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Ayr is a town on the south-west coast of Scotland with a long history. It is sited at the mouth of the River Ayr. In 2001 its population was 46,431 people. Ayr is also the centre of local government for South Ayrshire Council. This write-up will look at some of the history of the town before looking at the modern-day town and county, and some of its major attractions.

Ayr and its history

Ayr was created as a burgh at the same time as a royal castle was built nearby in 1203. Robert the Bruce was born in Turnberry Castle, on the coast south of Ayr, in 1274, and his family owned lands in the area. Following the Battle of Bannockburn, Bruce held a parliament at Ayr in 1315, at St John's Tower.

In 1772, the Bank of Ayr collapsed in financial ruin.

Robert Burns is Scotland's best-known poet, and was born near Ayr in the village of Alloway in 1759, and died in Dumfries in 1796.

The modern town of Ayr

Ayr racecourse hosts the Scottish Grand National and Ayr Gold Cup every year, two of the biggest horse races in the Scottish racing calendar.

The Rozelle Gallery in Ayr houses paintings by Alexander Goudie, and a collection of works by Scottish Colourists.

The local football team is Ayr United, whose player Jimmy Smith once scored 66 goals in the 1928 season.

South Ayrshire

Ayrshire has long been associated with golf, and the first Open Golf Championship was played at Old Prestwick in 1860. The splendid 18th century building Culzean Castle is a National Trust for Scotland site, with associated country park. Nearby is the optical illusion known as the Electric Brae, where vehicles seeming to go uphill are actually going down, and vice versa. The Burns National Heritage Park reflects county's long association with the bard. The International Airport at Prestwick has long been in the shadow of its Glasgow rival, but tries hard to shake off its image as a freight terminal.

Wonderwest World is a theme park on the coast, and Ayr College is the main educational establishment in the area. The region also boasts fine sandy beaches and views of the islands of Arran and Ailsa Craig.

Chronicle of Britain, Chronicle Communications Ltd, 1992

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