The Town Trail starts on the promenade at the Stanley
Burn, which is the boundary of the town. Facing the sea front is St.
Andrews Episcopal Church, opened in 1874 and adjacent is St. Peters R.
C. School, formerly Ardrossan Academy.
Walking along the promenade notice the large mansions
of the early 1800's, built for the business men and merchants of that era.
One in particular, the Verona Fathers house No. 8, was originally
the home of Hugh Hogarth the shipping magnate and founder of the Baron
Shipping Line. Next door to No. 8 stands the Church of Scotland retirement
Further along is the 1914 - 1918 war memorial designed
by Dr. Macgregor Chalmers, a Glasgow architect and his successor, Mr J.
Jeffry Waddell who finished the work upon Dr. Chalmers' untimely death.
The memorial, where the names of the fallen of the town are recorded, was
sculpted by Mr. James A. Young of Glasgow and its erection was supervised
by ex Bailie John Inglis, a builder from Ardrossan. Depicted in the
stonework are some personalities from Scottish History.
Across the road at the foot of the castle stands St
Peters R.C. Church. This fine brick red building is one of the finest
examples of modern Church Building. Its architect, Jack Coia won an award
for its design. The church was built in 1938 and stands on the site of the
Earl of Eglinton's former mansion The Pavilion which was built in
At the end of the promenade surrounded by a modern
housing complex for the elderly stands Bath Villa. This building
along with another (since demolished) was formerly a hydropathic bathing
facility built by the 12th Earl of Eglinton in 1807 where hot and cold,
fresh and salt bathing was provided. Accommodation was also provided for a
Across the road stands the Barony/St. Johns Church
which became a United charge in 1988. The church was built in 1844 as the
"New Parish Church" and after the reunion of the Church of Scotland it
became known as the "Barony Church of Scotland".
Walking along Princes Street, just before the level
crossing, a road leads down To Battery Point and the Inches where
the old "Artillery Volunteers" in the Late 1800's fired off their practice
guns to sea. The Inches yard was the site of Christie's yard complex where
railway sleepers were produced and stored The complex was gutted by a huge
fire in 1913 which caused the firm to cease manufacture. The Inches was
then occupied by Ardrossan Ship-building Co. who built vessels up to 6,000
tons from 1920 - 30 when the yard closed down due to the Depression.
During the 39-45 war the Inches was the site of an Air Ministry factory
for canning aviation petrol and managed by the Shell Mex.
At the level crossing the former town station is now a
platform halt. Opposite stands the Bank of Scotland which was
originally the building of the City of Glasgow Bank and then the Union
Bank before its present owners took over.
At the town cross turn left at the Masonic Hall
into Harbour Road and go to the Arran Ferry Terminal and Lighthouse pier.
The terminal is also the site of the old dock gate which led into the
original dock and shipyard before the dock was infilled. The lighthouse
pier was also the site of the R.N.L.I lifeboat house. The R.N.L.I.
lifeboat was manned mostly by dockworkers.The first boat "The Fair Maid of
Perth" rescued 53 people between 1870 -1892, and the total rescued over 60
years was 172.
The car park was the site of the Christie Saw Mills
where sleepers were cut and soaked in creosote. The timber was brought in
from the Baltic and was then used in Britain as well as being sent far as
India, Africa and the Middle East for the laying of the world's railway
networks. N.B. A full history of the harbour and shipyard is available in
two publications by the local History Group from the local Library.
Return from the harbour by the Dock Road. The
Eglinton Dock is on the left. In the heyday of the harbour this was a
very busy dock being the first deep water port for ships coming from
The adjoining Montgomerie Pier was a dual purpose pier.
As well as being a railway terminus for passengers to the Isle of Man,
Arran and Ireland, the outside berth was used by Shell Mex Company to
berth oil tankers up to 11,000 tons. Operations at Ardrossan closed in
Walking up to the cross turn left at the resources
Centre formerly the Bank of Scotland, past the library on the right
and the Eglinton Hotel on the left. It was originally built by the
12th Earl of Eglinton in 1813 at a cost of £10,000 as a commercial hotel
when Ardrossan was potentially the foremost port on the Clyde.
Turning right past the library continue up Montgomerie
Street which was at one time a street of large houses for the professional
and business people of the early town. The site of the Coastguard
Centre adjacent to the Fire Station used to contain a large mansion
Kilmahew House which was built by John Barr, the first provost of the
town. Although there was initial resistance to the awarding of Burgh
status, when it became a Burgh in 1846, John Barr became Provost and
stayed in office for 37 years continuously. The house later
became the Burgh Chambers until it was demolished in
1978. The bus garage on the left side of the street was the site of the
Caledonian Railway Station until it was closed in 1968. In its prime.
