Harbour Master's Office


The Harbour Master's Office sits forsaken, but not unloved, at the point where railways once brought goods to the quayside and transported other goods away. Not unloved, thanks to Mairi Craw, an author of Scottish fantasy fiction, inspired by her late father, Harbour Master Ralph Henderson. She, and a small team, is campaigning to see it restored as a "vibrant part of the community", with, of course, a Facebook page. The Buildings At Risk website describes it as "a simple stuccoed early 19th-century cottage, which may have begun life as a farmhouse". It is likely to be the 'Town's Property' shown on Wood's 1819 Town Plan.

It is Grade C(S) listed, including boundary walls and outbuildings. Its exterior clock was made by Robert Crawford of Irvine - established in 1868, and with premises at 107 High St. this watchmaker and jeweller has adverts in the 1896 Irvine Directory, inviting "inspection of his new Stock of all the Latest Novelties for the Season".

A 'Shoarmaster', or harbourmaster, was first appointed in 1731 and his duties were consolidated in 1775. Possibly, there were times when the office was combined with another position. The names of harbour masters are not often recorded in the sources, though we would like to make some attempt to note them. The few whose names we know are:
John Baird, Bailie (pre-1820), Capt. Edward Gairdner (1820-Jan.1826), Robert Wyllie (June 1826-Mar.1843), Alexander C McKinlay (Sept.1843-1860s), Martin Boyd (1896; 1906), A. McCubbin (1935), John Dick Mitchell (1937-1955), Ralph Henderson (late 1950s to early 1970s), Bert McKay (c.1976) and Alex Dornan (2013-present). If you know of others, or can add dates, please contact us.


Return to People and Places