About us

The Museum of Ayrshire Country Life and Costume is a treasure trove, created in a group of outstanding historical industrial buildings in a beautiful rural location in Ayrshire, South-west Scotland.

Beautifully restored buildings offer the visitor a chance to step into the past. Experience the sight and sound of the water wheel and the machinery of a Victorian Grain Mill.

The granaries on three floors have exhibitions which tell the story of the rural community over the last century, their work, pastimes, dress and life.

Spend some time with us, enjoy the tranquillity of the riverside walk, have a coffee and home baking or a light lunch, and then visit our country living shop in the restored byre.
We offer a gentle relaxed day out for the whole family.

Rising through four floors and powered by a six metre water wheel, this is one of the oldest and tallest grain mills surviving in Scotland. The machinery rescued from a mill in the Scottish Borders, shows the skills of the Victorian engineers or mill-wrights who designed such mills. The wheel turns daily when water supplies and personnel are available. The wheel is undershot and turns anti-clockwise, but we have no explanation for the video above which seems to show the inner and outer parts turning in different directions. Why not come and see for yourselves.

The granaries on three floors which once held thousands of tonnes of grain, make excellent exhibitions spaces to tell the story of the Ayrshire rural economy of the last century. Their agricultural machinery, hand tools, photographs and documents, let the visitor step back in time. The unique collection of their clothes, both for working in and for best, are distributed throughout the galleries and room settings. The philosophy of Godliness, honest poverty, and hard work, which made them what they were, are comprehensively displayed.

Until fifty years ago, the rural landscape and social order of Ayrshire and most of Lowland Scotland had changed little since medieval times. The landed gentry, the farming owners, the farming tenants, the agricultural workers, the villagers and the tradesmen and craftsmen who serviced them, all formed an identifiable and supportive community. Their ethic of hard work and godly poverty was admired by many.

Dalgarven was such a community, with the laird, tenant farms, and cottars all served by the Mills, and a village which boasted a sawmill, a blacksmith, a joiner and carpenter, a stonemason, slater, a saddler and sundry other crafts such as weaving, muslin sewing and Ayrshire embroidery. The Mills were at the centre of this community used by all, and in earlier times the providers of the very stuff of life, oatmeal, flour and animal provender. The smallholding part also offering, eggs, milk, cream and butter.

Now the village has been largely demolished for road – widening, and what few original houses remain are inhabited by families with no connection to the land or community. The Highland Clearances are well known and regretted, but few are aware that the Lowland clearances had similar effects.

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