|West Kilbride shown within North Ayrshire|
|OS grid reference|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|Post town||WEST KILBRIDE|
West Kilbride is a village in North Ayrshire, on the west coast of Scotland by the Firth of Clyde, looking across the water to Goat Fell and the Isle of Arran. West Kilbride and adjoining village Seamill are generally considered to be a small town, having a combined population of 4,393 at the 2001 census.
- 1 History
- 2 Present day West Kilbride
- 3 Historical Buildings
- 4 Local economy
- 5 Transport
- 6 Amenities
- 7 Notable residents
- 8 Notes
- 9 References
- 10 External links
West Kilbride is generally believed to be named after the ancient Celtic Saint Brigid of Kildare, often known as St Bride. The name suggests there was once a cell or kil to Brigid in the area. The "West" prefix was added to disguish between other places which commemorates the same Celtic saint, such as East Kilbride in Lanarkshire. There has been a hamlet in the area since at least 1306, when Robert the Bruce gave a grant of the lands of the Barony of Kilbride to the Boyds of Kilmarnock. The village nestles beneath Law Hill (168m, 551ft) and Tarbert Hill (138m, 453ft) and is overlooked by Cauldron Hill (329m, 1,079ft). It was once home to various mills and other works, and in the 18th century West Kilbride was primarily a weaving village.
In 1826, a highly important Celtic brooch was found by two men from West Kilbride who were digging drains at the foot of Goldenberry Hill, near Hunterston. Made about 700 AD,  the Hunterston Brooch is a wonderfully sophisticated casting of silver, richly mounted with gold, silver and amber, and elaborately decorated with animals in gold filigree. In its centre, a cross and a golden Glory represent the Risen Christ. The brooch may have been made at a royal site, such as Dunadd in Argyll. About 200 years after its making, an inscription was added in Viking Runes. The Hunterston Brooch is believed to have been an object of very high status, indicating the power and great prestige of its owner. It is housed in the Royal Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh.
A Neolithic cup and ring marked stone is located on Blackshaw Hill, near West Kilbride. This stone is unusual, in that it is carved with three spirals. Although the purpose of such stones is not known, it is considered that they may have had religious importance.
West Kilbride recieved its own railway station in 1878 as part of the Glasgow and South Western Railway's extension of the former Ardrossan Railway to Largs. Previous to this, passengers and goods would have had to be carted or carried from Ardrossan or Dalry railway stations.
In 1924 West Kilbride was gifted with Kirtktonhall Glen, a woodland walkway stretching from the village centre to the south of Seamill. The glen, through which flows the Kilbride Burn to the Firth of Clyde at Seamill, was gifted by Robert Barr.
West Kilbride's coat of arms is a shield split horizontally, with the bottom section divided again into three parts vertically. The top of the shield bears two fleurs de lis with a hunting horn between them. The left and right sections of the bottom of the shield are depictions of two castles, representing Law Castle and Portencross Castle. In the centre section is a representation of the Spanish galleon which sank off Portencross. Below the galleon is the cross of St. Bride overlaid with a mill iron and, above it, the shuttle which represents the village's old weaving industry.
Present day West Kilbride
Today West Kilbride and its neighbour Seamill are often referred to as one single entity, similar to the way that nearby towns Ardrossan, Saltcoats and Stevenston are referred to as "The Three Towns". As a result, the 2001 national census collated the population results of both West Kilbride and Seamill into one figure. Additionally, a referendum was conducted by North Ayrshire Council on 1 May 2003 to establish the preference of residents over the road signs for the two villages. The majority voted for "West Kilbride, incorporating Seamill", resulting in said sign currently greeting road users upon entering Seamill.
