1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Kilmarnock

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KILMARNOCK, a municipal and police burgh of Ayrshire, Scotland, on Kilmarnock Water, a tributary of the Irvine, 24 m. S.W. of Glasgow by the Glasgow & South-Western railway. Pop. (1901), 35,091. Among the chief buildings are the town hall, court-house, corn-exchange (with the Albert Tower, 110 ft. high), observatory, academy, corporation art gallery, institute (containing a free library and a museum), Kay schools, School of Science and Art, Athenaeum, theatre, infirmary, Agricultural Hall, and Philosophical Institution. The grounds of Kilmarnock House, presented to the town in 1893, were laid out as a public park. In Kay Park (483/4 acres), purchased from the duke of Portland for £9000, stands the Burns Memorial, consisting of two storeys and a tower, and containing a museum in which have been placed many important MSS. of the poet and the McKie library of Burns’s books. The marble statue of the poet, by W. G. Stevenson, stands on a terrace on the southern face. A Reformers’ monument was unveiled in Kay Park in 1885. Kilmarnock rose into importance in the 17th century by its production of striped woollen “Kilmarnock cowls” and broad blue bonnets, and afterwards acquired a great name for its Brussels, Turkey and Scottish carpets. Tweeds, blankets, shawls, tartans, lace curtains, cottons and winceys are also produced. The boot and shoe trade is prosperous, and there are extensive engineering and hydraulic machinery works. But the iron industry is prominent, the town being situated in the midst of a rich mineral region. Here, too, are the workshops of the Glasgow & South-Western railway company. Kilmarnock is famous for its dairy produce, and every October holds the largest cheese-show in Scotland. The neighbourhood abounds in freestone and coal. The burgh, which is governed by a provost and council, unites with Dumbarton, Port Glasgow, Renfrew and Rutherglen in returning one member to parliament. Alexander Smith, the poet (1830–1867), whose father was a lace-pattern designer, and Sir James Shaw (1764–1843), lord mayor of London in 1806, to whom a statue was erected in the town in 1848, were natives of Kilmarnock. It dates from the 15th century, and in 1591 was made a burgh of barony under the Boyds, the ruling house of the district. The last Boyd who bore the title of Lord Kilmarnock was beheaded on Tower Hill, London, in 1746, for his share in the Jacobite rising. The first edition of Robert Burns’s poems was published here in 1786.