Friday, 17 November 2017

Book Week Scotland event - Monday 27th November

Book Week Scotland

Cal Flyn & Karl Geary - Two debut authors, two mesmerising stories – a fascinating evening not to be missed.

Mon 27 Nov 7pm Dick Institute, Kilmarnock

Cal Flyn is an award winning freelance writer and reporter from the Highlands of Scotland. Her work has featured in many leading publications and she is a previous winner of the Independent on Sunday/Bradt Prize for travel writing. Cal was very proud when she discovered that her ancestor, Angus McMillan, had been a pioneer of colonial Australia. However, when she dug deeper, she began to question her pride. McMillan had not only cut tracks through the bush, but played a dark role in Australia's bloody history. Driven to piece together his story and to confront her history, Cal decided to follow Angus's route from Skye to rural Australia. Delving into a dark period in Australian history with a novel’s immediate style, this book asks how whole societies can come to be overlooked, forgotten and shamed.

Thicker Than Water combines memoir, history, travelogue and lyrical nature writing.

Karl Geary is a novelist, actor and scriptwriter. He was born in Dublin and moved to America at sixteen. Unfolding in the sea-bright, rain-soaked Dublin of early spring, his first novel Montpelier Parade  is a beautiful, cinematic novel about desire, longing, grief, hope and the things that remain unspoken. It is about how deeply we can connect with one another, and the choices we must also make alone. The house is on Montpelier Parade: just across town, but it might as well be a different world. Working on the garden with his father one Saturday, Sonny is full of curiosity. Then the back door eases open and she comes down the path towards him. Vera.
Chance meetings become shy arrangements, and soon Sonny is in love for the first time. Casting off his lonely life of dreams and quiet violence for this new, intoxicating encounter, he longs to know Vera, even to save her. But what is it that Vera isn’t telling him?

 'Luminous and moving. A story that asks who you can love and how, and a novel that gets to the heart of things; it certainly got to the heart of me.' Sunjeev Sahota, author of The Year of the Runaways
Should this event interest you, please e-mail Liz-Anne Deans directly at and she will ensure your name is on the door. There is no cost for this event to KDHG members (or website visitors!)

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Peter and Nora Poole- WWII evacuees - can you help?

Natalie Brownlie from Queensland Australia writes -

My father Peter N Poole was evacuated to Kilmarnock during World War 2 from Newcastle on Tyne as a small child, along with his sister Nora. They were fortunate to live during that time with his Uncle & Aunt - his Uncle at that time was Provost - his surname was Carney. They lived at 1 Howard Street.
My father returned to Newcastle on Tyne after the War & at the age of eighteen emigrated to Australia. Dad has lived an interesting life working as a stockman on Kangaroo Island for Sir William McBride before joining the Rodeo Circuit & becoming a professional Rodeo Cowboy & both an Australian & Queensland Champion Steer Wrestler. He is now the Official Historian of the Australian Professional Rodeo Association.
Dad speaks fondly of his time at Kilmarnock - I was wondering if you have any information on his Uncle & any images from around the time of World War 2 that I could show him?

If you can help Natalie please contact us at  or directly at  

Monday, 23 October 2017

Prof Sir Tom Devine at Irvine Burns Club

As part of an outreach programme by the Royal Society of Edinburgh, Professor Sir Tom Devine will be giving a talk at Wellwood Burns Centre & Museum, 28 Eglinton Street, Irvine,  on 9th November. 

This is a ticketed event but is free.  If any members of the group are interested in attending the evening event at Wellwood they should contact Ashleigh Thow at the RSE as soon as possible.  

Ashleigh's address is:

The event will commence at 7 p.m. with an introduction by Professor Colin Suckling.  Tom Devine will then speak on the Scottish Enlightenment.  The evening will finish with tea & coffee at around 8.30 p.m..

