From “Rambles Round Kilmarnock” by Archibald R Adamson, published 1875
(Hurlford is just south of Kilmarnock, and is where many of my Strachan ancestors lived from around 1870. This extract from a book, published just a few years after my ancestors moved there, gives a good verbal picture of what Hurlford and the neighbouring village of Crookedholm were like.)
Passing rows of miner’s dwellings of the usual class, and remarkable only for the number of children gamboling about them, I arrived in the village of Hurlford. Old Hurlford, which consists of a few thatched houses of mean appearance, stands on an old and now disused road in a hollow to the north of the modern village. These house — some half-dozen in number — were all that constituted the hamlet seventy years ago; but had it not been discovered that the district of Hurlford was rich in mineral the Hurlford of then would have been the Hurlford of to-day, and the ground whereon the new portion of the village stands would have been furrowed by the plough and yielded crops to the husbandman. Hurlford of to-day, however, is a place of considerable importance and bustle. It contains a population of 2718, or, including Crookedholm, 3488, and is possessed of two handsome churches, a commodious academy, and a beautiful jail, which I trust the inhabitants patronize as little as possible, and also a prosperous Co-operative Society. It depends chiefly on the Portland Iron Works, the extensive fire-clay goods factory of J. & R. Howie, and the numerous collieries in its vicinity.
Crossing a splendid bridge which spans the Irvine, I passed on the north side of the road the Free Church, a very neat edifice with a spire, and a little farther on, on the same side, stands Hurlford Parish Church, a recently-erected building, and one of the finest places of worship in Ayrshire. Opposite it, to the south, is the Portland Iron Works, the glare of whose furnaces on a dark night illuminates the whole district.
Passing through Crookedholm, a straggling row of irregularly-built dwellings that line the road at a spot where the Irvine, far below the level of the highway, sweeps round a curve as it ripples onward, I soon arrived at Woodend, the beautiful residence of Allan Gilmour, Esq. The house is built of red sandstone, and occupies a position that commands a capital view of the surrounding country. The road beyond it is nearly a dead level, and continues so until Kilmarnock is reached.