National Gazetteer, 1868


Stevenston - Extract from National Gazetteer, 1868


"STEVENSTON, a parish in the district of Cunninghame, county Ayr, Scotland, containing a village of the same name, and nearly half of the town of Saltcoats. The parish is bounded by the Firth of Clyde, and by the parishes of Ardrossan, Kilwinning, and Irvine. It extends in length about 5 miles from W. to S.E., with an extreme breadth of 3 miles. Towards the sea the land is flat, and the soil light and sandy; and on this level ground the town of Saltcoats and the village of Stevenston are principally built. From E. to W. the greater part of the parish is divided by a winding and rocky acclivity, which was evidently the ancient sea cliff. To the N. of this boundary the soil is of deep loam or stiff clay; the state of cultivation is excellent; and the undulating surface is in many places wooded. Besides quarries of limestone and of superior grey sandstone, there is an extensive coalfield, which has been worked for nearly two centuries. It consists of twelve separate seams, which taken together measure 38 feet in thickness, and the lowest of which lies at a depth of more than 200 fathoms. The eastern portion of the field is worked under Messrs. Merry and Cuninghame, by whom the mining operations have been greatly extended, and furnaces erected for the smelting of iron ore. The western division is rented by Messrs Kenneth and Whitefield. The weaving of silk and other fine fabrics is still carried on, but not so extensively as formerly. A number of females are employed in muslin flowering. The parish is traversed by a branch of the S.W. railway, which has stations at Stevenston and Saltcoats. The village of Stevenston is about 6 miles N.W. of Irvine, and 1 mile N.E. of Saltcoats. The barony of Stevenston was gifted by Richard de Morville, High Constable of Scotland, to one Lockhart, and from his son Stephen the parish took its name. The only interesting remnant of antiquity is Kirilaw Castle, a ruined stronghold of the earls of Glencairn, which was sacked by the Montgomeries of Eglinton in 1488. The village, mentioned in the charter of the Loudoun family as far back as 1240, has a population of 2,600, and consists of one principal street, half a mile long, which is crossed by several smaller ones. The parish is in the presbytery of Irvine and synod of Glasgow and Ayr. The stipend of the minister averages £300. The parish church was erected in 1833. There are two Free churches, and one United Presbyterian church, and several schools. The principal seats are Kirilaw, Ardeer, Auchenharvie, Hayock's Lodge, Parkend, Mayville, and Hullerhirst. The population of the parish by the last census was 5,454."

"SALTCOATS, a seaport town in the parishes of Ardrossan and Stevenston, county Ayr, Scotland, 7 miles W. of Irvine, and 1 mile S.E. of Ardrossan. It has a station on the Ardrossan branch of the Glasgow and South. Western railway. It is a subport to Irvine, and a bathing place on the Firth of Clyde. It was created a burgh of barony by James II., but having become decayed was refounded in 1684 by Sir R. Cunningham, who also built the harbour. The salt trade is still carried on, but not to its former magnitude. The site of the town is low, and its appearance unattractive. During the French war it was the seat of an extensive trade, and shipbuilding was carried on with great spirit, but its commerce is now nearly confined to the importation of timber and the exportation of coals to Ireland. A large portion of the inhabitants are employed in cotton weaving, and there are extensive chemical works. The townhall, surmounted by a steeple, is a prominent object when approaching the town. There are a savings-bank, and a branch office of the Ayrshire bank. The places of worship comprise an Established church, a Free church, three churches for the United Presbyterians, and a Baptist meeting-house. There are Free, parochial, and Sabbath schools, also several benefit societies. A fair for cattle is held the last Thursday in May."

Description(s) from The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland (1868)
Transcribed by Colin Hinson ©2003