an excellent account of why people from the Baltic state had chosen to come to Scotland and of how they were treated by the native Scots, which was often, sadly, not very well. Interestingly, he quoted from a speech delivered in Irvine by Keir Hardie, which was, at best, xenophobic. Not the picture of Hardie, the socialist idealogue, that is frequently portrayed.
A great start to what looks like a first class programme for the year.

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Scotland and France - A One-Day History Conference


Name: ………………………….
Address: …………………………………
If you are booking for more than one person please give the other names here:

Return this form with payment (£10 per person) to
Rob Close, 1 Craigbrae Cottages, Drongan. AYR KA6 7EN
To arrive by 11th October 2010
Cheques should be made payable to
Ayrshire Federation of Historical Societies
If receipt required, please enclose an SAE





0900 to 1000 Registration and Coffee
1000 to 1015 Chairman’s Introduction

1015 to 1045 Jean Brittain and Denis Reid
Sir Hugh Kennedy and Joan of Arc’s Bodyguard
1045 to 1115 Thomas Clancy
Petit et Beau: French in Medieval Scottish
1115 to 1145 Charles McKean
French Influence on 16th Century Scots
1145 to 1230 Godfrey Evans
The 10th Duke of Hamilton and the Emperor

1230 to 1400 Lunch

1400 to 1430 Tom Barclay
The Scoto-French Wine Trade
1430 to 1500 John Burnett
Popular Culture in Scotland and N E France
1500 to 1530 Robin Urquhart
Evidence for the Auld Alliance in Scottish
Wills and Testaments
1530 to 1600 Discussion and closing remarks

The Theme

This conference aims to examine (and re-examine) many aspects of Scotland’s long relationship with France and the French, from the mercenaries of the early modern period to the demotic traditions of the 20th Century.

The Venue

The Walker Halls can be found right in the centre of Troon, on South Beach. The conference will take place in the Walker Hall, while the adjacent Concert Hall will have displays pertinent to our theme.

The Fee

The Conference Registration Fee is £10, to include morning coffee and biscuits.
Please note that lunch is not provided. Troon offers a good selection of restaurants and cafes within easy walking distance of the venue. You are also welcome to bring a packed lunch, which may be eaten within the halls.

The Organisers

Ayrshire Federation of Historical Societies. SCO 09964. All enquiries to Rob Close 1 Craigbrae Cottages, Drongan, AYR KA6 7EN. 01292 590273.

Monday, 6 September 2010

Photos of Auld Killie

Thanks to Kenny Baird of Ayrshire who has advised of the following link which members may find of interest.

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Czechoslovak War Memorial at Arisaig.


A Czech-Scottish Charity has built a memorial in Arisaig to hundreds of Czechoslovak soldiers who were trained at the Special Operations Executive’s Schools during the Second World War, and in daring actions in occupied territory, behind enemy lines, and on battlefields, they rendered an oustanding service to not only the liberation of their country but also to the freedom of other nations.

Many paid for this with their own lives.

The Memorial will not only remind us of their bravery but will also serve as a sacred place and a war grave to those laid to their eternal rest in places known unto God.

We would welcome more information about this memorial.

Friday, 13 August 2010

KDHG Programme for 2010 - 2011

The programme for our winter session is almost complete and, as always, looks great.  Thanks to Graham Boyd for putting it all in place.
If you are not yet a member of KDHG, please come along to our first meeting in Kilmarnock College at 7.30 pm on October 5th.

Kilmarnock & District History Group Programme for 2010 / 11


5 October John Millar - Lithuanians in Scotland

19 October Max Flemmich - 100 Years of the Telephone

2 November Dugald Cameron - Scotland’s Aviation

16 November Linda Fairlie - A Royal Engagement

This meeting will be held in the Dick Institute

30 November Robin Wood - Frances Wright, Scotland’s Unknown Heroine.

14 December John McGill - History of Loudoun Castle.


11 January To be arranged

25 January Dr Tony Pollard - Rorke’s Drift

Dr Pollard has spoken to us before about his major archaeological projects.

8 February KDHG Members - History on the Web

22 February Mrs Sandra Liquorish Fairlie House- It’s Architects and Inhabitants

8 March To be arranged

22 March Alastair Dinsmore - AGM + The History of Glasgow Police

It’s hoped to have a talk on Glasgow Botanic Gardens on one of the vacant dates

Monday, 9 August 2010

Family History workshops for beginners

August & September, Burns Monument Centre.

