The original County Buildings were constructed
between 1818 and 1822 (architect, Robert Wallace). They included the administrative
offices, the Sheriff Court and, at the western end, the County Gaol. With the increase
in responsibilities of Ayr County Council resulting from the Local Government (Scotland)
Act of 1929, however, it became clear that the original accommodation was inadequate.
The prison, therefore, was demolished and work began on a large extension. The foundation
stone of the new structure was laid on 10 July 1931 by the Duke of York (later King
George VI), accompanied by his wife (the late Queen Mother). It is indicative of
the skill of the local architect, Alexander Mair, that the new extension blended
impressively with the original, which thereafter was devoted to Sheriff Court functions.
The new building housed the entire administrative
work of the County, each department being provided with suites of rooms to suit
its requirements. In planning the offices, the architect saw to it that the ranges
accommodated one room and corridor only in depth, thus ensuring ample light and
good ventilation. A dominant feature was the courtyard (35m from N to S and 22m
from E to W). A smaller courtyard adjoined the original buildings and here were
located the heating unit, the County Library and the caretaker's house, which looked
out on to the Low Green. Below ground level, cellars were constructed to act as
air raid shelters in the event of war.
Ayr County Council was superseded in 1975 by Strathclyde Regional Council, which located its headquarters
in Glasgow. The County Buildings became a Sub-regional Office for Ayr Sub-region
which corresponded exactly with the former Ayr County. Strathclyde Region in turn
was superseded by South Ayrshire Council in 1996.
The Council restored the Members' Library and named the five Committee Rooms after
the 5 Burghs in South Ayrshire - Troon, Prestwick, Ayr, Girvan and Maybole. The Provost's
Room adjoins the Maybole Committee Room which can be used for small civic occasions.
Note how the main entrance on the west front is surmounted by a carved Coat of arms
with the Motto of the County 'God Schaw The Richt'. The same Coat of Arms is beautifully
depicted in the floor of the Entrance Hall. It combines the Coat of Arms of the
Royal Burgh of Ayr (the three-towered royal castle of Ayr) and the three ancient
districts of Ayrshire - Carrick
(the red chevron on a silver field), Cunningham (the black shakefork) and Kyle (the
blue and white chequered band).
The Hall also contains the War Memorial and the portraits of Col. John Ferrier Hamilton
of Cairnhill and Archibald William Montgomerie, 13th Earl of Eglinton. The reception
and switchboard was added in the 1990 and have since been remodelled.
From the Entrance Hall rise two semi-circular staircases, giving access to the Council
Chamber and a suite of committee rooms. Six large windows with leaded stained glass
light the staircases. The designs on the larger ones include the County Coat of
Arms in their topmost panels and in panels underneath are pictorial representations
of the chief industries. the remaining four windows bear the crests of the 16 Burghs
of Ayrshire, four per panel, with representative activities depicted. The portraits
on the north stair are George, 4th Earl of Glasgow and C.G. Shaw, while on the south
are those of Rt. Hon. Sir James Ferguson, 6th Baronet of Kilkerran and Hugh Montgomerie,
12th Earl of Eglinton.
On the first floor, the Council Chamber (County Hall), the suite of Committee Rooms
adjoining and the members' corridor were all finished in fumed oak. The finishings
in the other rooms and corridors were of Borneo cedar wax polished. The Council
Chamber was designed with sliding partitions, which enabled the committee rooms
on either side to be taken in to provide additional floor space for social functions.
In the County Hall the Ayr County Coat of Arms and the South Ayrshire Coat of Arms are displayed. Close by is the dining room and adjacent servery, the kitchen being
located on the floor above. The portraits on this floor are of Lieut. Col. W.K.
Hamilton-Campbell of Netherplace, John Hamilton of Sundrum, Mrs Peter Simpson, Skelmorlie,
Col. H.R. Wallace of Busbie and James E. Shaw. Most of the furnishings, still in
daily use, are original to the building. A board depicts in gilt the names of the
Provosts of South Ayrshire since 1996.
Flag Flying Days
- Robert Burns' Birthday (1759) - 25 January
- Commonwealth Day - second Monday in March
- Anniversary of the Declaration of Arbroath (1320) - 3rd April
- HM The Queen's Birthday (1926) - 21st April
- Europe Day (European Flag) - 9th May
- Anniversary of Coronation Day (1953) - 2nd June
- King Robert the Bruce's Birthday (1274) - 11th July
- Remembrance Sunday - 2nd Sunday in November
- St Andrew's Day - 30th November
- Council Meeting Days (County Buildings only) - every 12 weeks.