Coylton is one of the smallest parishes in Ayrshire in geographical sense, but it boasted a sizeable population during the peak of the late 19th and early 20th century mining industry. The parish includes the original settlement or Low Coylton, Upper Coylton or Hillhead, Craighall, Woodside, Rankinston and Joppa. The village is said to take its name from "Auld King Coil of Coilsfield" but old records have it spelt Quiltoun or Cuilton.
The village at the heart of the parish is almost linear, being spread along the length of the Ayr to Cumnock A70 road - which is used by the heavy trucks sustaining the modern open-cast coal mining industry. Low Coylton is the old village with the Coylton Inn and the few remains of an older life, such as the old kirk of possibly medieval origins and last repaired in 1776, plus the former manse dating from 1839 and itself built on the site of the earlier manse. Hillhead has the current parish church, built in 1836, and some houses that were once late 19th century miner's row houses. Joppa too has some of the older stone housing. But the entire village has suffered from a number of housing developments seeking to provide homes for people working in Ayr and district.
Coylton was once a rural village that was transformed by the development of mining in the area and has changed again with the cessation of all coal mining. The farms, such as that at Duchray, have sustained Ayr's agricultural heritage.
The village of Joppa which was reputedly named for an ale-house kept by a man named Hendry. Local lore has it that he fed his customers with salt herrings which became known as "Joppa hams".
An 1837 description of Joppa, including a listing of the key personalities, is given in this extract from Pigot's Directory for Ayrshire. The transcript was provided by Keith Muirhead from Queensland.