Ayrshire Towns and Parishes

www.Ayrshireroots.com   and  www.Ayrshireroots.co.uk



Home Up Ecclesiastical




     Ardrossan Historical Timeline

       Significant Dates in the History of Ardrossan


View from Cannon Hill 1905


Ardrossan signifies a rocky height, terminating at a rocky point in the sea, from Ard, a height; & rossan, a small peninsula. Ardrossan is indicated in a map of Scotland of the thirteenth century.



The Castle

The date of the building of the castle was probably about 1140, and it was owned by Simon de Morville, later passed on to the de Barclay Family (also known as Craig), then in the 13th century it came to Arthur de Ardrossan, after came a succession of knights who became heirs to the castle. The Barclays were the owners of the castle and estate during the 12th, 13th, and 14th centuries, until the death of Godfrey de Ardrossan. He died without leaving a son and the estate passed by marriage to the Eglinton family.

The castle was designed on the 'Courtyard Plan' as a defensive structure, surrounded by a man made ditch on a motte, and a steep natural slope down to what was then the sea shore. Made from local red sandstone or freestone the walls vary from one to two metres thick.

Richard Barclay de Ardrossan witnesses granting of charter to Kilwinning Abbey.


The Horse Isle 

According to Pont, is so named from Philip Horsse son in law to Sir Richard Morvell, who, in old evidences, was styled Philip de Horssey.


Baecon Tower was erected on Horse Isle by Hugh, Earl of Eglinton, at the instance of the celebrated Artic explorer, Sir John Ross.


A number of iron rings were found attached to the rocks at the foot of the Castlehill by which boats were frequently moored, indicative of the water level during the 12th century.



Arthur Barclay de Ardrossan witnesses granting of land of Monnoch in Dalry Parish to Hugh Crawford.


1248 Fergus Barclay de Ardrossan witness between Bishop of Moray and Friskin de Morey.


1260 Fergus Barclay de Ardrossan judged a dispute over common pasture.



King Hakone's fleet emerging from Lamlash Bay, behind Holy Isle, and sailing north towards Largs to do battle with King Alexander of Scotland, an armament of 120 vessels. Hakone's own ship having 27 banks of oars.


1266 - 71


Brice Barclay de Ardrossan a witness to several charters.


Sir Christopher Barclay de Ardrossan witness to a charter granted to his daughter Avicia, who married Robert Boyle of Kelburn.
1292 - 96 Castle in English hands during the reign of John Balliol. 


1296-1328 Scottish War of Independence again in the hands of the Barclays. Godofredos, Fergus, and Robinus Barclay de Ardrossan all fought in the War of Independence.


1305 Hugh de Ardrossan regained the Barony of Ardrossan


1307 Robert the Bruce leaves Kings Cross Point on Holy Isle, with his band of followers to Turnberry.


1316 Fergus Barclay de Ardrossan  who fought for Robert Bruce was killed in Ireland.


1320 Fergus Barclay de Ardrossan (son of Fergus above) was one of the signatories of The Declaration of Arbroath on 6th April 1320 and in that year was granted a charter from King Robert Bruce confirming to him and his heirs The Lands of Ardrossan.


1357 Godfrey Barclay de Ardrossan was the last of the Barclays and died without a male heir to succeed him. The estate was carried by marriage to the Eglinton Family.


1507 The union of the Montgomerie and Eglinton families when Hugh, fourth Lord Montgomerie was created Earl of Eglinton.



The Spanish Armada sailed up the Clyde after being defeated by Drake. Many ships were wrecked in a violent storm, one on the rocky shore at Portencross Castle, on that ship seventeen men survived including the captain, the survivors were provided with food drink and lodgings, many Spaniards eventually stayed in the area.


