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To the north is the ruin of Dean Castle—a sad memento of the fallen house of Boyd-nestling in a beautiful vale through which the Marnock glides; and beyond it the moors of Fenwick and Eaglesham, famed lurking places of the Covenanters during the era of the Persecution. To the east there is a fine far-stretching view backed by Loudoun Hill, “Loudoun's bonnie woods and braes,” and the moors of Galston, on which the poet witnessed the glorious light of the rising sun on the morning of "The Holy Fair"-u pleasing reminiscence; but they also recall a sad passage in his history, for when tra versing them on a bleak blustry afternoon he measured the last song
he ever expected to measure in Caledonia. A little to the southward the position of the farm of Mossgiel can be indicated with considerable distinctness, as also other places which the poet loved and celebrated in song. There is also, when the weather is clear, a magnificent prospect of Arran and the Frith of Clyde. On the whole, the view is one of great natural beauty ; but no word picture can convey an adequate idea of the hills, woods, plains, and fells which lic around in panoramic magnificence.
It was long considered a blemish on the reputation of Kilmarnock that it contained no memorial of the poet. Although a statue to his memory was long talked of by the town's people, no practical step for its erection was taken until the movement received an impetus by the unveiling of a statue to the poet's memory on the 25th of January, 1877, in Glasgow. “On the evening of the day following a public demonstration was held in the George Inn Hall, Kilmarnock -Provost Sturrock in the chair, and Mr Andrew Turnbull (president of the Burns Club), croupier-at which it was proposed, and unanimously agreed to, that a statue be erected in some suitable place in Kilmarnock in honour of the
The following were appointed a committee to carry out the proposal :—Provost Sturrock, Bailie Craig, Bailie Muir, Bailie Wilson, Dean of Guild Andrews; Messrs John Baird, John Gilmour, Thomas M'Culloch, George Humphrey, James Stirling, John A. Mather, Alexander Walker, William Mitchell, John G. Hamilton, James Robertson, Hugh Shaw, David Phillips, Andrew Christie, James Arbuckle, Ninian Anderson, Dr M‘Alister, Andrew Turnbull, James M'Kie, and James Rose—Andrew Turnbull, convener; Hugh Shaw,
treasurer ; James Rose and James M‘Kie, joint-secretaries. At a meeting of the committee on February 23rd, 1877, the Convener, Treasurer, and Secretaries, with Messrs John Baird, Ninian Anderson, Thomas M‘Culloch, and James Arbuckle were appointed a sub-committee to carry out the details of the movement, and it was intimated that the sum of six hundred and fourteen pounds (£614) had already been subscribed. At a meeting of the general committee on April 6th, 1877, a report from the sub-committee recommending open competition by sculptors was agreed to-two premiums, one of £50 and one of £25, being offered for the best and second best models.. The amount of subscriptions at this date was twelve hundred and eighty-two pounds (21282). On June 7th, 1877, it was suggested at a meeting of the general committee that, as the subscriptions had far exceeded expectations, an ornamental building and a marble statue of the poet in it should be erected. At a general meeting of the subscribers held in the Town Hall on September 8th, 1877, the sub-committee recommended that a marble statue to cost eight hundred pounds (£800), and an ornamental building estimated at fifteen hundred pounds (£1500), should be erected in the Public Park-a site for the building having been granted by the Kay Trustees. This was agreed to, and the sub-committee instructed to carry out the decision. At a meeting of subcommittee on October 9th, 1877, Mr Robert S. Ingram, architect, on behalf of Messrs J. & R. S. Ingram, submitted amended design of ornamental building, which was accepted, and he was instructed to prepare drawings and specifications of the same.
On December 6th and 7th, 1877, the competing models, 21 in all, were publicly exhibited in the George Inn Hall, and on December 14th the committee awarded the commission for the statue to Mr W. G. Stevenson, 2 Castle Terrace, Edinburgh ; the premium of fifty pounds (£50) to Mr D. W. Stevenson, 2 Castle Terrace, Edinburgh; and the premium of twenty-five pounds (£25) to Mr Chas. M'Bride, 7 Hope Street, Edinburgh. On the Burns Anniversary, Jan. 25th, 1878, a Burns Concert was held in the Corn Exchange Hall, which was crowded to overflowing. On March 29th, 1878, the contract between the sub-committee and Mr. W. G. Stevenson, Edinburgh, for the marble statue was duly signed. In the months of March, April, and May the sub
committee got working plans and estimates for the erection of the ornamental building in the Kay Park. These, after modifications, were finally agreed to, and at a meeting of June 4th, 1878, Mr Ingram, architect, intimated that Mr. Andrew Calderwood had signed contract for the erection of the building, the entire cost of which was estimated at fourteen hundred and fifty pounds (£1450)."*
When the building was partly constructed it was agreed that the Memorial Stone should be laid with full Masonic honours by R. W. . Cochran-Patrick, Esq. of Woodside, Depute Provincial Grand Master for Ayrshire, and on the 14th of September, 1878, about fifteen thousand people of all classes and conditions of life assembled to do honour to the Poet's memory. Kilmarnock was moved to its depths, and excitement ran high as a highly imposing procession moved along the streets to the scene of operations in the following order :-Body of Police, the Burns Monument Sub-Committee, Carters, Town Council and County Gentlemen, Burns Monument General Committee and Burns Club, 5th Battery Ayrshire Artillery Volunteers, 1st Ayrshire Rifle Volunteers, Iron Trades, Good Templars, Oddfellows, Tailors, Free Gardeners, Foresters, Joiners and other Wood Workers, Operative Masons, Chimney Sweeps, Operative Gardeners, and one hundred Masonic Lodges.