Friday, 13 October 2017

Change of Venue - 17th October

Please note that Tuesday's lecture will take place at the Park Hotel, Kilmarnock. 7.30pm start.

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Co-operative Hall - John Finnie Street

Hugh Watson reports - In July 2017 Andy Colvin East Ayrshire arranged a visit to the Cooperative Hall which is part of East Ayrshire Council North Civic Centre in John Dickie Street Kilmarnock. The inside of the Hall has been well maintained by the Council especially the rich varnished wood paneling and the fine Stainedglass Windows which show a variety of Cooperative activities such as Boot and Shoe Making,farming,building and textiles as well as serving the Public.
The attached pictures of the outside of the Hall which can be seen from the Strand and outside Johnnie Walker Bond and a shot of the frontage taken from John Finnie Street.
This is a grand old building designed by Gabriel Andrew and built in John Finnie Street in 1879/80.

Monday, 25 September 2017

Important notice for members

You should have received an e-mail advising of the opening lecture of the session being Tuesday 3rd October and including details of renewing your subscription.

However, if you haven't can you please forward your up-to-date e-mail address to us at  to enable us to update our records. We are aware that a number of e-mails have not arrived at their intended destination.

The lecture programme can be found HERE and the membership form HERE

Many thanks

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Presentation by Scotland's People - 5th October

Our Secretary recently received notification of the following presentation with Iain Ferguson of Scotland's People. It will take place at New Farm Loch Community Centre on Thursday 5th October.

Can anybody interested in attending please advise Hugh on his e-mail as soon as possible. Thanks.

"We hope that you already have this date in your diaries and that some of your members will be able to join with us at this special afternoon meeting. You would be very welcome.
The talk will begin at 1.30 pm. Tea/coffee and biscuits will be served during the afternoon. As the speaker is available until 4pm, there should be time for a question session.

To help with arrangements, it would be very helpful if you could give me an approximate idea by Wednesday 27th September of the number of your members who are hoping to attend."

Thursday, 31 August 2017

Blocks at Barleith

Further to the request about information about the Blocks, we have received the following comments;

I saw that someone was asking about the Barleith Blocks. I have some memories of them as I spent a couple of summers there with my Grandmother when I was around 7, which would have been 1959.
My Grandmother, Janet Lundie (nee Cunningham), lived at 32 C Block. She had lived there all her life as her father started living there after he married and she remained there after she married my Grandfather. The Cunningham family was already living there in the 1891 census.
I remember the building well. She lived in the block nearest the railway and at the end of the block nearest the main road.
Her house was on the 1st floor, accessed by external stairs with metal railings. At the top of the stairs on the left was the outside toilet. Her house consisted of two main rooms with a short passageway between them.
The main room was a kitchenette/sitting-room. It had two alcoves for beds. I slept in one of these in a double bed with my Grandmother. Her other alcove did not have a bed in it as she normally lived alone. She used it for storage.
The second room was used as a bedroom. I think it may also have had an alcove but I am not sure. The window looked out on the railway line.
There were outside wash-houses.

Norma Watt

Monday, 14 August 2017

Tanker Ha' - information request

We have received the following request from Janet Kirby in Germany.

I am hoping you can help me. When I was a little girl my Aunt managed the Tanker Hall Children´s home on 79, London Road.
Due to problems in my own family I lived there for a while. I was incredibly happy there and even though I was only 5 at the time I fell in love with Kilmarnock. 

Now 45 years later, this love has not diminished. I have tried to find out more about the history of the place. 

I know that in 1911 a man called John Borland lived there. I know the place has now been subdivided into 6 flats. But I cannot find anything else. 

I would love to know when it was built, who owned it, when it became the property of the Church of Scotland. Who else lived there.

Can you help Janet? If so please contact her Here or contact us at the usual address.


