Ayrshire reaps rewards


the Heritage Lottery Fund

Two important but very different Ayrshire buildings are to benefit from major grants from the Heritage Lottery Fund. In South Ayrshire, Alloway Auld Kirk is to receive £136,000 to preserve the famous church and graveyard while in East Ayrshire, Kilmarnock’s Dick Institute is to be restored with a grant of £203,000.

The ruin of Alloway Auld Kirk is the famous setting for Burns’ ghost tale, Tam O Shanter. Its Kirkyard contains the grave of Burns’ father and other significant people from his life. The current church can be dated to 1516 although it may be significantly older as archaeological investigations on adjacent land uncovered an 8 th- 12 th century cross and associated burials. It is believed to be one of the earliest Christian sites in southwest Scotland.

Today the Church is in a state of disrepair and in need of urgent attention. The grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund will make the building structurally secure and slow any further deterioration. The overgrown Kirkyard will be restored, gates and masonry overhauled and paths constructed. The work is expected to start at the beginning of next year and take 12 months to complete.

Commenting from the Heritage Lottery Fund, Colin McLean, the Heritage Lottery Fund’s Manager for Scotland, said:

“This Church is truly one of Scotland’s heritage assets. We are delighted to make this award as not only will it make a difference to the actual building, it will, we hope, make a difference to Scotland’s marketing of Burns’ heritage. Alloway Auld Kirk has an important contribution to make to the Burns heritage trail and will play a significant part in the 250 th Anniversary celebrations in 2009.”

Cathy Jamieson MSP commented:

“The Auld Kirk is a vital part of Ayrshire’s Burns’ heritage as well as one of Scotland’s most important tourist landmarks. Preserving and restoring the Auld Kirk and the surrounding Kirkyard will be warmly welcomed by Burns enthusiasts locally, and around the world.”

Councillor Andy Hill, Leader of South Ayrshire Council, added:

“I am delighted to learn of the award of the grant by the Heritage Lottery Fund. The Kirk and the graveyard are vital elements within the heritage of Robert Burns, and indeed, Scotland. The news means that we can now proceed with the ambitious plans that we have had drawn up to restore and maintain this iconic location for the interest of both current and future generations.

An integral part of Kilmarnock’s industrial and social history, the Dick Institute, is to be repaired and a programme of community activities introduced with help from a Heritage Lottery Fund grant.

The Institute was originally designed and built by R S Ingram from 1897 – 1901 and reflected Kilmarnock’s industrial wealth of the time. It was built to house the internationally important collection of famous geologist and native of Kilmarnock, James Thomson, and was financed by James Dick, son of a local merchant who made his fortune in industry and mining. The building, however, was gutted by fire in 1909 and rebuilt to the original design in 1911. It was used as an auxiliary hospital in 1917 before reverting back to being a museum.

Today the Dick Institute is the area’s main museum, library and art gallery with 380,000 people visiting each year to see its nationally important collections. This project will conserve and repair the entrance, roof and windows of the historic building and involve schools and young people with a programme of workshops and activities run by East Ayrshire Council.

Colin Mclean comments:

“This is a prominent landmark and cultural venue in the area so we are pleased to be able to give it our support. We are delighted to see the involvement of schools and young children in the heritage around them. By exploring the past they will not only develop their sense of identity but hopefully have a new pride in their surroundings.”

Des Browne MP says:

“I am extremely pleased that the Heritage Lottery Fund has agreed to provide funding to restore the Dick Institute in Kilmarnock. The involvement of schools and young people is also a key factor in helping to maintain local community support for the historic site. It is extremely important that we value and preserve our local library in a condition that we can all be proud of.”

Margaret Jamieson MSP adds:

"The Dick Institute is an extremely valuable asset to the community and is treasured by both local people and tourists alike. This grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund will help to ensure that the local attraction will continue to be enjoyed for generations to come. The involvement of young people in the project is an excellent initiative which will help to stimulate our young people’s interest in local history and learning."

Councillor Jim O’Neill, Chair of the Community Services Committee comments:

“This really is the icing on the cake and marks a tremendous achievement to secure this funding from the Arts and Museums Team. Such an investment will help restore the Dick and create a beautiful exterior to match the interior which was recently praised by The Herald as being one of the “loveliest municipal exhibition spaces in Scotland”. I am particularly looking forward to seeing the innovative workshop programme for local young people which will ensure that the building is looked after by the local community and young people in particular.”


Further information

Alloway Auld Kirk: John Thorburn on 01292 612972
( john.thorburn@south-ayrshire.gov.uk)

Dick Institute: Adam Geary on 01563 578151 ( adam.geary@east-ayrshire.gov.uk)

Heritage Lottery Fund: Shiona Mackay on 01786 870638 (shiona@theprdepartment.fsnet.co.uk )
or Claire Jackson on 020 7591 6102 (claireja@hlf.org.uk).
Website www.hlf.org.uk