The following account of the procession is taken from the report of the proceedings in the Kilmarnock Standard of September 21, 1878 :-"The procession was exceedingly well organised and presented a most imposing appearance. Immediately behind the pioneers, as usual, came the carters, who undoubtedly formed the most note-worthy feature of the display. They numbered no less than 106—the largest turn-out of the kind ever seen in Kilmarnock-and were mounted on strong, well-built, and gaily-decorated horses. Each man wore a Kilmarnock bonnet, decked with blue ribbons, and also a blue rosette on the breast of his coat. The calvacade as it passed along the streets attracted great attention, and the hearty cheers which greeted the men showed how favourable was the impression they created. Another noted group was the Foresters. Each lodge was preceded by three mounted men dressed in the picturesque garb of the craft, having the bow slung over the shoulder with the quiver by the side. The Free Gardeners also appeared in a very pleasing costume. Foremost among the trades by rightful position, though the order of them had been determined by the accident of the ballot, marched the iron trades, which now form the chief element of our local industry.
“Short Sketch of the Monument Movement,” deposited in the
* From Memorial Stone of the Monument.
They carried some beautifully finished models, including a locomotive, two carriages and a van, forming a railway train with every appliance complete. The joiners excited the interest of the crowd by appearing with a lorry which had been fitted up with a double bench, at which two men in white aprons carefully planed away at a piece of wood, and seemed to be so intent on their work as to be altogether ignorant of the panorama of which they formed a part, or of the thousands of eager eyes under whose gaze they were passing. The Oddfellows as usual presented a highly respectable appearance, and the Good Templars also turned out well, among them being a goodly sprinkling of females. Almost hid in the general mass was a small band of chimney-sweeps, whose presence would have passed unnoticed had it not been for the banner which they carried and on which was inscribed in large letters, “By dirt we live.' Their appearance did not bear out the motto, as for once, at least, they had cleaned all the dirt away from themselves, and come out in presentable fashion like the others to honour the Ayrshire bard. It is impossible to notice in detail all the component parts of the procession, but it may not be out of place to refer to the presence among the Freemasons of the Lodge 133—St. David's of Tarbolton. This is the mother lodge of the poet, which from some cause lay dormant for 42 years, and was only resuscitated by the Mauchline brethren in January of last year in order that it might take a part in the Burns demonstration in Glasgow. Alongside of this lodge was 135—the St. James Kilwinning of Tarbolton—which the poet joined on his leaving the St. David, and in which he occupied the second highest post. It is estimated that about 4000 people took part in the procession.”
When the procession was marshalled round the monument, the ceremony of laying the Memorial stone was proceeded with amid a dead impressive silence. The following account
of the ceremony is taken from the newspaper report already quoted :—“The Rev. MrInglis of Kilmaurs, Provincial Grand Chaplain, offered up a brief, appropriate and impressive prayer, after which the Depute Provincial Grand Master having directed the Provincial Grand Secretary (Bro. Wylie) deposited in the cavity of the stone a glass bottle, hermetically sealed, containing :--Short sketch of the monument movement. Alphabetical list of subscribers showing subscriptions to the extent of two thousand two hundred and fifty pounds. Copy of Burns' poems (Mr M‘Kie's fac-simile edition.) Copy of the Kilmarnock Standard, the Glasgow Herald, N.B. Daily Mail, Glasgow News, Scotsman, Review, Ayr and Ardrossan newspapers ; all of date, September 14th, 1878. Registration statistics of the parish of Kilmarnock for 1858 ; digest of census of 1871 for the parish, with registration statistics ; vital statistics from the registers of the parish, for 1876 and 1877, by Mr James Smith Gregory, registrar. The current coins of the realm from a farthing to a sovereign. Standard measure of one foot and standard weight of 1 lb. Monograph on a new genus of rugose corals from the carboniferous lime-stone of Scotland by James Thomson, F.G.S. The Provincial Grand Secretary then reail the inscription on the brass plate placed over the glass bottle. The inscription is as follows :
-BY THE FAVOUR OF ALMIGHTY GOD, ON THE 14TH
SEPTEMBER, Anno Domini EIGHTEEN HUNDRED AND SEVENTY-EIGHT, AND THE ERA 07 MASONRY 5878. AND IN THE FORTY-SECOND YEAR OF THE REIGN OF OUR BELOVED SOVEREIGN, VICTORIA FIRST, THE MEMORIAL STONE OF THIS MONUMENT, ERECTED BY PUBLIC SUBSCRIPTION IN HONOUR OF THE GENIUS OF ROBERT BURNS, SCOTLAND'S NATIONAL POET, WAS LAID BY R. WM. COCHRAN-PATRICK, Esq. OF WOODSIDE, Beith, Right WORSHIPFUL DEPUTE PROVINCIAL GRAND MASTER FOR AYRSHIRE (ATTENDED BY NUMEROUS Masonic LODGES), ACCORDING TO THE ANCIENT USAGES OF Masonry. After the Kilmarnock Brass Band had played Old Hundred,' the necessary workmen were then brought forward, and these having completed the operative part of the ceremony, the Depute Provincial Grand Master spread the mortar in a most workman-like fashion with the silver trowel, and the stone was lowered. The acting Provincial Grand Wardens, under orders from the Provincial Grand Master, severally applied the level and the plummet.