Ardrossan (Gaelic: Àird Rosain, "headland of the deer/oxen") is a town on the North Ayrshire coast in south-western Scotland. Ardrossan is becoming an affluent commuter town with a population of roughly 11,000 and is in a three-towns corroboration act with the nearby towns of Saltcoats and Stevenston.
Ardrossan's roots can be traced to the construction of its castle 'Cannon Hill', thought to be in around 1140, by Simon de Morville. The castle and estate passed to the Barclay family (also known as Craig) and through successive heirs until the 14th century when it passed to the Eglinton family on the death of Godfrey Barclay de Ardrossan, who died without an heir. Sir Fergus Barclay, Baron of Ardrossan was said to be in league with the Devil and in one of his dealings, set the task for the Devil to make ropes from sand; on failing to do so, the Devil kicked the castle with his hoof in frustration and left a petrosomatoglyph hoofprint.
In 1759 the Earl of Eglinton formed a herd of the ancient breed of White or Chillingham Cattle at Ardrossan, probably using stock from the Cadzow herd. The numbers dropped and in 1820 the remaining animals were dispersed. All the animals in the herd were hornless.
Ardrossan developed during the 18th and 19th centuries thanks to its position on the coast. Exports of coal and pig iron to Europe and North America were the main trade from the town's port, which became a centre for shipbuilding. Fishing vessels and small cargo boats were the mainstay of the shipyard until the 1950s, when the yard ceased to exist as a result of foreign competition. A smaller yard, McCrindle's, operated until the 1980s before it ceased trading.
Passenger services from Ardrossan harbour to Brodick on the Isle of Arran started in 1834, and services to Belfast in Ireland (later Northern Ireland) and the Isle of Man followed in 1884 and 1892 respectively. Clyde sailings were operated initially by the Glasgow and South Western Railway Company from Winton Pier and the Caledonian Railway from Montgomerie Pier. The Earl of Eglinton's ambitious plan for a canal link to Glasgow was never realised.
Between 1841 and 1848 Ardrossan was a part of the "West Coast Main Line" equivalent of its time. The fastest route from London to Glasgow was by train to , and then by packet boat to Ardrossan. After 1848 the entire journey could be made by rail, avoiding Ardrossan. The link to the Isle of Man no longer operates, having first been moved to Stranraer until all Scottish services terminated. Shell-Mex developed an oil refinery from a World War II aviation-fuel canning factory, and the harbour was expanded for the company's tanker ships to berth. Residents blocked plans for further expansion of the refinery, limiting the operations that could be carried out there in the 1960s. Operations at Shell-Mex ceased in 1986.
Ardrossan became a burgh, in 1846, with a provost, magistrates and commissioners. Its burgh status was lost in 1974 on the formation of Strathclyde Regional Council, when it came under Cunninghame District. It is now part of North Ayrshire, created as a unitary authority in 1996.
Since 2006 Ardrossan has been part of a regeneration area, overseen by the Irvine Bay Regeneration Company. Its vision for Ardrossan is as a gateway to Arran and good place to live and relax next to the sea in a regenerated town centre serving the existing and incoming community. It has started to be achieved through renewal of the town centre, which includes a derelict office in Princes Street which has been turned into two modern shops. The former Jack Miller's Hotel building at 78 Princes Street was refurbished in autumn 2010 and has been home to several businesses, including an art gallery and artists studio space called Phoenix, and a graphic design studio. The old pumphouse has been transformed into an Italian restaurant. In 2014 work started on new office accommodation beside the marina, with works due to be completed in summer 2015. The North Shore project includes the redevelopment of the oil refinery site and the extension of the marina.
Sources for Old Parish Registers Records, Vital Records and Censuses
Notes for Ayrshire
Family History Societies covering Ayrshire include:
Old Parish Register Provision
Transcriptions of Gravestone Inscriptions
Angus Mitchells's Burial Grounds in Scotland: An Index of Unpublished Memorial Inscriptions Scottish Genealogy Society, first published 1991; lists in their collection of Memorial Inscriptions some for Ardrossan:
Further Sources of Reference
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