THE FIRST EDITION PROJECT
Hugh Monahan (Dalry Burns Club), Jimmy Gibson, Isobel Lynn, Joe Kennedy, Bert Kirkwood,
Frank Donnelly, Lawrie Hedley, Ian Linton, Adam Geary
The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) has awarded a grant of £39,000 to the Burns First Edition Project, a group set up in Kilmarnock to build a replica of the small eighteenth-century wooden printing press used in the town by John Wilson to print the first edition of the poems of Robert Burns in July, 1786.
The project is a collaboration between interested local people and East Ayrshire Council. The press, which will be a full-sized working model, will be displayed in Kilmarnock's Dick Institute, the South-West's major museum. The HLF award will fund the purchase of seasoned oak timbers to be used in the construction of the press and will allow the acquisition of letterpress printing type and equipment as used by printers until well unto the last century. Building of the press should take about a year to complete.
The project will be supported by a changing display of items taken from the town's McKie collection of priceless Burns manuscripts, books and paintings, much of which will be taken out of long-term storage. East Ayrshire's Arts and Museums Service will contribute to the cost of special wall-mounted bases bulit for the display.
The printing press will become an important part of every school visit to the museum. This will be a "hands-on" project, including the rapidly-disappearing skill of composing type by hand, and this will be demonstrated and taught to any visitor keen to know more of the traditional, fascinating methods of printing and typesetting that had existed in Scotland for hundreds of years. The press will be accessioned into the collection of East Ayrshire Council and will become a permanent feature of the museum.
Commenting on the award, project chairperson Ben Kirkwood said, "We are delighted that the Lottery Heritage Fund has enabled this work to take place. Thanks to their grant, Kilmarnock will be provided with a unique and excitinf new Burns attraction that will be a thing of beauty and will last for generations."
The press was officially installed in the Dick Institute, Kilmarnock on August 2nd, 2008;
for photographs of the event, click here: