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Loudoun Church, Newmilns
Loudoun Church, Newmilns

Newmilns and Greenholm is a small burgh of 3,400 people located 7 miles to the east of Kilmarnock on the A71 in East Ayrshire, Scotland. It is situated in the Irvine Valley, approximately 25 miles southwest of Glasgow. A busy main road linking Kilmarnock with Strathaven, East Kilbride and Edinburgh runs through the town.

[edit] Etymology

Newmilns means "the new mills", from Old English niwe "new" and myln "mill", the name being recorded as Nawemeln in 1126. The plural -s is a recent addition and was found as recently as the 16th century.

[edit] History

The River Irvine at Newmilns
The River Irvine at Newmilns
The River Irvine at Newmilns
The River Irvine at Newmilns

In 1490, Newmilns was formed as a burgh of barony by Royal Charter. At the end of the 16th century, refugees from France and Flanders settled in Newmilns, bringing with them skills and techniques in lace making. The development of the town of Newmilns can be attributed to the increasing importance of weaving; most houses had a loom by the end of the 18th century. Newmilns grew rapidly in the 19th century due to the success of light manufacturing industries, principally lace making, and because it was served by good road - and later rail - connections. The introduction of the power loom in the late 19th century marked the beginning of the golden years for the lace industry in Newmilns. By the end of the Second World War, there were 12 lace and madras factories in Newmilns. The importance of lace is reflected in the architecture of public buildings in the town centre, such as Lady Flora's Institute and the Morton Hall. Loudoun Church contains many important Covenanter memorials, and a new (2006) memorial plaque to local resident Murdoch Nisbet, translator of the New Testament into the Scots language in 1520.

Newmilns Tower
Newmilns Tower

The subsequent decline of lace making in the town, due to the effects of the two wars and the intervening depression and growing competition from overseas, led to a decline in the fortunes of Newmilns. Town centre buildings fell into disrepair and an aura of dereliction and depression led to historic properties becoming uninhabitable, roofless or being demolished. From 1999 to 2005 a Heritage Lottery Fund-supported project known as the Newmilns Townscape Heritage Initiative carried out extensive building restoration and renovation works, including the environmental improvement of open space and waste ground in Newmilns and reinstatement of architectural detail and features. Although the area remains extremely well off, with few shops or other facilities, the townscape has been improved.

Newmilns is a good base for walks in the Irvine Valley, particularly on the less-developed southern side.[citation needed]The annual Irvine Valley Walking Festival (started in 2002) is held each year in May. It has a range of walks at paces and distances to suit all from the serious walker to those wanting a scenic, leisurely stroll. Walkers are accompanied on many of the 14 walks by Contryside Rangers, Natural Historians and or Local Historians. Full details of the walks are published in the Walking Festival Brochure which is available at any East Ayrshire Council office.

(Source: Wikipedia)
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