1638 National Covenant signed


1652 Stanley Farm (ancient Stainely) possessed by Mrs Mary Hamilton. Now the site of Stanley School.


1647 A collection is taken by the people in Ardrossan, and 50 merks is sent to Largs where " the people were very destitute"



Cromwells troops destroyed the castle; taking much of the stonework by boat to Ayr to build the Fort there. All that remains are part of the walls, a portion of one of the towers, a vaulted kitchen and two cellars. The castle is shown on the Ardrossan coat of arms as having three towers, but this cannot be proved and may just be simply following the traditional heraldic depiction of a castle.

The Eglintons took refuge in " Sma Cumbrae Castle ". (The Eglintons returned in 1813 to a mansion called The Pavilion, later demolished in 1930, the site where St Peters Church now stands.)


1650 The first Parochial Church of Ardrossan was in existence at this time. Session Records were only kept for a short period 2-4-1691 to 7-9-1693. No further ones appear to have been recorded until 1739.



The Parochial Church of Ardrossan, which stood within the grounds of the graveyard overlooking the seashore, was blown down by a hurricane and never restored. In it were altars to St Peter and the Virgin Mary. It was excavated in 1912, when it was shown to be a long, oblong building , its chancel of the same width as the nave, above which it was raised by three low steps, placed at wide intervals. Considerable areas of stone paving remained. A stone coffin, with a carved lid, was found within the church, near the N wall. It was removed and is now in the North Ayrshire Museum in Saltcoats. A 13th century date is suggested for it.

The Second Parochial Church was built 3/4 of a mile NE of the castle on the right bank of the Stanley Burn near Stanley Clachan. Minister Rev. Mr Thomas Clarke. The only memorial or trace of this church is the tombstone of this minister, who was buried within the precincts of the church. This small monument was erected after the church had been translated to Saltcoats.


1744 The Second Parochial Church abandoned and the Third Parochial Church built in Saltcoats at the site of the present North Ayrshire Museum. The population at this time was increasing much faster in the Saltcoats part of the Parish.


1773 The Fourth Parochial Church was rebuilt on the same site as the third. (What is now the present Museum)


1793 Betsy Miller who was born in Saltcoats became the first woman to be recorded as a Ship's Captain.


1769 After the murder of the Earl of Eglinton, his successor Hugh, 12th Earl of Eglinton decided to convert the place into a commodious seaport, which would connect to Glasgow by means of a canal. He employed the services of the celebrated engineer Mr Telford to survey the Bay of Ardrossan; and in 1805 an Act of Parliament was obtained, empowering a company to be formed to construct a harbour and canal to Glasgow.


1805 Prior to the year 1805, the site of the town presented a mere solitude, there not being a place of dwelling of any kind on it, or nearer to it than Parkhouse, by the side of the old highway, one quarter of a mile distant to the north east. A ridge of rocks, which ran from the Castlehill into the sea, near the baths, was popularly known as the "Castlecraigs" and all intrusion from Saltcoats was strictly disallowed.


1806 July 31st Harbour Foundation Stone laid. During the first 12 years of the harbour's existence, the number of houses erected were few. One here and there marked out the sites of Montgomerie Street, Glasgow Street, and Princess Street, in the course of the years the gaps were filled in. The shoreline was close to the houses at Montgomerie Street up to the Cale Station.

Glasgow Street building started.

Hugh, the 12th Earl of Eglinton was raised to the British Peerage as Baron Ardrossan.


1807 Bath Villa, a hydropathic bathing facility built by the 12th Earl of Eglinton.

Eglinton Arms Hotel built.


1808 Foundation stone of the harbour laid - 31-5-1808


1810 First Foreign Vessel sailed into the harbour, named "HELEN" on 24th July with timber from Salem Bay North America, voyage 31 days Captain Miller. The pier swept 900 yards and was semicircular, lofty and strong, this gave protection from the southern and western gales. Harbour works at a standstill.


1811 13th Earl of Eglinton born, Archibald William Montgomerie, in Palermo, Italy. He was also Earl of Winton, Lord Seaton & Trenent, Baron Ardrossan, and Hereditary Sheriff of Renfrewshire.


