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Local history 

Delve into the fascinating history of North Ayrshire, which comprises of Skelmorlie, Largs, Fairlie, West Kilbride, Ardrossan, Saltcoats, Stevenston, Irvine, Dreghorn, Kilwinning, Dalry, Kilbirnie, Beith and the Isles of Arran and Cumbrae. 

The Heritage Centre, in Saltcoats, boasts an extensive collection of books, maps, photographs, newspapers and archives. If you are planning a research visit, we advise that you book in advance so that we can arrange the resources for you and ensure they are not already in use when you visit. The resources are available for you to view free of charge.

For those who are unable to visit in person, contact our resource service to see how we can help.

Special collections

Full catalogues are available at the Heritage Centre.

Alexander Wood Memorial Library

Bequeathed to the people of Ardrossan in 1912, this marvellous collection consists of approximately 4,000 volumes relating to Ayrshire or written by people from Ayrshire. With volumes from the 18th and 19th centuries, it includes an extensive Burns collection.

The Cunninghames of Auchenharvie Estate Papers

Major landowner's in Stevenston, the Cunninghame family pioneered the coal mining industry in North Ayrshire. This is a fascinating collection of, mainly business, papers dating from the 16th century.


With articles on politics, industry and sports, public opinion expressed through readers' letters, advertising and photographs,appearing from the 1900s, researchers have access to rich and varied resource that helps to paint a picture of the past. The following newspapers are held on microfilm at the Heritage Centre:

  • Ardrossan and Saltcoats Herald, 1857 to date
  • Dalry and Kilbirnie Herald, 1894 - 1926
  • Irvine and Fullarton Times, 1874 - 1879, 1893 - 1950
  • Irvine Herald, 1874 - 1950
  • Saltcoats, Ardrossan and Stevenston News, 1906 - 1908
  • Stevenston Gazette, 1893 - 1926


  • 1910 Ordnance Survey for the whole of Ayrshire
  • Timothy Pont's Cunninghame, dated 1630
  • Roy's military maps of 1750
  • Armstrong's maps of Ayrshire, 1775
  • Robert Aitken's series of parish maps for North Ayrshire, 1827

Photography archive

North Ayrshire Yesterdays is an online archive containing digitised images of old postcards and photographs of North Ayrshire through the years. We are always on the lookout for new images for the collection, so if you have a some pictures of your town from a bygone age, why not contact us and make them part of our local history? Search North Ayrshire Yesterday's Photography archive.

Ayrshire Working Lives

Browse over 400 online images of industrial, commercial and agricultural heritage. Specially sourced pictures illustrate the story of working life in Ayrshire through the ages. Reminisce or see if you can find someone you know! Search Ayrshire Working Lives.

Contact Us

Contact the Heritage team

Related pages

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