West Kilbride: Wikis


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Coordinates: 55°41′48″N 4°51′27″W / 55.6966°N 4.8576°W / 55.6966; -04.8576

West Kilbride
West Kilbride is located in Scotland
West Kilbride

 West Kilbride shown within Scotland
Population 4,393 [1]
OS grid reference NS205485
Council area North Ayrshire
Lieutenancy area Ayrshire and Arran
Country Scotland
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Postcode district KA23
Dialling code 01294
Police Strathclyde
Fire Strathclyde
Ambulance Scottish
EU Parliament Scotland
UK Parliament North Ayrshire and Arran
Scottish Parliament Cunninghame North
List of places: UK • Scotland •

West Kilbride is a village in North Ayrshire, 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]


Early history

West Kilbride is generally believed to be named after the ancient Celtic Saint Brigid of Kildare, often known as St Bride.[2] 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".[3] 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.[4] The village nestles beneath Law Hill (168m, 551 ft) and Tarbert Hill (138m, 453 ft) and is overlooked by Cauldron Hill (329m, 1,079 ft) - largely reputed to be from the Welsh "Cadron" ref. Geoffrey of Monmouth. It was once home to various mills and other works,[5] and in the 18th century West Kilbride was primarily a weaving village.

Coat of arms

West Kilbride does not have a legitimate coat of Arms registered by the Court of the Lord Lyon. However the coat of arms most often associated with the village was invented by the Staffordshire pottery manufacturer W.H.Goss in the late 1890’s to early 1900’s in order to sell crested china products in local retail outlets.

The top of the shield bears two fleurs de lis with a hunting horn between them. The left and right sections of the bottom of the shield are depictions of two castles, representing Law Castle and Portencross Castle. In the centre section is a representation of the Spanish galleon which sank off Portencross. Below the galleon is the cross of St. Bride overlaid with a mill iron and, above it, the shuttle which represents the village's old weaving industry. This original coat of arms had the phrase “Cautis Tutto” as the motto and can still be seen on various W.H.Goss pieces of the period in the Yerton collection.

Very soon after the W.H.Goss Pottery arrived, local West Kilbride publisher James Dalziel Simpson postcards started to appear with the coat of arms. Many of these are also in the Yerton collection dated around 1904-06.

Towards the first World War, when West Kilbride was booming as a tourist resort, other pottery manufacturers began to copy the West Kilbride crest. A few began to print the Hunterston crest on some of the cheaper tourist crested china items. It is worth noting that occasionally a third crest appears in relation to West Kilbride – the Boyd family crest – which has the symbol of a clenched fist as the main feature. The Yerton crested china collection contains many of these different items and can occasionally be seen on display at the Museum in West Kilbride.

By the early 1930’s, many small pottery companies had come and gone, and the proliferation of so many different crests on so many postcards and pottery items, made it almost impossible to determine which the “official” one was. So, the town council asked Jay Lascelles – the head of the Art Department of Ardrossan Academy – to design a crest based upon the original that could be used as the officially endorsed West Kilbride Coat of Arms. It is this final product – without the original motto of “Cautis Tutto” that can still be seen on display in the West Kilbride Museum.

As a final chapter to the West Kilbride Coat of Arms history, in the 1960’s West Kilbride Primary School modified the crest to include two books where two castles stand on the original coat of arms, and adopted their version as the school coat of arms.

To this day, it is generally held that the W.H.Goss pottery designed crest (without the motto) as re-constructed by Jay Lascelles, and approved by the town council in the 1930’s, is the final “official” version. The crest is not registered at the Court of the Lord Lyon, but if any community body felt that this was appropriate, they could do so at a relatively minimum cost.

Hunterston Brooch

In 1826, a highly important Celtic brooch was found by two men from West Kilbride who were digging drains at the foot of Goldenberry Hill, near Hunterston.[6] Made about 700 AD,[7] the Hunterston Brooch is a casting of silver, mounted with gold, silver and amber, and decorated with animals in gold filigree.[7] In its centre, a cross and a golden Glory represent the Risen Christ. The brooch may have been made at a royal site, such as Dunadd in Argyll. About 200 years after its making, an inscription was added in Viking Runes.[7] The Hunterston Brooch is believed to have been an 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. It is housed in the Royal Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh.[7]

Cup and ring stone

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.[8] Although the purpose of such stones is not known, it is considered that they may have had religious importance.[9]

Roman remains

Traces of a Roman fortification are said to have been uncovered when the house named "The Fort" was constructed in Ardrossan Road, Seamill. Across the road, in circa 1880, Roman funerary urns are said to have been unearthed when the foundations of "Tarbet" house were being dug.

