Millport, Cumbrae

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Scottish Gaelic: Port a' Mhuilinn
Millport is located in North Ayrshire
 Millport shown within North Ayrshire
Population 1,280 (2011 Census)
OS grid reference NS162549
Council area North Ayrshire
Lieutenancy area Ayrshire and Arran
Country Scotland
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town MILLPORT
Postcode district KA28
Dialling code 01475
Police Scottish
Fire Scottish
Ambulance Scottish
EU Parliament Scotland
UK Parliament North Ayrshire and Arran
Scottish Parliament Cunninghame North
List of places

Coordinates: 55°45′07″N 4°55′48″W / 55.752°N 4.930°W / 55.752; -4.930

Millport (Scottish Gaelic: Port a' Mhuilinn) is the only town on the island of Great Cumbrae in the Firth of Clyde off the coast of North Ayrshire. The town is 4 miles (6 kilometres) south from the Caledonian MacBrayne ferry slipway.

Tourism is an important aspect of the economy. Due to its small size, the island and its town are often linked in the minds of visitors and residents. Millport has the smallest extant cathedral in the British Isles.[1]


The Garrison House in the centre of town, constructed in 1745, was formerly the barracks/Captain's mansion, then the home of the Earl of Glasgow, and is now in community ownership (see "Current Developments" below).

During the development of the River Clyde as a main thoroughfare for goods, shipbuilding and smuggling, Millport was a strategic base for Customs and Excise. Several of the streets in Millport are named after crew members of the Revenue cutter Royal George.

The Victorian era was a period of rapid growth, both in terms of population, governance, amenities and property. To the west and east of the old harbour, many fine Victorian and Edwardian villas were built, along with new tenements. These still form the backbone of the housing stock.

The Cathedral of the Isles of the Scottish Episcopal Church, completed in 1851 and which seats only 100 people, is the smallest cathedral in Great Britain.[2] There are also claims that it is the smallest cathedral in Europe.[3]

Current developments[edit]

Garrison House, with Cathedral spire to left.

The Garrison House was badly damaged after an arson attack in 2001. Cumbrae Community Development Company, the local development trust, made a successful bid to the National Lottery and other funders to enable the building to be re-constructed for community benefit. After several years of work renovation of the property, including a partly glass roof, was completed in 2008 at a total cost of £5 million. It now houses the Museum of the Cumbraes, a library, council offices, a GP surgery and the Garrison Cafe.[4][5] The Garrison Model Rail Club, located in cabins on the grounds at Garrison House, welcomes visits to its model railway layouts each week.[6]

Currently a large development of around 40 family sized homes is underway between the Millport Bowling Club and Penmachrie Farm. It is notable that the houses are being built primarily by private individuals - with the land having been sold off in the form of single plots.

Retail facilities[edit]

Millport has several independently owned shops. Amongst the shops available are newsagents, grocers, craft and gift shops, clothes shops, electrical and hardware stores. There are three cycle hire shops, with several hundred bicycles between them.

There is a Chinese restaurant,a chip shop and several other restaurants making eating out easy to come by.


Approaching Millport, Great Cumbrae, on PS Waverley.
Crocodile Rock on Millport beach

Millport, along with Rothesay on the Isle of Bute, is famous with generations of daytrippers from Glasgow as one of the resorts visited going "doon the watter" (down the water), meaning taking a trip aboard a River Clyde paddle steamer. At one time it was common for visitors to stay for several weeks over the summer, however nowadays the primary tourist trade comes in the form of daytrippers. This is mostly due to the growth of package holidays to Spain and the Balearics in the 1960s. It is still possible to experience a traditional day out courtesy of PS Waverley which calls at Millport twice a week during the summer, once originating at Ayr and once at Glasgow. One of the best known landmarks in Millport is the Crocodile Rock on the foreshore. It has been a feature since at least 1913, as it was that year that Robert Brown was acknowledged by the council for the work.[7]

The town hosts the annual Millport Country and Western Festival during the first week in September, and a fireworks display is held during September Weekend. Millport has the world's narrowest house, The Wedge which at its front, measures just 47 inches or 1.19 metres. The house is 22 feet long by 11 feet wide at its widest point.[8]

Millport Bay contains a number of free-to-use visitor moorings, and is a popular destination for sailors in the summer. There is a small boat yard at the western end of the town.


Millport has an 18-hole golf course, with spectacular views over the Arran hills. Other recreational facilities include a crazy golf course and two football pitches, one at either end of the town. For fishing, there are two fresh water reservoirs beside the golf course where fly fishing is available and excellent sea fishing, primarily for mackerel, is available. The best place for this is from the rocks at Farland Point, just inside the town limits.

View of Millport and Little Cumbrae. Isle of Arran in the background


Following closure of the University Marine Biological Station Millport run by the University of London (UoL) in 2013, Field Studies Council (FSC) began operation of FSC Millport field centre at the start of 2014.

Located on the eastern shore of the Isle of Cumbrae in the Firth of Clyde, it is situated for marine biological teaching and research, sheltered and within easy reach of a variety of marine habitats, such as rocky, sandy and muddy shores, salt marshes, a large estuary, and deep water with soft mud, gravel and rocky bottoms. Despite this natural setting, Millport is only one hour's travel from major transport hubs.


  1. ^ "The United Diocese of Argyll and the Isles" The Scottish Episcopal Church. Retrieved 19 May 2008.
  2. ^ "Cathedral of the Isles" Retrieved 27 November 2009.
  3. ^ The building is variously described as "the smallest cathedral in Europe", "the second smallest in Europe", "probably the smallest in Europe" etc. See for example "Millport Musings" (19 November 2005) BBC. Retrieved 11 May 2008, "About Cumbrae" Westbourne House. Retrieved 11 May 2008. Various other churches such as the cathedrals in Nin and Zadar in Croatia lay claim to this title.
  4. ^ Paterson, Stewart (11 March 2008) "Record £5m raised saves Millport landmark " Glasgow. The Herald. Retrieved 15 March 2008.
  5. ^ "Cumbrae Community Development Company" DTA Scotland. Retrieved 15 March 2008.
  6. ^ "Garrison Model Railway Club". Isle of Cumbrae Tourist Association. Retrieved 9 January 2011. 
  7. ^ Leadbetter, Russell (19 June 2013). "Millport's Crocodile Rock celebrates its centenary". Evening Times. Herald & Times Group. Retrieved 26 May 2016. 
  8. ^ "World's narrowest house sold". BBC News. 2 November 2001. Retrieved 9 January 2011. 

External links[edit]