Ayrshire Towns and Parishes

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Saltcoats 1846

SALTCOATS, a sea-port town, and lately an ecclesiastical district, partly in the parish of Stevenston, but chiefly in that of Ardrossan, district of Cunninghame, county of Ayr, 6 miles (W. by N.) from Irvine, and 32 (S. W.) from Glasgow; containing 4238 inhabitants, of whom 2806 are in that part within the parish of Ardrossan. This town, which is irregularly built, is chiefly inhabited by seafaring men connected with the shipping of the harbours of Ardrossan and Saltcoats; by weavers; and the various artificers connected with the business of the port.

The harbour is in that portion of the town which is in the parish of Stevenston, and it has contributed greatly to the increase of the population. A great number of the inhabitants are employed in weaving for the manufacturers of Glasgow and Paisley; the articles are chiefly lappets, gauzes, trimmings, shawls, and silks, in the manufacture of which more than 450 looms are constantly at work. A large number of females, also, are engaged in working muslins in different patterns, for which this part of the country is celebrated, and which by way of eminence are designated the Ayrshire muslin. Many persons from the Highlands and from Ireland have settled at this place, who are employed in general trades; and several families, unconnected with business, have built handsome houses here as a favourite residence for the benefit of sea-bathing, for which its proximity to Ardrossan renders it very convenient.

The principal building is the town-house, a well-built edifice two stories in height, and surrounded by a lofty spire. The ground-floor is occupied by shops, a room for the town library and reading-room, and a committee-room; the upper story contains a spacious apartment which is appropriated to the monthly meetings of the magistrates of the district, who here hold a court of petty sessions, and in the intervals is used as a news-room and for other general purposes. Attached is a small lock-up house for the temporary confinement of petty offenders. A handsome building has also been erected for the branch of the Western Bank of Scotland established within the last few years. Fishing is carried on here to a considerable extent; salmon are found in the Frith, and sent in large quantities to the neighbouring towns, to Glasgow, Paisley, and Kilmarnock, and to Liverpool by steam-packets, which sail regularly from the harbour of Ardrossan. From fifteen to twenty boats, likewise, are employed in the herring-fishery, for which purpose they frequent the lochs in the north and west Highlands; herrings are also taken in tolerable numbers in the bay, and some boats go to the coasts of Barra and other islands for ling and cod. A fair is held on the last Thursday in May, for cattle, pigs, shoes, and other articles of merchandise; a post-office is established here, which has a good delivery; and facility of communication is maintained by roads in every direction, and by packets and steam-boats that sail at stated times.

The Ardrossan and Johnstone railway, which now forms a part or branch of the Ayrshire railway, passes through this place, to which it proceeds from the west side of the harbour of Ardrossan, and unites with the main line at the town of Kilwinning. The district was separated for ecclesiastical purposes from Ardrossan by an act of the General Assembly; and was in the presbytery of Irvine and synod of Glasgow and Ayr: the stipend of the minister was 80, arising from seatrents and collections. The church, built in 1836, is a neat edifice containing 720 sittings. There are several meeting-houses, and a mechanics' institute. A public library is supported by subscription, which has an extensive collection of books on general literature; and a savings' bank has been for some time established.

A Topographical Dictionary of Scotland (1846)








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