1813 First cargo of coal was shipped by "CLYDE" of Saltcoats, Captain Brown.


1813 Eglinton Hotel built by the 12th Earl of Eglinton at a cost of 10,000


1819 Hugh 12th Earl of Eglinton died.


1820 Seafield House built.


1825 Harbour works restarted, Mathew Henderson began to build small wooden ships, 100 tons and under.


1827 Railway link, "Stevenston Coal Co"


1831 The Pavilion, Earl of Eglintons mansion built.


1833 Arran mail service transferred from Saltcoats to Ardrossan.


1833 Bath Villa, the complex was taken over by Dr MacFadzean a greatly respected philanthropist and tireless physician, he catered for the poor and unfortunates of the town never charging them for bed or bath, he died in 1849.


1836 Ardrossan Railway Co. (36,000 passengers per year).


1837 The Independent Church was formed and the congregation met for the next 20 years in an upper flat in Glasgow Street.



Extensions to the harbour and dockyard.

Ardrossan Pier Station. Ardrossan and Johnstone Railway opened. This station formed the terminus of the Ardrossan Harbour branch of the Glasgow and South-Western Railway and opened (as Ardrossan Pier Station) by that company on 27 July 1840, was renamed Ardrossan Winton Pier Station on 2 June 1924 and closed to regular passenger traffic on 6 May 1968. The new (British Rail) Ardrossan Harbour station was opened on the same site on 19 January 1987 and remains in regular passenger use.


1841 Shipbuilder Barr & Shearer started (employed 300 men)


1841 Ardrossan Steamboat Co. started daily service to Arran (weekly during the winter)


1842 Bowling Green formed. June 1842.


1844 Barony Church built (Then the New Parish Church, now Barony St John's Church))

Free Church organised.

Trade with Belfast begun.


1845 Wet Dock opened 21st February. 


1846 Act of Parliament erecting the town into a Burgh. Act lapsed in 1877, and the Police and Improvement Act adopted.


1849 Obelisk erected on Castlehill in memory of Dr Alexander Mac Fadzean


1851 Population 2071


1850s The era of the package holiday into Ayrshire started with Thomas Cook, who charged people in his native Leicester a guinea for a tour of the lowlands in Scotland. They sailed by steamer from Fleetwood to Ardrossan, and then travelled to Glasgow and Edinburgh. Cook brought tens of thousands of holidaymakers north of the border, and established tourism as Scottish industry for the first time. [ The trains travelled north throughout England and the Fleetwood to Ardrossan sailing lasted until the railway was connected up to Scotland ]


1851 Castlecraigs: Originally known as Graham's Castle, built by Duncan Graham a gentleman from the North of Scotland.
  1893 - 1920  Owned by Archibald Russell
1920 - 1927  Ardrossan Dockyard
1927 - 1939  The Masons
1939 - 1945  Navy requisitioned as barracks


1853 The Ardrossan and Saltcoats Herald, first newspaper in the district. Published June 1853. The Stamp Law prevented it appearing oftener than once a month; this lasted for 2 years.


1854 First Lifeboat brought to Ardrossan. February. 

Ardrossan and Johnstone Railway acquired by Glasgow and South-Western Railway 31st July.


1855 Lighthouse erected. September. This lighthouse was damaged on several occasions. In December, 1900, during a terrific gale, the top of the tower was carried away. New lighthouse was erected in a position protected by the outer wall, early in 1901. Light on the end of the breakwater, above Crinan Rock, was established in 1900.


1856 New Burying Ground was opened, situated at the upper corner of one of the fields attached to the farm of Parkhouse.

Kirkhall Cist. A cist, built of six stone slabs, oriented E-W, and measuring about 24 ins by 16 ins and 12 ins deep, was found in 1856 on the lands of Kirkhill, Ardrossan. It contained fragments of burnt bones and wood charcoal, accompanied by a food vessel, now in the National Museum of Antiquities of Scotland


1857 United Presbyterian Church opened.

Royal Bank succeeded the Western Bank in Ardrossan and Saltcoats. Agents: John Jackson and R. King Barbour.


