South Ayrshire

Carrick Street, Ayr
©2023 Gazetteer for Scotland

Carrick Street, Ayr

Situated at the mouth of the River Ayr as it flows into Ayr Bay on the Firth of Clyde, the town of Ayr is 42 miles (67 km) southwest of Glasgow. A popular resort town today, Ayr is the administrative centre of South Ayrshire and the heart of the 'Burns Country' which is associated with the poet Robert Burns (1759-96) who is commemorated in the town with a monument in Burns Statue Square as well as in a local museum and at the Auld Brig (c.1491). Formerly known as Inverayr, Ayr was developed around a castle built in 1197 by King William the Lion for the purpose of subduing the revolts of the men of Galloway. In 1297 William Wallace burned the Barns of Ayr, a military barracks of King Edward I of England and in 1298 Robert the Bruce destroyed the castle. It received its royal charter in 1205 and in 1315 the Scottish Parliament met to decide the succession to the throne in the Church of St. John, a building later sacked by Cromwell. In Mediaeval times Ayr developed as a major port trading in, amongst other things, fish, wine, textiles, leather and metal goods. Ships were built in Ayr and in 1230 King Alexander II founded a Dominican friary, the first of its kind in Scotland. The tobacco trade was important in the 18th Century and with the building of a wet dock in 1883 Ayr benefitted from an extensive trade in coal in addition to its emerging role as a steamer port linked to the railway system. Today the harbour also handles timber. Modern industries include quarrying for construction and the manufacture of furnishing fabrics, electronics and computers. A racecourse was established in 1770 and today Ayr hosts National Hunt and flat racing. Buildings of interest include Loudon Hall (1534), the Wallace Tower (1832), the Court House and Regional Buildings (c.1820) and the New Church of St. John (1654-56) where Burns was baptised in 1759. Other notables associated with Ayr include road-builder John Loudon MacAdam (1756 - 1836), geologist William Maclure (1763 - 1840), artist John Wilson (1774 - 1855), railway engineer John Miller (1805 - 1883), Australian politician Sir Thomas McIlwraith (1835 - 1900), politician Willie Ross (1911-88), entertainer Glen Michael (b. 1926), Concorde test pilot John Cochrane (1930 - 2006), politician Jim Sillars (b. 1937), entrepreneur Sir David Murray (b. 1951) and TV chef Nick Nairn (b. 1959). Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh visited in 1956 and 1995.

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