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Gourock from Lyle Hill.jpg
Gourock and the Bay to the pierhead
Grid reference: NS242770
Location: 55°57’0"N, 4°49’12"W
Post town: Gourock
Postcode: PA19
Dialling code: 01475
Local Government
Council: Inverclyde

Gourock is a port town in Renfrewshire, on the coast at a corner of the land, where the broad waters of the River Clyde’s estuary open into the Firth of Clyde.

In the past Gourock was a popular seaside resort town, and indeed all the trappings of a holiday town are here still, but today the main aspects of Gourock are that it is a popular residential town and a ferry port for Dunoon, Helensburgh and Kilgcreggan across the Clyde. The town extends now contiguously with Greenock.


As far back as 1494 it is recorded that King 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.

The west front looking past the Royal Gourock Yacht Club to the pierhead.

From a small fishing village, 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 seaside towns on the Clyde, Gourock's tourist heyday was in the latter half of the 19th century and the first half of the 20th, when the Clyde steamers would head out from Glasgow, packed with daytrippers and holidaymakers. 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 mediæval 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 Argyllshire.

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 passengers losing their lives.

Places of interest

Gourock Point and Cardwell Bay at sunset

Gourock has one of the few remaining public outdoor swimming pools in the land. 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.[1]

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 has two sailing clubs, Royal Gourock Yacht Club and Cardwell Bay Sailing Club, founded in 1906. These clubs provide social activities for members throughout the year and play host to competitive sailing during the summer mouths with many yachtsmen being members of both.

Gourock also has a golf course, which stretches from behind Trumpethill to Levan estates.

Clan Darroch

Clan Darroch's links with Gourock began in the later half of the 18th century with Duncan Darroch, 1st of Gourock, who had returned home 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.[2]

The present head of the Darroch family is 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.[3]


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.


Outside links

("Wikimedia Commons" has material
about Gourock)