September 1904 - and the greatest showman of the Wild West had rolled his wagons up in Ayrshire.

The legendary Colonel Buffalo Bill Cody was on his second tour of the UK - his first since the early 1890's - and this time he was taking in the West Coast of Scotland.

His Wild West Show pitched up in Ayr, Kilmarnock and Saltcoats to entertain the public. And, boy, were they entertained...

The report in the Ayr Advertiser about the show on September 12, 1904 revealed the travelling event involved three special trains, 800 people and 500 horses.

This “Crowning Equestrian Spectacle of the Ages” which was “Undisputably the Grandest Concourse of the Greatest Horsemen of History” was staged twice daily, rain or shine, and was brilliantly illuminated at night by “special electric light plants”.

In Saltcoats, it was advertised as a spectacular one-day-only event in the town's Public Park, where Millar Road and Kerr Avenue are today .

Ardrossan and Saltcoats Herald: Buffalo Bill

According to an article in the Ardrossan & Saltcoats Herald from 1904, local children were given the day off to attend the event and there were reports the next day of clotheslines disappearing as “they were being used by small boys lassoing their chums all around the town..”, such was the influence and importance of the event.

Highlights of the Ayrshire shows included The Rough Riders of the World - described as offering “surpassingly unique and novel triumphs of equitation” “each on an object teacher of his race”, allegedly including Cossacks from the Caucasus, Bedouins of the Sahara, Gauchos from Argentine, Vaqueros from Old Mexico and, of course, cowboys and Indians from the American Prairies.

Ardrossan and Saltcoats Herald: A poster for Buffalo Bill's Ayrshire shows

The show also included displays by the “world’s mounted warriors” - representatives of veteran cavalrymen from the armies of the world, illustrating the costumes, styles, accoutrements, dexterity, training and drills of the mounted soldiery of the great military nations.

And there was more, as an Imperial Japanese troupe gave displays of ancient and modern war drill, Carter the cowboy cyclist made a “wonderful bicycle leap through space” and there were 100 Native Americans, purportedly chief, warriors, squaws and papooses from the Uncapappa, Brule, Ogallalla, Arapahoe, Cheyenne, Yankton and Sioux tribes.

Staged 'Wild West' incidents involving cowboys and Indians werearranged including a stage coach hold-up, a cowboy round-up, riding wild bucking broncos, Indian war dances, equestrian feats and skill and an attack on an emigrant train.

And as if that was not exciting enough, the “thrilling historical spectacle of savage warfare”, the Battle of Little Big Horn (or Custer’s Last Stand) was also recreated.

 Billed as “the master exponent of horseback marksmanship”, Bill himself gave an exhibition of shooting while riding a galloping horse.

Ardrossan and Saltcoats Herald: Native Americans pictured on the tour in FraserburghNative Americans pictured on the tour in Fraserburgh (Image: Buffalo Bill)

A detachment of United States Life Savers gave a display of the new form of rescue using a “Breeches Buoy” and there was a display of regular artillery “just as in action” and “always and everywhere presented in uncurtailed perfection in the most stupendous of all arenas”.

Prices ranged from 1s to 7s 6d.

During the show's three-month stint in Scotland, Cody also turned up at a Rangers match, sent a team of cowboys to play in a charity match at Parkhead, and gave money to child beggars in George Square.

Colonel Cody, by then aged 58, was described as “a fine figure of a man, with white hair flowing about his shoulders”.

Bill had been a buffalo hunter, US army scout and an fighter of Native Americans but he is probably best known as the man who gave the Wild West its name.

His spectacular show gained an international reputation and helped create a lasting image of the American West.

Ardrossan and Saltcoats Herald: An advert for the shows

Buffalo Bill was a major contributor to the creation of the myth of the American West as seen in old Hollywood movies and television shows.

But he himself was the creation of E.Z.C. Judson, a writer whose pen name was Ned Buntline and who met Bill in 1869.

Judson wrote western stories that were known as 'dime novels', and he helped create Buffalo Bill and made him a hero in a number of his books.

Buffalo Bill became famous, and a play based on his adventures was staged in new York. This in turn was adapted by Buntline and Cody into the show The Scouts of the Plains, and in 1883 Buffalo Bill came up with his Wild West Show, which went on to tour Europe and Britain - and was such a success that Queen Victoria saw it three times.

The Wild West Shows continued for some time even after the death of Cody in 1917. And it's fair to say those visits to Ayrshire lingered in the memories of those who saw them long after the shows themselves had become a part of history...