The First Female Police Auxiliary of Ayr Burgh

Today marks the centenary of the Representation of the People’s Act, 1918 yet it also  marks a significant event in Ayrshire too. The Burgh of Ayr Minutes of Corporation and Committees show that 100 years ago on the 6th February 1918, the decision was made to appoint a female to the Ayr Burgh police force for the first time. This was the outcome of a meeting of the Works Committee at the request of the Vigilance and Rescue Society. Throughout Scotland during this time, it was believed that the appointment of a small number of policewomen would be beneficial to the police force. The female contribution to police work which was demonstrated during the First World War, primarily through rescue work and voluntary patrols helped to achieve this.

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Minute of Works Committee, 6 February 1918, Burgh of Ayr Minutes of Corporation and Committees, 12 November 1917-18 November 1918 (BA/18/54)

Mrs Sutherland was subsequently appointed for the position. Although she would be supported by the “authority of the police,” she was not to be sworn in as a police constable, but recognized as an auxiliary member of the force. However during this period, female members of the police were to undertake tasks that were believed to be suited to their gender, in particular working in the interests of women and children . They were also subject to separate rules and regulations which became the Police (Women) (Scotland) Act and not the Police (Scotland) Act, 1890 which affected other employees of the police.

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Minute of Finance Committee, 9 October 1919, Burgh of Ayr Minutes of Corporation and Committees, 11 November 1918-7 November 1919 (BA/18/55)

Although the appointment of Mrs Sutherland was significant as it was a paid position for a female under the Ayr Burgh police, Minutes of the Finance Committee have highlighted issues Mrs Sutherland had in relation to her income. Her story highlights the achievements and struggles women faced during the early twentieth century in the drive for equal rights.

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Minute of Finance Committee, 5 February 1920, Burgh of Ayr Minutes of Corporation and Committees, 10 November 1919-5 November 1920 (BA/18/56)


University of Glasgow Archive visit



For our last training visit of the year, the assistant archivist and the graduate trainee visited the Glasgow University Archive Service. A very insightful tour was given by the graduate trainee at the archive which allowed us to view some of the exhibitions, the searchroom and the wide-ranging collections held in the stores.


Exhibition on Inspiring Internationals

In addition to holding official material of the university, the repository holds a large variety of records – the oldest being the Blackhouse Charters which date from 1304. It is also home to the Scottish Business Archive, which consists of material from businesses in Scotland. This not only includes records such as those relating to Glasgow’s infamous Clyde ship building industry, but covers nearly all types of Scottish business. Many of these collections also relate to the rest of the United Kingdom such as the House of Fraser archive and the James Finlay & Co. collection.

During the tour we received the opportunity to view some of the university records. These included student matriculation records, Glasgow University calendars, prize list indexes and plans for the construction of the university buildings. Demonstration of how these can be used allowed us to understand how the university records can correspond in order to find out certain information. We also spoke to the duty archivist to find out more about their role within the service and view some of the catalogues of some of the fascinating collections which they had catalogued.

We would like to thank the staff at the University of Glasgow Archive Services for a very interesting visit!



Mini-exhibition on International Women’s Day

Lothian Health Services Archive visit

Staff from Ayrshire Archives recently made a training visit to Lothian Health Services Archive (LHSA), situated in the Centre for Research Collections at the University of Edinburgh. A tour was given by the archivist which gave a fantastic insight into the records and health related objects they hold. Much of the material within the LHSA has come from NHS hospitals within the Lothian region, in particular the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh. However the collections are also composed of records from non-NHS agencies and personal records which have been deposited, adding depth and different contemporary aspects to the holdings.

The LHSA was awarded Accredited Archive Status in 2014 and over 3,000 shelves hold the material which makes it one of the largest health archives in Scotland. The collections are composed of a variety of records including case notes, staff records, a range of objects, films and photographs – holding approximately 40,000 images. From the tour we were able to view the LHSA stores and some material from the collections. We were also able to gain an insight into the accessibility of the records and archive service, in addition to some of the issues which the LHSA face with preservation of a large range of materials.

The LHSA is well known for the Edinburgh and Lothian HIV/AIDS Collections. These records have highlighted the growth in the levels of HIV/AIDS in Edinburgh and Lothian from 1983 to 2010 and demonstrate different responses to this increase. The eleven collections were recognized by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) inscribed on the UK Memory of the World Register in 2011.

We would like to thank the archivist and members of staff at the LHSA for welcoming Ayrshire Archives and for a very interesting tour of the facilities!

LHSA plaque (3)

The Edinburgh and Lothian HIV/AIDS Collections, 1983-2010 recognized by UNESCO and inscribed to UK Memory of the World Register 2011 plaque.

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Drawing from the scrapbook of Sister Isabella Lamont who worked at the Edinburgh War Hospital (P/PL44/P/013). Courtesy of Lothian Health Services Archive, Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh.

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Recipe card from the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh dietetic kitchen (LHB1/89/4/1). Courtesy of Lothian Health Services Archive, Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh.

George Lumsden GD16

Patient George Lumsden drawn by artist John Myles. From GD16 Physician Superintendents of the Royal Edinburgh Hospital collection. Courtesy of Lothian Health Services Archive, Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh.


