Ardrossan Harbour

A commercial harbour, important ferry terminal and marina in the small town of Ardrossan in North Ayrshire. Most of the traffic involves ferries, but dry bulk cargo is also handled. Ardrossan is the mainland connection for the Arran ferry and a second ferry connects Ardrossan with Campbeltown in Kintyre during the summer months. Ardrossan is Caledonian MacBrayne's busiest ferry port, with 630,000 passengers per year. The outer harbour includes of two roll-on roll-off berths and a quayside berth for vessels up to 100m (328 feet), while the inner harbour is a popular marina. Clyde Marina was established in 1997, occupying a former commercial dock and now has 250 berths. The harbour is now owned and operated by Clydeport, a division of Manchester-based Peel Ports Plc.

The harbour dates from 1806 when the Hugh Montgomerie, 12th Earl of Eglinton (1739 - 1819), began improving a natural harbour here. The engineer John Rennie (1761 - 1821) prepared plans in 1800 and these were adapted in 1805 by Thomas Telford (1757 - 1834). The first dock was brought into use on 1810 and the pier was completed in 1813 but work continued until 1845. The ferry to Arran began running in 1834, and additional service were established to Ireland and the Isle of Man but these later moved to Stranraer. In 1866, to help mitigate growing family debts, the Eglintons sold the harbour to the Ardrossan Harbour Company, which went on the extend the facilities in the later 19th C. The Italianate power house dates from 1892 and was converted to restaurant in 2007. The harbour office looks more like an airport control tower and dates from the 1960s.

Part of the Earl of Eglinton's plan was to connect this harbour to his Glasgow, Paisley and Johnstone Canal to deliver goods directly into Glasgow avoiding the shallow River Clyde, but money ran short and the age of the railways came. The harbour was eventually connected to the Earl's North Ayrshire coal mines, lying 6 miles (10 km) to the east, by a horse-drawn railway in 1831, which also carried passengers. Today this is part of the Ayrshire Coast Line, but a branch still reaches Ardrossan Harbour Railway Station, although rail-freight services are no longer available.

Clydeport began in 1966 with the merger of the Clyde Navigation Trust, the Greenock Harbour Trust and the Clyde Lighthouses Trust to form the Clyde Port Authority. This Authority was privatised in 1992, was subject to a management buyout soon after and acquired by Peel Ports in 2003. Clydeport also manages Clydeport Greenock and King George V Dock in Glasgow.

Shipbuilding was previously an important activity here but this had disappeared by the 1950s. An oil refinery was established immediately to the north by Shell-Mex in 1927 and linked to the harbour's railway network, but this closed in 1986.

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