West Kilbride

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West Kilbride
Scottish Gaelic: Cille Bhrìghde an Iar
West Kilbride9.JPG
West Kilbride from Law Hill
West Kilbride is located in North Ayrshire
West Kilbride
West Kilbride
 West Kilbride shown within North Ayrshire
Population4,393 [1]
OS grid referenceNS205485
Council areaNorth Ayrshire
Lieutenancy areaAyrshire and Arran
CountryScotland
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Post townWEST KILBRIDE
Postcode districtKA23
Dialling code01294
PoliceScottish
FireScottish
AmbulanceScottish
EU ParliamentScotland
UK ParliamentNorth Ayrshire and Arran
Scottish ParliamentCunninghame North
List of places
UK
Scotland
 
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West Kilbride
Scottish Gaelic: Cille Bhrìghde an Iar
West Kilbride9.JPG
West Kilbride from Law Hill
West Kilbride is located in North Ayrshire
West Kilbride
West Kilbride
 West Kilbride shown within North Ayrshire
Population4,393 [1]
OS grid referenceNS205485
Council areaNorth Ayrshire
Lieutenancy areaAyrshire and Arran
CountryScotland
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Post townWEST KILBRIDE
Postcode districtKA23
Dialling code01294
PoliceScottish
FireScottish
AmbulanceScottish
EU ParliamentScotland
UK ParliamentNorth Ayrshire and Arran
Scottish ParliamentCunninghame North
List of places
UK
Scotland

Coordinates: 55°41′48″N 4°51′27″W / 55.6966°N 04.8576°W / 55.6966; -04.8576

West Kilbride (Scottish Gaelic: Cille Bhrìghde an Iar) is a village in North Ayrshire, Scotland, on the west coast of Scotland by the Firth of Clyde, looking across the water to Goat Fell and the Isle of Arran. West Kilbride and adjoining districts of Seamill and Portencross are generally considered to be a small town, having a combined population of 4,393 at the 2001 census.[1]

History[edit]

West Kilbride's Scottish Sundial

Early history[edit]

A Neolithic cup and ring marked stone is located on Blackshaw Hill, near West Kilbride. This stone is unusual, in that it is carved with three spirals.[2] Although the purpose of such stones is not known, it is considered that they may have had religious importance.[3]

Traces of an Iron Age fortification were uncovered when the house named "The Fort" was constructed in Ardrossan Road, Seamill.[4]

Celtic[edit]

West Kilbride is generally believed to be named after the ancient Celtic Saint Brigid of Kildare, often known as St Bride.[5] The name suggests there was once a cell or kil to Brigid in the area, although local legend has her visit to establish her church around 500AD (the landing point was supposedly in front of the now Seamill Hydro. The "West" prefix was added to disguish between other places which commemorates the same Celtic saint, such as the new town East Kilbride in Lanarkshire which was named "East" to distinguish it from the older "West".[6] There has been a hamlet in the area since 82 AD when the Roman general Agricola stationed 30,000 troops in the area of the village now known as Gateside. Roman roads can still be explored around the village to this day, and many Roman finds have been reported and lodged in Museums throughout Scotland. William Wallace's uncle Crauford had an estate at Corsbie in the North of the village, and this is still in use as a caravan park called Crosby, to this day (Wallace's mother's family). In later years Robert the Bruce gave a grant of the lands of the Barony of Kilbride to the Boyds of Kilmarnock.[7] It was once home to various mills and other works,[8] and in the 18th century West Kilbride was primarily a weaving village.