Staff and patients from the Edinburgh War Hospital (P/PL44/P/013). Courtesy of Lothian Health Services Archive, Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh.










Rozelle Remembrance Woodland

Recently at Ayrshire Archives, our Assistant Archivists and Graduate Trainee paid a visit to Rozelle Park to view the Remembrance Woodland which was created as part of South Ayrshire Council’s World War I Centenary Commemorations 2014-2018. This project was established in honour of the 100th anniversary of World War I and includes a range of sculptures and carvings which have become key features of the Remembrance Woodland. Also situated within this area is the recently laid memorial stone dedicated to Lieutenant Robert Shankland, born in Ayr. He was awarded the Victoria Cross on 26 October 1917, an event recently commemorated in Ayrshire. Take a look at our previous blog post to find out more about the Robert Shankland Memorial Stone. 

Rozelle poppy

‘Poppy Carving’ by Iain Chalmers

Rozelle soldier

‘Kilted Soldier’ by Andy Maclachlan

Rozelle standing soldier 2

‘A Tommy’ by Craig Steele

Rozelle soldier with machine gun 2

‘Gunner’ by Craig Steele

Rozelle soldier sitting on tree

‘Letter from Home’ by Peter Bowsher

Rozelle wonded soldier

‘Bereaved Soldier’ by Peter Bowsher and ‘Fallen Soldier’ by Andy Maclachlan

Rozelle statue with bird

‘Flighted’ by David Powell

Rozelle bench

Memorial bench

Rozelle info of Robert Shankland

Rozelle’s information board on Lieutenant Robert Shankland


Memorial Stone to commemorate Lieutenant Robert Shankland


Robert Shankland Memorial Stone

This week at Ayrshire Archives we are commemorating Lieutenant Robert Shankland who fought in the Battle of Passchendaele, Belgium, as part of the 43rd Infantry Battalion during World War I. His efforts and initiative significantly aided the capture of Bellevue Spur, a region which was one of the main lines of defence before Passchendaele.  Robert Shankland’s actions in combat were rewarded with the Victoria Cross on 26 October 1917 and a memorial stone to pay tribute to the event will be unveiled in Rozelle Park, Ayr on 26 October 2017.


Robert Shankland was born in Ayr, Scotland on 10 October 1887 where he grew up, prior to immigrating to Canada in 1911. Accordingly, he was presented with the Freedom of the Burgh by Ayr Town Council on 31 December 1917, in recognition of the honour he brought to the region. Here at Ayrshire Archives we hold records of Ayr Burgh minutes which acknowledge Robert Shankland, V.C. and his award from the town.

Ayr Burgh Minutes Robert Shankland– Minute of Special Corporation, 31st December 1917, Burgh of Ayr Minutes of Corporation and Committees, 12 November 1917-8 November 1918

Wedding Open Day

Recently Ayrshire Archives had the chance to participate in an outreach event at the Burns Monument Centre in Kilmarnock. This was a fantastic opportunity for archive staff to showcase some of the collections unique to the East Ayrshire area during the Open Day Wedding Event.

We had a variety of collections on display including Kilmarnock Academy school records, Glenfield and Kennedy catalogues, records from the British Lace Furnishings and poor registers from New Cumnock.

Visitors were intrigued and fascinated by the variety of records held at our East Ayrshire store and were interested in knowing how our records could aid them in their family history research.

See below for some of examples of the records we had on display.

Wedding fair overview

Overview of Wedding Open Day display

PH0031 Kilmarnock academy

Photograph of Kilmarnock Academy pupils 1904 (Reference: PH0031)

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Notebook from British Lace Furnishings 


New catalogues are being added to the website!  These catalogues are being made available online for the first time and relate to Ayrshire associations, businesses and individuals.  They provide an insight into the cultural and economic heritage of the area. Making catalogues available online is an on-going project so keep an eye out for more of them over the new few months.

Graduate Trainee trip to The Mitchell Library, Glasgow


Mitchell 4For my last trip to a repository as graduate trainee we visited the Glasgow City Archives. The archives are housed in the Mitchell Library in Glasgow, where they have been since the 1980s.  This is an extremely worthwhile visit to make as Glasgow City Archives is one of the largest city archives in Scotland. They contain the official records of Glasgow City Council and its predecessors as well as the records of the Burghs that are now part of the city.  They also hold multiple records from private companies such as the shipbuilders and the records of churches of all denominations.

Mitchell 1

The archivist provided us with a tour of the searchroom and discussed with us on how they directed customers to the information that they needed as the archives are accessed mainly through drop-ins rather than by appointment basis. This varied on what I had seen on previous visits to repositories as well as how we allow access to the archives at Ayrshire Archives. I was also able to experience how the Family History Centre was arranged at the Mitchell Library. The Family History Centre provides access to Scotland’s People online and works closely with the archives to provide a starting point for family research. The archivist had also set up a small exhibition to provide us with examples of the records they held. This included the poor relief records, Kirk Session records and private records. The exhibition included the original diaries of Thomas Cairns Livingstone, which were published in 2009 as ‘Tommy’s War.” This set of diaries highlighted the extremely personal nature of some of the archives. We are grateful for Glasgow City Archives for hosting this tour and it was an extremely worthwhile visit.