Irvine Townhouse

(Irvine Court House)

The B-listed Irvine Townhouse is located on the High Street and now serves as a cultural and creative centre. This fine building was constructed 1859-62 as the centre of local administration and justice, containing the council chambers, court hall, library and offices, replacing the town's 14th-C. tolbooth which stood nearby. Behind was a police station with cells for prisoners, completed in 1860. The Townhouse was the work of Kilmarnock-based architect James Ingram (1799 - 1879) and cost £4000. Much taller than it is wide, for it was once hemmed in by other buildings, it comprises two-storey seven-bay Italianate construction in buff-coloured sandstone ashlar, with an ornate classical facade which rises to a 36.5-m / 120-foot high four-stage tower. The weather-vane was brought from the old tolbooth. The Provost of Irvine, Thomas Campbell, was so opposed to the style of the building that he refused to attend the ceremony for laying the foundation stone, which fell to Bailie John Niven.

Inside the entrance is a mosaic tiled floor, featuring the town's crest and motto 'Tandem Bona Causa Triumphat'. The former Council Chamber on the first floor was subdivided c.1973, but its ornately-panelled ceiling was retained.

The Townhouse underwent a major refurbishment as part of the development of the Portal leisure centre to the rear, to which is it now connects. It re-opened in 2017 as a tourist, local and family history information centre, and a venue for art and heritage exhibitions, performances, civic functions and weddings.

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