The town of Stevenston derives its name from Stephan Lockhart. In 1170, Stephan Lockhart’s father received a land grant from the Lord High Constable, Richard de Morville. The first time the town is mentioned in a charter is 1240.
Coal mining was the town’s mainstay for several centuries until the coal pits were mined out toward the end of the 1800’s. During the 1900’s, explosive and chemical production was the town’s lifeblood. The town was devastated when ICI closed plants and reduced its presence in the town. Although the ICI site was taken over and is operated as Nobel Enterprises, the level of production is at a much smaller scale.
Nobel Enterprises manufactures nitrocellulose, which is commonly known as guncotton. In 2007, some 1500 to 1700 tons of nitrocellulose were destroyed in a major fire. Fortunately there were no serious injuries and property damage was minimal.
This downturn has had a sustained effect on the economy. Once an area that boasted three train stations, one closed in 1932 with the second closing in 1966.
Given the history of this town, in addition to Kerelaw Castle, there are some points of interest that you can visit. A unique sundial on Old High Road in Mayville dates back to 1773 although it sits on a pedestal from a later date. The manse on Schoolwell Street was built in 1787 and incorporates parts of the original manse in it. In addition, there was an addition to the building in 1885. The details of this building are fascinating to see. Wandering around the town will take you to the many other buildings and features steeped in history.
One of the highlights of any visit to Stevenston is a stroll on the beach. Stevenston Beach is the location of the last of the fully forming sand dune system in North Ayrshire. The dunes and beach are an ever-changing tableau. Unusual species like Snow Bunting, Babington’s orache, and Isle of Man Cabbage are abundant here.