IRVINE, Ayrshire

"At any rate the Royal Burgh of Irvine ranks as a veteran among her compeers of Scotland, and is mentioned as a place of great antiquity in a charter granted by Robert I, dated February 1308. This charter was granted by the Bruce in consequence of the services rendered by the inhabitants in the wars of the succession."

"The ancient burgh is at present in a very prosperous state, and its general trade and manufactures are of considerable importance, and include engineering, shipbuilding, brewing, chemical works, coach-building, &c., &c. Among its public buildings are included a Town Hall, an Academy, two Established, two Free and two United Presbyterian churches, a Baptist church, and a Roman Catholic Chapel. The old bridge, built in 1533, was replaced by a new structure in 1748, at a cost of 350 sterling. This bridge was only 11 feet in width. In 1827 it was widened in stone to 25 feet 8 inches, and in 1889 re-widened in iron to 38 feet 4 inches. The new bridge is adorned by a casting of the burgh arms. The affairs of the burgh are managed by a Provost, three Bailies, a Dean of Guild, a Treasurer, and twelve Councillors."

"Ayrshire Nights Entertainment: A Descriptive Guide to the History, Traditions, Antiquities of the County of Ayr"by John MacIntosh of Galston, Ayrshire, published in 1894, by John Menzies & Co. of Kilmarnock, Dunlop and Drennan.



The Troon and District Family History Society has a book of Monumental Inscriptions for Six Kyle graveyards (includes Barnwell).

Church History

The parish included the following churches:

Description and Travel

The small parish of Irvine lies around the town of that name. Irvine is sited at the confluence of the irvine and Garnock rivers that produced a sheltered anchorage - making it one of the safer harbours on the lower parts of the Firth of Clyde. The town became extremely prosperous in the 16th to 19th centuries, based on expanding trade in coal and other commodities between Irvine, Ireland and more distant shores. The town survived the Earl of Eglinton's attempts to establish a rival seaport at Ardrossan. Outside the burgh boundaries and across the River Irvine, Fullarton became an established industrial and ship-building suburb. However the falling coal production and the decline in other industries in the early 20th century severely reduced the revenues from the port and thus the town's prosperity.

The Town Council was successful in attracting new industry. Recognition of this initiative allowed the Scottish Office to designate Irvine as a `New Town' in 1966. The plans for the New Town extended as far as Kilwinning and Dreghorn. (See the respective pages.) The burgh now had a population in 1991 of 33,000. Irvine overlooks the Isle of Arran, and is a holiday resort. Irvine's industries used to be iron foundries, chemical works and a hosiery factory. Today they include light engineering and pharmaceuticals.

For earlier history see extracts from late 19th century history of the Royal Burgh of Irvine.

Seagate Castle, built between 1562 and 1585 as the town house of the Montgomeries of Eglinton, commanded the old Irvine harbour at Seagatefoot. The house, which had no defensive capability, was abandoned by the family in the 1740s. It is now an open ruin.

In Fullarton, the Scottish Maritime Museum has been established in the late Victorian offices once occupied by Laird's Forge. The Museum has a collection of a wide variety of seagoing craft, both commercial and leisure vessels. The Museum has re-erected to 1872 Engine Shop, which was originally in the Stephen's of Linthouse yard at Govan. A restored shipworker's flat lies close by.

At Irvine, Robert Burns spent some time (1781-3) as a flax-dresser; both his shop and the house in which he stayed have been burned down. Lesser links with literature were the Scottish novelist John Galt, who was born in the town in 1779, and James Montgomery, the Irvine poet.

View photographs of Irvine and the surrounding area.


Historical Geography

Information about boundaries and administrative areas is available from A Vision of Britain through time.


View maps of Irvine.


The local newspaper - the Irvine Herald and Kilwinning Chronicle has on-line local news and information at its website.