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Scottish Gaelic: Loch Eanach
Scots: Lochineuch
East end of the High Street with the façade of "Auld Simon" in the centre.
Lochwinnoch is located in Renfrewshire
 Lochwinnoch shown within Renfrewshire
Population 2,628 [1]
OS grid reference NS353586
Council area Renfrewshire
Lieutenancy area Renfrewshire
Country Scotland
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Postcode district PA12
Dialling code 01505
Police Scottish
Fire Scottish
Ambulance Scottish
EU Parliament Scotland
UK Parliament Paisley and Renfrewshire South
Scottish Parliament Renfrewshire South
List of places

Coordinates: 55°47′33″N 4°37′43″W / 55.79255°N 4.62856°W / 55.79255; -4.62856

Lochwinnoch (Scots: Lochineuch, Scottish Gaelic: Loch Eanach)[2] is a village in the council area and historic county of Renfrewshire in the west central Lowlands of Scotland. Lying on the banks of Castle Semple Loch and the River Calder, Lochwinnoch is chiefly a residential dormitory village serving nearby urban centres such as Glasgow and Paisley. Its population in 2001 was 2628.[3]

The Town also lends its name to a civil parish of some 50 sq mi (130 km2) of the surrounding countryside, including the nearby village of Howwood. The parish borders seven others: Beith, Kilbarchan, Kilbirnie, Kilmacolm, Largs, Neilston and Paisley.[4]


arms of Lord Sempill

Lochwinnoch is first recorded in the 12th Century as a parish under the higher control of Paisley and Renfrew, but the area has been inhabited since the neolithic period. The village's name probably derives from the Gaelic Loch eanach meaning 'loch of the birds', though local tradition attributes it to St Winnoc.

The Early 18th Century St John's Church, also known as 'Auld Simon' (whose front gable still stands at the eastern end of the High Street) was probably built on the site of a pre-reformation church dating back to the Medieval period. It is dedicated to St. John, hence the name of Johnshill, more properly St.John's Hill, and St. John's well, located in the garden adjacent to the Church Yard. It was in here that the wedding of Janet Pollock and James Tannahill, the parents of Robert Tannahill, took place on 29th August, 1763. Auld Simon's early 19th century replacement, the Church of Scotland administered Parish Church, complements the formal open space of Harvey Square, on Church Street.

Barr Castle.

Built not far from the village of Lochwinnoch, Barr Castle is a 15th Century keep which was altered in the 16th century (and probably later, too). The gables of the castle have collapsed, apart from the chimney stack which juts up into the sky. Not much survives of the former courtyard of the castle. The main hall was on the first floor, reached by a turnpike stair, which continued to the rooms on the upper floors. It is clearly visible from the A760 road going south from the village to Kilbirnie. It was built by the Glen family but passed in the late 16th century to the Hamiltons of Ferguslie. A door lintel has a date of 1680 and the initials L.H./I.C. It was abandoned in the 18th century in favour of a new house.

The family variously known as Sempill, Sempil, Sempel and Semple had probably owned estates in the area from as early as the 13th century, with Robert Semple, Steward of the barony of Renfrew during the reign of Alexander II, living in Elliston Castle, whose ruins lie near Howwood. At some point, probably in the 15th century, the family built a tower keep at the east end of the north shore of the Loch. The Semples of Elliston fought for Robert the Bruce and were appointed Hereditary Sheriffs of Renfrewshire and Hereditary Baillies of Paisley, and were later created Lords Semple. The Semples steadily grew in power to become the Steward's hereditary Baillies of Renfrewshire and their extensive land holdings, Castle Semple, constituted some areas of Lochwinnoch and its hinterland.

Memorial to the MacDowalls of Garthland, latter day owners of the Castle Semple estate.
Saint John's Kirk, c1729

In 1504 John, the first Lord Semple built the Lochwinnoch Collegiate Church, which became one of Scotland's finest church schools, and whose ruins can be found in Parkhill woods on the edge of the village. John was killed at the Battle of Flodden. In 1727 the Semples sold the estate to the MacDowalls of Garthland whose mansion house burned down in 1924. Castle Semple House remains only as ruined buildings such as the west gate, the garden wall, and a hexagonal building known as The Temple, which was built in 1770 on a hill overlooking the Loch.