Ever fancied finding out about your ancestors but didn’t know where to begin? Staff at the Burns Monument Centre, Kilmarnock are running introductory family history workshops throughout August and September.

Researching your family tree is a valuable and extremely rewarding experience and the Burns Monument Centre provides all the necessary resources at your fingertips. The team of experts will guide you through the process of researching your family tree, locating background information on how and where your ancestors lived and building a fuller picture of their lives.

Workshops will be held on Tuesdays throughout August from 10am-12pm, starting on 10th August. Saturday workshops will be held in September from 11am-1pm, starting on 4th September (excluding Sept weekend, Sat 18th). The 2 hour introductory sessions cost just �10 each and this covers access to ‘Scotland’s People’ genealogical records and all tuition.

To book a workshop please contact the Burns Monument Centre on 01563 576695.

Thursday, 5 August 2010

KDHG Website live !

The new Kilmarnock & District History Group website is now live and can be found at

News articles are driven through the blog page so please join and contribute your own articles and comments. Article can also be forwarded via

We also have a Facebook page

We are keen to build our archive and galleries, so please interact with us as much as possible.

Sunday, 1 August 2010

Swastikas Over Ibrox

There is a famous photo of the England football team giving the Nazi salute in Berlin in 1938. But less well known is the part Nazi politics played two years earlier, the last time a united Germany faced Scotland at Ibrox, on Wednesday, October 14, 1936.

The countries had only met once before, in 1929, when a makeshift all tartan Scotland team had drawn 1-1 in Berlin.

Yet despite the curiosity value, a crowd of 40,000 was much smaller than expected due to the political feeling about the game - even in 1936 there were strong misgivings about the Nazi regime, combined with bitter memories of the Great War.

The press even hinted that a demonstration was feared, but there were no signs of trouble on the day thanks to a heavy police presence. "Here were our enemies of a few years ago," one reporter wrote. "Were they fated to play the same role in the near future? Was this great gesture of sport a useless thing, already destined to be jeered at?"

Three days before the match the German party arrived at Renfrew Aerodrome and booked in at the Central Hotel before enjoying the time-honoured tradition of second house at the Pavilion. The next morning they went to Ibrox for a training session and were observed performing "a kind of goose-step, diverting the ball from one knee to the other". Sounds like keepy uppy!

As the game approached, the political overtones were rife. There was an atmosphere of having an unwanted guest to stay; no-one wanted to be rude and everyone ended up being overbearingly polite instead.

Mind you, Rangers and Scotland goalkeeper Jerry Dawson tried to make light of the situation: he dabbed a small black moustache on his upper lip and pulled his hair over his right eyebrow. "Dat's good fonny," a visitor remarked, trying hard not to show offence.

There was widespread suspicion that the German 'amateurs' were playing for more than just national pride after the humiliation of losing to Norway in their own Olympic Games. According to the Evening Dispatch: "The visitors will be keen to uphold the honour of their Fatherland, and as was the case with successful athletes at the Olympic Games there is no saying what reward will be meted out to the scorer of the winning goal should there be such luck for a German in the contest."

Rangers manager William Struth, familiar with most of the German players, said they did not have the finesse of Scottish footballers but were very fast, and their sudden bursts could rip open an opposing defence.

As it turned out, they could not have been more sporting opponents, and every time a German fouled an opponent he instantly extended his hand to receive the shake of forgiveness.

When the match came around, the start was delayed for 18 minutes, with the German party held up in heavy traffic. When the team eventually came out, they were wearing white shirts with red collars and cuffs, and black shorts - the Nazi colours; their shirt badge was a Nazi eagle.

The players lined up and gave a Nazi salute to the main stand to "loud applause", turned and saluted the opposite side, and again repeated the salute during both national anthems. The Scottish team refrained.

The visitors' actions, however, were echoed in the stand by about 500 Germans who had arranged a cruise to fit in this match with the weekend's encounter in Dublin against the Irish Free State. During both national anthems they stood to attention and gave the Nazi salute, as did the German press contingent, much to the bemusement of the Scottish reporters.

To make their politics entirely clear, the Germans had brought with them two large Nazi flags - red with a black swastika on a white circle - and these flew over the Ibrox stand together with a Union Jack.

At last the match could start. Playing attractive one touch football, the German forwards threatened the Scots goal regularly but nearly always failed to get a shot in, and when they did Dawson came to the rescue. Gellesch did have the ball in the net after just three minutes, but was marginally offside.

Scotland made few chances as they stuttered along, and reached half-time with the scoreline blank.

