Notes on the way - Through
Ayrshire - 100 Years Ago
WEST KILBRIDE PARISH
0n the shore, north-west
of Ardrossan. The town of West Kilbride stands four and a half miles
north-west of Ardrossan, and fully half-a-mile, by a gentle acclivity,
from the sea beach, which is low and sandy. It is an interesting old
place, with a burn running through it; has a railway station; a post
office, with telegraph, money order, and savings bank departments;
Commercial and Clydesdale Banks, a number of shops, an Established Church,
a Free Church (of recent erection), a United Presbyterian Church, a new
public school, grain mills, blacksmith’s and joiner’s shops.
Population in 1871, 1218; in 1881, 1363.
At a romantic spot on Southannan
Burn, near a fine cascade, are the ruins of Southannan Mansion,
once a residence of the family of Sempill,
early Scotch poets. On Law Hill are the antiquated ruins of Law
Castle, and on Auld Hill the remnant of a watch tower.
There are several sites of Roman Catholic Chapels. The elevated
promontory of Portincross or Farland Head, two miles west of
the town, extends the parish into the sea westward-terminating in a great
sea-cliff, like a wall, a mile in length and 300 feet high. Here is the
ruin of Portincross Castle, of the thirteenth century; and Auchenames
House is near.
The weather being fine,
we take an oar-boat two miles west to Little Cumbrae Island, which
is in the parish of West Kilbride, though in Buteshire. It stands
in the entrance-proper to the Firth of Clyde, midway between James I.
the island was the King’s private property; and William
Hunter, ancestor of the
Hunters of Hunterston, received from
his majesty an annual payment of £1 and a chalder of oatmeal as keeper of
the deer upon it. Returning to the mainland, and proceeding
north-eastward, past the seat of Hunterston, in a sheltered and beautiful
locality, we are soon at the village of Fairlie, a small portion of
which is in the parish.
Old Red Sandstone strata
making their appearance at different places indicate that the coal
measures have been destroyed in this district. Fully one-half of the
surface of the parish is in good cultivation. The rest is hill pasture.
Its length, from south to north, is six miles; and, from
to the hill tops in the east, its widest part is three and a half miles.
Area, 10,119 acres. Population in 1871, 1891; in 1881, 2111.