1858 Foundation Stone of Town House laid, 30th October 1858.


1859 St Johns Church built, (originally the Free Church)


1859 Paddle steamer ADELA made her first voyage to Belfast. (5 1/4 hours)


1860 Piped Clean Water: supply to town houses completed, an improvement fro artesian pumps which were often the cause of cholera and other diseases.


1861 Population 2931

New church erected in Harbour Lane.


1863 The harbour was raised to the position of a Port. 1st July.


1870 Ardrossan Lifeboat, "The Fair Maid of Perth" rescued 53 people.


1871 Population 3929


1874-5 St Andrews Episcopal Church built in South Crescent.



Rock face removed at the castle to give greater accommodation to the Railway reveals human remains, a number of bodies were found in these "cists". (Stone tombs). In each case the bones lay head to the west & feet to the east, and armbones alongside thighbones, age estimated 600 years plus.


1878 Rail Line to West Kilbride opened 1st May. To Fairlie 1-6-1880. To Largs 1-7-1885. 


1881 Population 4009


1883 South Beach Railway Station. This intermediate station was opened on 1 January 1883 and remains in regular use by passenger traffic


1884 The paddle steamer "Glowworm" provided the first regular service to Belfast and owned by Ardrossan Steam Navigation Co.


1885 Formation of The Ardrossan Harbour Co. 25th Sept.


1886 Major extensions to Eglinton Dock, first pile driven in. Contractor Mr Lawson. Between 1886 and 1891, the Eglinton Dock, an outer basin, and a new breakwater were constructed by the Ardrossan Harbour Company.

4th May. Gas and Water Works bought by the town.


1887 Gale and high tide burst cofferdam at dock construction, workings flooded; 400 men employed on the excavations escaped.

Union Bank opened - 27th July 1887. Agent William Crichton

First pile in the construction of Eglinton Dock driven, 4th May 1887. Contractor, Mr Lawson.


1888 Breakwater construction started, rock came from "Castle Crag" which is now the site of the Town Station in Ardrossan. 

Lanarkshire & Ayrshire Railway opened 3rd September. It was called Ardrossan Station and was renamed Ardrossan Town Station on 1 October 1906, closed on 1 January 1917 and reopened on 1 February 1919. It was renamed Ardrossan North Station on 2 June 1924, and closed to regular passenger traffic on 4 July 1932.

Barr & Shearer commenced the building of the first iron vessel at the yard. They were repairers and builders of vessels of a moderate tonnage.


1890 Glasgow & South Western Railway Co. & Caledonian Steam Packet Co. started to compete on the Arran run, the record time was 80 mins Glasgow to Arran. Ardrossan (Montomerie Pier) Station, opened 30th May 1890 by the Lanarkshire and Ayrshire Railway. A two-platform terminal station with a 15-bay iron-framed wooden-clad building, originally with a glazed overall roof supported on lattice girders. This station formed the terminus of the Ardrossan Harbour branch of the Caledonian Railway. It closed on 1 January 1917, reopened on 1 February 1919, and was renamed Ardrossan Montgomerie Pier station on 2 June 1924. It officially closed to regular passenger traffic on 6 May 1968, the last train having run on 25 September 1967.


1891 Population 5226


1892 Eglinton Dock opened 12th April by Lady Gertrude Montgomerie, from the bridge of RMS Mastiff, she cut a ribbon stretching across the entrance.

Power House at the Dock opened.

Clydesdale Bank Opened - 1st July 1892. Agents John Hoggarth & Son.


1892 G & J Burns paddle steamer "Adder" began new daylight service to Belfast.


1899 Winton Primary School built.


1900 Steam power gradually took over from sail.

Ardrossan Shipyard  - The yard was originally designed for the building of ships made of wood. By 1900, the shipbuilding yard had three berths for building boats, a graving dock (for ships up to 1,000 tons) and a repair slip (for boats up to 400 tons). Equipment was renewed in 1888 and in 1898 the yard changed hands and became the Ardrossan Dry Dock and Shipbuilding Co Ltd. Chairman C Wilkinson of Sunderland. The yard was further modernised in 1907 and by 1912 was enjoying great prosperity.

