Only the south side is pictured - most of the north side is modern. Only publicly-available information will be included.
Watch the YouTube 'short' on James Montgomery featuring members of Fullarton Youth Project.
This street, originally called "the Lang Calsay" [= causeway, i.e. street], was for long named the 'Halfway', the "way to the sea" (Scots 'haaf' = the open sea) - it was laid out in about 1677 to link the town to its new harbour. The Council renamed it Montgomery Street in 1882 to commemorate the birth, at no.26, of James Montgomery, the 'Christian poet', journalist and social reformer. The section east of the railway was cleared in 1972 for the new shopping centre. This page features the existing section, from the railway station (of 1839) to the start of Harbour Street, described separately.
In earliest days, ships had berthed at Seagate and afterwards at Marress. Silting has always been a problem, so bad that in 1596 the Councillors considered building a harbour on Little Cumbrae, and shortly afterwards began to build one at Troon, only to abandon it. In 1665, after the river had changed its course, councillors planned to cut a channel from Marress to reach the sea directly, but little if any of this project was achieved. Finally, in 1677, they called upon the townspeople to take "stanes . . to the shore for the laying of a [causeway] for the good of the harbour" and local landowners contributed towards "ane key at the Bar". These crucial developments are recorded in John Strawhorn, "History of Irvine", (1985) p.54. They secured the future of Irvine as a port.
Scroll the street and click any photo to reach the info. Please tell us more about the history of the buildings (see contact page) and we'll add it to the notes below.
Source for 1935: 'North Ayrshire Directory, 1935-37', published by the Ayr Advertiser, 1935
Vanilla Joe's ice-cream parlour (the Best Gelateria in the 2015 Scottish
Italian Awards) is no.80, and Grassroots no.84, with no.82 between.
#80: Resident, 1935: Mrs Elizabeth Paterson
#82: Residents, 1935: James Clydesdale, labourer, George McKie, labourer, Daniel Paterson, fisherman
#84: Resident, 1935: James A Livingstone, newsagent
Harbourside Hotel. Built in 1890, it served as the offices of The Fleeting
Organisation before being converted into a hotel.
Residents, 1935: Robert Alexander, joiner, Alexander Burns, hammerman, Donald Campbell, joiner, John Gibb, machineman, Robert B Montgomery, engineer, Alexander Smith, forger
#88: Resident, 1935: "88 & 90" James Elliot, labourer
#90: Residents, 1935: Samuel Elliot, labourer, David R C Hay, surfaceman
#104: Resident, 1935: F W Oebel, shoemaker
The 1950s factory of the Iona Hosiery Manufacturing Co., sole partner
Andrew Malcolm, was converted into 11 workshop units. The earlier cottage(s)
would have been demolished for the factory entrance.
#108: Resident, 1935: Hugh Brown, labourer, William McGuire, riveter, Mrs S Simpson, widow
#110: Resident, 1935: Mrs Mary McAllister, widow
Hosiery companies were once a main employer of female labour in Irvine. The largest, Watson's Hosiery, a family owned business (est. 1900), employed over 200 girls, its factory now a storage centre on Ballot Road. Their High Street shop was popular. The site of their family home, 'The Cottage', once known for its crocus-filled grounds, is today's Crocus Grove estate and the Watson Memorial Garden (renovated in 2005 by Rotary). Henderson's Hosiery, which employed over 100 girls at the corner of East Road and Bank Street, is now an indoor market. Cunninghame's Hosiery in Fullarton Street was where two nursing homes stand today. Caddie's Hosiery was situated in Cochrane Street. Queen of Scots Hosiery was in East Road. The popularity of the "Made in Scotland" label also prompted the setting up of the Iona Hosiery (Andrew Malcolm) on Montgomery St, the Seafield Hosiery (Hugh Frew) in the same area, Winton Knitwear (Andrew Wilson) in Fullarton St. then Montgomery St., and Cresta Knitwear (Alec Malcolm & Peter Sutherland) in Annick Road (today's houses are in Malcolm Gardens). Several businesses installed knitting machines in homes where it was not convenient for a young mum to work away from the house. (We acknowledge information from an article by the late Neil Stirrat, and have corrected two details.) So many females were employed that it was rumoured, as Neil recorded, that the three quickest ways to transmit a message were "telegram, telephone or tell-a-hosiery-lassie".
#120: Residents, 1935: Neil Bryden, sawyer; William Cairns, gardener, Robert Gibb, machinist, James F Lancaster, glass worker, Robert Neil, clerk
#122: Residents, 1935: Matthew Barr, clerk; Thomas Cameron, seaman; David Cooper, miner, William Gooding, engineer, Frank McLaughlin, butcher, Robert McLaren, driver
#124: Residents, 1935: John Brash, smith; Hugh Finnegan, motor driver, Alexander Gray, driver, John T McCulloch, riveter, Alexander McKelvie, plumber, Jeanie Munro, widow
#126: A modern building. This property, marked as owned by Mrs Allan in 1819 (Wood's Town Plan), was a timber yard by 1896, with an extra building on it by 1938, possibly that used by the Scouts, as this was the address, in 1935, for"1st Ayr Troop Boy Scouts, per M W Breckenridge".
#103-105: The older block on the north side
#111: The detached house on the north side, opposite the entry to Montgomery Place.
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