Learn more about bathing water quality and your role in making sure that the sand and sea at Irvine is clean for everyone to enjoy.
History & Heritage
The waters of the Firth of Clyde have lapped the shoreline here throughout the ages. Have you ever considered what has changed over the years -and what else might change in the future?
Ancient sea salt
Saltcoats gets its name from the ancient practice of boiling sea water to extract the salt, which was carried out in small cottages or 'cots'. A combination of a high salt content and abundance of sea coal, as well as the Stevenston coal mines late on, made it an ideal spot for this industry to flourish, from as far back as the 1100s. Sea water was brought up by wooden and later metal pipes to create a variety of salt products through different techniques of drying by boiling and baking. This included salts for flavouring, preserving and even bath salts!
The industry died out with the advent of cheaper rock salts around the turn of the century, though the Saltcoats sea salts were still said to be favoured by local farmers for making butter, cheese and hay.
The salt pans
A bathing pond for daytrippers
Bult in a rocky cove on the site of the old salt pans in the late 1800s, the Saltcoats Bathing Pond was a major attraction for the better part of this century. The largest salt water tidal pool of its time, it included a rooftop balcony and lights for midnight bathing. Costing just two two shillings for a seaon pass, it was a popular destination, often hosting over 2,000 visitors in a day! It was eventually demolished in 1983.
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The ship with the she-captain
Betsy Miller was famous for defying conventions of the time to become a respected sea captain in the 1800s. After serving as'ship's husband' to her timber merchant father, she went on to command the brig Cloetus for 22 years carrying goods across to Ireland and beyond. She paid off her father's significant £700 debt and built up a successful business, with the help of her sisters. She was said to be formidable in the face of a storm and carried on sailing until her 70s, keeping a home on Quay Street. She is buried in the churchyard of the old Ardrossan Parish Church at Saltcoats (now the North Ayrshire Museum).