1900 Light fitted to Crinan Rock


1901 Population 5933. Population of the Parish of Ardrossan 11,846.


1901 New Lighthouse erected.


1901 Joint Hospital of Ardrossan and Saltcoats completed at Springvale.


1902 One third of shipping still sail driven.


1905 Congregational Church in Arran Place built.


1911 Population 5760

Excavations of the Parish Church on Castle Hill brought to light a beautifully carved stone coffin said to be one of the finest examples of its kind in Scotland. It is probable that in it was buried one of the Barons of Ardrossan. It is now on show in the North Ayrshire Museum, Saltcoats.


1913 Christies Yard, timber from the Baltic produced railway sleepers, then shipped to India, Africa, and the Middle East, gutted by fire, resulting in closure.

1st September - Board of the Ardrossan Dry Dock & Shipbuilding Company Ltd. changed transferring the whole of the interests to the Clyde. NORTH DOCK developed with vessels launched into a wet dock.



First World War, HMS Pactolus was placed in the harbour to care for submarines. A pier was modified (Montgomerie Pier) with 3 x 6000 ton fuel tanks, pipes and pumps for refuelling.


1916 South Shipyard / New Shipyard. This yard was completed in about 1916. It covered 22 acres and had five building berths capable of accommodating 400-500 feet boats of up to 9000 tons. This new shipyard allowed vessels to be built and launched directly into the Firth of Clyde. The yard was closed in 1930. By 1969 some of the South Yard land was acquired by the McCrindle group and some small scale shipbuilding work was taking place.


1918 First keel plate laid in new SOUTH YARD.  Now 2300 employees at the shipyard.

The first 5 vessels that were launched from the south yard were:- SS Hunstanworth 2580 gross tons; SS Glassford 2580 gross tons; SS Poljana 3886 gross tons; SS Dunkerquois 3160 gross tons and SS Skrymer 1990 gross tons.


1920 Shell Oil Co.


1920 The Inches, occupied by Ardrossan Shipbuilding Co.  180,000 tons of rock and cold-blast slag had been deposited onto the series of rock islands to form the foundation of the South Yard.


1931 Population 6888


1934 Metlox formed to undertake shipbreaking at lighthouse pier.


1938 St Peters RC Church, build on site of the Earl of Eglinton's former mansion - The Pavilion.


1939 The Inches, site of an Air Ministry factory for canning aviation petrol.


1940 The harbour taken over by the Admirality and named HMS Fortitude. All passenger services were suspended and relocated to Fairlie.


1941 Population 7500


1943 HMS Dasher sank on 27th March between Ardrossan and Brodick with the loss of 379 crew.


1947 Isle of Man service restarted


1949 Death of Dr Alexander McFadzean. A generous worker on behalf of the people of Ardrossan, and with whom originated the proposal to form the town into a burgh. A monument has been erected in his memory on the highest point of Cannon Hill (Castle Hill).


1950s Work in the Dockyard declined.


1955 Ardrossan, one of the first ports in the UK to handle containers on a large scale.


1955 Anglo-Continental Containers began regular trade with Ireland.


1964 Shipyard put up for sale and sold to the Ardrossan Harbour Co.


1969 William McCrindle aquired 13 acres to build ships. (The last ship was constructed in 1987)


1960s The Harbour was still very busy with ships.


1968 Burns Laird service to Belfast, MV Lion Ro-Ro facility installed.


1968 Caledonian Railway Station, closed.


1970 Caledonian MacBrayne to Arran, Ro-Ro facility installed, MV Caledonia.


1976 Shell closed


1976 Burns Laird vessel MV Lion passenger service terminated due to the troubles in N Ireland, freight services continued.


1985 Isle of Man service terminated, August.


1995 Ardrossan Harbour closes as a port, to make way for a marina.







and .co.uk


Copyright 2000-13   The contents of these webpages are copyright.