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Living in Prestwick: The Local Area Guide

Prestwick is the oldest baronial burgh in Scotland, and lies just over 30 miles away from Glasgow on the south-west coast, in the South Ayrshire Council Area. It has a population reaching a little under 15,000, many of which are commuters to the city, and is neighboured by historic Ayr, a much larger town the centre of which is just 2 miles away from Prestwick.

Prestwick means ‘priest’s farm’ in Old English and that is how the town began a millennium ago. There are remnants of the town’s beginnings still visible, including the ruins of a 900 year old parish church, and it has many tales of visits by famous historical figures, including kings such as Robert the Bruce and James VI. Robert the Bruce is even claimed to have cured his leprosy by drinking the local water.

The town changed dramatically following the introduction of the railway in the mid 19th century. As is the case in many other small towns and villages near major cities during the Industrial Revolution, this led to an influx of merchants, businessmen and their families looking for a country escape from the smoke and noise.

Famously, Prestwick is home to the golf course which hosted the very first Open Gold Championship in 1860 – Prestwick Old Course. It held it for 12 years before it was moved elsewhere, but Prestwick is still a popular golfer’s destination with two other courses – St Cuthberts and St Nicholas - in the vicinity.


South Ayrshire Council Area has a population of just over 112,000. 48% are female, 52% are male, and 63% of people are working age. Only 15% of people are children, and the remaining 22% of retirement age. The region has more than 50,000 households, a figure which has grown by 5.2% since the turn of the millennium, and there are 2.27 people per household – up from 2.17.

Prestwick itself is home to 14,901 people. A large section of these people are homeowners – 75% of homes are owned either outright or with a mortgage, while only 12% are privately rented. The average house price is just over £150,000.

Prestwick has relatively low levels of economic deprivation – 10.2% are income deprived, which is significantly less than the figure for the rest of Scotland. This is reflected in the small number of social houses, just 11%. Prestwick also has a very low crime rate.


Prestwick has several good schools of its own for all ages, and in nearby Ayr there are even more. Within Prestwick are three primary schools, with another (Heathfield Primary) very close by. The three within the town are Glenburn Primary, Kingcase Primary, and St Ninian’s Primary – a Catholic school.

The secondary school, Prestwick Academy, is fed into by all three. It has around 1,400 pupils, with around 90 teaching staff, and has been running for over 100 years. In the 2000s, every building was rebuilt and now the school has excellent modern facilities.

This is reflected in its results. Recent inspections have found that in terms of improvements in performances, the curriculum, learners’ experiences and meeting learning needs the school is rated ‘good’ or ‘very good’ – and improving all the time.

Ayr, just a couple of miles away, has more choice for families who would like to explore different approaches. Four secondary schools are fed into by 15 primary schools.


Prestwick is on the Ayrshire Coast Line which offers three trains an hour in either direction between Ayr and Glasgow Central. This makes for convenient commuting, as a direct train to Glasgow takes around 50 minutes.

Drivers will find Prestwick well connected – the A79 runs right through town, and joins the larger A77 to offer quick links to other destinations in the area.

Prestwick also has its own airport, Glasgow Prestwick International Airport, served by flights from budget airliner Ryanair.

Amenities and shopping

Prestwick offers a charming array of independent shops, boutiques, artisan stores, cafes, pubs, restaurants and more along Main Street.

For larger shopping trips, Ayr is only a very short drive or medium walk away. As well as a good selection of small independent shops, it has plenty of high street brands within its shopping centre and some great places to eat.

Whilst every effort has been taken to ensure the above information is up to date, some inaccuracies may occur. If you notice any inaccuracies please contact

All information was correct at time of publication and is provided in good faith.

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