The parish of Ardrossan is small area running north-east from the town of Ardrossan, a small seaport and watering place on the Firth of Clyde. The town boasted a small oil refinery and a fertilizer plant in the 1960s. The harbour is the sailing point for regular ferries to the Isle of Arran. The harbour and esplanade recall the town's past existence as one of the Clyde coast holiday resorts for people escaping industrial Glasgow during "Clyde Week". Just outside the harbour is Horse Isle, a small rocky island, now a nature reserve.
The hinterland of the town has become a residential belt lying astride the A 78 trunk road. The town merges seamlessly into the neighbouring town of Saltcoats (in Stevenston parish.) In the mid-19th century, Ardrossan took over the shipping trade of Saltcoats which thereafter gradually declined in commercial significance.
Above the town are the ruins of Ardrossan Castle, which is open to visitors. The 12th century castle was destroyed by the forces of Oliver Cromwell.
An 1837 description of Ardrossan, including a listing of the key personalities of the town, is given in this extract from Pigot's Directory for Ayrshire. The transcript was provided by Keith Muirhead from Queensland.
The North Ayrshire Museum, located in an 19th century church, has displays of local history.
John Kerr [1824-1907] the Scottish physicist who discovered the magneto-electric Kerr effect , was born in Ardrossan and studied and worked in a modest laboratory in Glasgow between 1857 and 1901.