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Ardrossan Saltcoats And Stevenston, The Three Towns

Updated on May 12, 2013

The Three Ayrshire Towns Ardrossan, Saltcoats and Stevenston Also Known By Locals As The Three Toons.

Ardrossan, North Ayrshire, UK

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Saltcoats, North Ayrshire, UK

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Stevenston, North Ayrshire, UK

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The Three Toons

Ardrossan, Saltcoats and Stevenston are collectively known by locals as the three toons, three neighboring seaside towns in Ayrshire on the west coast of Scotland.

Stunning coastline and golden sands make the three towns an ideal destination for visitors from all over Europe and if you like exploring the countryside there are a plethora of naturally beautiful scenic locations.

Train crashes, sunken ships and explosives are all part of the long and interesting history of the three towns and even William Wallace of Braveheart fame had a castle in Ardrossan which was once known as Wallace's Larder.

Wallace's Larder, Ardrossan Castle

Not much left of Ardrossan castle these days but it has a long and bloody History.
Not much left of Ardrossan castle these days but it has a long and bloody History. | Source

Ardrossan's Wind Farm

Ardrossan Wind farm a step in the right direction.
Ardrossan Wind farm a step in the right direction. | Source


Ardrossan is the gateway to the isle of Arran, you can catch a ferry from Ardrossan harbor and be in Scotland's most popular island for tourists in just over an hour.

Cannon Hill is where you will find the ruins of Ardrossan Castle, There really is not that much left of the castle as you can see from the picture on the right, but it has a long and bloody history. When the castle was occupied by over a thousand English soldiers William Wallace and his men lured them out of the castle slaughtered them and threw their bodies into the dungeons before setting them on fire. Since that day the castle has been nicknamed Wallace's Larder.

Ardrossan Harbor

Ardrossan Harbor has undergone a massive face lift in the past few years and now has a new marina for those who love boating and sailing; a new world class hotel is also under construction at the harborside and is due to be finished in early 2014.

Luxury housing and millions of pounds are being spent giving Ardrossan a bright future.

For those who just like to enjoy relaxing on the beach, Ardrossan's South Beach is a popular retreat for visitors where you can relax and soak in the rays from the sun, you will also find a memorial garden which was again recently constructed to commemorate the sinking of HMS Dasher, a World War 2 aircraft carrier which was sunk just 8 minutes after leaving Ardrossan Harbor claiming 379 souls.

Ardrossan Goes Green

Ardrossan is also leading the way for green energy by constructing one of the first wind farms in the UK, from almost any vantage point in Ayrshire you can see the giant white wind mills turning in the breeze. clean and efficient energy which reduces the need for the local nuclear power plant at Hunterston.


Saltcoats is still a popular spot with Scottish visitors especially during the Glasgow Fair fortnight.
Saltcoats is still a popular spot with Scottish visitors especially during the Glasgow Fair fortnight. | Source

Saltcoats Harbor

Saltcoats Harbor was one of the busiest ports in Scotland until the new Ardrossan harbor came along.
Saltcoats Harbor was one of the busiest ports in Scotland until the new Ardrossan harbor came along. | Source

Saltcoats Sea Wall

Probably the most enduring picture of Saltcoats, this image is often used in weather reports to show the severity of high winds
Probably the most enduring picture of Saltcoats, this image is often used in weather reports to show the severity of high winds | Source


Just a few minutes walk from the centre of Ardrossan we come to the second town on our Three toons tour.

Saltcoats another seaside town got its name from the salt panning industry that started the town off, people used to extract salt from sea water in copper kettles. These people lived in small cottages called Salt Cot's from which the name of the town derived.

Shopping In Saltcoats

Saltcoats is the shopping centre for the three towns although in recent years the credit crunch hit the town hard and a lot of the shops have now closed, pound shops, pubs, cafe's, bookmakers and charity shops seem to be all that is left in a once thriving town centre, even the once popular Saturday outdoor market is a shadow of its former self.

