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Ardeer Peninsula

The Ardeer Peninsula and Irvine Bay
©2014 Gazetteer for Scotland

The Ardeer Peninsula and Irvine Bay

A peninsula of North Ayrshire, the Ardeer Peninsula extends southeast from Stevenston with its southern tip facing the new town of Irvine. It is approximately 2 miles (3 km) in length, and 1½ miles (2.5 km) at its widest point. Its western shore forms the northern part of Irvine Bay, an inlet of the Firth of Clyde, while to the east is the mouth of the River Garnock.

Amongst the sand dunes of the Ardeer Peninsula was an extensive dynamite manufacturing plant built by Alfred Nobel, the inventor of the explosive and originator of the Nobel Prizes. Having had difficulties finding an appropriately remote location, Nobel acquired 40 ha (100 acres) of land from the Earl of Eglinton, formed the British Dynamite Company in 1871 and laid out what was the largest explosives factory in the world. The dunes were adapted to provide a natural safety measure protecting the factory's workers in the case of an explosion by directing the blast upwards. A sizeable industrial complex subsequently grew up in the area, including an Iron Works and plants manufacturing chemicals such as nylon and a tobacco substitute. From 1926, the plant became part of Imperial Chemical Industries Limited (ICI). Once employing more than 18,000 people, these industries were declining by the second half of the 20th C., although explosive-related chemicals and equipment are still manufactured in the area and a Nobel Business Park has been established.

The southern tip of the peninsula was the location of the 'Big Idea' inventions centre between 2000 and its closure three years later. This included displays on the life and work of Alfred Nobel.


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