The author of "Kilmarnock The Postcard Collection" hits the nail on the head in his introduction when he says: "When we think of postcards we tend to think of greetings from seaside towns. Kilmarnock is an inland industrial town and not the type of place you might expect to produce hundreds of postcards." That is very true, but as he goes on to explain: "But in the early twentieth century people used postcards rather like we use text messages today. So postcards exist of Kilmarnock's streets, parks, mansions and factories." The effect of this is to open a window that shows us how Kilmarnock was seen in another age, and which views within the town were considered sufficiently significant to be worth showing to others.
The book begins with a short introduction setting out the history of Kilmarnock, and then we are straight into the main event which is, as you'd expect, a collection of reproductions of postcards of the town. These are set out one or (mainly) two to a page, and come with extensive captions that help set the views in context and point out interesting features. This is not one of publisher Amberley's "through time" series, and with a couple of exceptions, the views are not compared and contrasted with modern photographs of the same scenes. This can at times mean that some of the significance of changes over time is only obvious to someone who knows the town well: but on the other hand it does mean that far more - twice as many in fact - old views can be included.
The book is divided into four themed sections. "Around Town" looks at the heart of Kilmarnock itself, and many of the street scenes are fascinating. The absence of traffic in many views is one of their most striking features, a reminder of a quieter world before our lives were governed by the internal combustion engine. "Building the Community" presents a collection of postcards showing Kilmarnock's castles, public buildings, grander houses and churches, as well as of some its people. "Industry and Transport" covers what the name suggests, with images of factories, shops, mines, railway engines, trams and buses. "Community Services and Leisure" covers schools, courts, gardens, and sporting events. This is a lovely book that will be of great interest to anyone from Kilmarnock, or who lives or works there now.