In 1826, the Hunterston Brooch, a highly important Celtic brooch of "pseudo-penannular" type was found by two men from West Kilbride who were digging drains at the foot of Goldenberry Hill, near Hunterston.[9] Made about 700 AD,[10] the Hunterston Brooch is cast in silver, gilt, and gold, silver and amber, and decorated with interlaced animal bodies in gold filigree.[10] In its centre, a cross and a golden Glory represent the Risen Christ. The Hunterston Brooch is clearly object of very high status, indicating the power and great prestige of its owner. Nowadays, it is considered one of the most significant items of Celtic art, and is housed in the Royal Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh.[10]

Medieval[edit]

Law Castle

Several buildings in the area date back to medieval times. Law Castle, situated at the foot of Law Hill, was built in the 15th century for King James III's sister Mary.[11] The castle is a simple rectangular structure with a sloping roof and several large chimneys protruding at each side. In recent years, Law Castle has been substantially restored and refurbished and it now letted for functions and as a holiday home.[11]

Portencross Castle, thought to date from the 14th century,[12] is situated right next to the sea at Portencross harbour. It is L-shaped and four storeys high, with a barrel-vaulted ceiling.[12] The castle was roofless for many years due to storm damage. A campaign to save Portencross Castle from private ownership received national publicity in July 2004 when it was featured on the BBC's Restoration television programme.[13] The title for the castle and grounds was given to the group "Friends of Portencross Castle" on 22 December 2005.[12] It has since been partly restored and visitors have been allowed since summer 2011. http://www.portencrosscastle.org.uk/index.htm It is thought that a previous incarnation of the castle was a staging post on the route for the transport of dead Scottish Kings to the Island of Iona for burial.[citation needed]

Crosbie Castle

Crosbie Castle (also known as Crosbie Towers) lies to the north west on the outskirts of West Kilbride. It was largely rebuilt from a tower demolished in the 17th century which was the home of Sir Ranald Craufurd (uncle of William Wallace) in the 13th century,[14] and it is said that Wallace himself spent some time at Crosbie.[14] Currently the castle lies at the centre of a caravan park also called Crosbie Towers. Having lain empty for a number of years due to internal fire damage, part of the building was demolished in early 2007 after heavy storms damaged the external walls of the castle.[15] Although the building is a Category-B listed building, permission was not sought before demolition.[15]

Early modern[edit]

The town became known as a weaving and agricultural town, one of many Ayrshire towns specialising in potatoes. Since the town became linked by rail to Glasgow in 1878, it began to attract more visitors, particularly to the Hydropathic spa at Seamill and its neighbouring sandy beach.

Governance[edit]

West Kilbride is governed by North Ayrshire Council as part of the unitary local authority of North Ayrshire and Arran based in Irvine, which controls such matters as education, environmental services and social housing. Police services are operated by Strathclyde Police. The Scottish Parliament is responsible for policy on devolved matters such as education, health and justice while reserved matters are dealt with by the Parliament of the United Kingdom.

West Kilbride forms part of the constituency of North Ayrshire and Arran, electing one Member of Parliament (MP) to the House of Commons of the United Kingdom. Katy Clark of the Labour Party was elected in 2005 and re-elected in 2010 with a 47.4% share of the vote.[16]

For Scottish Parliament elections, West Kilbride forms part of the Cunninghame North constituency, which elected SNP candidate Kenny Gibson to Holyrood in 2007 with 30.7% of the vote.[17] Gibson was re-elected in 2011 with 52.6% of the vote, a majority of 6,117.[18]

West Kilbride is also represented by seven regional MSPs from the West of Scotland electoral region.

See also

Geography[edit]

West Kilbride is situated on the west coast of Scotland, approximately 40 miles (60 km) south west of Glasgow, about 8 miles (13 km) south of Largs and about 5 miles (8 km) north of the "Three Towns" conurbation of Ardrossan, Saltcoats and Stevenson. The built-up area extends from Seamill on the coast of the Firth of Clyde to the principal part of the town, which, raised up and about 1 mile (1.6 km) from the coast, lies between Law Hill (168 m, 551 ft) and Tarbert Hill (138 m, 453 ft). It is overlooked by Cauldron Hill (329 m, 1,079 ft), whose name is largely reputed to be from the Welsh "Cadron" ref. Geoffrey of Monmouth.[citation needed] It looks across the Firth of Clyde to the mountains of the Isle of Arran to the west. The seafront at Seamill features a long sandy beach, as well as rocky outcrops including the small harbour at Portencross. The neighbouring agricultural land supports cereals, potatoes, and livestock, particularly sheep.


