Here are those articles on the saga of the amusement arcade row, with full acknowledgements to the Ardrossan and Saltcoats Herald where they first appeared.
Beginning with the first news of the plans, and discussion of them by Ardrossan Town Council. in 1973 :
23rd March 1973
COUNCIL WANT TO DISCUSS AMUSEMENT FACILITIES
Agents for the Earl of Eglinton have been invited to meet Ardrossan Town Council to discuss an application from an amusement caterer who proposes to buy part of South Crescent Green and build permanent amusement facilities.
The council decided at their meeting on Monday to extend the invitation after hearing that Lord Eglinton was not in favour, in principle, of a proposed permanent building on the ground adjoining South Beach putting green.
The council had consulted Lord Eglinton because South Crescent Green was given to Ardrossan by the Eglinton Estate in 1923 for the use of the people of Ardrossan. One condition to be observed by the owner of the ground was that no permanent building should be erected.
The applicant, Mr James Horne, proposes to purchase the ground at South Crescent Green from the town council and to build amusement facilities, which would include a permanent building.
Treasurer Daniel McMillan said he was slightly confused about the situation because he thought the council had sought Lord Eglinton's consent on whether Ardrossan could sell the ground and that the question of building did not come into it.
The town clerk, Mr William Cumming, commented that if Lord Eglinton was not in favour of the building he would not favour the sale of the ground.
Bailie William Watson pointed out that the council had not decided whether to sell or rent the ground. Provost Joseph McManus replied that the applicant preferred to purchase the ground.
Treasurer McMillan said that the council overcame a similar situation at South Beach when they erected toilets and a shelter. "We have an asset herebut it is not an asset if we can't develop it," he added. "We are still suffering from the feudal system in this country. We're supposed to own something but at the end of the day we have nothing."
He concluded that Lord Eglinton was afraid the control of the ground would pass out of the council's hands but it had to be remembered that the applicant was concerned that the council would cease to function next year and he wanted some guarantee for his capital investment.
"We should certainly push it as far as we can," he concluded. "It seems terrible that people say everything goes to Saltcoats. It seems you can't do anything in Ardrossan."
Bailie Currie agreed that the applicant wanted security if he was going to invest money but that he might accept a lease of the ground. He suggested a meeting to be held with representatives of Lord Eglinton.
Treasurer McMillan also pointed out that there was one objector to the proposed development at South Crescent Green but agreed that a meeting with Lord Eglinton's agents might resolve the matter.
By the time of this next article, things had moved on quite a bit; building work had begun, but been halted by an interdict taken out by the owner of the Kilmeny Hotel and a neighbour; and here the matter is being thrashed out in court.
24th May 1974
MOVE TO RECALL INTERDICT ON SOUTH BEACH DEVELOPMENT
Judgment is expected early next week on the latest stage of the legal wrangle involving residents of South Crescent, Ardrossan, a man who wants to build an amusement arcade and restaurant at South Beach, Ardrossan Town Council and the Earl of Eglinton, who gave the ground to Ardrossan.
At Kilmarnock Sheriff Court last Thursday Sheriff Ronald Ireland reserved judgment on a motion by Mr Philip Caplan QC — acting for developller, Mr James Horne — to recall the interim interdict which stopped the development at South Beach in February.
Mr Caplan contended that, since the interdict was granted on February 22 by Sheriff Hector McLean there had been a change of circumstances including new information which showed that Mr Horne faced losses of more than £40,000.
He asked Sheriff Ireland that if the interdict was continued the residents, Mr and Mrs Arthur Matthews, 12 South Crescent and Mrs Julia Cameron of Kilmeny Hotel should put up £30,000 as caution.
This motion was opposed by Mr John Murray, QC, on behalf of the residents who claimed that nothing had changed since the interdict was continued at a second hearing on February 27.
He added that it had been shown that the residents had a right to stop the construction of a permanent building which would "obstruct or prevent" their view towards the sea.
Mr Caplan informed the court that since the last hearing there were two new defenders to the action —Ardrossan Town Council and the Earl of Eglinton's trustees.
"We have also been advised, continued Mr Caplan, "that Mrs Cameron intends to sell her hotel. The new owner might not continue the case. At the end of the day Mr Horne may be claiming substantial damages and it may be that Mrs Cameron could be outwith the jurisdiction of the court."
He said his attack on the interim interdict was on three fronts. His most important argument was that the pursuers — the residents — had not succeeded in establishing that there was a case to answer.
Referring to Mr and Mrs. Matthews Mr Caplan contended that they had no right to seek interdict as they were only tenants of their property while Halifax Building Society were landlords.
Referring to Mrs Cameron, the counsel stated that there was a specific prohibition in the feu contract against any trade being carried out on the site. He said that as Mrs Cameron operated a hotel and was a trader she had forfeited her right on the view towards the sea.
"The hotel is a commercial exploitation of the view," he added. "The interest which the pursuers have to protect is relatively minor while Mr Horne is placed in a highly damaging position."
He instanced that according to accountants' figures Mr Horne would lose £36,000 this summer from extra costs, loss of profits and additional overdraft facilities.
The pursuers' counsel, Mr Murray said the motion should be refused because all the circumstances were known at the last hearing and the pursuers had proved there was a question to try — whether the building obstructed the residents' view.
Mr Murray denied that Mrs Cameron was selling her property and said there was no proof that the pursuers could not meet any possible claims for damages.
He added that as long as Mrs Cameron inhabited the hotel she did not lose interest in the lease.
Referring to Ardrossan Town Council, Mr Murray said their interest did not merit special consideration because they had deliberately flouted the conditions of the disposition granted to them in 1923 by the Earl of Eglinton. They were bound not to build an erection of a permanent nature at South Beach Green.
