Alloway and Southern Ayrshire FAMILY HISTORY SOCIETY Robert Burns Cottage, Alloway, Ayr
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Sunday, 11 October 2009

07 Oct 2009 - Burns Monument Centre, Kilmarnock Visit

A nineteen strong group from the society, including our newest member, visited the recently opened Burns Monument Centre in Kilmarnock this afternoon. Set in the delightful surroundings of the Kay Park, the new custom-built centre is an inspired blending of the old and the new providing registry offices, a “spectacular venue for weddings and other ceremonies,” well-planned areas for conferences and meetings, and first-class facilities for local and family history. A peek into the archival storage area was informative and exciting as a few of us were privileged to see the oldest material preserved here, namely a document from the closing decade of the thirteenth century. Add to these, a welcoming and knowledgeable staff happy to offer every assistance and you have the kind of scenario browsing family historians sigh for.

Starting in the attractive courtyard with its beautifully sited statue of Robert Burns, we were offered an enthusiastic tour of the complex by the Community Librarian (Heritage Services), Ann Geddes. Obviously she enjoys her new workplace! Examples of the written and photographic archives available had been set out for us to see and further information was readily available on points of particular interest. Much of the material naturally pertains to East Ayrshire, but records affecting the whole county are well represented. Our tour ended with tea/coffee and biscuits in a meeting room and in the adjoining corridor boasting comfy chairs, where we were encouraged to sit and chat. Thereafter we were left to our own devices following our own particular interests and asking questions until closing time. Finally Anne encouraged us to return to follow our own research, using the IT facilities if we so wished or returning to the “good old times” of handling in white gloves something from their multitude of archival material. “And if you come for a day visit, bring your own sandwiches, get your liquid refreshment here and enjoy a short break away from work!” How can any enthusiastic researcher ignore that suggestion?

Sheila Dinwoodie

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