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Fairlie, Ayrshire

Historical Description

FAIRLIE, a village, and for a time a quoad sacra district, in the parish of Largs, district of Cunninghame, county of Ayr, 3 miles (S. by E.) from Largs; containing 521 inhabitants. This district consists of the southern division, and comprehends about one-third, of the parish of Largs. It is bounded on the west by the Firth of Clyde, and the land rises rather abruptly from the shore, and terminates in two distinct chains of hills on each side of the Kelburn. The loftiest of these hills attains an elevation of nearly 2000 feet, and their substrata are red and white freestone to the height of between 300 and 500 feet, and whinstone on the upper range: at the division of the hills pudding-stone abounds. Of 5000 acres, not more than 200 or 250 are under tillage, and about the same quantity iu natural wood and plantations; the low parterres of Kelburn, the richest in Ayrshire, let at from five to six pounds per acre. The chief owner of the soil is the Earl of Glasgow, whose seat of Kelburn is a beautiful mansion, of which the more substantial part was built in 1556, and the principal modern additions in 1715.

Fairlie village is seated on the coast of the Clyde, and on the line of the turnpike-road from Greenock to Ayr. It is a very pleasant little place, much frequented during the summer and autumn by visiters who resort hither from the large and populous towns for the benefit of the sea air and for bathing. The climate is remarkably salubrious; and the retired and picturesque character of the vicinity, ornamented with numerous villas and much beautiful scenery, renders it a popular and very favourite spot, preferred by many strangers to the bustling town of Largs, also a well-frequented watering-place. There is much cod, ling, and haddock fishing, and herrings are occasionally caught: at Kelburn is a salmon-fishery. Steam-boats from Glasgow and Greenock call at the village daily in summer. Ecclesiastically, Fairlie is within the bounds of the presbytery of Greenock, synod of Glasgow and Ayr, and the patronage is vested in the Managers and Communicants: the minister's stipend is £75, arising from seat-rents, and from ordinary, and two special, collections. The church was built in 1833-4, at an expense of about £650, and contains 300 sittings. The members of the Free Church have a place of worship. There is an excellent school-house, the master of which has the interest of £300 bequeathed by Lady Jane Boyle, and of £100 added by Glasgow gentlemen who have summer residences around Fairlie: the noble proprietor of Kelburn has also given him a house. Attached to the church is a library, and another to the school. Of Fairlie Castle, a strong square building, said to have belonged to Hardicanute, the walls are still entire; and not far from it, but in West Kilbride parish, are remains of an ancient chapel, round which are some fine old trees. Kelburn confers the title of Viscount on the Earl of Glasgow.

Transcribed from A Topographical Dictionary of Scotland, 1851 by Samuel Lewis