North Ayrshire is just full of wonderful stories: from inventors to authors, scientists to artists, historic buildings to remarkable ships. North Ayrshire has been home to people who have helped shape the world we live in today.

Please feel free to browse our database below and delve into the rich history this region has to offer.

Buildings, Castles & MonumentsNorth Ayrshire’s D-Day Roll of HonourNotable PeopleShips & ShipwrecksStories

If you’d rather search our ‘Stories’ section by a specific locality, click one of the links below.

ArdrossanBeithDalryIrvineIsle of ArranIsle of Cumbrae

KilbirnieKilwinningLargsSaltcoatsStevenstonWest Kilbride

Have we missed something or someone? Do you have a story to contribute? Contact us and let us know!

Buildings, Castles & Monuments

Learn about those from North Ayrshire who fell during D-Day and Operation Overlord and are commemorated on the British Normandy Memorial. Click HERE to read more.

Notable People

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A

B

  • Lesley Bailie – Described by Robert Burns as “the most beautiful, elegant woman in the world” .
  • Edward Boyd – Award-winning T.V and radio crime writer from Stevenston.
  • Martin Boyd – Inventor of the Automatic Tide Signalling Apparatus
  • Robert Boyd – Engineer, physicist and pioneer of British space science from Saltcoats.
  • Lord David Boyle – Solicitor General for Scotland & Lord Justice General, from Irvine.
  • Sir Thomas Brisbane – British Army officer and astronomer.

C

  • Joe Caldwell – Hotelier and Impresario
  • Dr John Campbell – Doctor and surgeon who worked in Largs for 61 years.
  • Kenneth Campbell – WWII Victoria-Cross recipient from Saltcoats.
  • Mungo Campbell – Saltcoats exciseman who was found guilty of the murder of the 10th Earl of Eglinton.
  • Steve Clarke – Saltcoats-born football player and manager.
  • Thomas Clifford – Kilbirnie-born footballer who played for multiple teams (including Celtic and Motherwell) who was killed in France during WWI in 1917.
  • Henry Cockburn – Edinburgh-born Solicitor General of Scotland who would author the work ‘Circuit Journey’s’ in which he amusingly describes Ardrossan.
  • Anne Ross Cousin – Hull-born hymn writer who lived in Irvine.
  • Robert Cunninghame – Inherited the Barony of Stevenston and established the biggest, most productive colliery in Ayrshire.
  • Duncan Currie – Kilwinning-born footballer who made 45 appearances for Hearts who was killed in France during WWI.

D

  • Campbell Douglas – A Glasgow-born architect who helped design many buildings throughout North Ayrshire, including Spiers School in Beith.
  • Flora Drummond – Suffragette who grew up on the Isle of Arran.
  • Elizabeth ‘Bessie’ Dunlop – Woman from Dalry who was convicted of witchcraft and was consequently burnt at the stake at Castle-hill in Edinburgh.
  • Charles Duguid – Saltcoats-born Aboriginal rights campaigner and doctor.
  • John Boyd Dunlop – Dreghorn-born inventor of the pneumatic tyre.

E

  • Henry Eckford – Shipbuilder, naval architect, politician and businessman from Irvine.

F

G

  • Janice Galloway – Author from Kilwinning who published various works and wrote radio programs.
  • Jimmy Galt – Footballer from Saltcoats who went on to play for Rangers. Fought in WWI and survived the war.
  • John Galt – Irvine-born author and entrepreneur who founded the town of Guelph in Canada.
  • Ron Geesin – Musician and Composer who was born in Kilwinning. Worked on songs for many notable artists including Pink Floyd.
  • Bryce Gilliland – Irvine-born sailor who fought at the Battle of Trafalgar.
  • Andrew Goldie – 19th Century Pacific explorer, born in Millport. His writings, discoveries and collections have made a significant impact on Australia, New Guinea and New Zealand.

H

J

  • Robert Logan Jack – Irvine-born Geologist who worked extensively in Australia.
  • James Johnstone – Biologist and Oceanographer who was born in Beith. Made huge contributions to fishery research and has a flatworm named after him.

