Monday, 27 August 2018

2018-19 Lecture programme finalised

We have pulled together an interesting programme for our 2018-19 lecture season which starts on Tuesday 2nd October.

Members will receive an e-mail in the next few weeks with subscription details. Those wishing to join for the first time, or re-join after a break, are most welcome at Ayrshire College on the night. Committee members will be available from 7pm onwards to collect membership forms.

Details of the programme can be found here

Please send any queries to us at

Tuesday, 19 June 2018

James Allan - Caprington Castle's Head Gardener

We received an e-mail from Justine Sara in Australia this week which included the following interesting story of her ancestors in Kilmarnock.
If anyone has any information on the Allan family please let us know and we will pass it on to Justine.


Seven members of my ALLAN family are buried in block 191, Plot 28 of the Northern Cemetery, Dunedin. Details complied by Adair KIRKLAND m/s ALLAN

Family Background in Scotland.

James ALLAN was born at Falkland, Fifeshire, Scotland on 15 May 1838, and his wife Margaret m/s KIDD was born on 4 February 1840 at West Calder, Midlothian, Scotland. They were married at West Calder, Scotland on the 10th March 1865 by the Reverend William Learmont. They lived the following twenty-two years at Cunningham’s Caprington Castle, Kilmarnock, Ayrshire, Scotland where James was head gardener. A family of ten was raised, but as tuberculosis was rife among them, the decision was made to move to Dunedin to the healthier climate recommended by friends who had settled there.

 Sailing to New Zealand.

The two eldest sons, William age 21, and James Kidd age 19, were sent out first, sailing on the “Langstone” to Port Chalmers on 20th May 1885. William kept a diary of the journey which is still in the possession of our family. Their sister Euphemia, the 5th child, born 1st Dec 1871 died, died four months later, on the 26th September 1885, at the home of her aunt Jeannie KIDD at West Calder, Midlothian, Scotland, only a few months before the rest of the family sailed to NZ on the “Pleiades” from Greenock. James ALLAN senior died at sea on the 25 December 1886, aged 48, and was buried at sea off the south west coast of Australia near Cape Leeuwin. The widowed Margaret arrived at Port Chalmers on the 7th January 1887 with seven children, to join her two eldest sons. The youngest of nine, Janet (Jessie) was only three years old.

The family settled in Cumberland Street, Dunedin but after only two years, tragedy struck again with the death from consumption of 22 year old William ALLAN on the 23rd May 1888. The Northern Cemetery Burial Registry [1872-1890] records that he was a clerk, and that his brother James ALLAN was the informant. The Northern Cemetery Plot Purchase Book records that Class 1, Block 191 Plot 28 was purchased by their mother Margaret ALLAN on the 23rd May 1888 and William was buried there three days later on the 26th May.
Only twenty days later Ann Wardrop ALLAN born 21st March 1870 and aged only 18, died of consumption. Her brother James was the informant, and she was buried on the family plot on 12 June 1888. The family in the Cumberland Street home must have felt devastated.

James Kidd ALLAN born 25th Feb 1867 was a carpenter by trade but he was to only have  eight years in Dunedin before he too was stuck down with consumption on 23rd Dec 1892, aged 25.
Two of is younger sisters were also afflicted with tuberculosis.
Apparently any family who could afford to give their children cow’s milk in their diet while in Scotland, unknowingly gave them this illness - the diary herds were not tested for TB as they are today and no antibiotics were available.
On 9th May 1901 daughter Margaret ALLAN was buried aged 24, having died on the 7th May, and two years later on 22nd April 1903 Mary ALLAN who died on the 20th April was buried. She too was only 24 years of age.
The widowed mother Margaret lived to see her two younger sons married. Robert, born in 1867, married Catherine DONERY in 1900, and John born in 1875 married Sarita (aka Rita) MORITZSON in 1911. Four children were born to Robert and Catherine, Margaret Oliver (aka Madge) in 1900, James Livingston in 1902, Robert William Wardrop in 1903  and John Kidd before their grandmother died on 19th Dec 1911. Sadly she did not live to know John and Sarita’s two children Margaret Sarita (aka Peggy) born in 1913, and John in 1916, or to be present when her youngest child Janet (aka Jess) married Frederick Sidney SHRIMPTON at the home of Louis MORITZSON on 14th Feb 1912 at Dunedin. They too had two children, Sidney Allan born 1913 and Margaret Jean (aka Peggy) born 1919. The older sister Jane (aka Jean) born in 1873 had helped care for her siblings and mother and did not marry, but lived with the SHRIMPTON’S in Timaru from 1912 until her death in 8th Jan 1939. She and the SHRIMPTON’S were buried at Timaru Cemetery. Both Sidney and Jess died in 1941.