Tidelines Book Festival; 21-24 September 2017

TIDELINES BOOK FESTIVAL       21-24 September 2017
North Ayrshire’s only independent book festival will be held again at Irvine’s atmospheric Harbourside. 18 events over 4 days will be focused on the Harbour Arts Centre, but also taking place in Puffers CafĂ©, the Scottish Maritime Museum, and Fullarton Connexions. There is something for all tastes, ranging from children’s events, to a wide range of authors, music, art and even a dramatization of a hilarious “whodunit”. Why not stay for a while and enjoy a meal or a drink at a harbourside eatery?
Kilwinning Heritage is once again pleased to sponsor an event, and this year it is Ayrshire’s Lost Villages on Sunday 24 September at 4.00pm in the Harbour Arts Centre.
Well-known Ayrshire author Dane Love has unearthed fifty villages that no longer exist. He talks about many of them and their associated tales from the “rows”, accounts of struggles endured and famous sons. These villages, often found in the most obscure places, were established near to where work was to be found, often in coalmines. Join us and ensure that these lost communities are not forgotten.
This year the Festival’s main sponsors are Specsavers Irvine. There will be a pop-up bookshop in HAC throughout the festival – and authors will be on hand to sign copies.
Tickets can be purchased on the website (booking fee applies) or direct from the HAC booking office in person or by phone 01294 274059 (no booking fee).

For full details and to sign up for email alerts, visit the website

Memories of Kilmarnock Academy

We have received the following request from Kilmarnock Academy who are seeking memories from alumni and alumnae - or perhaps their families. Can anyone assist ?

Kilmarnock Academy, Elmbank Drive, Kilmarnock KA1 3BS

To capture memories before they are lost, we are looking for people in the categories below to share their memories with us.

The oldest living ;
Former secondary pupil, former primary pupil, former teacher or member of staff.

Any former pupil who was a (age immaterial);
dux, sports champion, Ist XV/Ist XI player, swimmer in the school baths, Senior Prefect, cadet, guide, leading role in a Gilbert and Sullivan opera, participant in any school show, member of school trips particularly ones involving stays in youth hostels

Any other memories of Kilmarnock Academy not specified above welcome

Please contact or phone 01563 525509
The old fashioned method of writing to the address above will also suffice.

Monday, 31 July 2017

2017-18 Syllabus

The syllabus for the 2017-18 session looks as if it is now complete. We are just waiting to firm everything up at our committee meeting in August.

Some great looking talks including; Rudolf Hess, Alexander Greek Thomson, The Grammar School during WW2, Ardrossan Castle and stories from Rankin & Borland.  We are confident we have another excellent syllabus in place.

Monday, 10 July 2017

William Armour - left Kilmarnock in 1962

We have received a request for information about the Armour family in Kilmarnock.

Gordon Armour left Kilmarnock for Australia in 1962 - his father was called William. We don't have his mother's name.

We know that William was a Mason in Kilmarnock as was David Stephenson Armour (dob 03/04/1923)

Can anyone cast any light on the Armours ? Gordon's partner is trying to trace any living relatives as they are visiting in 2018-19 and she would love to surprise him !

Contact us via  if you can help. Thanks

Friday, 2 June 2017

Galston Heritage Trail

Fancy a sneak preview of the Galston Heritage Trail?

Click here

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Images on KHDG Facebook page

We have recently uploaded over 600 images to our Facebook albums
Click HERE

Monday, 22 May 2017

MacLachlan / Blocks at Barleith follow up

Further to our news articles of 2nd May 2017 ( see here  and here ) we received the following reply;

I know a little about Maclachlans - the family lived in Dundonald Road two girls, one being Jean, and a son, Scott. All went to the Academy. Jean was in my year and Scott a bit younger the other girl was older. I took Jean out to the pictures once or twice. 

The family moved south after Willie died. Jean was at Barassie some years ago when she brought her son to play in the British Boys Golf championship.I had not seen her for 30 years.
It was strange, her son is now a golf Pro and her married name is Torbet.... small world.