Tarbert Hill

Demography[edit]

At the 2001 census, the population of West Kilbride was 4393.[19] Approximately 85% were born in Scotland, and 10.6% were born in England (op cit). Compared to the population of Scotland as a whole, the number of children aged 5–15 is above average, as is the proportion of adults age 45+ (op cit). 2.2% of the community were born outside Europe (op cit).

77% of residents own their home, compared to 62.6% in the population as a whole; 34.3 live in detached houses compared to 20.4 in all of Scotland, and the proportion of semi-detached dwellings is also above average.[20]

Economy[edit]

Work and employment[edit]

The local area is predominantly rural, but agriculture accounts for only 1.4% of local employment. Managers and professional occupations make up 33.7% of the employed population, compared to the average of 23.8% for the whole of Scotland.[21]

The main industries of employment at the 2001 census were:[21]

Industry % of employed population
Health and social work14.6%
Manufacturing11.8%
Real estate and renting and business activities11.3%
Wholesale & retail trade and repairs10.3%
Education9.6%

Farming and local industry[edit]

The area is noted for its Ayrshire potatoes. These grow well locally, thanks to the use as fertiliser of the abundant supply of seaweed conveniently deposited on the nearby shore by winter storms. For this reason West Kilbride was sometimes referred to as the "Tattie Toon".[22] Other crops grown include sweetcorn (for cattle food), barley, root vegetables and summer berries, especially strawberries. Cattle and sheep are also farmed locally.

Industries close to the village include the Hunterston B nuclear power station and the nearby Hunterston Terminal, owned by Clydeport.

A 24 MW wind farm, owned and operated by Airtricity, is located on Busbie Muir (about 3 km east of Tarbert Hill), and has been operational since February 2004.[23] Its capacity will increase to 30 MW when three additional wind turbines become operational, scheduled for Autumn 2007.[24]

A view of the twelve wind turbines above West Kilbride and Seamill

Crafts[edit]

Through the endeavours of the local initiative group, West Kilbride is now achieving fame as the "Craft Town Scotland". The village boasts a growing number of craft shops and studios, as well as several leading artists including Silversmith Marion Kane. The Initiative Centre provides a convenient way for craftspeople to sell their art and craftwork, in return for a share of the profits.[25]

In September 2006, West Kilbride Craft Town won the Department of Trade and Industry's "Enterprising Britain 2006" competition. Presenting the award, Alistair Darling MP praised the resourcefulness and dedication of the West Kilbride community.[26]

In January 2012 the Craft Town Scotland project achieved another accolade by winning the Creative Scotland £100k "Creative Places" award. The new £1.7m Barony Craft Centre will formally open to the public on 7 May 2012, and this will be the centrepiece of this extensive community initiative. The West Kilbride Community Initiative is currently considering how to further strengthen the project, and this may be to consider the renovation of Kirtonhall (see below).

Culture[edit]

Festivals and public events[edit]

Yuletide Night
Held on the first Friday of December every year, this is a Christmas event where shops open late as a procession of children and adults follow Santa to the village hall. Music, stalls and children's fairground rides are set up on Main Street and adjoining Glen Road, which are closed to traffic for the evening.

Scarecrow Festival
West Kilbride is the first town in Scotland to organise an annual "Scarecrow Festival". The purpose of the Scarecrow Festival is to foster community spirit and civic pride within West Kilbride and its surrounding area. It celebrates West Kilbride's origins as an agricultural community, while looking to the future through the "Craft Town Scotland" initiative. Following a meltdown in late 2010 when the Scarecrows were destroyed by a dissident Scarecrow Festival Grouth, the festival was cancelled for 2011. From the ashes of these most unfortunate events, a new Festivals Organising Group has arisen, supported once again by the local initiative group. This Organising Group hopes to rebrand two of the festivals for 2012 - the Scarecrow one in Summer and the very successful Yuletide Festival in December. At this stage, the village Gala has chosen to remain separate from this group.

Sport[edit]

West Kilbride Golf Club, a championship links course, is situated at Fullerton Drive, Seamill. The original designer of the course was "Old Tom Morris".[27] The club hosted the Millennium British Ladies' Championship, and hosts the Scottish Boys' Championship once every three years.