The final burial in the Northern Cemetery family plot was of John ALLAN. His marriage to Sarita had ended in divorce. He and his children spent much time at Robert and Catherine’s home at “Taieri Lake”, Rock and Pillar and after the death of Robert of cancer in 1922 John came often to help care for the large garden. He died there on 29th Sep 1949 aged 73 years.

Friday, 8 June 2018

Memories of Glasgow Central

We received the following e-mail today. Please contact Jennifer directly if you want to take part in this interesting project.


Dear Kilmarnock District History Group,

My name is Jennifer and I work as a Researcher with STV. 

BBC Scotland has commissioned us (STV Productions) to make a series of six one-hour documentaries that explore the inner workings of Glasgow Central Station and the large rail network that it serves.  The series will be more than an observational series, it will also explore the history of Glasgow and Scotland through the lens of Central Station as it has been the ‘doorway’ to the nation for over 140 years.  Throughout the series we will be following staff and passengers

We are very keen to hear people’s memories of the station and personal testimonies e.g. special meetings under the clock, former employees stories, arriving or leaving through Glasgow Central for a momentous journey etc.  I would really appreciate if you would be able to spread the word through Kilmarnock District History Group.   

We will be filming from the 19th May through to the end of July.

If people have stories to share and are keen to contribute to the show, they can contact me directly on 0141 300 3428.

I am happy to answer any questions which you may have and I am in the office weekdays from 9.30am-6.00pm.

Thank you for your help. 

Kind regards,

Jennifer Kissane| Researcher
Tel: 0141 300 3428 | email:
STV, Pacific Quay, Glasgow, G51 1PQ | switchboard: 0141 300 3000 | website:

Monday, 21 May 2018

Suffrage Centenary Celebration - 26th /27th May - People's Palace, Glasgow

The Transatlantic Literary Women team invite you to our: 

Suffrage Centenary Celebration at the People’s Palace Museum, Glasgow
Sat 26th – Sun 27th May 2018
1pm – 4pm
Free – All Welcome to Attend
All are welcome to join us for a weekend of craft workshops, talks and readings, to celebrate 100 years since partial women’s suffrage!
You’ll have the opportunity to create your own suffragette badge, learn about women’s activism through the museum collection, and drop in to talks on the history of women and the vote.
Our main speaker, suffrage specialist and performer Naomi Paxton, will be talking transatlantic suffrage theatre with a Scottish twist. Social History curator Fiona Hayes (Glasgow Life) will discuss the museum’s suffrage collection, and there will be talks on Scottish suffrage movements by Ruth Boreham (Scottish Book Trust), and American suffragette songs by Catherine Bateson (University of Edinburgh), as well as readings from the suffrage collection letters.
The event is being held in collaboration with the People’s Palace Museum, Glasgow and is being funded by the US Embassy London, the British Association for American Studies, and the University of Glasgow College of Arts Collaborative Research Award.
For more details see our website HERE and follow us on Twitter  @atlantlitwomen

Thursday, 10 May 2018

Ayrshire Rugby Cup

The Ayrshire Rugby Cup was competed for among senior Rugby Union Clubs in Ayrshire, South West Scotland, between 1962 and 1996. The trophy is a solid silver three handled cup of circa 10" height which is titled 'Ayrshire Rugger Cup'.
It appears that the annual competition ceased in 1996 which coincides with professionalism in Rugby Union coming into effect. Perhaps clubs focused efforts at that time to structure themselves in such a away to climb the leagues during a period of uncertainty as to what professionalism in Scotland would eventually look like. There was a great deal of flux in Scottish rugby at this time and for a number of years subsequent. Thankfully, professional rugby settled down in Scotland eventually but competitions such as the Ayrshire and Glasgow Cups have not, to date, be resurrected.
Only 4 clubs ever won the competition, Kilmarnock RFC (15), Ayr RFC (9), Ardrossan RFC (4) and Marr (2). Winning streaks / cycles fairly accurately reflect the standing of Ayrshire clubs following the formation of National Leagues in 1973 and what divisions they played in from then on, with a more equitable sharing of the trophy pre-league days.
The school teachers' strike of the early 1980s is blamed for the demise of many school related sports in Scotland, with many traditional rugby playing schools suffering greatly, Ardrossan and Marr among these. Ayr and Kilmarnock, through regular appearances in the top 2 divisions, were able to attract players from all over Ayrshire and the South West into the mid-eighties and beyond.
It would probably be true to say that Ayr RFC would have gone on to dominate the competition from the mid 1990s onwards as they consolidated their position as the strongest team in Ayrshire and going on to win the Scottish Championship and Scottish Cup on a number of occasions. The rise of Marr from the lower leagues to the top national league in 2017-18 was a welcome development in Ayrshire rugby, particularly as the team was made up almost entirely of Ayrshire lads. Ardrossan remain a strong club but sadly, the once mighty Kilmarnock- who came 3rd in the top league in 1978- are languishing in the Regional League these days - hopefully not for too long. They can at least proudly boast having a player represent the British & Irish Lions whilst playing out of the club in Andrew Ross. No Ayrshire club will achieve this again given the professional structure we see.
Cumnock and Carrick have been successful in their own right in recent years with Irvine and Garnock still holding their own in their respective Regional Leagues.