West Kilbride is often featured in various television programmes and news reports: in 2004 it was declared one of the UK's leading UFO hotspots, according to a Ministry of Defence report. An episode of BBC Scotland's The Beechgrove Garden was broadcast from West Kilbride, featuring the work of local amateur gardeners and the recent enhancements to Kirktonhall Glen. On 4 June 2007, West Kilbride featured in BBC 2's Springwatch programme, where local vet Charlie Garrett showed how Corsehill Quarry is being turned into a wildlife conservation area. Additionally, an episode of STV's Taggart series was partly filmed in West Kilbride's Main Street.
The opening sequence of the first episode of Billy Connolly's World Tour of Scotland, first broadcast on BBC television in 1994, features Connolly on a Caledonian MacBrayne ferry to Brodick and includes shots from the sea of West Kilbride, Seamill, and the surrounding area. Connolly comments, "This is the Scotland that everybody sings about, you know, this is the Kyles of Bute, and the Isle of Arran, the Little Cumbrae and Great Cumbrae and all these places, and if the truth be known, this is the reason I'm doing this tour, this is the bit I really like, you know, going to the Isle of Arran."
There are four standing castles in the area in and surrounding West Kilbride. Law Castle, situated at the foot of Law Hill, was built in the 15th century for King James III's sister Mary. The castle is a simple rectangular structure with a sloping roof and several large chimneys protruding at each side. In recent years, Law Castle has been substantially restored and refurbished and it now letted for functions and as a holiday home.
Portencross Castle, thought to date from the 14th century, is situated right next to the sea at Portencross harbour. It is L-shaped and four storeys high, with a barrel-vaulted ceiling. The castle is currently roofless due to storm damage. A campaign to save Portencross Castle from private ownership received national publicity in July 2004 when it was featured on the BBC's Restoration television programme. The title for the castle and grounds was given to the group "Friends of Portencross Castle" on 22 December 2005.
Hunterston Castle, on the nearby Hunterston estate, is home to the historic Clan Hunter. It hosts regular clan gatherings which bring clan members to the area, from all corners of the world. The current Clan Chief is Madam Pauline Hunter. Close to the castle is a walled garden which is being replanted and restored.
Crosbie Castle (also known as Crosbie Towers) lies to the north west on the outskirts of West Kilbride. It was largely rebuilt from a tower demolished in the 17th century which was the home of Sir Ranald Craufurd (uncle of William Wallace) in the 13th century, and it is said that Wallace himself spent some time at Crosbie. Currently the castle lies at the centre of a caravan park also called Crosbie Towers. Having lay empty for a number of years due to internal fire damage, part of the building was demolished in early 2007 after heavy storms damaged the external walls of the castle. Although the building is a Category-B listed building, permission was not sought before demolition.
West Kilbride Parish church, formerly known as St. Andrew's, and before that, St. Brides, belongs to the Church of Scotland. In addition to being a church, has several large function rooms which are used by local groups. It has a large rose stained glass window and a tall, gothic bell tower.
Overton Church, also belonging to the Church of Scotland, is located at the top of Ritchie Street. It is a red sandstone building with a working bell tower. Overton Church joined with St. Andrew's Church of Scotland in 2010, and the church building is now up for sale.
St. Bride's is a small RC chapel, on the north side of Hunterston Road, with a large garden behind it.
The Barony (or Barony Church), a large 19th century grey sandstone building, is situated just across the main street from St. Andrew's. This building no longer functions as a church; however, it remains in public hands, being used for many events such as auctions and art shows. Unfortunately, its 19th-century stained-glass windows were illegally removed by its previous owner, despite the Barony's listed building status. Attempts to trace the windows were unsuccessful and it is surmised they have been sold to a private collector. The Barony reopened in early 2012 after an extensive refurbishment as a local community arts centre.
One of the oldest houses in West Kilbride is Kirktonhall House, which originally dates back to 1660, although the house was partially rebuilt and extended in 1791 and 1868. The house was birthplace to mathematician Robert Simson, born 14 October 1687. A large monument to Simson stands in West Kilbride's cemetery. The house itself is now used as administrative offices by North Ayrshire Council.
