Kilmarnock & District History Group · Kilmarnock · Ayrshire · KA1 3AZ

Railway WWI project

KDHG enjoys a good working partnership with the Kilmarnock Railway Station Heritage Trust. The Trust has an exciting project underway which involves pupils from local schools. A summary of this project follows;

In our project we plan to explore the impact and effects that World War One had on the community of
Kilmarnock and more specifically the workers of Kilmarnock Railway Station. We want to build a picture of
what the town was like before the war and the changes brought about due to the outbreak of war. We wish to
piece together stories of individuals during that time in order to give a real insight into what it was like for the
community of Kilmarnock. Using this information and research we will create an exhibition open to members
of the public at Kilmarnock Railway Station so we can share the heritage we have learned. We will begin our project by forming a steering group to oversee the project, this will be made up of a mixture of representatives and contributors to the project including school children, members of community groups and members of the trust.

Our heritage focuses on Kilmarnock, in the build up to and during, World War One. We want to uncover what
life was like for the town's population during that time and specifically focus on Kilmarnock Railway Station
which at that time would be an extremely busy juncture of Kilmarnock. We want to rediscover the changes
brought on by the shift into wartime and the importance of the station during this time.

We also want to specifically look into the heritage of individuals during that time. We will do this through
research of information from the World War One time period. We will piece together the information to
understand the 'stories' of individual railway workers and their involvement in the war. That may be going 'off
to war' to fight or remaining behind to continue working in important industries.

We plan to share what we learn through research by hosting an exhibition firstly at the station. At the
exhibition research will be put on display boards with additional information provided by researchers and
school pupils through presentation skills.

This exhibition will be open to members of the public with several different community groups being invited to
attend. We intend for our exhibition to be linked to other local museums and places of heritage, The Dick
Institute and Burns Monument Centre. Finally we will offer the exhibition to local community centres as a
'travelling' exhibition so a great number of people can share in the heritage.

In addition to this after the initial exhibition we will digitise our findings and publish them in an online archive
that will be open and accessible to all. This archive will be shared with local history groups and will also be
uploaded to GLOW making it available to schools nationally.

We will also make physical copies of all our research and make them available to the public by appointment
at the G&SWRA records office. Finally we will produce a leaflet that summarises our findings and the highlights of the exhibition.

Our project will involve a wide variety of the community, this includes: 

  • Young people coming from schools. We work closely with the local authority's education department and they will be supporting the project. We will be giving senior school pupils the opportunity to take part in researching and examining the history of Kilmarnock during World War One. We will also give younger school pupils the chance to participate in the project through related art competitions.
  • Older people who will be involved in the researching, working and helping the school pupils.
  • Members of local heritage/history groups have also been very supportive of the project and will assist in researching duties as well as presenting information for the exhibition.
  • Members of the public will be a key audience of the exhibition, as they are waiting for trains they are able to visit the exhibition and benefit from an increased sense of community through shared heritage.

As part of the project, training and guidance will be provided on several areas including specific skills such as
creating PDFs, working with microfiche, print and scanning documents and how to organise an archive. There
will also be training in social skills like presenting, interview skills, and communication and interpersonal skills.

The project will be managed by one of our trustees and will be delivered by a school teacher employed on a sessional basis. Our project worker will be responsible for working with senior school pupils in the researching and give them the chance to work alongside people of an older generation in the hope they can share skills and discuss findings from different perspectives.

The organisation’s purposes are the advancement of education into the history, of Kilmarnock railway station and to preserve those artefacts, structures, buildings, plant and equipment that are of Historic, cultural, architectural, constructional or scientific interest. To provide a range of activities and services that will encourage members of the general public to become aware of the heritage and culture surrounding Kilmarnock railway station and its surrounding area. To promote cross community group partnership working in the local and outlying areas with the ultimate aim of making the Railway Station the centre of the community once again by providing a Hub of inspiration for Arts Culture and Heritage.

We currently have 1 Part-Time member of staff and 1 Full-Time member of staff. We have 58 volunteers
registered undertaking various roles including staffing the gift shop and working in the coffee shop.
Our organisation was set up to bring vacant rooms within Kilmarnock Railway Station back into use by the
community. The redevelopment included meetings rooms that can be hired out by the community, a gift shop
that is run entirely by volunteers, a coffeeshop that is used for training unemployed people and a second hand book shop/events space. Our regular activities are the engagement and management of volunteers. We have a diverse range of volunteers who get involved in many different activities and we also hold many activities and events that are open to members of the public.

To date we have received funding from the Scottish Community Regeneration Fund and the Railway Heritage
Trust which we used to refurbish and redevelop the station rooms. For start-up and running costs we secured
funding from East Ayrshire Council's Renewable Energy Fund. Moving forward we're generating revenue from
sales at the coffee shop and gift shop as well as room hire to cover operating costs at the station.