ARDROSSAN played a key effort in World War Two when it was used as a naval base.

The town would have looked very different between 1939 and 1945, with a huge navy operation taking place as it was renamed HMS Fortitude.

The port was identified by the Admiralty in 1938 as the threat of war loomed over Britain.

Following the invasion of Poland, Captain Henry Francis Waight arrived in Ardrossan on August, 27 1939 to take up command of the Ardrossan Naval Base.

The base would soon encompass key locations in the town and in Saltcoats.

Within days of the outbreak of war, a flotilla of ships called ‘minesweepers’ arrived in Ardrossan and would sweep the Clyde daily from Greenock to the Mull of Kintyre, along with anti-submarine patrols.

A large minefield was also set up from the coast of Ayr to the southernmost point of Arran with Gate Ships controlling the entrance to the Clyde.

According to North Ayrshire Heritage and Cultural Services, Ardrossan was chosen to become an Independent Naval Base resulting in increased clerical staff being drafted to the port.

Castle Craig (now the Civic Centre on Glasgow Street) was set up as a Royal Naval Barracks and quickly altered to provide accommodation. One wing of Castle Craig became accommodation for the Wrens stationed at HMS Fortitude.

Submarines were also docked at Ardrossan to have their batteries refitted.

The dockyards of Ardrossan, Irvine, Troon and Ayr were all requisitioned for the building of trawlers and merchant ships and the refitting of ships.

The Eglinton Dock was used to berth ships whose drafted crews had poor knowledge of seamanship. There they received training in seamanship onboard the British Railway Steamer attached to HMS Fortitude

A canteen was established on the top floor of Saltcoats Town Hall, staffed by the Women’s Voluntary Service and ladies from local church groups.

The Town Hall acquired a reputation for providing good food, friendliness and a sense of a “Home away from Home”.

The Admiralty bought No. 1 South Crescent as a Sailor’s Rest and it was later used as accommodation for the watchkeepers of the Wireless Intelligence Offices.

The Regal Cinema was given over to Naval staff at the weekends, with concert parties every second or third Sunday. The Eglinton Hotel’s lounge was used to entertain the E.N.S.A. parties.