The Ardrossan and Saltcoats Heralds of March and April 1892 carried the following reports on the opening on the Eglinton Dock extension to Ardrossan Harbour.
FIRST STEAMER ENTERS THE EGLINTON DOCK - TESTING THE NEW CRANES
On Tuesday afternoon (22 March 1892), the steamer Mersario, owned by Messrs McLean and McIntyre, Glasgow and commanded by Captain Napier, entered the new dock carried 19000 tons of iron-ore from Bilbao. Rumour was current in the early part of the day that the large steamer lying at anchor in the bay from early morning was likely to be the first to pass through the gates, the object which the harbour authorities had in view in admitting this steamer before the formal opening being to test the new cranes on the east quay. At five o'clock, the Mersario, gaily decorated with bunting, steamed into the hitherto preserved dock amid lusty cheers from the spectators who had gathered in considerable numbers to witness the sight. During the time the proceedings lasted, the scene was a lively one. It is gratifying to know that the discharging of the steamer was accomplished in a highly satisfactory manner. The vessel came in without a single rope being thrown out thus proving that the design of the entrance is upon a most approved plan and reflecting at the same time, the highest credit on Captain Napier as a seaman. In view of 12 April, the work on the harbour has been actively engaged in during the week. The iron and wooden structure at the point of the steamboat pier has been dismantled and the wall, which was taken down, partly rebuilt. A new iron roof is to be built and to extend the whole length of the island platform which is in course of erection. The old platform is to be done away with and a new one erected for the convenience of foot passengers.
THE TWELFTH OF APRIL, AN AUSPICIOUS DAY FOR ARDROSSAN - PREPARATIONS FOR CELEBRATIONS FOR CELEBRATION THE OPENING OF THE NEW DOCKS
If the sun be pleased to shine and the rain clouds to bottle up, Tuesday (12 April 1892) will be held as a right royal gala day in Ardrossan. The occasion has been long looked for and the stored-up energy and enthusiasm will find vent a few days hence. The several committees who were deputed to make the necessary arrangements have been actively engaged for some time past and we trust the fruits of their labours will be seen to every advantage on Tuesday. The decorating of the town has entrusted to Messrs Lambeton and Company, Glasgow who have had large experience in such matters. It is proposed to erect thirteen Venetian masts about thirty feet high on each side of Princes Street. These will be covered with coloured cloth and ornamented with shields and flags and connecting streams of pennants will run along both sides of the street. Across Glasgow Street, it is proposed to hang five rows of flags and at the junction of Barr Street and Montgomerie Street, decorated Venetian masts will be erected, also joined by pennants. These decorations, coupled with the individual efforts of the townspeople, will transform the appearance of the town and make it a thing of beauty and a joy, for a day at least. The procession will be an important feature in the day's proceedings. From the details which we give below, it will be seen that the three towns are heartily cooperating in making the procession thoroughly representative. If those who propose taking part but bestir themselves in the morning and assist the marshals in carrying out the programme, the display will be worthy of the occasion. The Ardrossan processionists should meet in their respective meeting places at 9 00 am and proceed at 9 45 am to South Crescent in the following order: Grand Marshall Major Hogarth; Band of Sixth and Seventh Battalions of the Ayrshire and Galloway Artillery Volunteers; Fifth Company Artillery Volunteers; Police Commissioners; Boys' Brigade; Saltcoats and Ardrossan Saint John's Royal Arch number 320; Lodge Neptune Kilwinning Ardrossan number 442; Tree of Life Lodge of Free Gardeners; Castlehill Tent of Rechabites; Ancient Order of Forresters number 6237; Dalry Instrumental Band; Employees of Ardrossan Shipbuilding Company; Employees of Ardrossan Harbour Company; Employees of Mr Young, Engineer; Employees of Messrs Goodwin, Jardine and Company; Butchers; Rocket Apparatus and others who wish to take part in the procession. Saltcoats processionists should assemble at Kyleshill School ground at 10 30 am and be in readiness to join the Ardrossan division of the procession at the Kyleshill Bridge at 11 00 am. The order of procession is Grand Marshall Major Kelso; Band of the VB Royal Scots Fusiliers; E Cox, VBRSF, Saltcoats; Solomon Lodge of Free Gardeners; Beith Instrumental Band; Fishermen and others. Stevenston processionists should assemble between the railway stations at 10 00 am and be in readiness to join the Saltcoats and Ardrossan divisions of the procession at Kyleshill Bridge at 11 00 am. The order is Grand Marshall Colour Sergeant Reid; Nobel's Fire Brigade; Royal Order of Ancient Shepherds; Band of Pipers; Blacksmiths on Lorries; Oddfellows; Thistle and Rose Lodge of Freemasons and others.