Work and employment
The local area is predominantly rural, but agriculture accounts for only 1.4% of local employment. Managers and professional occupations make up 33.7% of the employed population, compared to the average of 23.8% for the whole of Scotland. 
The main industries of employment at the 2001 census were: 
|Industry||% of employed population|
|Health and social work||14.6%|
|Real estate and renting and business activities||11.3%|
|Wholesale & retail trade and repairs||10.3%|
Farming and local industry
The area is noted for its Ayrshire potatoes. These grow well locally, thanks to the use as fertiliser of the abundant supply of seaweed conveniently deposited on the nearby shore by winter storms. For this reason West Kilbride was sometimes referred to as the "Tattie Toon".  Other crops grown include sweetcorn (for cattle food), barley, root vegetables and summer berries, especially strawberries. Cattle and sheep are also farmed locally.
A 24MW wind farm, owned and operated by Airtricity, is located on Busbie Muir (about 3km east of Tarbert Hill), and has been operational since February 2004.  Its capacity will increase to 30MW when three additional wind turbines become operational, scheduled for Autumn 2007. 
Shops and businesses
Through the endeavours of the local initiative group, West Kilbride is now achieving fame as the "Craft Town Scotland". The village boasts a growing number of craft shops and studios, as well as several leading artists. The Initiative Centre provides a convenient way for craftspeople to sell their art and craftwork, in return for a share of the profits.
In September 2006, West Kilbride Craft Town won the Department of Trade and Industry's "Enterprising Britain 2006" competition. Presenting the award, Alistair Darling MP praised the resourcefulness and dedication of the West Kilbride community.
The village holds an annual 'scarecrow festival', which began in 2000. The festival consists of a number of various events and activities that take place around the town. Residents of the area also display their own scarecrows outside their houses and shops.
West Kilbride railway station lies on the Ayrshire Coast Line between Largs and Glasgow Central. The journey to Glasgow takes around 50 minutes. The station is unmanned, with only one passenger track. Trains from the Hunterston coal and ore terminal run through on the second track, which no longer has a platform as it had when the station first opened in 1878. The station building's architect was James Miller, also know for designing Wemyss Bay railway station in Renfrewshire, and was converted into a restaurant in 2007.
The main A78 road links West Kilbride to as far as Greenock to the north, and Prestwick to the South. The B781 road links West Kilbride to Dalry (and beyond to Glasgow via the A737) in the east. There are half-hourly buses northwards to Largs and Greenock, and southwards to Ardrossan, Saltcoats, Stevenston, Irvine and Ayr. There is also a commuter bus service to Glasgow, the journey taking around 1 hour 35 minutes.
West Kilbride Primary School serves West Kilbride, Seamill and Portencross. Opened in 1983, it replaced the previous Victorian-era school burned down in 1980 on the same site. The original school could support up to 250 pupils.
The West Kilbride Institute and Public Hall was opened in 1900, and has been home to the West Kilbride Hoticultural Society's flower shows from the same year. The building has a number of other current uses, including a permanent local history museum, located on the first floor of the hall. The local library was housed here until 1996 when a dedicated home was built (see below).
The community centre in Corse Street was originally the Paisley Convalescent Home, gifted by James Arthur of Carlung.. Opened in the 19th century, it much later became a community centre and now houses many local groups and organisations including bridge, photo, snooker and music clubs, the local cub scouts, computer classes, yoga classes, and the North Ayrshire Music School.
The town's library, opened in 1996, was purpose-built to replace the library originally located in the village hall and is located at the fork of Main Street and Halfway Street. The library is run by North Ayrshire Council.
The War Memorial, originally built in 1921, did not list the names of the dead. This deficiency was remedied on 3 June 2001 (the Sunday nearest D-Day), when the memorial was re-dedicated with four new granite stones listing the names.
West Kilbride Golf Club, a championship links course, is situated at Fullerton Drive, Seamill. The original designer of the course was "Old Tom Morris". The club hosted the Millenium British Ladies' Championship, and hosts the Scottish Boys' Championship once every three years.
