Prestwick, Ayrshire

"The name Prestwick signifies 'The Village of the Priest'. The origin of this burgh belongs to a very early period of Scottish history. The charter de novo granted by James VI, a copy of which is in the possession of the freemen, is dated 19th June 1600, and assumes that Prestwick was known to have been a Free Burgh of Barony for upwards of 600 years before the date of renewal, which would carry it back to the reign of Kenneth III."

"Of modern Prestwick we have little to say except that as a watering-place it maintains a healthy rivalry with others of the Ayrshire sea-board, although this is perhaps as much due to its excellent golf links as to the ordinary attractions of a coasting place - one of its great drawbacks being the total lack of boating facilities."

"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 published a book of Monumental Inscriptions for St. Nicholas, Prestwick.

Church History

The ruin of the 13th century St Nicholas Church is in Kirk Street. Other churches in the town included:

Description and Travel

The parish of Prestwick is a small area lying between Troon and Ayr centred on the town of Prestwick itself. Prestwick, the oldest burgh in Scotland, is the only coastal town in Ayrshire which does not have a harbour. Until the mid-19th century, Prestwick, despite having been created a Burgh of Barony in about 1165, was nothing more than a humble crossroads village. The 19th and 20th centuries have brought considerable growth and much change.

Prestwick is steeped in history, being the first Royal Burgh in Scotland. The town boasts a Mercat Cross (market cross) dating from 1777 and, at Kingcase, the remains of a lazaretto (leper's house) reputedly founded by Robert Bruce over a well at which he is reported to have been cured of leprosy after drinking the waters.

In recent years, the town has become another of Ayrshire's great centre for golfers. There are five 18-hole golf courses; the links of the Prestwick Club created in the sand-hills, is one of the Championship courses (visitors must be introduced). Prestwick, on its original course of 1851, hosted the first twelve Open Championships from 1860.

Since 1945, Prestwick has also been known for its purpose built great International Air Terminal which was developed from a WWII airfield as a trans-Atlantic terminal for its fog-free weather, closeness to North America and distance from Germany. Prestwick' s modern industries include engineering and aerospace engineering.

Prestwick is still a popular holiday resort and offers golf, bowling, swimming (although the outdoor pool was closed a number of years ago) and sailing. Further details on the town, in the respect of accommodation and facilities can be found on Prestwick's Facilities Page. Prestwick is well served by railway trains with a 1/2 hourly service to and from Glasgow every day, with the exception of Sundays during winter when it is an hourly service. There are regular bus services to Ayr, Troon, Irvine, Ardrossan, Kilmarnock and Glasgow.

An 1837 description of Ayr and neighbouring areas including Prestwick, and offering 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 the Sunshine Coast of Queensland.


Here are some figures showing the parish's population through time:

Year Population
1991 13,700
1981 11,800
1971 11,200
1961 11,000

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[Page created by Iain Kerr]
[Last major update 4th March 2003 - Brian Pears]
[Last updated 23 Nov 2010 - 17:08 by Mel Lockie]