Kilmarnock Through Time by Frank Beattie is one of Amberley Publishing's excellent series of books bringing to life in a very immediate way the story of the development of individual towns and allowing readers to compare and contrast modern scenes with relevant historical photographs and illustrations.
Although these books form a single series, the approaches adopted by different authors and for different places varies considerably. In some books in the series the aim has been to take as near as possibly matching modern photographs of existing historical scenes, and present them on the same page, allowing readers to see very clearly just how much has changed. In many cases this reveals a pattern of the replacement of old buildings or open fields with new construction, but it also reveals a great deal about how badly modern street scenes are cluttered by traffic.
Frank Beattie has taken a very different approach in bringing Kilmarnock's past to life: and one which in our view works very well indeed. Yes there are large numbers of excellent and detailed images throughout the book, both historical and modern. But the approach of "here's what it was like then and here's what it is like now" is nowhere to be found. Instead the book is divided into a number of thematic sections, ranging from "Early Days" and "The Growth of the Town" through "Commerce" and "Transport" to "War and Conflict" and "Sport and Leisure", amongst others.
Within each section the reader finds an introductory page, followed by a selection of informatively captioned images. The Transport chapter, for example, starts with a photo of a horse and carriage and a painting of a horse drawn railway before moving through images of railways, trams, buses, motor dealers, garages, and more. What emerges as a result is a wonderful showcase for a great collection of images. But the presentation and, especially, organisation, make it much more as well: with the result that this book really does help tell some of the important parts of the story of Kilmarnock.