Historical buildings


Law Castle

There are four standing castles in the area in and surrounding West Kilbride. Law Castle, situated at the foot of Law Hill, was built in the 15th century for King James III's sister Mary.[10] 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.[10]

Portencross Castle, thought to date from the 14th century,[11] is situated right next to the sea at Portencross harbour. It is L-shaped and four storeys high, with a barrel-vaulted ceiling.[11] The castle is currently roofless 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.[12] The title for the castle and grounds was given to the group "Friends of Portencross Castle" on 22 December 2005.[11] 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.

Hunterston Castle

Hunterston Castle, on the nearby Hunterston estate, is home to the historic Clan Hunter. It hosts regular clan gatherings which bring clan members to the area, from all corners of the world. The current Clan Chief is Madam Pauline Hunter. Close to the castle is a walled garden which is being replanted and restored.

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,[13] and it is said that Wallace himself spent some time at Crosbie.[13] 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.[14] Although the building is a Category-B listed building, permission was not sought before demolition.[14]


St Andrew's Church

St. Andrew's, 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. 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, being used for many events such as auctions and art shows. Unfortunately, its 19th century stained-glass windows were illegally removed by its previous owner, despite the Barony's listed building status. Attempts to trace the windows were unsuccessful and it is surmised they have been sold to a private collector.

Other buildings

Kirktonhall House

One of the oldest houses in West Kilbride is Kirktonhall House, which originally dates back to 1660,[15] although the house was partially rebuilt and extended in 1791 and 1868.[15] The house was birthplace to mathematician Robert Simson, born 14 October 1687.[15] A large monument to Simson stands in West Kilbride's cemetery. The house itself is now used as administrative offices by North Ayrshire Council.

Local economy

Work and employment

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.[16]

The main industries of employment at the 2001 census were:[16]

Industry  % of employed population
Health and social work 14.6%
Manufacturing 11.8%
Real estate and renting and business activities 11.3%
Wholesale & retail trade and repairs 10.3%
Education 9.6%

Farming and local industry

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".[17] 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 24MW 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.[18] Its capacity will increase to 30MW when three additional wind turbines become operational, scheduled for Autumn 2007.[19]

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


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.[20]

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.[21]


West Kilbride is a community contemplating joining the Transition Towns movement to minimise the town's contribution to climate change and to build resilience in the local economy to the impacts of peak oil.


The former station building at West Kilbride railway station.


West Kilbride railway station lies on the Ayrshire Coast Line between Largs and Glasgow Central. The journey to Glasgow takes around 50 minutes.[22] The station is unmanned, with only one passenger track. Trains from Hunterston Terminal run through on the second track, which no longer has a platform as it had when the station first opened in 1878.[23] The station building's architect was James Miller,[24] also known for designing Wemyss Bay railway station in Renfrewshire, and was converted into a restaurant in 2007.


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.[25] There is also a commuter bus service to Glasgow, the journey taking around 1 hour 35 minutes.[26]


Main features

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

West Kilbride Village Hall

The West Kilbride Institute and Public Hall, opened in 1900, has been home to the West Kilbride Hoticultural Society's flower shows from the same year.[27] The building currently has a number of other uses, including a permanent local history museum, located on the first floor of the hall.[28] The local library was housed here until 1996 when a dedicated home was built (see below).

The community centre in Corse Street was originally the Paisley Convalescent Home, gifted by James Arthur of Carlung.[29] Opened in the 19th century, it much later became a community centre and now 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.

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.[30] The library is run by North Ayrshire Council.

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.

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


West Kilbride Golf Club, a championship links course, is situated at Fullerton Drive, Seamill. The original designer of the course was "Old Tom Morris".[31] 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.

