History of Catrine Village, East Ayrshire
Catrine is a picturesque village of around 2200 inhabitants. The village lies on the River Ayr which previously provided water power for local industry. The A76 road lies South West of Catrine.
A railway branch line to Catrine (Glasgow & South Western Railway) was one of the last to be built in Scotland in the 20th century. Catrine's station opened in 1903. The line closed to scheduled passenger services in 1943, although it continued to be used for freight and the occasional enthusiast railtour until the 1960s when the line was closed.
Catrine was designed as a model village around one of the first cotton mills in Scotland in 1787 by Claude Alexander of Ballochmyle (Paymaster General in India) and David Dale. A plan of Catrine at that time shows the hamlet consisted of eleven buildings, including a smithy and corn mill.
In the beginning of the 19th century, the factory was purchased by Messrs James Finlay & Co., of Glasgow. In 1802, two artificial lochs, covering between them 120 acres (0.49 km2), were constructed above Muirkirk, near the village of Glenbuck, to supply the cotton works. The business was greatly enlarged in 1823 when they added extensive bleaching works. The motive power for the works was supplied by wooden wheels, made from oak grown on Drumlanrig estate.
In 1828, the wooden wheels were replaced by two large iron wheels; steam engines of 500 horsepower (370 kW) were later added as auxiliary. When constructed, the iron wheels were the largest in Britain. The diameter of each wheel was 50 feet (15 m), 157 feet (48 m) in circumference, and 12 feet (3.7 m) broad, or 11 feet (3.4 m) within the buckets. There were 120 buckets on each wheel. The wheels were a tourist attraction in their day and continued in service until the 1940s.
A new mill was completed in 1950 but closed some 20 years later. The old mill was destroyed by fire during its demolition in 1963. The new mill was used for several years as a large furniture warehouse, but was eventually demolished in 1980.