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Ayr, Port of


(Ayr Harbour)

Port of Ayr
©2016 Gazetteer for Scotland

Port of Ayr

The Port of Ayr (Ayr Harbour) extends to 16 ha (40 acres) at the mouth of the River Ayr, a half-mile (0.8 km) northwest of the town centre. Managed from offices on North Harbour Street, the functional part of the harbour is now mostly on the northern shore, with a disused slip dock and former shipyard on the south bank. The harbour entrance is protected by the detached North Breakwater as well as the South Pier, which also serves to prevent silting up of the channel.

There is evidence that ships were being built at Ayr in the 13th C., while in 1587 commissioners were appointed to inspect and make recommendations for the repair of the decaying harbour, which was then centred on the southern bank of the river. Through the 17th and much of the 18th C. the harbour seems to have gone through periods of revitalisation and ruin. The North and South Harbour Quays (or Ratton Quays) where built along the river banks in 1713 and subsequently rebuilt several times. Between 1771 and 1830, James Watt (1736 - 1819), John Smeaton (1724-94), John Rennie (1761 - 1821) and Robert Stevenson (1772 - 1850) all advised on improvements. By the 1830s the principal export was coal, handled on the north side of the river. Other exports at this time were flour, oatmeal, leather, rope, textiles and wheat, with the main imports being hemp, iron, pitch, tallow, tar and American tobacco. The Griffin (Wet or North) Dock, which was once protected from tides by a lock gates, dates from 1873-78. The slip dock on the south side of the river dates from 1880-83 but has been disused since the later 20th C., with quayside housing developed adjacent.

Along with Troon, Ayr is one of only two Scottish harbours operated by London-based Associated British Ports. The Griffin Dock provides 610m (2000 feet) of quay with a water depth of 6m (20 feet), while the riverside berths add a further 549m (1801 feet) of quay and are slightly deeper (6.7m / 22 feet). The Arran, Kintyre, Carrick and Jura Terminals within the port provide a total of 18,000 sq. m (193,750 sq. feet) of storage. These handle dry bulk cargo (including aggregates, sand, rock-salt and animal feed), forest products, minerals (such as coal and silica-sand for glass-making), scrap metal and general cargo. Ayr has also been the port of choice for the arrival of wind turbines. 558,000 tonnes of cargo passed through the port in 2010, and the harbour also has facilities to handle cruise liners.


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