West Kilbride

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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Kilbride, West, a small town and a coast parish of Cunninghame, NW Ayrshire. The town, standing 1 mile inland and 150 feet above sea-level, has a station on the Fairlie branch of the Glasgow and South-Western railway, 4 ¼ miles NNW of Ardrossan and 35 ¾ WSW of Glasgow. Its site is a finely sheltered depression, on tiny Kilbride Burn. An ancient place, it at one time possessed a number of mills and other works, which all have disappeared; and weaving and hand-sewing for the manufacturers of Glasgow and Paisley, the present staple employments, are also slowly dying out. It has a post office, with money order, savings' bank, and telegraph departments, a branch of the Commercial Bank, 3 inns, gasworks, a Good Templars' hall, and a cemetery, in the centre of which is a monument to Prof. Simson. The parish church is a handsome Early English edifice of 1873, with 610 sittings and a spire 100 feet high. A new Free church, French Gothic in style, with 450 sittings and a spire 120 feet high, was built in 1881 at a cost of £3500; and a new U.P. church of 1882-83 (400 sittings) cost £2500. Pop. (1861) 1083, (1871) 1218, (1881) 1363. The parish is bounded N by Largs, NE by Dalry, SE by Ardrossan, and SW, W, and NW by the Firth of Clyde. Its utmost length, from N to S, is 6 3/8 miles; its utmost breadth, from E to W, is 5 miles; and its area is 11, 535 acres, of which 1415 are foreshore and ¾ is water. The coast, 9 miles in extent, at Ardneil Bank, near Farland Head, rises steeply to 456 feet above sea-level; but elsewhere the shore is low and shelving, and consists of alternate sandy bays and sandstone reefs. Inland the surface rises eastward to 715 feet at Black Hill, 1270 at Kaim Hill, 870 at Glentane Hill, 1081 at Caldron Hill, 551 at Law Hill, and 446 at Tarbert Hill - summits these of rolling continuous ridges that command magnificent views of the waters and screens of the Firth of Clyde. Kilbride, Southannan, and three other burns, which rise near the eastern border and run to the Firth, in rainy weather sometimes acquire much volume and force; and Southannan Burn, traversing a romantic glen, forms a series of beautiful falls. Basalt, porphyry, and Old Red sandstone are the predominant rocks; a stratum of breccia on Kaim Hill has been quarried for mill-stones; and slight veins of limestone appear at Farland Head. The soil on low portions of the seaboard and the centre, amounting to one-fifth or more of the entire area, is partly sand, partly poor gravel, partly a rich deep dark mould; on some rising-grounds and on the skirts of some of the hills, is loamy or calcareous; and on most of the uplands, is either spongy or heathy moor. About 170 acres are under wood, nearly one-third of all the land is either pastoral or waste, and the rest is either regularly or occasionally in tillage. Dairy farming and the growing of early potatoes form the main elements in the agricultural industry. Since the opening of the railway in 1880, the seaboard of the parish is gradually becoming a favourite resort for summer visitors, principally from Glasgow; and for their accommodation several villas have lately been built along the coast. Antiquities are several tumuli, remains of a circular watch tower on Auld Hill, sites of signal-posts on Auld, Tarbert, Law, and Kaim Hills, and the ruins of Portincross, Law, and Southannan Castles. One of the large ships of the Spanish Armada of 1588 sank in 10 fathoms of water very near Portincross Castle; and one of its cannon is mounted on the Castle Green. In 1826, on a hillside near Hunterston, a shepherd found an ancient Celtic gold and silver brooch; and 300 old silver coins, mostly of the reign of Queen Elizabeth, were turned up by the plough in 1871 on Chapelton farm. Robert Simson, M.D. (1687-1768), professor of mathematics in Glasgow University, and translator and editor of Euclid, and General Robert Boyd, lieutenant-governor of Gibraltar during the famous siege of that great fortress in 1782, were natives of West Kilbride. Mansions are Ardneil, Carlung, Hunterston, and Seaview; and 5 proprietors hold each an annual value of £500 and upwards, 14 of between £100 and £500, 7 of from £50 to £100, and 15 of from £20 to £50. Giving off quoad sacra a fragment to New Ardrossan, West Kilbride is in the presbytery of Irvine and synod of Glasgow and Ayr; the living is worth £409. A public school, with accommodation for 250 children, had (1881) an average attendance of 195, and a grant of £168, 9s. Valuation (1860) £13,115, (1883) £18,590, 3s., plus £4954 for railway. Pop. (1801) 795, (1831) 1685, (1861) 1968, (1871) 1880, (1881) 2088, of whom 2058 were in the ecclesiastical parish.—Ord. Sur., shs. 21, 22, 1870-65.

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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