In 1795, there were nine mills located in Lochwinnoch and the village was developed mainly to accommodate the work force.[5] As such, the village is largely a planned community, rather than one evolving over time. Furniture makers also established in the village in the 19th century, and Lochwinnoch made furniture was to be found on the great Clyde built liners such as the Lusitania, Queen Mary, Queen Elizabeth and even the RMS Titanic.[6] Today, it chiefly serves as a residential village, as well as a satellite to the major city of Glasgow. In 1972, a number of buildings in the village were brought within a Lochwinnoch conservation area administered by the local authority.[7]

Lochwinnoch Primary School, the only school in the village, celebrated its centenary in 2005. In 2003 it was the centre of a notable alien big cat sighting scare, during which children were made to stay inside during break times, and a police helicopter was brought in to search for the animal. [1]

History of the lochs[edit]

Lochwinnoch is probably not named after a Loch called 'Loch Winnoch' (the name almost certainly predates the use of the Scots language in the area, since it is Celtic, as mentioned above) being located next to Castle Semple Loch. There is a long history of drainage schemes and farming operations in the Lochwinnoch area, with co-ordinated attempts dating from about 1691 by Lord Sempill, followed by Colonel McDowal of Castle Sempil in 1774, James Adams of Burnfoot, and by others.[8] Until these drainage works there was one big loch consisting of Castle Semple loch, Barr loch and, in times of flooding, Kilbirnie Loch. Early writers such as Boece, Hollings and Petruccio Ubaldini regarded the three lochs as one, usually applying the name 'Garnoth' or 'Garnott'.[8]

Therefore the two lochs of today, Castle Semple and Barr Lochs, lie in an area covered by one large loch which may have been known as ‘Loch Winnoch’ until the end of the 18th century when silt brought down by the River Calder divided the one loch into two, creating Castle Semple and Barr Loch as separate entities.[9]

Places of interest[edit]

Water sports on Castle Semple Loch
Weather vane with plogh design on Saint John's Kirk.

The loch plays host to a variety of watersports, being part of the Clyde Muirshiel Regional Park and an RSPB bird sanctuary is nearby. There are three public houses in Lochwinnoch; the Corner Bar, the Brown Bull and the Three Churches Inn (previously the Garthland Arms). There is also a cafe, the Junction Bistro located at the cross, and a restaurant at the Golf Course which is open to non-members. Lochwinnoch Golf Club (eighteen holes) is on Burnfoot Rd.[6]

There are three places of worship in the village. Lochwinnoch Parish Church (Church of Scotland) is located on Church Street and meets on Sunday at 11.00am, as does the Calder United Free Church also of Church Street. Our Lady of Fatima Roman Catholic Church, meets at 10.00am in its building on the High Street.


The village is served by Lochwinnoch railway station on the Ayrshire Coast Line. Opened in 1840, it lies to the south west of the village, and is unstaffed.

A second Lochwinnoch railway station was opened in 1905 as part of the Dalry and North Johnstone Line, with the first station being renamed Lochside, until reverting to its original name in the 1990s, the station on the north line closed in 1966. The former railway line serving this second station has been converted into a cycle path and is now part of the National Cycle Network's National Cycle Route Number 7, running from Glasgow to Gretna.


Lochwinnoch Primary School, the village's only school, is situated on Calder Street.[10] The school was built in 1905 and is a two story red sand stone building. It celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2005. It has now got an upper and lower school building. The lower building is the original school and the upper school was built to accommodate the nursery which was added to the school.



  • Dobie, James D. (ed Dobie, J.S.) (1876). Cunninghame, Topographized by Timothy Pont 1604–1608, with continuations and illustrative notices. Glasgow: John Tweed.

External links[edit]