1962 Ayr RFC 
1963 Ardrossan RFC 
1964 Ardrossan RFC 
1965 Kilmarnock RFC 
1966 Ardrossan RFC 
1967 Marr RFC 
1968 Ardrossan RFC 
1969 Ayr RFC 
1970 Marr RFC 
1971 Ayr RFC 
1972 Ayr RFC 
1973 Kilmarnock RFC 
1974 Kilmarnock RFC 
1975 Ayr RFC 
1976 Kilmarnock RFC 
1977 Kilmarnock RFC 
1978 Kilmarnock RFC 
1979 Kilmarnock RFC 
1980 Kilmarnock RFC 
1981 Kilmarnock RFC 
1982 Ayr RFC 
1983 Kilmarnock RFC 
1984 Kilmarnock RFC 
1985 Kilmarnock RFC 
1986 No final played 
1987 Kilmarnock RFC 
1988 Kilmarnock RFC 
1989 Ayr RFC 
1990 No competition 
1991 No competition 
1992 No competition 
1993 No competition 
1994 Kilmarnock RFC 
1995 Ayr RFC 
1996 Kilmarnock RFC

Thursday, 3 May 2018

KESS presents - An evening to celebrate Alan Turing

Alan Mathison Turing OBE FRS (1912- 1954)

Presented by Dr Paul Cockshott, University of Glasgow

Tuesday 29th May 2018, 6.30-9.00 pm,
Assembly Hall, St Joseph’s Academy, Grassyards Road, Kilmarnock KA3 7SL

This special evening will celebrate the achievements of the world famous code breaker, Alan Turing. The evening will start at 6.30 with a showing of the documentary "The man who cracked the NAZI code - The story of Alan Turing'". At around 7.30 there will be a 20 minute break whereupon soft drinks will be served. After that, Dr Paul Cockshott of Glasgow University will tell us more about the impact of Turing's works and ideas and in particular Turing’s novel approach to the Decision Problem of Hilbert, the idea of the Turing machine and how it worked and much more.

All welcome.

Thursday, 29 March 2018

Kilmarnock Station and McFarlane's Castings

After his excellent talk on Alexander Greek Thomson, our speaker Iain McGillivray noticed that some of the castings at Kilmarnock station may well have come from MacFarlane's Foundry in Glasgow - where Thomson order much of his iron from.

Iain says;
'It was a serendipitous discovery for me,, though someone in the group  has perhaps already made the connection

I mentioned Walter MacFarlane, whom I pictured standing beneath his imperial lamppost,  since he collaborated with Thomson on many of his projects; Thomson also designed for him.

The catalogue images come from Historic Scotland’s Facsimile 2 volume version of the firm's 6th Catalogue of Castings - about 1860. It’s in their Technical Reference Series and edited by David S Mitchell in 2009. '

Page 563, extract from,  showing bracket shaft (dimpled)

 Catalogue page 507- extract from, showing spandrel or bracket pair:

And what is at the station .....
Kilmarnock Station, column base, showing anthemion pattern (not found in this catalogue but doubtless made by MacFarlane)

Full column , closest with the Glasgow and South Western Railway in spandrel, other spandrels showing Macfarlanes design, together with his dimpled casting.

Thursday, 8 February 2018

Important - next lecture moved to WEDNESDAY 14th February 2018

Because our usual venue of Ayrshire College is closed next week we had, as intimated, changed venue to The Park Hotel, Rugby Park, Kilmarnock.

However - the best laid plans and all that - Kilmarnock FC have been required to reschedule their Premiership fixture with Dundee FC for Tuesday 13th.

It has therefore decided to move the lecture - Ardrossan Castle by Amanda Simpson to Wednesday 14th. This will ensure that our members and visitors will be able to park within the hotel car park without any worry of spaces being unavailable. It also allows the Killie fans in the group to attend both fixtures !

We hope everyone understands the reasoning behind this move and hope you will attend in the usual good numbers for what promises to be an excellent talk.

Thursday, 4 January 2018

All the best for 2018 !

Happy New Year from KDHG. We hope everyone has a prosperous 2018.

Our lectures resume on Tuesday 16th January when Andrew Dick will talk about Ayrshire Mining. This will be an interesting topic and will explore many of Ayrshire's lost mining villages and communities.

We hope to see you then.

Lecture Programme information