The bowling club, located on Weston Terrace, has two bowling greens. Its most notable member is Margaret Ross, who was twice Scottish Champion (1976 and 1978) and British Singles Champion (1976). She also represented Britain internationally in 1976, 1978 and 1981-83.[citation needed]

Football pitches, tennis courts and a children's play park are situated near the entrance to Kirktonhall Glen.

Landmarks[edit]

St Andrew's Church

St. Andrew's church, formerly known as St. Brides, belongs to the Church of Scotland. In addition to being a church, it has several large function rooms which are used by local groups.[citation needed] It has a large rose stained glass window and a tall, gothic bell tower.

Overton Church

Overton Church, also belonging to the Church of Scotland, is located at the top of Ritchie Street. It is a red sandstone building with a working bell tower. Overton Church website

St. Bride's is a small Roman Catholic chapel, on the north side of Hunterston Road, with a large garden behind it.

The Barony (or Barony Church), a large 19th-century grey sandstone building, is situated just across the main street from St. Andrew's. This building no longer functions as a church; however, it remains in public hands, as the new £1.7m Craft Exhibition Centre operated by Craft Town Scotland (a project of the West Kilbride Community Initiative Limited). Unfortunately, its 19th-century stained-glass windows were illegally removed by its previous owner, despite the Barony's listed building status.[citation needed] Attempts to trace the windows were unsuccessful and the previous owner was successfully prosecuted.

Kirktonhall House

One of the oldest houses in West Kilbride is Kirktonhall, which originally dates back to 1660,[28] although the house was partially rebuilt and extended in 1791 and 1868.[28] The house was birthplace to mathematician Robert Simson, born 14 October 1687.[28] A large monument to Simson stands in West Kilbride's cemetery. Kirktonhall was formally used as administrative offices by North Ayrshire Council but now remains boarded up.

West Kilbride Village Hall

The West Kilbride Institute and Public Hall, opened in 1900, has been home to the West Kilbride Horticultural Society's flower shows from the same year.[29] The building currently has a number of other uses, including a permanent local history museum, located on the first floor of the hall.[30] The local library was housed here until 1996 when a dedicated home was built (see below). Since the late 1990s the Hall has been run by a dedicated Management Group as part of the highly successful West Kilbride Community Initiative. It is hoped that during 2012 with the full support of the Initiative and local Council the Hall will proceed to separate charitable status as a SCIO.

The War Memorial, originally built in 1921, did not list the names of the dead. This deficiency was remedied on 3 June 2001 (the Sunday nearest D-Day), when the memorial was re-dedicated with four new granite stones listing the names.[citation needed]

Kirktonhall Glen is a woodland walkway leading from West Kilbride to Seamill, gifted to West Kilbride in 1924 by Robert Barr.[citation needed] Through it flows the Kilbride Burn which enters the Firth of Clyde at Seamill.

Education[edit]

West Kilbride Primary School serves West Kilbride, Seamill and Portencross. Opened in 1983, it replaced the previous Victorian-era school which had burned down in 1980 on the same site. The original school could support up to 250 pupils. The newer school has exactly 465 pupils

The community centre in Corse Street houses many local groups and organisations including bridge, photo, snooker and music clubs, the local cub scouts, computer classes, yoga classes, and the North Ayrshire Music School. This building was originally the Paisley Convalescent Home, gifted by James Arthur of Carlung.[31] Opened in the 19th century, it much later became a community centre and now

West Kilbride Library

The town's library, opened in 1996, was purpose-built to replace the library originally located in the village hall and is located at the fork of Main Street and Halfway Street.[32] The library is run by North Ayrshire Council.

Transport[edit]

The former station building at West Kilbride railway station.

Rail[edit]

West Kilbride railway station lies on the Ayrshire Coast Line between Largs and Glasgow Central. The journey to Glasgow takes around 50 minutes.[33] The station is unmanned, with only one passenger track.

Bus[edit]

A bus service connects West Kilbride northwards to Greenock and south to Ayr. The service is number 585, and is operated by the Stagecoach Group. Buses run approximately half-hourly; there is no bus station but there are several roadside bus stops throughout the town.

