Burns Monument Centre

An unusual research centre, archive and event venue in Kay Park, quarter-mile (0.4 km) northeast of the centre of Kilmarnock in East Ayrshire, the Burns Monument Centre opened in 2009 by First Minister Alex Salmond (b.1954), said to be Scotland's first purpose-built genealogy centre. It is formed around a temple-like memorial to Robert Burns (1759-96) by the town where his poems were first published. The memorial dates from 1879, is B-listed and once included a small Burns museum. This two-storey ornate Gothic structure in Ballochmyle red sandstone was the work of local architect Robert Ingram (1841 - 1915). At its centre is a statue of the poet in Sicilian marble by W. Grant Stevenson (1849 - 1919), which was unveiled on 9th August 1879 by Colonel Alexander of Ballochmyle, before the largest number of spectators Kilmarnock had ever witnessed.

The two-storey monument once included an octagonal Scots baronial tower, which rose to 24.3m (80 feet), but this was lost when vandals started a fire in 2004. The remains of the monument were restored and incorporated into the new custom-built Centre, which cost £5 million. The research centre is focused around local and family history collections - newspapers, maps, pamphlets, historic photographs and books and periodicals relating to the Ayrshire's people, places and historical events. The Centre also provides a venue for educational and cultural events, conferences and weddings. Despite being constructed of similar red sandstone, the new Centre is architecturally plain and does little to enhance the eclectic style of the original monument. Indeed, it was nominated for the Carbuncle Cup in 2010, awarded to Britain's ugliest buildings by Building Design magazine.

The Burns Monument Centre is owned by East Ayrshire Council and operated on their behalf by East Ayrshire Leisure.

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