The bowling club, located on Weston Terrace, has two bowling greens. Its most notable member is Margaret Ross, who was twice Scottish Champion (1976 and 1978) and British Singles Champion (1976). She also represented Britain internationally in 1976, 1978 and 1981-83.
Football pitches, tennis courts and a children's play park are situated near the entrance to Kirktonhall Glen. A swimming pool is available at the Seamill Hydro Hotel.
Notable residents of West Kilbride have included:
- Violinist Nicola Benedetti, who was born in West Kilbride.
- Former Scotland rugby-player Bryan Gossman
- Concert pianist and music scholar Roy Howat
- Noted golfer Jean McCulloch
- Nobel Peace Prize winner John Boyd Orr, who spend most of his childhood living in the village.
- Scottish artist Alasdair Taylor
- Major Hartley Whyte, whisky magnate with Whyte and Mackay Ltd, featured in "Major Whyte's whiskyisms"
- 2001 Census, population data for Seamill and West Kilbride
- Lamb, page 11
- Lamb, page 12
- Lamb, page 41
- Lamb, page 40
- Lamb, page 92
- "National Museums Scotland - Hunterston Brooch". Retrieved 2007-09-01.
- Lamb, page 70
- Lamb, page 72
- Lamb, page 55
- "North Ayrshire Council Corporate Policy Committee Report". 2003-07-01. Retrieved 2007-08-31.
- The Scotsman - Alien invasion of UFO hotspot West Kilbride
- Billy Connolly (1994). World Tour of Scotland (DVD). Scotland: Universal Pictures (UK) Ltd.
- "Law Castle Official Website". Retrieved 2007-08-17.
- "Friends of Portencross Castle". Retrieved 2007-08-17.
- "Official Restoration Website". Retrieved 2007-09-01.
- Lamb, page 94
- "North Ayrshire Council Planning Committee Report". 2007-03-19. Retrieved 2007-08-31.
- Lamb, page 42
- 2001 Census, employment data for Seamill and West Kilbride
- Molly Blyth's book Old West Kilbride is subtitled "The Tattie Toon"
- Operational wind farms in the UK
- Airtricity - Ardrossan extension
- DTI's small business service - press release
- Train timetable (pdf)
- Butt, page 245
- Biography of James Miller (Dictionary of Scottish Architects)
- Bus timetable Greenock-Ayr (pdf)
- commuter bus service timetable (pdf)
- "West Kilbride Horticultural Society History". Retrieved 2007-09-01.
- West Kilbride Village Hall Official Website
- Lamb, page 48
- Designing Libraries website (West Kilbride entry)
- West Kilbride Golf Club
- Blyth, Molly (1997). Old West Kilbride: The Tattie Toon. Ochiltree: Stenlake Publishing. ISBN 1872074995.
- Crampsey, Robert A (1993). The centenary history of the West Kilbride Golf Club. West Kilbride: West Kilbride Golf Club. ISBN 0952274906.
- Lamb, Rev. John, BD (1896, 2007). West Kilbride - Annals of an Ayrshire Parish. Paisley: The Grian Press. ISBN 0-9547996-8-2. Check date values in:
- McNab, Peter A (1980). West Kilbride and Seamill. West Kilbride Amenity Society.
- Oughterson, Rev. Arthur (1794). Parish of West Kilbride.
- West Kilbride Amenity Society (1990). Our Village: The Story of West Kilbride. ISBN 0-9516831-0-1.
- West Kilbride Amenity Society (2002). West Kilbride, Seamill, Portencross & Thereabouts. ISBN 0-9516831-1-X.
- Gazetteer for Scotland entry for West Kilbride
- The NMS and the Hunterston Brooch
- West Kilbride Community Initiative Ltd: Craft & Design Town Project
- West Kilbride Museum website
- West Kilbride Village Hall
[[Category:Villages in North Ayrshire]] [[Category:Towns in North Ayrshire]]