The Historic Town of Ayr
Lady Cathcart's House
(Words by Angus MacKinnon)
Located on the Sandgate in Ayr, one of the oldest secular buildings in the
medieval Royal Burgh, said to have belonged to Lord Elias Cathcart in the 18th
century, who named it after his wife.
In the 1850's it was for some years the Ayr Branch of the infamous City of
Glasgow Bank (that went on to fail spectacularly in 1878)
In the 1980's it belonged to the Bank of Scotland, who donated it to the
Scottish Historic Buildings Trust and thus saved it from demolition as it was in
poor structural condition by then and there had been talk of pulling it down.
Extensive repairs were completed about 10 years ago - funded by Historic
Scotland, Enterprise Ayrshire, the South Ayrshire Council and the Civic Society.
It was in this House that one of Ayrshire's famous sons was born in 1756. This
was the road building engineer John Loudon McAdam (sometimes spelled Macadam).
Following a short period in America where he reputedly made a fortune, he
returned to Scotland where bought an estate (between Ayr and Maybole) and, on
being elected a member of the Ayrshire Turnpike Trustees, he experimented - at
his own expense - new methods of constructing roads with layers of broken
stones, the stone of each successive layer reducing in dimension, until a smooth
and hard surface was achieved.
In 1827 he was appointed Surveyor General of Roads for the whole of Britain and
it is acknowledged his roads made a great contribution to industrial and social
progress in the late 18th and 19th centuries. Local tradition in Ayrshire has it
that the first 'macadamised' section of roadway was part of the Culzean Road,
Maybole. The great man died in 1836.