STEVENSTON, Ayrshire

"The name of this parish is derived from one Stephen Loccart, who settled in it about the twelfth century. It consists of two divisions, Stevenston Campbell and Stevenston Cuninghame. The Campbells, who owned one of the divisions, were of the family of Loudoun, and their residence was at Dowcathall, which stood on the rising ground or bank near the present house of Ardeer, and of which estate: it now forms a part, but no vestige of the building remains. Before the Reformation, the church of Stevenston was dedicated to St. Monoch, and doubtless it existed at a very remote period, as the town of Stevenston is of high antiquity, being mentioned in a charter of the Loudoun family as far back as the year 1240. The church is mentioned in a tack dated 1606 as 'ane of the Kirks annext to the Abbacie of Kilwinning of Auld, whilk now is dissolved in several personages'."

"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.

Church History

"The old church, dedicated to St. Monoch, was externally an edifice of rather a picturesque cast, but in regard to accommodation and comfort it was altogether inadequate. It occupied a site on the west bank of the rivulet immediately north of the village, above which it was elevated about forty feet. The present church was built about 1832, and occupies the same site. It is of the common rectangular form with the gable facing the village, the front gable with tower and spire attached being its principal elevation, and the only part of the exterior possessing any architectural pretence. Beneath the church are three family vaults, belonging respectively to Ardeer, Kerilaw, and Seabank."

"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.

Description and Travel

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 the Sunshine Coast of 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.

View photographs of Stevenston and the surrounding area.

Gazetteers

Historical Geography

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

Maps

View maps of Stevenston.