Friday, 9 August 2013

Enjoy Three Towns history

With the recent good weather, North Ayrshire Council’s Community & Culture department is encouraging Three Towns residents to explore local heritage trails.

The initiative comes in the week that the popular television series ‘Who do you think you are?’ returned to our screens.  In the programme, broadcast on BBC1 at 9:00pm on Wednesdays, celebrities discover their own personal heritage through looking at old public records, such as certificates recording the births, marriages and deaths of their ancestors.

On a new Council website, locals can read about significant places and events before taking to the streets to visit historic landmarks and sites of interest in Ardrossan, Saltcoats and Stevenston.

Each of the Three Towns has an individual trail.  Significant Ardrossan residents of yesteryear include architect Peter Nicholson (1765-1844); Dr Alexander MacFadzean, a physician and philanthropist (1788-1849); physicist, the Rev John Kerr (1824-1907); and Mungo Campbell, an excise officer who murdered the Earl of Eglinton (1712-1770).  Also of interest is actress Edith MacArthur who was born in Ardrossan in 1926.

Places listed in the town trail include Ardrossan Harbour, built by Thomas Telford, the Horse Isle navigation beacon, and some of the locations from the 1986 BBC comedy-drama Tutti Frutti, which starred Robbie Coltrane and Emma Thompson.  Of course, Ardrossan Castle also features prominently.

Saltcoats’ bathing pond, built in 1932, is one site of interest in the town’s trail, as is the Ardrossan Parish Church, which is now the home to the North Ayrshire Heritage Centre.

Famous sons and daughters of Saltcoats include Robert Cunninghame, industrialist and entrepreneur; Betsy Miller (1792-1864), Britain’s first female sea-captain; novelist Janice Galloway; artist Sir John Lavery (1856-1941); James Smith, philanthropist and missionary; Kenneth Campbell, awarded the Victoria Cross for bravery in the Second World War; and Harry Kemp who organised variety shows in theatres along the Clyde Coast, before moving into the cinema business.

 Stevenston, of course, is famous as the town that formerly housed one of the world’s largest explosives factories, founded by Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite.

Significant former Stevenston residents include William Landsborough (1825-1886), the first European to cross Australia; Ron Geesin, musician and composer; poet Francis Love (1781-1860); and writer Edward Boyd.

More details about individuals and historically-significant local sites are available on the Council’s heritage website here:  

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