The heritage centre is housed in Ardrossan Parish Church which was built in 1773 on the site of an earlier church of 1744. There are a number of architectural features of note. On the external north wall the remains of the entrance to the Sailor's Loft can be traced, while on the south side the pedimental projection has a weathered sundial and a newer one below having both Greenwich Mean Time and British Summer Time figures. Above is a tablet which recorded the construction dates of 1744 and 1773, and above that is an imposing bellcote.
At the Manse Street entrance is the pleasingly well-proportioned Session House. It was built in the 18th century and was used by the church session for meetings and to house the gravedigger's tools. The grounds of the museum were cleared in 1967 to form a cemetery lawn; all illegible headstones were removed and the remainder set around the perimeter walls. The grounds were first used shortly after the church opened and was in use up until the last internment in 1915. Of the original 451 memorials 192 remain and a full report on them is kept in the museum for public consultation.
Families of interest buried here include relations of Robert Service (the poet), Edgar Allan Poe, the Allans of the Allan Line, the Smiths of the City Shipping Line, the Workmans (famous marine engineers in Belfast), Betsy Miller and there is the curious witch's headstone.
The heritage centre was originally the North Ayrshire Museum and was set up by Owen Kelly, a local businessman, in 1957 to preserve items of local interest. It was run as a private concern until 1975 when Cunninghame District Council shouldered the responsibility of looking after the building and collection.
Following the Merger of the Local History Library and Ayrshire Archive it is now the North Ayrshire heritage centre and is administered by North Ayrshire Council.
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