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

Festivals and public events

The West Kilbride Yuletide Night
Held on the first Friday in December every year, this is a Christmas event, celebrating the community coming together for the awakening of Christmas spirit in everyone. Held at night, the children and adults parade through the village carrying lights and stars to guide Santa to the village hall. This event gives everyone the opportunity to visit Crafters and Traders who are all open on the night, offering customers drinks and food of festive cheer or discounts on purchases from the shops. Live musical entertainment is featured around the village, as well as children's fairground rides & Santas Grotto. Further detail on the event can always be found on the West Kilbride site - [1]

Scotland's 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.

Notable residents

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:

West Kilbride in the news and popular culture

  • An episode of STV's Taggart series was partly filmed in West Kilbride's Main Street.
  • An episode of BBC Scotland's The Beechgrove Garden was broadcast from West Kilbride, featuring the work of local amateur gardeners and the recent enhancements to Kirktonhall Glen.
  • On 4 June 2007, West Kilbride featured in BBC 2's Springwatch programme. Local vet Charlie Garrett showed how Corsehill Quarry is being turned into a wildlife conservation area.
  • The opening sequence of the first episode of Billy Connolly's World Tour of Scotland, first broadcast on BBC television in 1994, features Connolly on a Caledonian MacBrayne ferry to Brodick and includes shots from the sea of West Kilbride, Seamill, and the surrounding area. Connolly comments, "This is the Scotland that everybody sings about, you know, this is the Kyles of Bute, and the Isle of Arran, the Little Cumbrae and Great Cumbrae and all these places, and if the truth be known, this is the reason I'm doing this tour, this is the bit I really like, you know, going to the Isle of Arran."[34]

See also


  1. ^ a b 2001 Census, population data for Seamill and West Kilbride
  2. ^ Lamb, page 11
  3. ^ Lamb, page 12
  4. ^ Lamb, page 41
  5. ^ Lamb, page 40
  6. ^ Lamb, page 92
  7. ^ a b c d "National Museums Scotland - Hunterston Brooch". http://www.nms.ac.uk/hunterstonbrooch.aspx. Retrieved 2007-09-01.  
  8. ^ Lamb, page 70
  9. ^ Lamb, page 72
  10. ^ a b "Law Castle official website". http://www.lawcastle.com. Retrieved 2007-08-17.  
  11. ^ a b c "Friends of Portencross Castle". http://www.portencrosscastle.org.uk/backgroundmore.php. Retrieved 2007-08-17.  
  12. ^ "Official Restoration Website". http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/programmes/restoration/2004/scotland_portencross_castle_01.shtml. Retrieved 2007-09-01.  
  13. ^ a b Lamb, page 94
  14. ^ a b "North Ayrshire Council Planning Committee Report". 2007-03-19. http://www.north-ayrshire.gov.uk/chiefexec/comRA.nsf/e9ee67f48fbb9003802569d700533758/8ce73e43f66465d700257296003a697c?OpenDocument. Retrieved 2007-08-31.  
  15. ^ a b c Lamb, page 42
  16. ^ a b 2001 Census, employment data for Seamill and West Kilbride
  17. ^ Molly Blyth's book Old West Kilbride is subtitled "The Tattie Toon"
  18. ^ Operational wind farms in the UK
  19. ^ Airtricity - Ardrossan extension
  20. ^ "Anchor examples" Local People Leading. Retrieved 5 April 2008.
  21. ^ DTI's small business service - press release
  22. ^ Train timetable (pdf)
  23. ^ Butt, page 245
  24. ^ Biography of James Miller (Dictionary of Scottish Architects)
  25. ^ Bus timetable Greenock-Ayr (pdf)
  26. ^ commuter bus service timetable (pdf)
  27. ^ "West Kilbride Horticultural Society History". http://www.wkhs.co.uk/history/three.html. Retrieved 2007-09-01.  
  28. ^ West Kilbride Village Hall Official website
  29. ^ Lamb, page 48
  30. ^ Designing Libraries website (West Kilbride entry)
  31. ^ West Kilbride Golf Club
  32. ^ "BBC - Young Musician of the Year - Past Winners". http://www.bbc.co.uk/youngmusician/history/winners.shtml. Retrieved 2007-09-21.  
  33. ^ The Scotsman - Alien invasion of UFO hotspot West Kilbride
  34. ^ Billy Connolly. (1994). World Tour of Scotland. [DVD]. Scotland: Universal Pictures (UK) Ltd.  