Re The Blocks Willie Ross was brought up there, he once told a meeting of railway men, 
"Its no blood I have in my veins its Engine oil "

JG Torbett

Can you help ? - burial plots in Kilmarnock

We have received the following message from Kerrie Bennett who is keen to trace the last resting places of some ancestors;

Many generations of my family are from Riccarton and Kilmarnock. Whilst much information has been passed down and research completed no-one seems to be able to find the location of burials of ancestors. I have obtained the death registrations, but these do not record where people are buried. All we sites have been explored but still no record of any Oliver or Wood for example appear to be anywhere. I was wondering if there were any former grave yards, where they may be. 
I will be visiting Kilmarnock in October and I would like to at least visit areas where they may have been buried if possible. 
For example my Great grandfather's two sisters, Janet Muir Oliver bn 24 Jan 1875, died 2 Jan 1883, and Sarah Hart Oliver bn31 Oct 1876, died 6 Jul 1882. These events took place at the Peace and Plenty housing block, as did birth of my Great grandfather and two other siblings. The family immigrated to Australia in 1886. As I know from family, their mother constantly wore the hair mourning brooch for the rest of her long life. It appears in a couple of the family photos recently found to be held by a distant family member.
It would be nice to be able to visit an area where they, and probably other family are buried.
I am not asking for any investigation, but just if anyone is aware of anywhere where they may have been buried at that time.Their Great grandfather was a mine manager at Capington Colliery and great grandmother's father had a shoe shop in Portland Street. All family seem to work in that mine from 1820's so perhaps there would be somewhere where families may be buried together.

Kerrie Bennett

If anyone can help can they contact Kerrie directly please? Thanks

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Catherine Young nee Symington - information request.

We have received an enquiry from Graeme Symington in Australia -

'I would be very interested to hear from any of your members who may have information about Catherine Young (maiden name Symington) 1826-1891. 

She lived in Titchfield Street, Kilmarnock.

Her youngest daughter Agnes Young (1858-1927) was living at 16 Mackinlay Place. Her children, surname Young, were: Catherine, Jessie, John,  Annie, Peter, Robert.
Catherine was a granddaughter of William Symington, the steamboat inventor.

Many thanks for passing on my enquiry.

Graeme Symington'

Click here to e-mail Graeme if you can help him out, or, send any information to us at


The Blocks at Barleith

Another request - this time about the 'The Blocks' or Railway Buildings at Barleith in Hurlford.

Mary Mackay from Ayr has asked the following;

- What was life like in The Blocks?
-Some addresses have '1/2' eg. number two and a half A Block etc. Why did some addresses have the half?
-What size were the houses? were some bigger than others?
-Mary's family moved premises. Does anyone know if this was likely because of a growing family?
-How was it possible to accommodate boarders / visitors?
-There seem to have been concerts on Saturday nights between 1920-1940.

It would be interesting to learn of anything you may know.

Please contact us at


Wm MacLachlan - Baker & Confectioner

We received a request at the recent Family History Fair at the Grand Hall to ask any members or website visitors if they had any photos which show Wm MacLachlan's Bakers & Confectioners at 7-9 Titchfield Street, Kilmarnock.

Can you help - or do you have any tales to share?

Please contact us at


Monday, 24 April 2017

Champions of Scotland !

52 years ago today Kilmarnock Football Club defeated Heart of Midlothian 2-0 at Tynecastle to be crowned Scottish Football Champions. No team from outside a city has done this since - and may never again.

Killie went on to play in what is now called The Champions League in 1966-67, drawing with the mighty Real Madrid at Rugby Park. The following season they made it to the Semi Final of what is now known as The Europa League. Halcyon days indeed !

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Kilmarnock Rugby Football Club - can you help ?

Our friends at Kilmarnock Rugby Football Club will celebrate their 150th anniversary in 2018. They are the 4th oldest rugby club in Scotland and are planning a number of events throughout 2018 - starting almost as soon as the sound of the New Year Bells has softened.

