AN ANCIENT Irvine alleyway has been named as one of the quaintest streets in Britain.

Glasgow Vennel has made the list of Britain’s Quaintests Streets, alongside The Shambles in York, The ‘Balamory Street’, in Tobermory, Mull, Mermaid Street in Rye and Gold Hill in Shaftsbury – famous for the classic Hovis advert.

The list, which was compiled by, also names Ashton Lane in Glasgow and White Horse Close at the foot of the Royal Mile in Edinburgh among the most unique streets, lanes and avenues in the UK.

But the Glasgow Vennel is the only Ayrshire street to make the list and it’s easy to see why.

The cobbled stones which line the street are steeped in history – not least because of their connection to the great Robert Burns.

Glasgow Vennel was or iginally known as Smiddy or Smithy Bar and during the 1700s it served as part of the main route between Irvine Harbour and Glasgow for the transportation of goods.

According to historical site “Goods were transported by the carters to the city of Glasgow along the Vennel, which was the main route east from Irvine.

By taking their loads along the Vennel, carters were able to avoid paying the toll on Irvine Bridge.”

But it is Burns’ connection to the street which really makes it special.

Records show the poet lived at Number 4 Glasgow Vennel when he moved to Irvine in 1781 to learn the flax trade.

Burns worked at the heckling shop at number 10 Glasgow Vennel whist he learned the trade. In 1974 certain areas of Irvine underwent restoration in a bid to salvage their historical features and significance, including Hill Street, Seagate and Glasgow Vennel.

Cabinet member for Communities, Councillor Louise McPhater, said: “Irvine has got so much going for it but there’s no doubt Glasgow Vennel is a real hidden gem.

“Visitors might not always be aware of the Vennel and they may come across it inadvertently, but they are pleasantly surprised at how such the street has managed to retain so much of its original character.”

Irvine historian Billy Kerr described the honour as “remarkable”.

He said : “Being compared to Gold Hill in Dorset (of the famous Hovis ad) and to the ancient timber framed houses ofthe Little Shambles in York, is an honour.

“The Glasgow Vennel was nearly demolished in the late 70’s.

“The bulldozers were in place ready to level the area, but a last minute rethink by local authorities saved the street for posterity.

“As one of the town’s oldest streets it has much to tell us.

“Robert Burns worked and lived there, the infamous religious sect the Buchanites worshipped there in the house of Patrick ‘Humphy’ Hunter, which is still there today.

“In 1984, it won the prestigious Europa Nostra Award for conservation.”