Catrine's Heritage Action team

Ghosts of Catrine Past and why they matter

Heritage is much more than just sandstone and mortar, it is memories, family traditions, workplaces, everything that makes us who we are. As you browse our site we think you will agree there is much here worth saving.

Catrine village was built by the same entrepreneur who built New Lanark, now a World Heritage Site. David Dale adhered to Enlightenment views of how business and trade should be carried out and these were continued by his Welsh son-in-law, Robert Owen to whom he ultimately passed the operation of New Lanark Mill.

The Wiki entry for New Lanark states the following:

 "After a period of decline, the New Lanark Conservation Trust (NLCT) was founded in 1974 (now known as the New Lanark Trust (NLT)) to prevent demolition of the village. By 2006 most of the buildings have been restored and the village has become a major tourist attraction. It is one of six UNESCOWorld Heritage Sites in Scotland[2] and an Anchor Point of ERIH - the European Route of Industrial Heritage."

 Catrine Village was, when built, a planned industrial community at least the equivalent of the New Lanark site but was not so fortunate in its outcomes. Passed by James Finlay and Sons of Glasgow (the last owner to operate Catrine Cotton Works) into the care of the local authority of the time, many of Catrine's original buildings have, sadly, been incrementally sold off or demolished over the years. 

Although attempts have been made by groups in  the community to prevent further losses, none have so far been entirely successful. The mission of C.H.A.T. is to prevent any further demolition of the original village and to raise funds to repair and restore those parts of the original site which remain. We want to use Catrine's fascinating history and heritage to kick start regeneration in what is now, since the departure of both the cotton and mining industries, a multiply deprived area. 

Below are details of some of the buildings we have lost. 

Buildings Lost

The Wilson Hall



According to the Ayrshire History website this picture of Bridge Street showing the Wilson Hall dates from 1904. The town cinema was contained within the building and loved by all.  The building was designed by the same architect that designed the A. M. Brown Institute, also in Catrine and now also at risk..

The Wilson Hall's demise

Photo Ian Mason
The Wilson Hall inexplicably caught fire

The Wilson Hall inexplicably caught fire in the mid-20th century and was subsequently demolished (date not established as yet). 

Buildings scheduled for demolition or disposal in Catrine have an uncanny habit of catching fire, so much so that it has become something of a macabre joke in the village!

The Volunteer Arms

The Volunteer Arms caught fire and was demolished in the early part of the 21st century aleaving an

This was once described to one of our trustees by a long-time resident as "The best pub in the village". Regrettably, it too was demolished  in the early part of the 21st century and now, despite rumours of the site  being re-developed, it currently remains just one more ugly gap site on Mill Square. 

Wood Street


Wood Street was described by one of the Catrine Oral History Project participants as "The poor part of Catrine" but also as having the most character. Sadly most of the original buildings in this picture have been removed, including the spectacular 'Round House' on the left, which was once apparently a sweetie shop. More information about the picture can be found at: 


Perhaps the most iconic building in Catrine and the reason for its existance, the five storey 'Twist

Perhaps the most iconic building in Catrine and the reason the village exists, the five storey 'Twist Mill' gave employment to the village for almost 200 years before it too caught fire in 1963 and was demolished. 

the old mill fire


Easily the most spectacular of Catrine's conflagrations, largely due to the oils from 200 years of raw cotton processing, the Old Mill fire almost put paid to Mill Square itself and all the dwellings, businesses and shops situated in the shadow of the mill..

Buildings Lost



The New Mill opened in 1950 and it was hoped that its improved efficiency (powered by electricity) would boost the productivity and profitability of Catrine Cotton Works. Alas the inexorable trend for British Cotton was downward as competition from places elsewhere on the globe with more direct access to raw materials and cheaper labour costs was too great. The New Mill barely lasted 30 years before it too was demolished. 



The enormous twin Fairbairn Water Wheels powered the five storey Old Mill and were a tourist attraction for the village until they were dismantled immediately after the Second World War. Victorian tour buses would divert to Catrine  to witness the spectacular rainbows generated by the fine spray from the wheels in operation. Details of what happened to them have been lost. Rumour has it that the huge shaft that transferred the power from the wheels to the mill still lies buried under Mill Street as it was too difficult to remove when the new road was laid down!

The Old Mill Inn


Since this picture was taken, this once thriving inn has been set fire to and then slowly, over several years, reduced to rubble, adding to the gap sites in the main body of the village. No current plans to re-use the site appear to be in the works but the building had become unsafe as  the interior support walls had been  removed. 

There's much more to see here. So, take your time, look around, and learn all there is to know about us. We hope you enjoy our site and take a moment to drop us a line using the Contact page. We would love to hear your memories of Catrine and to see any photo's you care to share with us. There is also much more information about Catrine at