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Cunninghame Combination Poorhouse

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Derelict façade, 2009, Fox
Derelict façade

Cunninghame Combination Poorhouse was built between 1857 and 1858. The significance of the word Combination in the original name of the institution refers to the poorhouse being built to serve a number of parishes within North Ayrshire, which were also jointly responsible for its funding. The remains of the poorhouse stand beside what is now Sandy Road in Irvine.

The original establishment comprised the main accommodation building, which also incorporated accommodation for the governor, a chapel, bath house, bake house, cobblers, and other various workshops. The space between the buildings was used a an exercise yard. When first constructed, the poorhouse could accommodate ten males and 10 females inmates, who would have been categorised as imbeciles or idiots.

Throughout the late 19th and early 20th centuries there was considerable expansion on the site including a detached house for the governor. In 1892. a report drew attention to the indiscriminate burying of Protestant and Catholic paupers who died in the institution. It was further reported that the ground (part of the gardens) had been used more than once, and that were no records showing where a family might erect a gravestone should the occasion arise.

In 1930, the local authority took over responsibility for the poorhouse and renamed it Cunninghame Home & Hospital. It cared for the elderly, mental defectives, and also had an insane asylum.

In 1948, the NHS took over responsibility for the facility, and in 1958 the name was changed to Ravenspark Hospital, where psychiatric and geriatric care was administered.

In 1996, the hospital closed and remained empty and derelict until the early 2000s, when the site was sold for redevelopment. Most of the buildings were demolished to make way for flats, and the area is now known as Ravenspark Village. Development of the site came to a stop during 2008/9, attributed to the recession, leaving a number of the derelict building to stand on the site, presumably waiting for an upturn in the prevailing economic conditions.

In 2011, development work restarted, and in December 2012 the BBC carried a story about a mass grave being discovered by workers on the site. Work was stopped on that part of the site while police and archaeologists investigated. Such discoveries have to be formally investigated, to confirm the remains are historic and not current. However, in this case the source was soon identified: "A report by the General Superintendent of Poorhouses in 1892 alleged that 'paupers dying in this house, whose bodies are not claimed by friends, are buried in an enclosed part of the garden'". A fairly detailed account of the activities taking place at the establshment was provided by the BBC.[1]


Gatehouses from Sandy Road, 2009, Fox
Gatehouses from Sandy Road
Rear of gatehouses rear, 2009, Fox
Rear of gatehouses
Arched gateway, 2009, Fox
Arched gateway


1 a report by the General Superintendent of Poorhouses in 1892 alleged that "paupers dying in this house, whose bodies are not claimed by friends, are buried in an enclosed part of the garden" Retrieved March 26, 2013.

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