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Gourock (About this sound listen (help·info); Scottish Gaelic: Guireag pronounced [kuɾʲak]; GOOR-uck) is a town falling within the Inverclyde council area and formerly forming a burgh of the county of Renfrew in the west of Scotland. It has in the past functioned as a seaside resort on the Firth of Clyde. Its principal function today, however, is as a popular residential area, extending contiguously from Greenock, with a railway terminus and ferry services across the Clyde.
The name Gourock comes from a Gaelic word for "pimple", in reference to the hill above the town. As far back as 1494 it is recorded that James IV sailed from the shore at Gourock to quell the rebellious Highland clans. Two hundred years later William and Mary granted a Charter in favour of Stewart of Castlemilk which raised Gourock to a Burgh of Barony. In 1784 the lands of Gourock were purchased by Duncan Darroch, a former merchant in Jamaica. He built Gourock House near the site of the castle in what the family eventually gifted to the town as Darroch Park, later renamed by the council as Gourock Park.
From a small fishing village in the traditional county of Renfrewshire, Gourock grew into a community involved in herring curing, copper mining, ropemaking, quarrying and latterly yacht-building and repairing.
When the competing railway companies extended their lines to provide fast connections to Clyde steamer services the Pierhead was built as a railway terminus. Nowadays a Clyde Marine ferry serves Kilcreggan and Helensburgh, and electric trains provide a service to Glasgow from Gourock railway station at the pierhead. The David MacBrayne Ltd headquarters is at the pier, a passenger ferry service to Dunoon is run by their Argyll Ferries subsidiary. A car ferry service is run by Western Ferries from McInroy's Point on the west side of the town to Hunter's Quay to the north of Dunoon.
Like many Scottish seaside towns, Gourock's tourist heyday was in the latter half of the nineteenth century and the first half of the twe ntieth. Evidence of this part of its past is gradually disappearing - The Bay Hotel and Cragburn Pavilion and The Ashton, three local landmarks, disappeared towards the end of the last century. At the same time, Gourock has continued to expand along the coastline, with new estates above the medieval Castle Levan which has been restored and is in use as a bed and breakfast. Further development is taking place, though a short stretch of green belt still separates the town from the Cloch lighthouse which looks out over the firth to Innellan in Argyll.
Within sight of Gourock, in the early hours of Friday 21 October 1825, PS Comet (II) was run into by the steamer Ayr, some 62 people losing their lives.
Places of interest
Gourock has one of the three remaining public outdoor swimming pools in Scotland. Gourock Outdoor Pool was built in 1909 and reconstructed in 1969, it was once tidal and had a sandy floor, but is now a modern, heated facility, with cleaned sea water used in the saltwater pool. The pool was closed at the end of the 2010 summer season for a major improvement project, due to be completed before the end of 2011. The existing changing accommodation has been demolished and will be replaced with a more modern leisure centre, incorporating an enlarged gymnasium and lift access from the street level down to the new changing accommodation and the upgraded pool.
The megalithic Kempock Stone, popularly known as "Granny Kempock Stone", stands on a cliff behind Kempock Street, the main shopping street. The supersition was that for sailors going on a long voyage or a couple about to be married, walking seven times around the stone would ensure good fortune. A flight of steps winds up from the street past the stone to Castle Mansions and St John's Church, whose crown steeple forms a landmark dominating Gourock. Kempock Street itself has a good variety of traditional shops including baker's and greengrocer's shops.
Gourock also has a golf course, which stretches from behind Trumpethill to Levan estates.
Gourock has a large and prospering Yacht Club named the Royal Gourock Yacht Club. The Club was originally known as Gourock Sailing Club when it was founded in 1894. It had its name changed to the Gourock Yacht Club six years later, and in 1908 King Edward VII was pleased to signify his pleasure that the club be known as Royal Gourock Yacht Club. The club has enjoyed its present location and clubhouse since 1902 when funds were donated for its building by James Coats of the famed thread making family many of whom were keen sailors. The current Commodore is Ian Mackenzie.
Clan Darroch's links with Gourock began in the later half of the 18th century with Duncan Darroch, 1st of Gourock, who had returned to Scotland after making a fortune in the West Indies. There is a story that as a lad, before leaving for Jamaica, he climbed into the garden of Gourock House to get apples from the orchard, and when chased out by the gardener said he would return to buy the estate with its orchard. He acquired the Barony of Gourock from the Stewarts of Castlemilk in 1784. He was also granted arms by the Court of the Lord Lyon and designated Chief of McIireich.
The present head of the Scottish clan Darroch is titled Claire Darroch-Thompson, 8th of Gourock, Lady of the Barony of Gourock, following the death of her father, the late Duncan Darroch of Gourock on 1 February 2011.
Gourock's principal industry, apart from tourism and fishing, was small craft repair and chandlery. An eponymous ropework opened in the town but later moved to Port Glasgow. More recently Amazon.com opened a distribution centre at Faulds Park, an industrial estate to the south of the town. The Amazon building was originally occupied by Mimtec who manufactured PC products in high volumes for IBM.
Areas of Gourock
Photographs of Gourock
- Gourock sunset.jpg
Sunset view from Lyle Hill
- PS Waverley at Gourock 1990.jpg
The Waverley in front of the old Bay Hotel
- Cal-Mac HQ2005.jpg
Caledonian MacBrayne ferries at the pierhead
- Gourock Kempock stone.jpg
- Gourock greengrocers ext.jpg
Greengrocer's shop in Kempock Street
- Gourock bakers.jpg
Baker's shop in Kempock Street
- Gourock swimming pool.jpg
- Gourock from west 2004.jpg
Ashton Front promenade
- Iain Banks (1954–2013), author
- Charlie Barr (1864–1911), yachtsman and three-time America's Cup winner
- George Wyllie (1921–2012), artist
- Fiona Ritchie (1960- ), radio broadcaster
- Taylor, Iain (2011). Place-names of Scotland. Edinburgh: Birlinn Limited. p. 83.
- "Inverclyde Leisure - Gourock Outdoor Swimming Pool". Retrieved 2010-12-31.
Gourock's famous outdoor pool is now closed ahead of a massive £2 million refurbishment
- "History - Darroch Family Web Site". Retrieved 2011-02-06.
- "Darroch of Gourock". The Daily Telegraph (London).
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