Friday, September 7, 2012

Kay Park

I walk through this lovely 30 acre park two or three times a week, on one side of the pond to get to the Library and Dick Institute, or the other side following the river, the Kilmarnock Water, down to the town.
The park was gifted to Kilmarnock by the local insurance broker, Alexander Kay and opened in 1879. 
You'll find the striking Reformers' Monument there and the attractive Victorian Fountain which commemorates the 1902 coronation of King Edward and Queen Alexandra. 
On the top of the hill there is the new Burns Monument Genealogy and Registrar Centre, built to replace the former Burns monument which very sadly burnt down in 2004. The beautiful statue of Burns fortunately remained intact and now stands in the middle of the new Centre. (I shall write a separate post about it before long!)
Above: one of the two lions which 'guard' the Burns Centre
Kay Park is home to a wide variety of wildlife, including squirrels, rabbits, ducks and swans. It's a great place for a walk as there are many paths to follow including some mature tree avenues. I love seeing the many attractive flower beds in season and the daffodils are a sight to behold in spring!
I'm sure I shall write many posts in future about this wonderful park, so close to where I live, and add photos taken in the different seasons.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Edward VII Drinking Fountain

This attractive memorial fountain is found in Kay Park, within easy walking distance of where I live.

It was erected by McDowall Steven & Co Ltd in 1902, is painted cast iron on a stepped base and decorated on all four sides. There are lions' heads and deep water bowls with ornamental taps on each side.

On the north and south facings there are panels with the relief inscription, "Presented to his native town by ex Baillie James Craig of Hillhead and Dean in Commemoration of the Coronation of King Edward and Queen Alexandra 1902".

On the east (main) side, there is an E&R crown with a bust of King Edward VII; on the west (rear) side, another A&R crown and a bust of Queen Alexandra, and on the south side is the maker's name plaque.

On the top there's a gilded falcon and crown resting on thistles.

Henderson Parish Church

Henderson Parish Church was built in 1907 at the start of the London Road, next to the Kilmarnock Water. I often walk past it on my way to/from town!

The architect was the local man Thomas Smellie (1860-1938) and his home, at 46 Portland Road, still retains his architectural studio. He designed many buildings in the town around this time. 

The minister, as I write, is the Rev. Dr. David W. Lacy. There are always things going on at the church, besides regular services, meetings of the Guild, the Friendship Club and the Playgroup. 

Monday, September 3, 2012

Portland Dental Practice

One of the most anxious things about moving to a new area is going to a new dentist for the first time, especially as, like me (and my husband) you had - after enduring some pretty poor ones in the past - had time to get used to a good one in our last location. It took me several months to finally decide that this practice was probably the best one, going by the various dental websites for the area. A tentative initial phone call, to ask if they were accepting new NHS patients, went extremely well and the receptionist was very friendly and helpful.

This resulted in my husband and I making an appointment and going along to have a check up a couple of days ago. The first impression of the place was good; the waiting area is large and comfortable, nicely carpeted with pleasant soft seating and attractive pictures on the walls.

We were both more than delighted to find we were registered with Anthony Bannon as he could not have been nicer - what a friendly, gentle and thoroughly professional dentist. He put us both entirely at our ease and (when our mouths weren't wide open!) we had a good chat, not only about our teeth but about our move to Kilmarnock too.

While I was waiting for my husband on the landing, I saw a couple of the other dentists welcoming their patients, which included young school children, and they were also very warm and welcoming.

It's probably obvious by now that we are extremely pleased with our choice of dentist and, even after only one appointment, I would not hesitate to recommend this dental practice to anyone.

For the Portland Dental Practice click here

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Johnnie Walker Statue

This statue of Johnnie Walker, one of the men who 'put Kilmarnock on the map', was sculpted by Alexander 'Sandy' Stoddart. 

Stoddart was born in Edinburgh in 1959 and has been 'Her Majesty's Sculptor' in Scotland since 2008. He has been quoted as saying, "My great ambition is to do sculpture for Scotland", and he has achieved this mainly through his large monuments to figures from the country's past.
John Walker (1805-1857) was a grocer, but, although his name was given to the spirit, his son, Alexander, became more important in its history. A terrible flood in the town in 1852 destroyed all the Walker stock and, when Alexander afterwards went into the family business, he persuaded his father to give up the grocery trade and to start selling whisky instead.

The family's blend of spirit was first known as "Walker’s Killme Whisky" and it quickly became extremely popular, thanks to Alexander, and later, his own son, also named Alexander. Between them, they made the Johnnie Walker Whisky a common name worldwide and were also responsible for introducing many other blends and mixes of the spirit. 

In 2009, the world's largest distiller, Diageo, announced that it was closing the Kilmarnock plant, where more than 700 people were employed.  It actually shut down on March 23rd, 2012 and the link between the firm and Kilmarnock came to an end after 192 years. The last bottle made was brought out to a single piper's lament. A song was especially written for the sad occasion, and the lyrics included, 

"The great striding man knows we're his best fan 
but Killie's no part o' Diageo's plan." 

(The "striding man" referred to the figure on the bottle's label, still used today)
 All employees and, indeed, the whole town, mourned the end of an era.