Kilmarnock

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Kilmarnock is the largest town in Ayrshire, situated seven miles inland from the coast with good shopping, restaurants, bar diners, leisure facilities and historic attractions.

The success of Robert the Bruce and his loyal supporters at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314, saw the lands of Kilmarnock awarded to his most faithful clans.

The Boyd’s built Dean Castle to the north of Kilmarnock, Craufurd’s built Craufurdland Castle to the northeast, Cunningham’s built castles to the north at Kilmaurs and south at Caprington, and the Mure’s built Rowallan Castle to the north. Estates formed or expanded at that time, allowed the town to grow rapidly, as they employed many workers to cultivate the land for growing crops, vegetables, and fruit.

Kilmarnock became known for Scottish bonnet making from 1647, and later for carpet manufacturing, some of which were laid in the finest homes throughout the world. The town was created a Royal Burgh by Charles II in 1672.

One of the world's most famous whiskey producers was born in Kilmarnock in 1805, named John Walker.

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Kilmarnock’s main shopping area, as seen right, is King Street in the town centre. This pedestrian only street leads to Kilmarnock Cross.

The town centre quite often has busker's and market stalls.

Map . Large Image

Kilmarnock King Street image
Kilmarnock Forgate Square image
Map . Large Image .

Kilmarnock Cross, or Forgate Square, with a statue of Robert Burns, is situated at the centre of Kilmarnock’s shopping area. The bus station and London Road are to the right in this image, and the train station straight ahead.

The bus station is right next to the square, ideal for shopping trips.

The Burns Mall Shopping Centre is also to the right in this image.


To the left of the square is Sandbed Street, with the Laigh West High Kirk being the most prominent building.

You can find a life size statue of Johnnie Walker at this church. Johnnie Walker built one of the top Scottish whisky blending warehouses at Kilmarnock.
Johnnie Walker Statue Large Image.

There are at least eight churches around the centre of Kilmarnock, varying in age and architecture.

Kilmarnock Sandbed Street image

Johnnie Walker Bond image

The Johnnie Walker Bond building, as seen left, is situated across the road from the Laigh West High Kirk, on Strand Street.

This was the old Johnnie Walker whisky warehouse. The first part of the building was built in the French Renaissance style in 1895, with later extensions added in 1898 and 1907.

The building now holds the local council's Planning, Social Work, and Roads Departments. The windows have large images of the warehouse when it was in production, and information on the building. Large Image.

Walker built up an Italian warehouse, grocery, and wine and spirits shop on the High Street in Kilmarnock, where he sold his own brand of whiskey, named Walker's Kilmarnock Whisky. His son, Alexander Walker, was credited with blending their Old Highland Whisky in about 1867, that was re-named Johnnie Walker Black Label in 1909, one of the most famous brands of whisky around the world to this day.

The Johnnie Walker whiskey was made around Scotland, at various distilleries, then taken to Kilmarnock to be blended.

The last Johnnie Walker plant in Kilmarnock closed in 2012. Their whisky is now blended in Levin, Fife, and Glasgow.

For more information on Johnnie Walker, and other wealthy Kilmarnock businessmen, and their grand houses, you have to visit the Dick Institute Museum.


Kilmarnock’s Palace Theatre is situated at the corner of London Road, and Sturrock Street, a short distance east of Kilmarnock Cross. The theatre was completed in 1862.

Theatrical entertainment at the theatre consists of classics, children’s shows, and contemporary and classical music. Tel: 01563 554 900.

Website . Events Website . Map/Reviews .

Kilmarnock Palace Theatre image
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Kilmarnock Dick Institute image

The Dick Institute, as seen left, is situated on Elmbank Avenue, just off London Road, a short walk from the town centre, a few hundred yards past the Palace Theatre.

This museum and art gallery, that opened in April 1901, host’s collections showing local industrial, social, and natural history.

