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Council to Remove Historic Vessel to Pave Way for Ayr Esplanade Revamp

In a significant development discussed during the Cabinet meeting on Tuesday, 12 March 2024, South Ayrshire Councillors have green-lit the proposal to remove the deteriorating former fishing vessel, MVF Watchful, from its current location at the dry dock on South Harbour Street, Ayr.

Photo: South Ayrshire Council

The decision marks a pivotal moment for the council's ambitious plans to rejuvenate the Ayr Esplanade, promising a host of improvements aimed at enhancing the local and visitor experience along the shoreline.

The vessel, affectionately known as The Watchful among locals, has seen better days and now faces a bleak future due to its rapidly declining condition. Restoration efforts for the historic fishing vessel were deemed financially impractical, necessitating its removal to make room for the forthcoming Ayr Esplanade Improvement Strategy.

Outlined in the council's vision for the esplanade are plans to significantly boost the infrastructure supporting water sports, alongside refurbishing existing artworks and introducing a new maritime heritage feature. This strategy aims to not only preserve but also enhance the area's rich cultural and historical significance.

South Ayrshire Council’s Portfolio Holder for Buildings and Environment, Councillor Martin Kilbride, said:

“The Council has engaged with a number of community bodies around plans to restore The Watchful, however none of these have come to fruition. The best option is to remove the vessel and move forward with our plans to revamp the esplanade area.”

South Ayrshire Council’s Portfolio Holder for Culture, Tourism and Rural Affairs, Councillor Alec Clark, said:

“Ayr Esplanade attracts thousands of visitors each year, so it’s vital that we maximise all the area has to offer. I am aware of the history and heritage of the herring fishing in South Ayrshire. However, the removal of The Watchful, which is in poor condition, means that we can progress with some fantastic improvements along the shorefront that will benefit both locals and tourists.”

The decision to remove The Watchful is seen as a stepping stone towards realising the vision for an enhanced Ayr Esplanade, where history and modernity blend seamlessly to create a vibrant, welcoming space for all to enjoy.

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