Saltcoats Train Crash

August 5th 1939 was a black day in the History of Saltcoats; A passenger train ran over some debris on the track and de-railed and dropped over a bridge, 4 people were killed in the accident and 156 people were injured. although not the first train crash in the three towns, it was the first crash to have fatalities.

in 1906at Saltcoats railway station two trains collided and although there were no fatalities there were 3 passengers were seriously injured and 75 were treated for minor injuries.

Saltcoats Harbor

With building completed in the year 1700, Saltcoats Harbor was soon to become one of the busiest ports in Scotland, transporting coal and Salt all around the globe. many fishing boats also made their home in Saltcoats and the town became a thriving community.

In 1806 with the building of Ardrossan Harbor, The Harbour at salcoats fell into decline, Ardrossan had better facilities for ships and ship building and superior transport links.

Today Saltcoats harbor is rarely used by boats but you will often find people fishing from the pier.

Stevenston Town Centre

Stevenston, the industrail heart of the Three towns.
Stevenston, the industrail heart of the Three towns. | Source

Abandoned Explosives Works Ardeer ICI Nobel

Stevenston Beach

Stevenston Beach for those who like a little privacy when sun worshipping.
Stevenston Beach for those who like a little privacy when sun worshipping. | Source


Our final stop on this tour brings us to the industrial heart of the three towns, Stevenston.

Coal mines, Iron works, Nylon production and production of explosives all play a major part in the history of the town.

Stevenston's Industrial Past

Named after Stephan Lockhart in 1770 Stevenston town soon became a big player on the industrial map, with at one point 32 working coal mines, Stevenston was one of Scotlands top coal producers from the 17th century right through until the early 19th century when the resources became depleted.

The Stevenston Iron Works were built in 1849 by the Glengarnock Iron company, there were five furnaces set up along the shore at Ardeer to smelt pig iron. the iron was then transported to Ardrossan Harbor for shipping around the world. The Iron works closed its doors for the last time in 1931.

The British Dynamite Co Ltd, founded by Alfred Nobel, was by far the biggest employer in the three towns in 1793 when production of dynamite began in the town, the company supplied explosives around the globe The factory was the biggest explosives factory in the world at the time, supplying explosives to construction companies and quarries.

In 1926 the company became known as ICI and in the 1960s a nylon producing plant was also established on the site.

The company has down graded these days and from a 13000 strong workforce it now only employs a couple of hundred workers.

Golfing in Stevenston

For the golfer there are two golf courses to choose from in Stevenston. At Auchenharvie there is a council run nine hole course which really is for the beginner of the game as it is a flat course with very little to challenge the experienced golfer.

Ardeer Golf course on the other hand is a challenging eighteen hole course with plenty of obstacles and pitfalls to challenge even the best golfers.

Stevenston Beach

The beach at Stevenston is pretty small compared to the beach at Saltcoats and Ardrossan, but it is perfect for those who like a bit of privacy when they are soaking up the sun. Sand dunes and tall grasses ensure privacy for those embarrassing moments when you want to change clothes.


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    • jimmythejock profile imageAUTHOR

      James Paterson 

      5 years ago from Scotland

      Hi Gordon, Thanks for your visit and comment, I used to fish Saltcoats Harbour regularly and quite often got a catch, usualy a makeral , cod or on one occasion a 4ft congor eel, I have found though that it is best to avoid the harbour and instead take a 2 minute walk to the wall at the railway track more catches and bigger fish there.

      Ardrossan Harbour is a no go now for fishing, they have built a 10 foot high fence around the lighthouse because idiots were throwing stones at the ferry.....jimmy

    • Gordon Hamilton profile image

      Gordon Hamilton 

      5 years ago from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom

      Hi, Jimmy

      I have fished Saltcoats and Ardrossan harbours several times, as well as the beach and the "Hole in the Wall" at Saltcoats. It must be easily ten years, though, since I visited either. Funnily enough, every single visit to Saltcoats resulted in a total blank and no fish, while visits to Ardrossan were usually quite fruitful.

      Enjoyed the read and learning some facts about the area. Must try out the fishing again soon.


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