Bill Barnaby- probably well known to many of our members as he is a weel kent face in these pairts- will be updating Jock Thomson's Centenary History - 'More Than a Game'- to mark the occasion.

Bill and his elves would welcome sight of any memorabilia you may have which may help this task. He would also love to hear tales from Bellsland - or the old Academy Pavilion if you are of a certain age - and welcome a chat or any newspaper articles, photos, magazines, programmes etc. which you may have.

Please contact KDHG via or Bill via
We would love to hear from you and make this project a resounding success.

KRFC's own website can be found at Kilmarnock Rugby Football Club

Many thanks.

Monday, 13 March 2017

Final lecture of session and AGM

The final meeting of this session takes place on Tuesday 14th March when Ross McGregor will talk about The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow.
The AGM will take place prior to the talk.
7.30pm at Ayrshire College, Hill Street, Kilmarnock

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Tonight's talk - venue details

Please remember that tonight's talk will be held at the Park Hotel, Rugby Park, Kilmarnock at 7.30pm

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Facebook page - Pictures of Old Kilmarnock

At this week's meeting we made reference to an interesting Facebook page - Pictures of Old Kilmarnock.
This can be found HERE

Monday, 30 January 2017

Tuesday 31st January - change of meeting room

This week's meeting is our 'Member's Night' when we will be providing updates on various community programmes and having a brief talk on vintage cars.

The usual venue, the Open Space, is required for an awards function. We will therefore be meeting elsewhere in the college. Committee members will be in the Foyer area from 7pm onwards to guide you.

We look forward to seeing you.

Friday, 6 January 2017

Upcoming Lectures

Our next lecture takes place at 7.30pm on Tuesday 10th January when Ben Shepherd will talk about 'The German Army in World War II - and why it lasted so long'

Please note - the second lecture of 2017 is on 17th January. A bit like the Leap Second applied at midnight on Hogmanay, we have had to schedule our meetings slightly differently this session to bring us into line with term times at the college.
That lecture will be delivered by Stuart Cochrane when he will talk about 'Robert Burns - The Fat of The Land'

The third lecture of the year is a members' night. There will be updates from the committee about recent, ongoing and planned community events and involvement. However, this is also a chance to talk about any matters of interest you may have. You might want to bring along an item of interest, or wish to talk for a few minutes about a project you have been involved in or somewhere you recently visited which might interest the members. If you have any photos or postcards you want to share then please forward them in plenty of time for us to prepare these to be shown on the screens - or bring a memory stick along on the night.
An interactive night - so please think of how you may be able to take part - even if it just to blether. We would be delighted to hear from any member wishing to present a small talk.

Happy New Year

Happy New Year to all our members and friends.

We are now half way through this session's talks and have settled into our new home at the brand new Kilmarnock Campus of Ayrshire College. 

The new facility is quite different to the old lecture hall in Holehouse Road but we seem to have become used to it now after it all feeling a bit strange at first. 

Attendances are in line with those of previous years. However, the new venue has a larger capacity and, with the seating being arranged horizontally rather than vertically, it seems that we are more spread out. Overall though, the venue is up to date and will suit our needs going forward with a higher quality of equipment available  - and no noisy air conditioning units.

Membership numbers remain strong with just over 100 having paid subscriptions. We also have a number of visitors at most meetings and usually have about 70 to 85 people at each talk. This is the envy of local history groups - thank you for your commitment. Please continue to encourage friends to come along to talks - many visitors do join and we need to maintain and increase or membership levels going forward.

At our last meeting in 2016, members were invited to donate a small cash sum in return for old books and maps we were given by the family of the late John Hood. We are happy to advise that, after a small rounding up, we have forwarded £100 to The Ayrshire Hospice. The 'unsold' books were donated to the Killie Browser at the station and will raise funds for their Trust. Many thanks to all who contributed.