Stamina and experience paid off in the end, however, and Scotland's second half performance was enough to secure a 2-0 win with strikes from Celtic's Jimmy Delaney (67 and 83 mins), his first international goals.

Overall, it was a poor performance by Scotland who, although never in much danger of losing, failed to settle to a steady game. All the flair came from the visitors.

The Germans left the pitch with another Nazi salute to the crowd, and went on to Dublin where they lost 5-2. They can little have thought that it would be almost 60 years before a united German team again met Scotland in Glasgow. They would hardly recognise Ibrox, either, although the Union Jacks are still there.

Scotland: Dawson (Rangers), Anderson (Hearts), Cummings (Aston Villa), Massie (Aston Villa), Simpson (Rangers, captain), Brown (Rangers), Delaney (Celtic), Walker (Hearts), Armstrong (Aberdeen), McPhail (Rangers) and Duncan (Derby County).

Germany: Jakob (Jahn Regensburg), Munzenberg (Alemannia Aachen), Munkert (1FC Nurnberg), Janes (Fortuna Dusseldorf), Goldbrunner (Bayern Munich), Kitzinger (Schweinfurt 05), Elbern (SV 06 Beuel), Gellesch (Schalke 04), Siffling (SV Waldhof Mannheim), Szepan (Schalke 04) and Urban (Schalke 04).

Referee: Harry Nattrass (England).

Friday, 30 July 2010

Alex Frew - Kilmarnock's Springbok captain

Few rugby followers in Scotland will be aware that a Scotland internationalist captained South Africa against the British Isles, now known as The British & Irish Lions. Even fewer will be aware that this man hailed from Ayrshire.

Alex Frew was born on 24 October 1877 in Kilmarnock. He was already established as a top class rugby footballer, having represented the South -West District as a Kilmarnock player, prior to attending Edinburgh University to study medicine. His passion for the game meant that he played for Kilmarnock at the start of the season and during holidays, representing Edinburgh University for the bulk of the season. In 1899 he gained his first Inter-City cap in the Glasgow v Edinburgh fixture, a match then considered to be an international trial. In 1901 he gained his first cap against Wales and he went on to win caps against Ireland and England that season in the Triple Crown winning team. Records show that he played out of Edinburgh University when winning these caps, but he was the town’s first Scotland cap.
Later that year Alex was back with Kilmarnock RFC permanently and playing for the Western District team. However, in December 1901, with a second season in Scotland colours literally weeks away, he was on his way to South Africa and to the Boer War. His brother, J.M. Frew had returned to Kilmarnock from the war and was hotly tipped to gain his first cap in the 1902 series. However, worsening situation in South Africa meant he returned before he could follow in his brother‘s footsteps. Another brother, Hector, followed the same route to war and all three eventually made their homes in South Africa.

Alex played for Diggers RFC and represented the Transvaal. After captaining Transvaal to victory over the touring British Isles team, Alex was selected to captain South Africa in the first of a three Test series. He scored a try in a drawn game, with South Africa winning the series. It must have been strange for Alex captaining an international side against his home country and particularly pitting his wits against the Lions captain Mark Morrison, who had been his captain with the successful Scottish team of two years earlier. It is not clear why the try scoring captain of an undefeated team did not win any further caps for his adopted country. Perhaps he opted not to play any further part. It would be interesting to learn the reason. Alex was the 68th player to be capped for South Africa.

Transvaal originally played in blue and white jerseys but switched to a white jersey with a single red hoop. It is unsure when exactly this change took place, but was this in homage to Alex Frew whose hometown team in Scotland, coincidentally, wear the same style of jersey? To this day, the Super 14 side Golden Lions, the professional team from Transvaal, wear these same colours. Alex died in Hout Bay, South Africa on 29 April 1947 aged 69.

A final interesting fact about Alex is that the tennis champion Frew McMillan is a direct descendent of his brother, J.M. Frew.

The Kilmarnock / South Africa rugby connection continued in 1924 when Andrew Ross toured with the British Lions as a Kilmarnock player. One wonders if he and Alex shared a beer and discussed far away Killie.

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Doors Open Day 2010

Please note that Doors Open Day, Ayrshire is over the weekend of Saturday 4th and Sunday 5th September 2010. Further information at

Website update

Kilmarnock & District History Group website is due to go live on 7 August 2010.

Monday, 28 June 2010

Kilmarnock & District History Group website

The new KDHG website is under construction and will be ready this summer. We will be fully interactive and encouraging input from group members and non-members alike to help promote local and national histoty in Kilmarnock, Ayrshire and Scotland.