Here you can find information on Johnnie Walker, and other wealthy businessmen from the area, and their grand houses. The Institute is open Mon, Tue, Thur, and Friday 09.00 - 20.00, Wed and Sat 09.00 - 17.00. Tel: 01563 554 300.
Website . Map/Reviews . Large Image .


Kay Park is situated a short walk north of the Dick Institute, up Holehouse Road, past Kilmarnock College. The park contains a large pond with swans and ducks, large outdoor children's play area, and vast parkland.

Kay Park also holds the Burns Monument Centre, with a large monument to the poet Robert Burns.

Burns Monument Centre Kilmarnock image

The centre also contains Family Research facilities, and Archives for Family and Local History. The centre can be hired for weddings, and is used for the registration of births, deaths, and marriages.

Robert Burns most famous work (The Kilmarnock Edition) was published in Kilmarnock by printer John Wilson in 1786. The Burns Monument Centre houses a 3 dimensional digitised representation of the Kilmarnock Edition, also with a selection of poems sung and narrated. Tel: 01563 576 695.
Website . Map/Reviews . Large Image . Large Image across Kay Park .


Kilmarnock Dean Castle image

Dean Castle is situated on the north side of Kilmarnock off Dean Road.

The earliest parts of Dean Castle, that can be seen today, were built in the 1750s for the Boyd’s (Earls of Kilmarnock).

Howard de Walden, the last owner, gifted Dean Castle and estate to the people of Kilmarnock in 1975.

The estate is now run as a Country Park, free to visit, with a visitor centre with a cafe, children's play area, many walk/cycle routes, pony trekking, tower museum, and free tours of the castle. Tel: 01563 554 734.
Website . Map/Reviews . Large Image from a woodland walk .


The Garage is situated on Grange Street, close to the town centre. The Garage hosts go carts, ten pin bowling, soft play area, Wimpy, bar & function suite, amusements, kids parties suite, and night club.

The ten-pin bowling is situated downstairs, just inside the entrance.

Kilmarnock The Garage image

The powerful go-karts are situated upstairs, with a fair sized winding circuit. For enquires or bookings phone 01563 573 355.
www.thegaragekilmarnock.co.uk . Map/Reviews .


Kilmarnock Galleon Centre image

The Galleon Centre is situated on Titchfield Street, a few hundred yards south of King Street (the town centre). This centre contains a swimming pool, ice rink, bowling hall, 2 sports halls, squash courts, sauna/solarium suite, fitness room, and two bars, one of which overlooks the ice rink. Tel: 01563 524 014.

The website for the Galleon, giving a full list of fees for each activity is www.galleoncentre.com . Map/Reviews


The 6,000 yard par 69 Annanhill Golf Club is situated on the west side of Kilmarnock, off Irvine Road. This is a fine looking course with many fairways being lined with trees. Prices about £20 per round. Tel: 01563 521 512.
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On the south side of Kilmarnock is the Gaprington Golf Course, another fine tree-lined course, also inexpensive for visitors to play. Tel: 01563 521 915.
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Annanhill golf course 5th

On the north side of Kilmarnock is the opened in 2010, championship standard Rowallan Castle Golf Club. Prices about £30 per round. Tel: 01563 530 550.
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. Map . Reviews . All Ayrshire golf courses.


Just north of Kilmarnock is the Morris Equestrian Centre with large riding arenas that host regular show jumping events. The centre also has a Bar & Restaurant, Shopping, and a Games Arcade. Tel: 01560 600 769.
Website. Map/Reviews .

Also at the Morris Equestrian Centre is the Scottish Paintball Centre with over 60 acres of playing zones. Tel: 07597 960 245.
Website . Map/Reviews .

Rowallan Activity Centre image


Kilmarnock Football Club plays in the Scottish Premier League. Website.

The local website is www.visitkilmarnock.com.

More information on the history of Kilmarnock visit the website www.kilmarnock.com.


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