On the site now occupied by Harvey's Leisure Centre, Auchenharvie House was also known as Seabank over its long life. The original house was erected around 1708 by Robert Cunninghame, who had established the biggest, most productive colliery in Ayrshire but had incurred increasing debts in doing so.
Seabank was probably a replacement for the ancient Auchenharvie Castle, which stands in ruins near Torranyard, three and a half miles to the north east of Irvine. After the death of Robert Cunninghame in 1715, the family were faced with a long series of debt-related court cases and effectively lost control of the coalfield and harbour that he had established. It was not until Robert Reid Cunninghame (1744-1814) took over the running of the estate in 1770 and formed a partnership with the Rev. Patrick Warner of Ardeer as the Stevenston Coal Company that the family's fortunes really improved.
In the early years of the nineteenth century, Robert Reid Cuninghame rebuilt the house as his profits from mining grew. 'Sheltered, and sweet, and cheerful, Sea Bank presents itself on the west, with its green fields and woody braes, and Martello tower, and mounted battery', is the description given by Rev. David Landsborough in the 1834-45 Statistical Account. The tower was Nelson's Tower that had been erected prior to 1812 when invasion from France was feared. Now demolished, this was a circular tower with splayed base, the upper portion adorned with a corbelled parapet.
The house passed to new owners after the death of Robert Cunninghame in 1868 and the house was rebuilt once more, taking a low baronial appearance, with addition of corbie-stepped gables and bay windows. The house was probably renamed Auchenharvie at this time. The last private owner of the house was James Kirkland, a Saltcoats solicitor. In 1947, the house was sold to the council who converted it into an experimental school for girls which operated until around 1972, when it closed and the building was demolished. By this time Auchenharvie Academy had been erected in the grounds.
Back to the Stevenston Trail