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The ancient Royal Burgh, divided in two by the River Irvine, was once the main port for Glasgow. Today the town is the home of a great variety of industries.
The town has a multi-purpose sports centre at the harbour and is also the home of the Scottish Maritime Museum - well worth a visit.
The true age of the town of Irvine is unknown. However the Charter of 1308 from Robert the Bruce noted the town as a 'place of great antiquity'.
The first record of the towns name is in 1163, already the port of Irvine was recognised by the Scottish Kings, and it is thought that the actual port was near the Seagate - a castle was built here to protect the port.
As a Royal Burgh, Irvine was the main market town in the County of Ayr and also housed the County Jail in the Tolbooth. The town was also visited by various monarchs over the years. James IV passed through on various occassions. Whilst there is no record of Queen Mary every having been in the town of Irvine, she has very strong associations with the it.
The opening of Port Glasgow dealt a heavy blow to the port of Irvine, and Kilmarnock and Ayr quickly took on higher profiles in industry, and the population of Irvine dropped away.
In was not until the mid nineteenth Century that Irvine made any significant change to it's fortune. Then ship building began at the docks and a chemical manufacturers moved into Fullarton & Alfred Nobel established an explosive factory at Ardeer, both of which gave the port a boost.
In 1967 the Irvine Development Corporation was set up to oversee the development of one of Scotlands five New Towns. This was to change the face of the old town for ever.
The town center was totally rebuilt - the bridge was demolished and rebuilt as a shopping centre, including half of the Bridgegate. Most of Fullarton was lost to shopping developments, high rise flats and council offices. 2000 jobs were created as new industrial estates opened attracteing big firms like Digital, Volvo, Beechams and Hyster.
Irvine related web sites
Irvine Maritime Museum
While strictly not part of Ayrshire, this beautiful Island is visible from the Ayrshire coast line and is well worth a visit.
Isle of Arran, with Goatfell in a winter coat, taken from Prestwick on Saturday 19th February 2000.
The main point of access to Arran is the town of Brodick, the arrival point of the ferry from Ardrossan. One of the major places of attraction here is the National Trust of Scotland property Brodick Castle.
Arran is often described as Scotland in miniature. From the mountainous north of the island to the flatter, rolling lands of the south of the island. The island is mainly rural with further emphasis on tourism. The main village for services, local authority and hospital is Lamlash although ferry services arrive at Brodick which is now the main village for shops. Further villages on the east and south side include Whiting Bay, Sannox, and Corrie, to the West and North are Blackwaterfoot, Lochranza and Pirnmill.
One main road travel around the (mainly) coastline of the island with two further roads crossing centrally and to the south of the island.
There are many excellent walks on the island for all types of walkers.
Bus services are based on the island although these tend to run to ferry timetables. Buses are accustomed to catering for travellers, walkers etc and the attached gear normally carried.
Author : -Bob McIntyre