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Ayr

Old Ayr in the distance

Ayr is situated at the mouth of the river Ayr It is on a fine bay and its beautiful sands attract thousands of summer visitors. Ayr proper lies on the south bank of the river, which is crossed by three bridges, besides the railway viaduct the Victoria Bridge (erected in 1898) and the famous Twa Brigs of Burns. The Auld Brig is said to date from the reign of Alexander III. (d. 1286). The New Brig was built in 1788, mainly owing to the efforts of Provost Ballantyne. The prophecy which Burns put into the mouth of the venerable structure came true in 1877, when the newer bridge yielded to floods and had to be rebuilt (1879); and the older structure itself was closed for public safety in 904.

The Gothic Wallace Tower in High Street stands on the site of an old building of the same name taken down in 1835, from which were transferred the clock and bells of the Dungeon steeple. A niche in front is filled by a statue of the Scottish hero by James Thom (1802 1850), a self-taught sculptor. There are statues of Burns, the 13th earl of Eglinton, General Smith Neill and Sir William Wallace.

In 1873 the municipal boundary was extended northwards beyond the river so as to include Newton-upon-Ayr and Wallace Town, formerly separate. Newton is a burgh or barony of very ancient creation, the charter of which is traditionally said to have been granted by Robert Bruce in favor of forty-eight of the inhabitants who had distinguished themselves at Bannockburn.

About 3 miles north of Ayr is Prestwick, a most popular watering-place and the headquarters of one of the most flourishing golf clubs in Scotland.

Nothing is known of the history of Ayr till the close of the 12th century, when it was made a royal residence, and soon afterwards a royal burgh, by William the Lion. During the wars of Scottish independence the possession of Ayr and its castle was an object of importance to both the contending parties, and the town was the scene of many of Wallaces exploits. In 1315 the Scottish parliament met in the church of St John to confirm the succession of Edward Bruce to the throne. Early in the 16th century it was a place of considerable influence and trade. The liberality of William the Lion had bestowed upon the corporation an extensive grant of lands; while in. addition to the well-endowed church of St John, it had two monasteries, each possessed of a fair revenue. When Scotland was overrun. by Cromwell, Ayr was selected as the site of one of the forts which he built to command the country. This fortification, termed the citadel, enclosed an area of ten or twelve acres, and included within its limits the church of St John, which was converted into a storehouse, the Protector partly indemnifying the inhabitants by contributing towards the erection of a new place of worship, now known as the Old Church. A portion of the tower of St Johns church remains, but has been completely modernized.



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