OPENING OF THE DOCKS
A great undertaking is now quite complete
And all in Ardrossan the tidings will greet
The Eglinton Dock will be opened right soon
Which seafaring men will consider a boon
For five year and more many thousands have wrought
And now to a climax their labours are brought
Their work is substantial in every detail
Notwithstanding the force of the tide and the gale
The cost of the contract I could not just say
But let us all hope 'twill eventually pay
And bring to the shareholders all in good time
What will more than pay for the wood, stone and lime
The great Caledonian runs right to the dock
They study the people to them let us flock
Let their managers see that whatever they do
To study the masses as well as the few
By us is regarded and we'll not forget
To render to them the example they set
By using the railway now summer is here
For there we get comfort and have naught to fear
On the twelfth in their thousands let Scotchmen come out
And vie with each other who loudest can shout
Hurrah three times o'er for the dock that is named
After him who in Ayrshire is justly well-famed
Let all Ayrshire natives rejoice with us here
In the fact that the twelfth of this month is so near
We cordially ask you to join in the throng
And walk in procession the new dock along
We hope to see houses and shops all look bright
With lamp, gas or candle and let all unite
The town to illumine at setting of sun
The bonfire to crown all, we may say well done
THE EGLINTON FAMILY
See Sodger Hugh, my watchman stented,
If poets e'er are represented;
I ken if that your sword were wanted,
Ye'd lend a hand;
But when there's ought to say anent it,
Ye're at a stand. from The Author's Earnest Cry And Prayer by Robert Burns
The great event on Tuesday last (12 April 1892), the opening of the new dock with tidal basin, suggests reference to the Eglinton family on whose property the harbour has been erected. The connection of the family with the works and the gradual conversion of a small peninsula, waste and worthless, where at one time a contraband trade was safely carried on to be the site of a thriving town and a commodious haven for ships. The Eglinton family is not of mushroom growth for its beginnings are lost in the mists of antiquity. The family name was originally Barclay but, as not unfrequently, it was dropped and the name of the estate Ardrossan used in its stead. As in all great historic families, the records preserved show the usual vicissitudes. The line of the Baron of Ardrossan closes with the death of Godfrey who lived for some time after 1357, at which date his name is appended as a witness to a charter granted by John de Maxwell of the patronage of the Kirk of Liberton to the Monastery of Kilwinning. On his decease, a daughter or sister married Eglinton of Eglinton and their only daughter again marrying Sir John Montgomery of Eaglesham. Eglinton and Ardrossan passed to the Montgomeries with whose descendants, not without changes from one branch to another, they have ever since remained.
Sodger Hugh is Colonel Hugh Montgomerie of Coilsfield later Earl of Eglinton.
The spelling of Montgomery and Montgomeries are as in the Herald article.
LAYING THE FOUNDATION STONE OF ARDROSSAN HARBOUR IN 1806
On 31 July 1806, in presence of a crowd of interested spectators, the foundation stone of the harbour of Ardrossan, over the construction of which, powers had been obtained in 1805, was laid in a spot opposite the garden wall of the present Bank of Scotland buildings (shown below left as the Community Education Office in 2003 and below centre and right in 2011), the point which in those days connected the pier with the shore. Were the foundation stone to be opened, beside coins of the realm, a list of subscribers and the Acts of Parliament under which the work was to be executed, there would be found the following inscription. In the reign of the most gracious sovereign George III, the Right Honourable Hugh, Twelfth Earl of Eglinton, Lord Montgomery at Kilwinning, Baron of Ardrossan, Lord Lieutenant of the County of Ayr first suggested the foundation of a harbour and wet docks at this place to be connected with a canal to Paisley and Glasgow and afterwards under the patronage of and patriotic exertions of His Lordship, two Acts of Parliament have been past for carrying into execution these works so well calculated for the improvement and prosperity of the country on plans by Thomes Telford, esquire, engineer. William Blair esquire of Blair, Grand Master Mason of the Mother Lodge, Kilwinning laid the foundation stone of these works on 31 July 1806 and of the Æra of Masonry 5806. May Almighty God, the Grand Architect of the Universe, bless and prosper the undertaking and protect to the latest ages the name of Montgomerie.
