Alloway and Southern Ayrshire FAMILY HISTORY SOCIETY Robert Burns Cottage, Alloway, Ayr
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Saturday, 19 January 2008

17 Jan 2008 - "How Railways changed Ayrshire"

After the delight of having the use of the Octagonal Hall for the first four meetings of the 2007/8 session, returning to the Small Hall for our first meeting of the new year was inevitably going to seem cramped quarters. What we had not anticipated was a full house composed of a big turnout of members and a fair number of railway enthusiasts keen to hear our speaker, Mr Robin Nelson give his presentation "How Railways changed Ayrshire."

After a few minor computer hitches, Mr Nelson showed how difficult and limited journeys for people and goods had been in Ayrshire before the advent of railways. These were built initially to meet the needs of expanding 19th century industrialisation and the resultant trade and later to cater for ever-increasing holiday travel to the Clyde coast. He gave us a comprehensive view of how the early routes were established, an account of the main railway companies, the engines and trucks used and their gradual improvement, the signalling system and, best of all, some of the early stations, designed for practical use but also with an eye to their aesthetic appeal. Fortunately, several of these still remain in a good state of preservation.
It was especially interesting to discover that several "Halts" were provided so that businessmen could journey out to the Ayrshire golf courses in the morning with a suitable return being scheduled for later in the day! Unfortunately, today this practice has been replaced by the use of personal road transport.
Mr Nelson’s presentation was a real tour de force and raised such a barrage of questions and personal comments that he had difficulty getting round to a much-needed mug of tea.

Sheila Dinwoodie

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