Ardrossan was proud of two railway systems running to Glasgow; the Glasgow
and South Western (GSW) and the Caledonian which later merged with the LMS.
Turning right into Barr Street, look across Glasgow
Street to the Civic Centre or Castlecraigs. This turreted building
was originally known as Graham's Castle having been built in 1851 by
Duncan Graham, a gentleman from the North of Scotland. It was subsequently
owned by Archibald Russell and his heirs from 1893 - 1920 when it was
bought by Ardrossan Dockyard Co. They built on a recreation hall and
tennis courts. In 1927 the Masons bought the complex and let out the
ancillary rooms and tennis courts until the 1939 - 45 war when the Navy
requisitioned Castlecraigs as a barracks.
Before leaving Barr Street, notice the site on the left
hand corner with Montgomerie Street where the St. John's Church of
Scotland once stood. This church was built in 1859 as the Free Church
before joining the Church of Scotland in 1929.
Crossing Glasgow Street pass by the Indoor Bowling
Centre to Hill Place, thence up to Castle Hill by the side of the
Church of Nazarene, which was formerly the Park Church of Scotland.
On the North of the hill the remains of the foundation
of the first Ardrossan Parish Church and graveyard are visible. The church
dates from pre-reformation times and is probably as old as the castle
itself. An early stone sarcophagus from the ruins can be seen in the North
Ayrshire Museum in Saltcoats. The church was used by the Reformed
Discipline until it was blown down by a hurricane in 1695.
A new church was erected approximately 1 mile to the
N.E., on the area, at present a children's playground, on Stanley Road and
near the Clachan of Stanley which was sited at the corner of Millglen Road
and Stanley Road. The church was taken down in 1744 and rebuilt in
The castle, now a ruin, dates back to about
1150. The Norman knight, Simon de Morville passed it on to the de Barclay
Family. In the early 13th century the lands came to Arthur de Ardrossan,
after which a succession of knights became heirs.
During the War of Independence the ownership of the
castle was in contention; The de Ardrossans were thought to be backing
both sides. The king gave the lands of Ardrossan to various English
families such as the de Johns, John Balliol and Sir William Latimer; but
in 1305 Hugh de Ardrossan regained the Barony of Ardrossan. After 1484 the
lands of Ardrossan passed to the Montgomeries (Eglintons) who kept the
castle until (it is alleged) Cromwell's troops sacked and destroyed it
during their punitive campaign 1648 - 1650 when the Eglintons took refuge
in Sma' Cumbrae Castle.
N.B. The Eglintons came back to Ardrossan to live in
about 1813 when Lord Eglinton built The Pavilion mansion as a
summer residence on the site where St.Peter's Church now stands. The
Pavilion was demolished in the early 1930's
The monument on the hill was erected by public
subscription to Dr. Macfadzean, who died in 1849. The Doctor was a greatly
respected philanthropist and tireless physician. He took over the Bath
Complex in Princes Street from the Earl of Eglinton in 1833 and ran it
till his death in 1849.
As well as entertaining he also catered for the poor
and unfortunates of the town, never charging them any money for the baths
and never turning away anyone in need of a bed. He was also instrumental
in pressing the authorities to install a piped water supply to the houses
of the town. In 1860 this was completed, thus ensuring a clean supply of
water, a welcome improvement from the artesian pumps which were very often
the cause of cholera and other diseases of the 19th century.
The countryside around the town was all owned by the
Eglintons. The 10th Earl was a notable improver of agriculture and had a
system of long dykes to contain his cattle and crops. He met his death on
the beach at Burnfoot at the hands of a Saltcoats poacher named Mungo
Campbell when Eglinton challenged him About a hare and demanded his gun.
(The intriguing and ghastly tale of how Mungo Campbell
met his sticky end can be found at Ardrossan Library).
From the viewpoint of the hill look down into Glasgow
Street at the E.U. Congregational Church. This finely built Church was
erected in 1903 in the playground of the old infants school which is now
used as the Church Hall. Go down the hill in an eastward direction, cross
the railway footbridge past the bowling green then turn right to arrive
back at the promenade. top
Copyright North Ayrshire Local History Library
The North Ayrshire Local History Library at Ardrossan is a library of
and current material concerning Ayrshire and its people. The Local
History Librarian Jill McColl would welcome your queries.