EVERY week popular local historian A J Morton (founder of Morton Research Labs) reveals Ayrshire's amazing past in the Irvine Times. This week, he looks at Irvine's inventing history and the crucial development of the 'Suspension Railway'.

IMAGINE, for a moment, an "electric tramway" system running from Ardrossan to Irvine (incorporating Kilmarnock and Troon). To the south runs a state-of-the-art "suspension railway".

A town electrification scheme has been proposed. The tides are being constantly monitored and the roads are being modified with a versatile new material (one which allows speedier passage while reducing accidents). Odd vehicles are speeding along those shiny new roads, none of them resembling the cars of today.

Imagine further that our Provost dared to dream of a "new Utopia when, instead of grinding under the stimulus of machinery, [people] would have happiness, and every man would till his own vine and sit under his own fig tree." This all sounds futuristic. But these ideas are more than a century old. Some were eventually realised, such as the electrification of the town (switch on your lights and see) and the electric train system (the electric trains of today will take you further than previously envisaged) but some never got off the drawing board. The "suspension railway", proposed in 1829, managed to reach experimental phase before being shut down.

See this week's Irvine Times for the full story of Ayrshire Uncovered.