Ardrossan Harbour: 1905-1920

22nd December 2011, 21:57
Hello ALL:
I am researching my family history and this journey has taken me to a small scottish town, named Ardrossan, in Ayrshire on Scotlands west coast. Ardrossan has a harbour and at one point, apparently, it was an
extremely busy little harbour but not so much these days.
I have been told that there used to be various boat building companies
within the area and that the main forms of vessels in and out the place
were for 'Timber' and 'Coal'.
Can anyone help educate me further on the history of this little place? I am particularly interested in the period 1905 to 1920 and the names of
any "scandinavian" vessels that may have done regular trips in and out of Ardrossan, especially during the months of June, July and August of each year throughout this period.
I would also like to know if anyone is aware of some sort of "large street party" that would take place all over this harbour every year at
some point during these months. Apparently these "celebrations" were permanently cancelled by local authorities due to the excessive
drinking, rowdiness and "open displays of affection"(Pint):@(*))
Any information on this little harbours history would be very welcome,
especially any names of Scandinavian vessels plying their trade in and
out of Ardrossan harbour from 1905 to 1920.

23rd December 2011, 14:02
A web site Ardrossan Ships may yield some info that you reqire.
I expect by having a "shoogle" on Google you could get access.
Sorry not to have been more specific and helpful.
Seasons Greetings and happy surfing.

23rd December 2011, 20:24
Cheers Archie: I'll give it a "shoogle".
I will also give another site, named: Three Towners, a try?

23rd December 2011, 21:59
If you could PM me a contact e-mail address I will forward you some Ardossan Harbour images that I think will prove of interest to you.

Angus Mac Kinnon

24th December 2011, 00:51
Thanks for that simple advice Archie. It's true what they say; 'sometimes we cant
see the wood for the trees'. Don't know why I didn't just do that in the first place because google is where I normally start any search, with a play on words. I have just spent the last few hours sifting through a load of info. None of it, so far, any use to me but still interesting and helps build a better picture of the times. Firstly keyed-in 'Ardrossan Harbour History' and got mostly "guff" about car parks and train stations. Then I keyed-in 'Ardrossan Scandinavian Ships' and I got a good few "interesting" articles but it has took me ALL this time just to read through one of them. Not easy with a Grizzly snorting in my ear. Nevermind, I can always go back to it. Thanks again.
ANGUS: Will do. Just as soon as I work out how to do it. When it comes to computers I am more Columbo than Bill Gates. I still type with one finger and, to me, a "mouse" is still a little, four legged, furry rodent.

24th December 2011, 09:02
Thanks - have sent you an e-mail with attachments.

Angus Mac Kinnon

24th December 2011, 09:53
Thank you for the pics. They help me build a better mental picture of the area and
it's shipping industry etc, even if it is 3 or 4 decades later than the time period I am interested in. The added bonus is that the pics are all ariel shots, my preference. So thank you once again and yes I will persevere, I don't give up that easy.

25th December 2011, 14:19
Just been looking through all the other pics you sent me, wow, what a change and NOT for the better if you ask me! I particularly like the ones of the old buildings, (Old Hydraulic Pumphouse & Old Harbour Offices). My only irritation is the modern cars in the shots and that ugly 'leisure banner' at the top of the old pump house but I suppose that's "progress"? Very good pictures indeed.
Thank you very much Angus. All the very best for the new year.

25th December 2011, 22:41
Richard :

Yes - agree with your sentiments - you will find that unless buildings are listed or commercially viable in some profit-generating manner, these old original buildings have long since been demolished, the area flattened and blocks of flats, retail outlets or Supermarkets have taken over the sites. Both sides of the Clyde from the Broomielaw down to Dumbarton bear little resemblance to what they looked like 40-50 years ago, and the same goes for the other Clydeside and West Coast ports and harbours, i.e. Port Glasgow, Greenock, Irvine, Ardrossan, Troon and Ayr.

Over a century of maritime history bulldozed into oblivion, all in the name of progress ! Best wishes throughout Year 2012.


