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
#78: Residents, 1935: Joseph Brown, labourer, John Gemmell, labourer. James Graham, labourer, and Margaret Milligan, widow
#80: Vanilla Joe's ice-cream parlour
- the Best Gelateria in the 2015 Scottish Italian Awards
Visit their website
#80: Resident, 1930 & 1935: Mrs Elizabeth
To 2013: The Harbour Side Store
From 2014: Vanilla Joe's.
#82: Tenants, 1930: Dan. Paterson, captain, George McKee, labourer, and James Clydesdale, labourer.
Residents, 1935: Daniel Paterson, fisherman, George McKie, labourer, and James Clydesdale, labourer.
#84: Tenant, 1930: Stephen G Knight, newsagent.
Resident, 1935: James A Livingstone, newsagent.
Today: Grassroots Fine Flowers
Harbourside Hotel offering straightforward rooms and studio flat with en suite bathrooms and tea and coffeemaking facilities. Also a TV room, free WiFi and free airport shuttle available for Ryanair passengers staying 2 nights or more.
Built in 1890, it served as the offices of The Fleeting Organisation before being converted into a hotel in about 1997.
Tenants, 1930: Sam. Elliot, labourer, John Grubb, porter,
John Gibb, machineman, Robert Alexander, joiner, Robert B Montgomery,
engineer, and Alex. Smith, stamp forger
Residents, 1935: Robert Alexander, joiner, Alexander Burns, hammerman, Donald Campbell, joiner, John Gibb, machineman, Robert B Montgomery, engineer, Alexander Smith, forger
'Heritage Court', a modern block of (11?) apartments.
The previous building, nos. 88-90, was owned in 1930 by Francis Conville's heirs, with the #88 tenant listed as James Elliot, labourer, and the #90 tenants as the same James Elliot, along with George Irvine, labourer and David R C Hay, surfaceman. In 1935 James Elliot continues, but George Irvine has gone, with Samual Elliot, labourer, listed in his place.
In 1930, the shop #92 and house #94 were owned by Miss J M S Stevenson of Bardowie and the tenant was Joseph Howe, labourer, and #96 was owned by Laird's Blockworks.
#96/98 - Blockworks and House
Owned (1935 details:) by Laird & Son Ltd, engineers ('Tel. 4'), Archibald Green, timekeeper
In 1930, the house at #100 and shop at #102 were owned by James Allan Paterson, manager.
Crystal Garden Take-away
Resident, 1930 & 1935: James A Paterson, manager
#102: The Crystal Garden Take-away
Resident, 1930 & 1935: Mrs Jane Shedden, baker
In 1930, the owners were the trustees of A M Lindsay.
#104: Resident, 1930 & 1935: F W Oebel, shoemaker
#106: Residents, 1930: Donald McPherson, hairdresser,
and James Greig, machinist.
Residents, 1935: Donald McPherson, hairdresser, and John Doole, miner.
In 1930, #108-114 were owned by the Trustees of the late William Breckenridge.
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".
#108: Mrs Mary McAllister, widow, Mrs S Simpson, widow, and Joseph Brown, riveter
#110: Mary McAllister, widow [sic]
#84: Nancy's Kitchen
Resident, 1930 & 1935: John McMinn, joiner
The Roll Shop
Residents, 1935: Mrs M Abercrombie, widow; James Cairney,
miner, Joseph Houston, labourer, and James Rocks, engineer.
Residents, 1935: Mrs M Abercrombie, widow, James Cairney, miner, and William Laidlaw, gardener
In 1930, #116 was owned by John Fairgrieve, London.
Residents, 1935: Henry Bennet, labourer; Bernard Duffy,
labourer; Hugh Elliot, labourer, A K McDougall, pattern maker, James
McKie, hosiery worker, James McDougall, engineer.
Residents, 1935: same, except that James McDougall has gone, and Theo Whiteside is in his place.
In 1930, #118-124 were owned by the Trustees of the late William Breckenridge.
Resident, 1930 & 1935: Robert King, contractor
In the 1930s, each of these three numbers housed six tenants.
1930: Neil Bryden, sawyer; William Cairns, gardener, Robert Gibb, machinist, John Tonner, John T McCulloch, riveter, and James Thomson, saw doctor.
1935: Neil Bryden, sawyer; William Cairns, gardener, Robert Gibb, machinist, James F Lancaster, glass worker, Robert Neil, clerk.
1930: Duncan McPhee, timekeeper, Matthew Barr, clerk, Frank McLaughlan, butcher, John Wallace, baker, John Hendry, jr., labourer, and Mrs Mary Leslie.
1935: Matthew Barr, clerk; Thomas Cameron, seaman; David Cooper, miner, William Gooding, engineer, Frank McLaughlin, butcher, Robert McLaren, driver
1930: John Brash, smith, Alexander Gray, driver, Alexander McKelvie, plumber, Andrew Mills, joiner, Joseph Dickson, sawyer, and Sam Agnew, painter.
1935: John Brash, smith; Hugh Finnegan, motor driver, Alexander Gray, driver, John T McCulloch, riveter, Alexander McKelvie, plumber, Jeanie Munro, widow
In 1930 & 1935, this was a timber yard, owned by Matthew Wright & Nephew, with a Welfare Club used by the "1st Ayr Troop Boy Scouts, per M W Breckenridge".
A modern building.
Opposite side of street:
Much is modern, but we may add a few details of items of interest:
The older block on the north side.
The detached house on the north side, opposite the entry to Montgomery Place.
Puffers Cafe - with fine views over
the harbour - the Maritime Museum cafe - named after puffers such
as the 'Spartan' - they carried goods in and out of the small harbours
of the West of Scotland
the Maritime Museum website.
Return to People and Places
The photo shows the part of Montgomery Street on the town side of the station, now under car parking.