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Next of Kin Exhibition Mementos and Memories of the First World War

 06 July 2015  |  

Councillors Bill Grant, William Grant and Ian Douglas are pictured with the team who put together the exhibition at Rozelle House.

Councillors Bill Grant, William Grant and Ian Douglas are pictured with the team who put together the exhibition at Rozelle House.

South Ayrshire Council is delighted to be hosting the free Next of Kin exhibition, created by National Museums Scotland, at Rozelle House, Monument Road, Ayr, that opened on 4 July and will run until 28 September 2015. Local people and visitors will be able to access to a fascinating exhibition that gives a great insight into the First World War. 

The exhibition presents a picture of Scotland during the First World War through treasured objects from official and private sources, including items passed from generation to generation. 

The exhibition, which was previously shown at the National War Museum in Edinburgh Castle, is supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and the Scottish Government. It looks in detail at individual stories, the impact of the war on servicemen and women and their families back home in Scotland. Objects on display include postcards and letters, photographs, medals and memorial plaques. 

Information and objects have been added to the exhibition at Rozelle House to give it a local feel. This includes material related to the stories of those of Ayrshire born Thomas McMath, and brothers in arms, David and James Cumming. Thomas was wounded and taken prisoner at the Battle of Arras and received parcels and supplies from families and friends at home. At the exhibition you can see the notebook in which he meticulously noted each package, what it contained and who it came from so that he could acknowledge each act of kindness. Both Cumming brothers served and died in Palestine in the campaign against Ottoman Turkish forces. The display tells the story of their service and sacrifice on this fighting front.  

The story of the Caribou, which was gifted to the people of Ayr in September 1916, will be told through the perspective of James Cooper, a Newfoundlander who came to Ayr as one of the first 500 volunteers and stayed after marrying a local lass. Another display tells the story of Thomas Scott, whose parents ran the Tam o'Shanter public house in Ayr High Street, and whose boyhood love of horses saw him join the Royal Field Artillery where he drove horse-drawn ammunition wagons. 

Councillor Bill Grant, Economic Development, Tourism and Leisure Portfolio Holder said:

"We are delighted to host Next of Kin and to be working in partnership with National Museums Scotland. Our local history librarian, Tom Barclay has uncovered and researched a wonderful range of stories, recording the participation of South Ayrshire residents on a number of fronts. We want to thank the families who have shared their family stories with us and loaned family memorabilia.  

"I am sure that visitors to Next of Kin will be inspired by the stories they discover and help us add to our knowledge of how local communities were affected by the First World War." 

Stuart Allan of National Museums Scotland said: "The First World War separated millions of people worldwide from their families and homes. The impact of the conflict was felt by families and communities in every part of Scotland as individuals served in the war in different ways. For those who experienced the conflict, keeping objects was a way of

remembering this extraordinary period in their lives, or coping with the absence and loss of their loved ones. We look forward to touring the exhibition and bringing these objects and

stories from the national collection to museums across the country, uniting them with the objects and stories which our partners will tell alongside them." 

Some examples of items on display in the exhibition:  

  • Two autograph books in which Nurse Florence Mellor collected drawings, watercolours, verses, jokes and messages from the wounded soldiers in her care at Craiglockhart War Hospital.
  • The pocket New Testament which Private James Scouller was carrying   the day he died at Cambrai in 1917, returned to his family by a German   soldier on the eve of the Second World War.
  • Drawings and postcards by Henry (Harry) Hubbard, an architectural draughtsman in Glasgow who contracted illnesses so severe that he ended up spending 16 months in hospital.
  • The last letter home from George Buchanan, Seaforth Highlanders, a railway plate-layer from Bathgate who was killed in action on the first day of the Battle of Loos, along with his memorial plaque and service medals.
  • The shell fragment which wounded Private William Dick. He kept the fragment after it was removed from his leg, but later died from the wound. 

Interactive learning activities will be taking place, using a specially created handling collection consisting of original and replica objects. 

Explaining the important of the HLF support the head of HLF in Scotland, Colin McLean said: "The impact of the First World War was far reaching, touching and shaping every corner of the UK and beyond. The HLF has invested more than £60 million in projects – large and small – that are marking this global centenary. With our grants, we are enabling communities like those involved in the Next of Kin exhibition to explore the continuing legacy of this conflict and help local young people in particular to broaden their understanding of how it has shaped our modern world." 

For more information about the free exhibition that will be open from Monday to Saturday 10am to 5pm Sunday 12 noon to 5pm go to

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