  • Blyth, Molly (1997). Old West Kilbride : the tattie toon. Ochiltree: Stenlake Publishing. ISBN 1872074995.  
  • Crampsey, Robert A (1993). The centenary history of the West Kilbride Golf Club. West Kilbride: West Kilbride Golf Club. ISBN 0952274906.  
  • Lamb, Rev. John, BD (1896). Annals of an Ayrshire Parish - West Kilbride. Glasgow: John J. Rae.  
  • Lamb, Rev. John, BD (2007). WEST KILBRIDE - Annals of an Ayrshire Parish. Paisley: The Grian Press. ISBN 0-9547996-8-2.   (reprint, with a few new illustrations)
  • McNab, Peter A (1980). West Kilbride and Seamill. West Kilbride Amenity Society.  
  • Oughterson, Rev. Arthur (1794). Parish of West Kilbride.  
  • West Kilbride Amenity Society (1990). OUR VILLAGE: The Story of West Kilbride. ISBN 0-9516831-0-1.  
  • West Kilbride Amenity Society (2002). West Kilbride, Seamill, Portencross & Thereabouts. ISBN 0-9516831-1-X.  

External links

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

West Kilbride is a historic small town in North Ayrshire, Scotland.

In September 2006, West Kilbride won First Prize in the "Enterprising Britain 2006" award, for its "Craft Town Scotland" initiative.

Get in

By car - the A78 - picturesque coastal route, wending through North Ayrshire; by bus - Stagecoach and Shuttle Buses both provide a regular service; by rail - regular passenger trains from Largs to Glasgow Central Station; by air - Prestwick Airport and Glasgowe Airport are convenient.

Get around

Eddie's Taxis. Tel: 01294 822 812.

panoramic view of West Kilbride
panoramic view of West Kilbride


Play golf at West Kilbride Golf Club, Fullarton Drive, Seamill. This well-respected 18-hole links course offers many challenges to test even the seasoned golfer. The fabulous view of Arran makes a wonderful backdrop to your game - and you may find it hard not to take your eye off the ball! Relax in the clubhouse afterwards.

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.

West Kilbride Glen
West Kilbride Glen


West Kibride has recently been dubbed "The UK's Capital of Enterprise" because of its pioneering Craft Town Scotland initiative. Its growing colony of top-class craftspeople and retail shops deserves your support. Now is the time to invest in original and stylish works of art - for example, from Silversmith Marion Kane; Nicola Beattie, candle-maker; and many others.

A Gift Tae Gie at 45 Main Street offers a fantastic array of gifts, toys, cards and interior accessories for all ages.

Glenbryde at 31 Ritchie Street specialises in the sale of quality clocks and barometers.


The Cherry Orchard - delightful coffee-shop in the heart of West Kilbride; various Indian and Chinese take-aways in the centre of town; Seamill Hydro Hotel and Resort - beautiful restaurant with a la carte and table d'hote menus. Further afield - Fins award-winning seafood restaurant, Fairlie; Braidwoods award-winning restaurant, Dalry; various hotels, restaurants, cafes and eateries at Largs.


The Kilbride Tavern and the King's Arms are typical Scottish pubs, located in the heart of West Kilbride.


Carlton Seamill Bed & Breakfast. Impressive Scottish Victorian house and garden. Rooms from £50 per couple per night. Generous Traditional Scottish Breakfast. Address: 53 Ardrossan Road, Seamill, West Kilbride, Ayrshire, KA23 9NE. Tel: 01294 822075. E-mail: carlton@westkilbride.net. Web-site: www.carlton-seamill.com.

Get out

Major tourist attractions near here are: - Isle of Arran (Brodick); Isle of Cumbrae (Millport); Isle of Bute (Rothesay and Mount Stuart); Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park; Clyde Muirshiel Regional Park; City of Glasgow; Robert Burns Heritage Trail; Kelburn Castle and Country Estate; Culzean Castle and Country Estate; many important golf courses within easy reach - for example, Royal Troon, Prestwick and Turnberry - and West Kilbride's own Golf Club.

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