Galston Burgh

Today we are launching our new Galston Burgh catalogue! The records within this collection date from 1804 – 1975 and for the first time researchers will be able to browse the catalogue of Galston Burgh online. This collection contains a wide variety of records including Town Council minute books, correspondence and Abstracts of Accounts.

This is the third East Ayrshire Burgh catalogue to be made accessible online and has resulted in a number of additional records being made available to the public for the first time. These records are available to view at the Burns Monument Centre in Kilmarnock on Wednesday’s through an appointment with Ayrshire Archives HQ.

Knockshinnoch Castle Colliery

Tomorrow marks 69 years since the Knockshinnoch Castle Colliery disaster at New Cumnock. The accident was caused by an inrush of peat and moss from the surface which broke into the No.5 Heading Section of the Main Coal Seam.

135 people were working underground at the time of the accident. A small number managed to escape through a downcast shaft before it became blocked, while 116 sheltered for two days, finding their way inbye to an unaffected area of the mine awaiting rescue. This left 13 men missing who had been situated at the No. 5 Heading Section.

The inrush resulted in a crater the size of 2 acres which continued to sink. This hindered rescue attempts for two days.

AA_DC97_1_11_5 Knockshinnoch Castle Colliery

Photograph of the Knockshinnoch Castle Colliery following the disaster. Reference AA/DC/97/1/11/5

Acc 09_25 Knochshinnoch Castle Colliery report list of deaths

Report into the accident by HM Chief Inspector of Mines. Accession 09/25


Happy #Marymass to our Irvine followers!
This festival has been associated with many events over the years, including an apparent visit from Mary Queen of Scots to Irvine in the 16th century. However historians have claimed that Marymass is historically linked with the celebration of the Virgin Mary’s Assumption Day. The earliest known reference to this in Irvine is by King Robert II on 22 October 1386, in a royal charter where he granted the annual rent of the land for the construction of Irvine Tolbooth. The rent would cost ‘one penny of silver, at the feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin, every year.’ The charter in question is over 600 years old and held by Ayrshire Archives to be preserved for future generations!

IB1_A_6 (4)

Reference IB1/A/6

IB1_A_6 (1)

Reference IB1/A/6

IB1_A_6 (6)

Reference IB1/A/6

West Kilbride Horticultural Society Exhibition

West Kilbride Museum are currently hosting an exhibition to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the first flower show in West Kilbride. ‘The History of the West Kilbride Horticultural Society’ features records held by Ayrshire Archives. The exhibition will run until Saturday 31 August. The museum is open every Saturday, Tuesday and Thursday 10.30am – 12.30pm and 2pm – 4pm.

The West Kilbride Museum website can be visited on:


Lighthouse Day

Did you know that the island of Little Cumbrae had two lighthouses? The first was built in 1757, but the decision was made by the Little Cumbrae Lighthouse Trustees to build a second in 1793. This was on the south-west point of the island closer to the coast.

lesser cumbrae

As it is #LighthouseDay we thought we would share this submission and decreet arbitral. It highlights that not all were as pleased with the new lighthouse! Tacksmen of the area sought to claim for damages caused to the ground by the construction of the new lighthouse and the road. They were compensated for these damages and the lighthouse keeper was also to receive the use of one acre ‘for a garden and pleasure ground.’ Dated 1795.

Acc 19_003 Little Cumbrae Lighthouse Decreet (1)

Accession 19/003

Acc 19_003 Little Cumbrae Lighthouse damages sustained in creation of new lighthouse (1) cropped

Accession 19/003

Acc 19_003 Little Cumbrae Lighthouse damages sustained in creation of new lighthouse (3) cropped

Accession 19/003

Day of the Seafarer

Today is International Day of the Seafarer. The theme this year is #IAmOnBoard with gender equality. Here we have the story of a female seafarer from Ayrshire.
Betsy Miller was born in Saltcoats, 1792. Her life at sea began aboard her father’s ship ‘The Clytus’ following the death of her brother in 1827. When her father Captain William Miller retired in 1847, Betsy became the first female sea captain to be certified by the Board of Trade. She took on the role as master of The Clytus and taking charge of a 14 man crew. This letter was from Elizabeth (Betsy) Miller to James Smith, an agent in Saltcoats while she was aboard The Clytus in 1839 (accession 10/43).
Betsy retired in 1862 and her younger sister Hannah took over the business of the ship. Betsy died in 1864 at the age of 71 and has been remembered as an influential female figure since (newspaper clipping reference ATD1/27).
Acc 10_43 letter

Accession 10/43

ATD1_27 Newsclipping from Troon & Prestwick Times, May 1964 re Captain Betsy Miller

Newspaper cutting regarding centenary of death of Captain Betsy Miller (ATD1/27)

The Brig Clytus (local history pamphlet)

Glamis Castle Archive

We’re always keen to learn from other archive service and a member of staff recently went to see Glamis Castle archive. They’ve written about their experience:

As part of my studies with the Centre for Archives and Information Studies at the University of Dundee, I was recently part of a group lucky enough to receive a tour of Glamis Castle and visit the archive. The castle is owned by the 19th Earl of Strathmore and Kinghorne. It is also famously known as being the childhood home of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother. The archive holds the historical records of Glamis dating from the 12th century.

The archivist had many examples of the collection on display for us. There was a whole range of records including charters, deeds, illustrated game books, photographs, visitor books (often signed by members of the royal family) and recipes – only to name a few. These items gave a glimpse into the lives and stories of the people who lived and visited Glamis. One particularly striking story was of Mary Eleanor Bowes, a poet and botanist who married John, 9th Earl of Strathmore and Kinghorne. Following his death, she encountered an Andrew Stoney who faked a duel to win her honour. He alleged to be mortally wounded following the duel and Mary married him. Following the wedding he made a miraculous recovery and the marriage became the subject of stories of domestic abuse, a story told in the novel ‘Wedlock.’

Working at a local authority archive it was really interesting to have an insight into an estate archive – stored in a castle no less. One of the most intriguing records on display was a recipe for worm broth! There was also a record of the menu served everyday within the castle. This highlighted the stark difference in the diet of the servants and the family.

In addition to a guided tour around the historic castle, there was an exhibition on the Women of Glamis. This included original clothes of the family and letters written from a young ‘Lilibet,’ known to us as Her Majesty The Queen.

It was great to visit Glamis Castle and the archive. Thank you to CAIS at the University of Dundee and to the Glamis archivist for organising it.

Centre for Archive and Information Studies (CAIS), University of Dundee

Glamis Castle