Road[edit]

The main A78 road links West Kilbride to as far as Greenock to the north, and Prestwick to the South. The B781 road links West Kilbride to Dalry (and beyond to Glasgow via the A737) in the east. There are half-hourly buses northwards to Largs and Greenock, and southwards to Ardrossan, Saltcoats, Stevenston, Irvine and Ayr.[34] There is also a commuter bus service to Glasgow, the journey taking around 1 hour 35 minutes.[35]

Notable residents[edit]

Memorial to Robert Simson. The memorial plate reads "To Dr. Robert Simson of the University of Glasgow, the Restorer of Grecian Geometry; and by his works, the great promoter of its study in the Schools. A Native of this Parish."

Notable residents of West Kilbride have included:

In the news and popular culture[edit]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b 2001 Census, population data for Seamill and West Kilbride
  2. ^ Lamb, page 70
  3. ^ Lamb, page 72
  4. ^ Amenity Society, West Kilbride, Seamill, Portencross & Thereabouts, p.14.
  5. ^ Lamb, page 11
  6. ^ Lamb, page 12
  7. ^ Lamb, page 41
  8. ^ Lamb, page 40
  9. ^ Lamb, page 92
  10. ^ a b c "National Museums Scotland - Hunterston Brooch". Retrieved 2007-09-01. 
  11. ^ a b "Law Castle official website". Retrieved 2007-08-17. 
  12. ^ a b c "Friends of Portencross Castle". Archived from the original on 2007-08-14. Retrieved 2007-08-17. 
  13. ^ "Official Restoration Website". Retrieved 2007-09-01. 
  14. ^ a b Lamb, page 94
  15. ^ a b "North Ayrshire Council Planning Committee Report". 2007-03-19. Retrieved 2007-08-31. 
  16. ^ http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/shared/election2010/results/constituency/848.stm Accessed 11/08/2010
  17. ^ 2007 Scottish Parliament election results Accessed 11/08/2010
  18. ^ "BBC News - Election 2011 - Scotland - Cunninghame North". BBC Online. 11 May 2011. Retrieved 3 November 2011. 
  19. ^ http://www.scrol.gov.uk/scrol/browser/profile.jsp?profile=Population&mainLevel=Locality&mainText=West+Kilbride&mainTextExplicitMatch=null&compLevel=CountryProfile&compArea=Scotland&compText=&compTextExplicitMatch=null Accessed 11/08/2010
  20. ^ http://www.scrol.gov.uk/scrol/browser/profile.jsp?profile=Household&mainLevel=Locality&mainText=West+Kilbride&mainTextExplicitMatch=null&compLevel=CountryProfile&compArea=Scotland&compText=&compTextExplicitMatch=null Accessed 11/08/2010
  21. ^ a b 2001 Census, employment data for Seamill and West Kilbride
  22. ^ Molly Blyth's book Old West Kilbride is subtitled "The Tattie Toon"
  23. ^ Operational wind farms in the UK
  24. ^ Airtricity - Ardrossan extension
  25. ^ "Anchor examples" Local People Leading. Retrieved 5 April 2008.
  26. ^ DTI's small business service - press release
  27. ^ West Kilbride Golf Club
  28. ^ a b c Lamb, page 42
  29. ^ "West Kilbride Horticultural Society History". Retrieved 2007-09-01. 
  30. ^ West Kilbride Village Hall Official website
  31. ^ Lamb, page 48
  32. ^ Designing Libraries website (West Kilbride entry)
  33. ^ Train timetable (pdf)
  34. ^ Bus timetable Greenock-Ayr (pdf)
  35. ^ commuter bus service timetable (pdf)
  36. ^ "BBC - Young Musician of the Year - Past Winners". Retrieved 2007-09-21. 
  37. ^ The Scotsman - Alien invasion of UFO hotspot West Kilbride
  38. ^ Billy Connolly (1994). World Tour of Scotland (DVD). Scotland: Universal Pictures (UK) Ltd. 

References[edit]

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