K

  • Joan Kelly – Irvine-born poet
  • Harry Kemp – Lancashire-born entertainer who opened cinemas in North Ayrshire, including ‘La Scala’ in Saltcoats.
  • John Kerr – Ardrossan-born scientist known for his discovery of the ‘Kerr-Effect’.
  • Otto Kiep – Member of the German resistance in WWII. Murdered at Ravensbruck Concentration camp in 1944.
  • Captain Douglas Kinnier – Saltcoats-born seaman who fought in the First World War.

L

  • David Lansborough – Musician, author, botanist and minister from Kirkudbrightshire. Ministered to parishioners during epidemics of cholera in Saltcoats and Stevenston.
  • Sir John Lavery – Artist who was born in Belfast and one of the ‘Glasgow-Boys’. Knighted in 1911.
  • David Ross Lauder – Dalry-born Victoria Cross recipient who war awarded the medal for his actions in the Gallipoli campaign.
  • Bobby Lennox – Legendary Scottish footballer who played for Celtic and Scotland.
  • Francis Love – Poet and song-writer from Stevenston. A book of his poems was published post-humously in 1863.

M

  • Edith MacArthur – Ardrossan-born actress who was most famous for her role in ‘Take the High Road’
  • Alexander MacFadzean – Greatly respected philanthropist who worked tirelessly for the welfare of the inhabitants of Ardrossan.
  • Alexander MacMillan – Book publisher from Irvine.
  • Robert Bruce Mantell – Irvine born actor who was prolific for performing in Shakespeare plays.
  • John McGavin – Born in Kilwinning, a patron of the arts. Bequeathed £7,000 for the formation of a public park in Kilwinning.
  • Donald McKelvie – The ‘Tattie Man’ from Arran who was responsible for the creation of the ‘Maris Piper’.
  • Gordon McQueen – Footballer who played for St Mirren, Leeds & Manchester United. Inducted into the Scottish Football Hall of Fame in 2012.
  • Betsy Miller – Female ship captain from Saltcoats who had a successful career as captain of the brig ‘Clytus’.
  • James Montgomery – Irvine-born poet who was given the freedom of the Burgh.

N

  • Peter Nicholson – East Lothian-born architect who helped to design the layout of Ardrossan.
  • Alfred Nobel – Swedish scientist and Nobel Prize winner who had a factory in Ardeer which employed many in the region and produced explosives.

O

  • John Boyd Orr – Nutrition specialist from West Kilbride who won a Nobel Prize.

P

R

  • Harry Ranken – From Marryhill in Glasgow, he moved to Irvine when he was 8 years old and would fight and be mortally wounded in WWI during the Battle of Aisne in France.
  • Jemma Reekie – Olympic runner from Beith who has won gold at the U-20 & U-22 European Championships.
  • George Ranald MacFarlane Reid – Fairlie-born pilot who fought in both World Wars.
  • William Riddet – Dalry-born academic who studied dairying and agriculture.
  • William Ritchie – Born in Stevenston and known as the ‘Father of Belfast Shipbuilding’.

S

  • James Sellars – Glasgow-born architect who helped design Spiers School in Beith.
  • Robert Service – Poet, Author and Bard of the Yukon who wrote his first poem at the age of 6.
  • Sisters of Sinai – Margaret and Agnes Smith, two sisters from Irvine who learned multiple languages and travelled throughout the Middle East and North Africa. They discovered and translated the earliest known version of the Syriac version of the Gospels.
  • James Smith – Campaigner for the religious and moral welfare of the poor in Saltcoats and Stevenston.
  • John Smith – Irvine-born miner who joined the International Brigade in 1937 and died fighting in the Spanish Civil War.

T

  • Ross Tollerton – Irvine-born Victoria Cross recipient who earned the medal at the Battle of the Aisne.

W

  • Patrick Warner – Preacher from Musselburgh who became minister of Irvine Old Parish Church.
  • William Wilton – Largs-born footballer who would become the first manager of Rangers and achieved a 100% league record and won multiple trophies.
  • John Witherspoon – East Lothian-born minister who signed the American Declaration of Independence.
Ships & Shipwrecks
Stories