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Grid reference: NS349255
Location: 55°29’44"N, 4°36’51"W
Population: 14,934  (2001)
Post town: Prestwick
Postcode: KA9
Dialling code: 01292
Local Government
Council: South Ayrshire
Central Ayrshire

Prestwick is a town in Ayrshire, about 30 miles southwest of Glasgow. It adjoins the larger town of Ayr, the centre of which is about 2 miles south. It had a population of 14,934 as of the 2001 census.

The town is served by Prestwick Airport, which serves many European destinations as well as transatlantic and other international cargo flights.

The town was the first home of the Open Golf Championship, which was played on the Prestwick Old Course from 1860 to 1872.

Prestwick lies on the south-west coast of Scotland, approximately 30 miles southwest of Glasgow. It adjoins the larger town of Ayr, the centre of which is approximately 2 miles to the south. To the north of Prestwick is the small village of Monkton.


Prestwick Freeman's Hall

Prestwick's name comes from the Old English preost wic, for "priest village".

From Robert the Bruce to James VI, King of Scots, numerous Kings have traversed the coastal walks in and around Prestwick and Troon. Bruce is reputed to have been cured of leprosy by the waters of the well at St Ninians church. The well still exists behind the church.

Although it has been a Burgh of Barony for over a thousand years, Prestwick was a mere village until the railway arrived in the 1840s and the middle class from Glasgow started to build large houses along the coast.

On 28 August 1944, a Douglas C-54 Skymaster (42-72171) of the United States Army Air Forces, on approach into Glasgow Prestwick Airport in bad weather, crashed into a residential area of Prestwick, killing all 20 passengers and crew and five people on the ground.[1]


Glasgow Prestwick International Airport, formerly Prestwick International Airport, opened in the 1930s. The airport was an important transatlantic gateway for over half a century. During Second World War the US Air Force had a base at the airport. Though a period of sharp decline in the 1980s and 1990s saw it lose its status as the Glasgow region's primary transatlantic airport, Prestwick continues to handle many US military flights.

The airport now caters to a number of low-cost airlines, including Ryanair and Wizz Air. In addition, BAE Systems, Goodrich Corporation, Spirit AeroSystems and GE Aircraft Engines have maintenance/manufacturing facilities adjacent to the airfield. Ryanair also has maintenance facilities at Prestwick. These facilities have been vastly improved over the years.

Prestwick also has a Royal Navy Air Station, also known as HMS Gannet, where Sea King search and rescue helicopters are stationed. Prestwick is also a major air traffic control centre, with both the Scottish Air Traffic Control Centre (controlling 70% of UK airspace) and Prestwick Oceanic Area Control Centre (Shanwick Oceanic Control - responsible for air traffic over the eastern half of the North Atlantic) located at the NATS owned 'Scottish and Oceanic Area Control Centre'.

Prestwick is on the Ayrshire Coast Line between Glasgow Central and Ayr. Glasgow is approximately 50 minutes from Prestwick by rail. The line continues south to the port of Stranraer on the Wigtownshire coast.

The bus routes that run through Prestwick are usually run by Stagecoach Western including an express service to and from Glasgow known as the "X77".

The A79 road runs directly through the town, and is normally reached from the A77 trunk road between Glasgow and Stranraer, or from the A78 Ayrshire coastal route to Largs and Greenock.

Sights of the town

The old ruined church of St Nicholas

The remains of the old parish church stand near Prestwick railway station. Thought to have originally been built in the 12th century, the small church building is now a ruin, and is surrounded by an ancient graveyard. Andrew Strath, "Keeper of the Green" at Prestwick Golf Club in the 1860s, is buried in the cemetery.

Prestwick has a mile-long esplanade alongside Prestwick Bay, part of the Firth of Clyde. It has two children's playgrounds. At the north end Kid'zplay, an indoor activity centre, can be found next to the large play-area that was formerly a large open air swimming pool. Parallel to the esplanade is a line of large houses overlooking Arran.

The Prestwick Old Course hosted the first Open Golf Championship in 1860. The first twelve Open Championships were played there, from 1860 to 1872, omitting only 1871, when the Championship was not played. The town also hosts two other golf courses; St Nicholas and St Cuthberts. St Nicholas is a traditional links course south of the town.

The Shaw Monument stands on the high ground overlooking Prestwick Airport.

On Ardayre Road in Prestwick is a Polish memorial, first erected by the Polish Air Force at Monkton. Discovered there in a dilapidated and vandalised condition, it was moved by the council in 1986 to stand in the gardens of the RAFA Club which overlooks the sea. On the 45th anniversary of the sinking of the ORP Orkan (G90), 8 October 1988, another commemorative plaque was installed in memory of the Polish Navy, Merchant Navy and Coastal Command airmen who died in the Battle of the Atlantic.

The Oval is a public park in the centre of Prestwick with 2 full size football pitches with indoor changing rooms, an tennis centre with 3 indoor courts and 8 outdoor, a 25m indoor swimming pool and gym, indoor bowling green and cricket club. The park was gifted to the town in 1954.

Outside links