North Ayrshire

©2022 Gazetteer for Scotland


A red sandstone village on the Ayrshire coast, Skelmorlie lies on the Firth of Clyde, immediately to the south of Wemyss Bay and nearly 5 miles (8 km) north of Largs. It developed as a residential resort after the building of a hydropathic hotel in 1868. Skelmorlie Castle, which dates from the early 16th century, was a stronghold of the Montgomery family. Lower Skelmorlie is strung our along the coastal A78 trunk road, while the larger part of the village, Upper Skelmorlie, lies above on the Clyde Plateau at a height of 50m (160 feet above sea level.

White-painted markers in the village define the 'Skelmorlie Mile', established offshore by marine engineers Robert Napier & Sons in 1866 and later used by the Admiralty for speed trials. On the 18th April 1925 the embankment retaining the lower of two water-supply reservoirs in Upper Skelmorlie failed, following heavy rainfall, releasing its contents that spilled down the slope killing five people. An inquiry determined poor maintenance had been a significant factor but the dam was later repaired.

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