"In the town council minutes of September 17, 1973," he explained, " it was a condition of the lease that Mr Horne would indemnify the town council against any claims which might be made about the building. It was up to Mr Horne to gain the consent of the feuers and this was never done."
He asked that the status quo should be preserved and the residents should continue to enjoy the rights over the land towards the sea.
At this point Sheriff Ireland commented : " The status quo is you have a half-backed building which is an eyesore. The status quo is not a full view of the sea. "
Mr Murray concluded by claiming that caution was not competent as the choice was to recall or refuse the interdict.
"The sort of figure being proposed," he said, " is too large because it imposes a financial penalty upon my clients."
On behalf of the council Mr A. J. Cameron associated himself with the motion for recall.
The legal battles must have gone on for a good while longer, because it wasn't till early on in the next year that this injunction was finally lifted and building work restarted:
21st February 1975
The settlement of a 13-month-long legal case over the building of an amusement pavilion at South Beach Green, Ardrossan, has resulted in the owner suing objectors for £50,000 damages.
The owner, Mr James Horne — against whom an interim interdict halting the erection of a permanent building was withdrawn in court — intends to provide childrens' amusements, prize bingo, a spacious snack bar and a confectionery kiosk on the promenade.
He says the £50,000 would meet legal expenses, the loss of a summer season and the massive rise in building costs incurred over the past year.Mr Horne started building during January of last year but work was stopped when parties in the neighbourhood lodged objections.
After a court hearing Mr Horne has now resumed work on the site despite the fact that Ardrossan Town Council have still not received the consent of the Secretary of State to sign a 35-year lease.
Despite a warning from the town council that continuation of building operations would be at his own risk, Mr Horne told the " Herald " this week that he was legally entitled to be on the site and did not require the Secretary of State's permission.
" After 13 months of anxiety I am now being allowed to provide a much-needed facility for the people of Ardrossan. Last January it would have cost me £30,000 in building costs but this has now risen to £40,000. By the time I furnish the interior of the Building it will have cost me more than £65,000.
" I feel that the majority of the townspeople are behind my project. At present there is nowhere in Ardrossan for local children and tourists to enjoy themselves and I feel that my premises will be a boost to the town," he said.
Mr Horne told our reporter that he paid an annual rental of about £2000, but in return the town council paid him only £10 a year for the rent of a Red Cross room and a putting-green pay-box and store.
He added that the building — which he hoped would be completed in May — would be of an ultra-modern design and the snack bar would accomodate 86 people.
And so too did the objections, with a petition against the arcade being got up :
28th March 1975
MORE OBJECTIONS TO AMUSEMENT PAVILION
The amusement pavilion being built at South Beach Green has encountered more opposition — a petition has been circulated in local schools, churches and shops protesting at the continuing erection of the building which has been described as an "ugly, factory-like construction." The petition is to be sent to the Secretary of State for Scotland.
One objector who is anxious at the thought of having the building on his doorstep is Mr Sam Brogan, the headmaster of St Peter's RC School.
Mr Brogan told the "Herald" that he was opposed to the amusement pavilion for two reasons: the gambling facilities would be a great temptation to his pupils during lunch breaks and after school; and pupils would be required to cross a very busy road to get to the amusements and there was the danger that they could be involved in a serious accident.
"I have about 450 pupils —ranging from the ages of 41/2 to 12 — at my school and I am responsible for their well-being while they are at school. Parents should realise, however, that I cannot be responsible for their well-being during lunch breaks and after school, and they should appreciate the dangers facing their children," said Mr Brogan.
The text of the petition, addressed to the Secretary of State, reads: "We the undersigned, being townspeople of Ardrossan (or visitors to the town) wish to express our grave concern at the continuing erection of a large building on South Beach Green designed to house amusements machines, prize bingo etc.
"We wish to protest against the erection of this building and would bring to your notice the following points:
"The town council has no authority to lease this land for the purpose of the permanent building which is now being erected and no steps have been taken by them to stop or prevent the developer from further building.
"The close proximity to schools means continually exposing children and young people to gambling facilities — within easy reach during lunch break.
"The progressive diminishing of available space affording free enjoyment of natural and safe seaside assets much used by children in favour of mechanical amusements for which payment must be made to a commercial operator.
"Unique Victorian crescent of listed buildings completely spoiled by intrusion of ugly, factory-like construction.
"For very many years past the public had free access to this ground while it was privately owned. The ground was given to the burgh with the, expressed condition in the Title that it should be kept as an open space with free access and that no permanent buildings or enclosures should be allowed on it. The town council now wishes to grant a long lease (35 years) of yet another large part of this ground for a private commercial venture."
One of the original objectors, Mr A. R. Matthews, 12 South Crescent, has written to Cunninghame District Council urging them not to allow the proposed lease to proceed.
In his letter to the chief executive, Mr James Miller, he states: "I would appeal to you to use your influence to see that the proposed lease is not allowed to proceed and that the people of Ardrossan and the surrounding areas are allowed to enjoy, privileges which have been theirs for many years past. "
But in the same week's paper, the new Cunninghame ( North Ayrshire ) District council agreed to follow the earlier policy of Ardrossan council, and support the development :
Cunninghame District Council have come out in support of Ardrossan Town Council's stand over the long lease of land at South Beach Green for an amusement pavilion.
Councillor William Currie informed members that an interdict preventing the council from leasing the ground to Mr James Horne, the owner of the amusement pavilion, had been withdrawn.
Councillor Joe Cahill said : " We want the support of Cunninghame District Council because the Secretary if State has still to reach a decision ovr the granting of the lease and the Scottish Development Department are anxious to hear the views of the new authority. "
The council agreed to support Ardrossan Town Council.
And this support from local govenment will probably have been a key factor in getting the final approval of the scheme.