The spellings of Montgomery and Montgomerie are as in the Herald article.
CEREMONY AT THE HARBOUR
The Dock Gates formed the point to which the crowds and the procession alike converged although the former had great difficulty in getting as near as they evidently desired. The space immediately adjoining each side of the entrance channel was set apart for processionists and invited guests, the former taking up positions on the south side and the latter being accommodated on the north side. A line of Volunteers was arranged on each side of the gates while beyond the reserved ground, vast crowds lined the docks. Every coign of vantage was taken possession of, a number even viewing the proceedings from the windows of houses in Montgomerie Street. The day was dull and rather cold and unnecessary delay would not likely have been appreciated but happily no delay occurred. The Mastiff lay moored at Winton Pier where her distinguished passenger embarked an promptly at half past twelve, she steamed slowly into the outer basin and towards the Dock Gates. Captain Shields, harbour-master, dressed in handsome uniform, stood on the bridge and piloted the vessel in. When the Mastiff had partly passed through the gates, a blue ribbon was thrown across the channel in front of the bridge. A basket gaily decorated with flowers and containing pieces of coal, pig-iron, cast-iron, ore, limestone, nitrate of soda, etc, the materials expected to be shipped and unshipped in large quantities at the dock, was attached to the ribbon. The appearance of Lady Gertrude Montgomerie, who was led on to the bridge by the honourable Greville Richard Vernon, was the signal for a cheer of welcome. The ribbon having been properly adjusted and the basket taken on board, the honourable said he had much pleasure on behalf of the Harbour Company to ask Lady Gertrude Montgomerie to open the new Eglinton Dock which he trusted would be prosperous for the Company and be of great advantage to the trade of Scotland and Ireland and indeed the whole country. He was sorry the sun had not shone out as bright as they would have liked but they must take the elements as they were. Turning to Lady Gertrude, he said "Lady Gertrude Montgomerie, I now ask you to accept these scissors from the Directors of the Ardrossan Harbour Company and I hope it will serve to remind you of the services you have done to us this day in opening the dock.". Amid deafening applause, Lady Gertrude Montgomerie cut the ribbon. The honourable Greville Richard Vernon then said "I will not ask Lady Gertrude Montgomerie to load the first vessel with various minerals and products with which we hope many vessels may yet be loaded and discharged in this new dock.". Lady Gertrude Montgomerie, amid cheers, emptied the basket with its miniature cargo into the hold. The bands struck up Rule Britannia and the National Anthem. A salute was fired from the forecastle-head of the Mastiff. The Volunteers on each side of the entrance fired a feu de joie, large guns sent forth salvoes, locomotives started on both railways sending off fog signals as they moved and rockets were sent off. The Mastiff was followed into the dock by the steamship Captain McClure, steamship Gem, steamship Pembury, steamship Onyx, steamship Emerald and steamship Alfred Nobel. After two waggons of coal had been tipped into the Captain McClure, by means of the hydraulic hoist, the company on board the Mastiff landed on the north pier and the vast crowds dispersed. After the opening ceremony, over five hundred invited guests were entertained to luncheon in the Montgomerie Pier Station. For the occasion, it was tastefully decorated and presented a very animated appearance when the party on board the Mastiff entered. The luncheon, which was served in good style by Mr T Butcher of the Eglinton Arms Hotel with a large and capable staff of waiters from Glasgow, comprised the following menu - Salmon, Tartare Sauce, Lobster a la Parisienne; Fillet of Beef a la Macédoine, Gallatine of Turkey, Aspic of Game en Belle-vue; Ham and Tongue, Hare Pie, Chanfroid of Chicken, Cold Lamb, Press Beef, Roast Beef; Salad a la Française; Wine Jelly, Gateau Moka, Vanilla Cream; Phitiviers, Peches a la Condé, Rhubarb and Apple Tarts; Patisserie Française; Fruits.