26th December 2011, 15:40
Apologies for the "bum steer" regarding Ardrossan Ships, there was indeed a web site, now gone, which documented vessels and movements in the Ardrosan Dockyard. I am afraid that I cannot
resurrect it. However you may be able to clean some information from the Glagow University archives.
I have not used it but believe it is comprehensive, don't know if Angus pointed you in it's direction.
Web site Another one but more general is Ardossan Dockyard.


27th December 2011, 01:13
No problem and thanks. I will give your suggestions a look but not until 2012.

Tell me about it! Another part of my research took me to Paisley Road West and toward Govan etc, only to find large parts of it wiped out with a monstrosity of a motorway. Some very important addresses for my research
gone forever. Jump across into the Gorbals, another part of my research, and it is a similar story there. Most of Oxford Street gone, with Strathclyde Sheriff Court buildings sitting in its place, right where one of my most important addresses would have stood. Progress...You can keep it.
Well folks, signing off now for a few weeks to enjoy the New Year and take care
of a house move of my own.
All the very best for 2012 when it comes to all the SN people.

27th December 2011, 02:49
H. (Hungry) Hogarths were a famous Ardrossan shipping company, and their ships were registered there. eg Baron Wemys etc.

There was once a maritime museum on the breakwater, which had a model of the Baron Wemys, however I think its been closed for years now.

There used to be a Shell Oil Co. refinery there as well, and good sized Shell tankers docked at it.

The Ardrossan dockyard was struggling and was bought by Bill Macrindle, however it wasn't a success for him. I think he still lives in West Kilbride?

Thats all I can remember off the top of my head. The only association I have with Ardrossan now is when I catch the Brodick ferry there. Cal-Macs Caledonian Isles sails regularly to the Island of Arran.

27th December 2011, 15:34
I joined the 19,000 ton Shell tanker T.E.S. “Helcion” at Ardrossan in 1959.


27th December 2011, 15:54
Regarding the refinary at Ardrossan... The site of the old refinary has had a major clean up of contaminated ground earlier this year and is ready as a building site now...

tom e kelso
24th December 2012, 23:17
I imagine the Scandinavian "trade" you mention, probably involved the import of timber pit-props for the Ayrshire coal-mines, and railway sleeprs. My late father, an Arranach schoolboy then attending Ardrossan Academy, related the occasion , sometime in the period 1910-15 when a large stockpile of such landed timber caught fire and burned for several days. Travelling to Ardrossan on the first sailing on a Monday morning to return on the Friday evening, he "boarded" with the local
police constable(McIlwrick) and family, in a (now semi-derelect) building still standing in the road approaches to the harbour.

The North Ayrshire regional council Family History library in nearby Saltcoats has archives and books which may help with your research.

25th December 2012, 09:07
That last name of yours tweaked my interest in this thread. A bit off topic, but have you in yhour family research come across any Alexander's from Greenock?
My Grandfather was from there and worked for Tate (& Lyle) before they shut down there. His first name was Tom also. Incidentally, Greenock was my last port of departure in the UK when I came to Canada. (Bounce)

25th December 2012, 10:50
The party would most likely be Marymass Fair which was exactly as you describe. It was a major event in the calendar.

Ardrossan harbour was busy up to the 70's when the import of sulphur was an important cargo for the ammonia and nylon works at ICI's Ardeer plant. I remember it used to lie on the ground as spillage and we would take some of the very bright yellow material home.

Bill Mcrindle is very much to the fore and still lives in West Kilbride. Both businesses, Mcrindle Engineering and Ardrosssan Shipyard have gone unfortunately with the decline of manufacturing, they were large local employers in their day.

Ardrossan was a wartime port important for training ships which supported gunnery and target exercises in the Clyde and was used in the aftermath of the ill fated HMS Dasher incident with some of the casualties being buried in the local cemetery. "The Man Who Never Was" (Operation Mincemeat) was actually a Naval Officer casualty of this tragic accident and not the Welsh tramp as depicted in the film.

ps There is a local fable about two Ardrossan "buddies" fighting at El Alemein. During the intense fire storm one turned to the other and said
"It's Marymass Fair today!"

The other looked upwards and said "Thet've got a great day for it!"