The parish of Stevenston is a relatively small coastal area in the north of the county. It includes the towns of Stevenston and the burgh of Saltcoats and the village of Ardeer, now joined with Stevenston.
An 1837 description of Saltcoats and Stevenston, 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.
Stevenston is a straggling town of modest size which is based on an old settlement. Despite the presence of shallow coal seams, the town failed to realise that potential during the 19th century, being eclipsed by the growing Saltcoats, much of which lies in the parish. Stevenston was saved by the establishment of Alfred Nobel's explosives factory at Ardeer in 1873. The factory has greatly outgrown the original layout. Among its many buildings is Africa House, the South African pavilion from the 1938 Glasgow Exhibition which was rebuilt at Ardeer. This page has some detail on the plans to revive the Ardeer site.
The parish includes the sites of two former castles: Kerlaw Castle of the 15th century, whose ruins remain; and Auchenharvie, which has been replaced by the modern Auchenharvie Academy buildings. At Auchenharvie are the ruins of the Auchenharvie Engine House, built about 1720, which was designed to house the second Newcomen pumping engine in Scotland. The engine was intended to pump water from a nearby coal mine but failed to achieve that aim.