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Girvan is located in South Ayrshire
Girvan shown within South Ayrshire
Population 6,651 (2011 Census)[1]
OS grid reference NX185975
Council area
Lieutenancy area
Country Scotland
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town GIRVAN
Postcode district KA26
Dialling code 01465
Police Scottish
Fire Scottish
Ambulance Scottish
EU Parliament Scotland
UK Parliament
Scottish Parliament
List of places
55°14′18″N 4°51′22″W / 55.23822°N 4.85614°W / 55.23822; -4.85614Coordinates: 55°14′18″N 4°51′22″W / 55.23822°N 4.85614°W / 55.23822; -4.85614

Girvan (Scottish Gaelic: Inbhir Gharbhain, "mouth of the River Girvan")[2] is a burgh in Carrick, South Ayrshire, Scotland. Girvan is situated on the east coast of the Firth of Clyde, with a population of about 6,700. It lies 21 miles (34 km) south of Ayr, and 29 miles (47 km) north of Stranraer, the main ferry port from Scotland to Northern Ireland.


Girvan was originally a fishing port. In 1668, it became a municipal burgh incorporated by charter.[3]

The opening of the railways, initially with the Maybole and Girvan Railway at the end of the 1850s, encouraged the development of Girvan as a seaside resort[3] with beaches and cliffs. Holidaying here from 1855 to 1941 were Robert and Elizabeth Gray and their children; particularly Alice and Edith Gray. The family, led principally by Elizabeth and Alice, created scientifically organised collections of fossils for several museums including the Natural History Museum.[4]

The town is now served by Girvan railway station.

Just north of the town is a William Grant & Sons distillery which opened in 1964. There is a Nestlé factory that manufactures chocolate that is shipped down to York and used in Kit Kat and Yorkie bars.[3]

Local facilities and festivals[edit]

Girvan, Scotland, 1890s
The RNLI Lifeboat and fishing fleet

The McKechnie Institute was endowed by local businessmen Robert and Thomas McKechnie and opened in 1889.[5]

The HM Coastguard station.

Girvan RNLI harbour gala takes place each summer usually in July, this year's takes place on 15 July 2018, with music, stalls, fun fair, rescue displays, emergency services, Girvan Lifeboat station recently received their new Shannon Class all-weather lifeboat, powered by water jets making it the most manoeuvrable and capable all-weather boat in the fleet, 13-23 Elizabeth and Gertrude Allan is the 2nd Shannon Class lifeboat in Scotland and the 1st on the west coast.

The Girvan Folk Music Festival takes place on the first weekend of May each year. Girvan also has a folk music club.

The Lowland Gathering takes place on the first Sunday of June each year in the Victory Park in the centre of the town.

The annual Festival of Light takes place in October with a six-week lantern project resulting in the river of light lantern procession and shorefront performance. The autumn lantern project is a celebration of the lanternmakers and the people of Carrick.[6]

Nearby places of interest[edit]

Culzean Castle is about 8 miles (13 km) north of the town, and the volcanic island of Ailsa Craig is visible about 10 miles (16 km) offshore. Turnberry golf course and hotel are located 5 miles (8 km) north of Girvan. The coastline south of Girvan is famous for its geology, and also for Sawney Bean's Cave, where the legendary murderer and cannibal Sawney Bean supposedly lived until his arrest and execution in Edinburgh.

Education and community[edit]

Girvan harbour

Girvan has its own secondary school, Girvan Academy, which the majority of local children attend. Roman Catholic families have the option of Queen Margaret Academy in Ayr. The town also has a harbour.[7] There are also two primary schools, Girvan Primary School (non-denominational) and Sacred Heart Primary School (denominational) and there is one non-denominational specialist school, Invergarven School.[8]

The town's swimming pool was closed in 2009 by South Ayrshire Council, on the grounds that it had reached the end of its operational life. The building has since been demolished. A new leisure centre, named 'The Quay Zone' started construction in January 2016 after 7 years of planning, and officially opened on 26 April 2017. Building 'The Quay Zone' was built in a way to help redevelop Girvan. It is sited on the old swimming pool's location at the harbour.

The Quay Zone is a fully accessible modern leisure centre which features:

  • A swimming pool which is accessible to people of all ages and abilities
  • Soft play area which is split into 2 sections- one for young children up to 3 years old, the other for children ages 3–12 years old
  • A "state-of-the-art" fitness gym for ages 16+
  • A flexible multi-purpose studio/community space which can be split into 2 rooms if needed
  • Changing facilities and a café.
  • The Quay Zone has named sections, Pool Zone, Gym Zone, Studio Zone and Play Zone. The Café opens a week after the official opening.[9][10]


Girvan has a Roman Catholic church, "Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary", built around 1863. The Church is in Harbour Lane, situated between Louisa Drive and Henrietta Street, close to the junction with Ailsa Street West.

Girvan has two Church of Scotland congregations: Girvan North Parish Church in Montgomerie Street (with a spire over 100 feet tall) and Girvan South Parish Church.

Milestone Christian Fellowship, a local congregation which began meeting in Girvan's Community Centre in 2005, moved into a redeveloped nightclub on Bridge Street in 2016.[11] Milestone is a member of the Baptist Union of Scotland.

The town's Episcopalian congregation of St John was closed in 2014: they had been using the town's Methodist church building for services after their building became unusable in 2009.[12]

Twin town[edit]

France Torcy, Seine-et-Marne, France - in honour of a Scottish knight named Sir Thomas Huston originally from Girvan, who fought the English as part of the Auld Alliance during the Hundred Years War. Rewarding him for his bravery during the capture of Meaux in 1439, the King of France granted him the fiefdom of Torcy.


  1. ^ "Area Profiles". Scotland's Census 2011. Retrieved 16 December 2014. 
  2. ^ "Ainmean-Àite na h-Alba - Gaelic Place-Names of Scotland - Database". 
  3. ^ a b c "Girvan; South Ayrshire". Gazetteer for Scotland. Retrieved 16 December 2014. 
  4. ^ Bulletin of the British Museum (Natural History) Vol. 17 (reprint ed.). London: British Museum. 2013. pp. 170–252. ISBN 0 565 09011 9. Retrieved 22 November 2015. 
  5. ^ "McKechnie Institute". South Ayrshire Council. Retrieved 16 December 2014. 
  6. ^ "Local legends fire up for Girvan's Festival of light". 5 November 2010. Archived from the original on 2012-03-23. Retrieved 2011-05-01. 
  7. ^ "". Archived from the original on 29 October 2013. Retrieved 26 October 2013. 
  8. ^ "Our School". Invergarven School. Retrieved 2 June 2018. 
  9. ^ "Girvan pool: Your questions are answered". 
  10. ^ "The Quay Zone Girvan. The website gives detailed information about the building and what you can do!". Retrieved 2017-04-28. 
  11. ^ "Praise for new church as it takes over old Girvan nightspot" Daily Record. 28 February 2016. Retrieved 28 March 2016.
  12. ^ "St John’s final service in Girvan tomorrow". Carrick Gazette. 17 May 2014. Retrieved 18 May 2014.

External links[edit]