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Stevenston

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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Stevenston, a town and a parish in Cunninghame district, Ayrshire. The town, lying ¾ mile inland, is 2 ¾ miles E of Ardrossan, 1 ¼ mile ENE of Saltcoats, and ½ NNW of Stevenston station on the earliest section (1832) of the present Glasgow and South-Western system, that station being 25/8 miles SW of Kilwinning Junction and 28 1/8 SW of Glasgow. It consists of a street ½ mile long, intersected by some cross streets; and commands a fine view of the Bay of Ayr and the neighbouring parts of the Firth of Clyde, magnificently screened in the distance by Brown Carrick Hill and the Arran mountains. It is a place of so high antiquity as to be mentioned in a charter of the year 1240. Its inhabitants at a former period, and those of an extinct neighbouring village called Pipers Heugh, were famed for the making of Jews' harps. A large proportion of its present male inhabitants are employed at the neighbouring coal mines and works; and a considerable number, but much fewer now than once, are weavers of silk and cotton fabrics. Stevenston has a post office, with money order, savings' bank, and telegraph departments, 3 hotels, a gas company, a police station, and a cemetery. The parish church is a handsome edifice of 1833, restored in 1882, with a steeple 120 feet high, and 1500 sittings; and a mission hall, with accommodation for nearly 300 persons, was erected in 1883 at a cost of £400. There is also a Free church; and the public school, in the centre of the town, is a recent and commodious building. Pop., inclusive of Ardeer Ironworks (1861) 3475, (1871) 3140, (1881) 3556, of whom 1790 were males. Houses (1881) 737 inhabited, 40 vacant, 4 building.

The parish, containing also part of the town of Saltcoats, is bounded N by Kilwinning, E by Kilwinning and Irvine, SE by Dundonald, SW by the Bay of Ayr, and W and NW by Ardrossan. Its utmost length, from NW to SE, is 4 ½ miles; its utmost breadth is 2 3/8 miles; and its area is 6 square miles or 4268 ½ acres, of which 424 ¾ are foreshore and 72 2/3 water. The Garnock curves nearly 3 miles south-by-eastward along the Kilwinning and Irvine boundary, till it falls into the river Irvine, which, itself dividing Stevenston from Dundonald, flows ½ mile west-south-westward to its mouth at Irvine Bar. Triangular Ashgrove or Stevenston Loch (3 ¾ 2 ¼ furl.) lies at the meeting-point with Ardrossan and Kilwinning parishes, and sends off a rivulet 2 ½ miles southward, through the town of Stevenston, to the sea. The coast-line, extending 4 ¼ miles north-westward from the mouth of the Irvine to Saltcoats harbour, is low; and all the tract between the beach and the Garnock is occupied by the desolate Ardeer Sandhills, 50 to 90 feet high. Here, 1¾ mile SSE of the town of Stevenston, is the extensive factory of Nobel's Explosives Company, founded in 1873. It covers an area of nearly 1 square mile, comprises thirty cartridge huts and a similar number of other wooden erections, employs 250 men and women, and on 8 May 1884 was the scene of a dreadful explosion, by which ten women were killed and four injured (Ill. London News, 26 April 1884). Under Ardeer have been noticed the ironworks (1852) of Messrs Merry & Cunninghame, the coal mines, and the valuable sandstone quarry. The rest of the parish is rather hilly, attaining 104 feet near Seabank, 215 on the western border near Middlepart, and 288 at the north-western corner. This more elevated district, whose soil consists chiefly of stiffish clay or loam, is well enclosed and cultivated, and in some places finely wooded. The parish derives its name from Stephen Loccard or Lockhart, whose father about 1170 obtained a grant of it from Richard de Morville, Lord of Cunninghame and Constable of Scotland. The second steam engine ever employed in Scotland was set up in 1719 for pumping water between Saltcoats and the town of Stevenston. Ruined Kerelaw Castle is noticed separately, as also are the mansions of Hayocks, Hullerhurst, and Kerelaw. Six proprietors hold each an annual value of more than £500, and six of between £100 and £500. Stevenston is in the presbytery of Irvine and the synod of Glasgow and Ayr; the living is worth £500. Prior to the Reformation the parish was a vicarage under the monks of Kilwinning. Two public schools - Kyles Hill and Stevenston - with respective accommodation for 126 and 750 pupils, had (1884) an average attendance of 128 and 518, and grants of £1 02, 15s. 6d. and £4433, 15s. A new school, with accommodation for 300 children, was opened at Saltcoats in 1885 to take the place of Kyles Hill, and near the same site. Valuation (1860) £9865, (1885) £21, 546, 7s. 8d., plus £1920 for railway. Pop. (1801) 2146, (1831) 3544, (1851) 3811, (118, 61)655452, (1871) 5019, (1881) 5694.—Ord. Sur., sh. 22,1865.

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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