An Ayrshire Postcard Album by Frank Beattie sets out to illustrate Ayrshire's past with a collection of rare postcard views, many from the author's personal collection, interspersed with a number of more recent shots, for example of the plaque at the Electric Brae or the ferry at Largs.
The subject matter addresses three main themes. Many of the postcards simply show villages and towns in Ayrshire at the moment the photographer turned up to take the photograph that subsequently became a postcard. The views are not dated, but most appear to be from the early 1900s or late 1800s, and the thing that connects many of them is just how traffic free they are. A horse drawn coach is progressing through the main street of Ballantrae, and an early motorised coach is pulling up at a bus stop in Dalry, but many of the settlements shown are empty save for pedestrians: a lost world indeed! For us the most striking image is of horse drawn coaches passing along Kennedy's Pass, alongside the coast in South Ayrshire.
The second main theme is illustrated by old postcards of particular points of interest, such as Kilochan Castle, Culzean Castle, Crossraguel Abbey or Alloway Kirk. These are especially fascinating where the building shown is no longer standing, such as at Brisbane House, near Largs. The book's third theme comes from illustrations of memorials to famous residents of Ayrshire, such as Robert Burns, Jean Armour, or William Wallace: or the statue of an Ayrshire miner at Muirkirk. The book is arranged alphabetically, and its real joy comes from the repeated discovery as you browse through of unexpected takes on places which in many cases look very different today, while the extensive captions help set what you are looking at in context.