Catrine's Heritage Action team

Catrine's History


Early Days

The powerful River Ayr which wraps around the village of Catrine has been attracting folk to its banks for thousands of years. There are pre-historic (probably Bronze Age) cup and ring markings in the Ballochmyle Gorge along the river bank.



There is evidence of a religious site in the area of the village and it is known that a parcel of land here about was given to Melrose Abbey (pictured), a religious house with links to St Cuthbert. Tradition has it that a chapel dedicated to the saint was built on the land adjacent to Catrine still known as 'St Cuthbert's Holm'. 


Early Industrial

Famous Glasgow entrepreneur David Dale, who also built the village of New Lanark, partnered with Claud Alexander of the East India Company in the late 18th century to build a huge 5-storey cotton spinning mill and then, as he did at New Lanark, to create the entire village of Catrine to house and care for the workers they would need to man (and woman) it!

History (continued)


A busy village!

In the early part of the 19th century, Claud Alexander sold Catrine, in its entirety, to James Finlay & Sons of Glasgow who continued to expand in Catrine. The enterprise was by now not merely a spinning mill but a complete Cotton Works, which took raw cotton in at one end and produced beautiful bleached and embroidered goods for sale to the world at the other. 


Changing times

As the 19th century drew to a close  the business model that was Catrine Village no longer produced  the profit that had made it so successful. Finalys were loth to close down an enterprise upon which so many folk depended but even though a new mill was built (pictured) in the middle of the 20th century to improve efficiency, they were unable to justify its continuation. By the middle to late 20th century it was obvious Catrine Cotton Works would close permanently.


big changes for catrine

Perhaps the single event that signalled the changing fortunes of Catrine village occurred in Spring of 1963 when the original five-storey Old Mill caught fire while it was being demolished. With its timbers soaked in oils from the raw cotton spun there for so long, it burned fiercely putting the houses and shops in Catrine Mill Square at risk. Its demise heralded the end of an era for the village, which in many ways is still trying to come to terms with its loss.