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A historical perspective, drawn from the Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland: A Survey of Scottish Topography, Statistical, Biographical and Historical, edited by Francis H. Groome and originally published in parts by Thomas C. Jack, Grange Publishing Works, Edinburgh between 1882 and 1885.

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Millport, a watering-place on the island of Big Cumbrae, Buteshire. It stretches round a pleasantly sheltered crescent-shaped bay at the S end of the island, and partly overlooks the Little Cumbrae, partly commands the opening through Fairlie Roads to the Bay of Ayr, on the E side of the Firth of Clyde. By water it is 2¼ miles NW of the nearest point of the Ayrshire coast, 5¼ SSW of Largs, 13 SE of Rothesay, and 24 SSW of Greenock. Built in a crescent following the curve of the bay, and ascending the low heights, the town consists chiefly of neat two-storied whitewashed houses, among which are numerous excellent shops, and some ornamental public buildings. Were the environs only a little less bare of trees, Millport would be one of the prettiest spots on the Clyde. As it is, it commands a lovely panorama over the Clyde and the adjacent shores of Buteshire, Ayrshire, and Argyllshire; while its sheltered bay and beach help to make it one of the favourite West Coast watering-places.

In the middle of the curve, fronting the shore, is the Garrison, the beautiful marine pavilion of the Earl of Glasgow, who owns two-thirds of the entire island, the remainder belonging to the Marquis of Bute. The parish church, a handsome building surmounted by a low square tower, is situated on the rising ground behind the town. Built in 1837, it has upwards of 750 sittings. There are Free, U.P., and Baptist churches, and a Scottish Episcopal church, St Andrew's (1848). But the finest and most conspicuous edifice in Millport is the Episcopal Cathedral and College, founded and endowed by the Earl of Glasgow. The cathedral, dedicated to the Holy Spirit, was built in 1849-51 from plans by Butterfield; and in 1876 it was declared the Cathedral of Argyll and the Isles. In the Gothic style of the 13th century, it consists of a nave and chancel, divided by an open stone screen, and has an organ, good stained glass, 150 sittings, a graceful spire, three bells, etc. Immediately adjoining, and built of the same light-coloured freestone of the island, are a chapter-house and college. The whole range of buildings is situated in beautifully laid-out grounds. According to The Scottish Church and University Almanac for 1884, 'The chief objects for which this church and college are founded are: to place at the bishop's disposal a certain number of clergy who shall minister in places where a resident pastor cannot be supported; to afford a retreat to a small number of aged and infirm clergymen; to afford education and maintenance to two or three students of divinity; and to assist in their studies a certain number of young men before and during their university course, and to such as desire to read in the college in preparation for holy orders.'

Millport has a post office, with money order, savings' bank, and telegraph departments, a branch of the Union Bank, 5 insurance agencies, a public hall (1872), a town-hall (1879), a public library, a reading-room, a gas company, a harbour company, 5 hotels, including 3 temperance hotels, public and Episcopalian schools, an academy, and various other institutions. The harbour is a creek under Greenock; and is of small capacity. The stone pier, built chiefly at the expense of the Marquis of Bute, stands in 6 feet water at ebb, and 14 feet water at flood, tide. It has been largely superseded by an iron pier, built in 1871-72 by the Earl of Glasgow, on piles driven 5 or 6 feet into the ground. This pier is 275 feet long by 18 broad, and has a T-shaped head 80 feet by 25. Close by is good anchorage, fully protected by two small rocky islets known as the Allans. Steamer communication is maintained regularly with Wemyss Bay and Largs all the year round, and with other places on the Clyde less regularly, and chiefly in summer. The prosperity of the town depends chiefly on the summer visitors, several thousand of whom visit it annually during the season. Some of the inhabitants carry on fishing and a few minor industries. Millport, ranking as a police burgh since 1864, is governed by a senior and 2 junior magistrates and 6 police commissioners. Sheriff small debt courts are held in the town in March and September. The municipal constituency numbered 720 in 1884, when the annual value of real property was £14,616, whilst the revenue including assessments, amounts to £659. Pop. (1839) 932, (1861) 1104, (1871) 1523, (1881) 1749, of whom 758 were males. Houses (1881) occupied 344, vacant 67, building 5.—Ord. Sur., sh. 21, 1870.

An accompanying 19th C. Ordnance Survey map is available, or use the map tab to the right of this page.

Note: This text has been made available using a process of scanning and optical character recognition. Despite manual checking, some typographical errors may remain. Please remember this description dates from the 1880s; names may have changed, administrative divisions will certainly be different and there are known to be occasional errors of fact in the original text, which we have not corrected because we wish to maintain its integrity. This information is provided subject to our standard disclaimer

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