The origins of Garlieston date back to the 1780s when Lord Garlies planned and built a small port on the sheltered shores of what later became known as Garlieston Bay. There had long been a small settlement here called Cashwhill complete with water mills where the burn flowed into the sea. But by 1800 Garlieston had grown to become home to 500 people and home port to 10 trading vessels.
A pier was built to expand the harbour's capacity in 1816. Local industry expanded to include the production of sailcloth and ropes, and shipbuilding also took place. At the start of the 1900s Garlieston Harbour's rail connection meant that special excursions could arrive on the quayside, allowing passengers easy access to steamers bound for the Isle of Man. The railway closed in 1950, but the Isle of Man excursions had already ceased in the 1930s.
Garlieston Village Hall backs onto Garlieston Bay. Next to it is a large polished stone commemorating a little known part of Garlieston's history. Between 1941 and 1944 Garlieston Bay was used to test components of the "Mulberry" floating harbours that were so vital to the success of the D-Day landings in Europe in 1944.
In more recent years Garlieston has become less significant as a commercial port. If you take the interesting walk around the south side of the bay to the harbour you will probably still find the odd coaster moored at the quayside. When we originally produced this page in 2003 we commented: "But the harbour buildings show obvious signs of having seen better days: giving a strong sense of a real opportunity for some attractive redevelopment." Interestingly, someone has done exactly that, and some of the images on this page, taken in 2010, show parts of the major redevelopment of the harbourside area for residential use.
Garlieston remains an important centre for yachting and other leisure craft and today the village's main role is as a resort. To this end the area between the south end of the village and the harbour now has an attractively and conveniently located Caravan Club site.
Garlieston still strongly reflects the regular street plan originally laid out by Lord Garlies in the 1780s. North and south of the bridge over the burn as it flows into the sea, a line of attractive cottages runs parallel to the beach. On the south side this leaves room for the village bowling green to be placed on what as a result becomes an attractive promenade.
Further streets form a grid and the overall effect is both pleasant and, in the right light, very photogenic. On the north side of the burn near its outflow is a water wheel, a relic from earlier days when economic activity revolved around the port and the mills in the village.
On the rocky shore three miles to the south of Garlieston are the ruins of Cruggleton Castle, a defensive site dating back to the iron age and once occupied by a castle with no fewer than eight towers. In the Wars of Independence it was captured by Edward I of England before being retaken for Scotland by William Wallace, and it later saw military action well into the 1500s before being abandoned as a ruin in 1680. It was then quarried for its stone. A few hundred yards inland from the castle ruins is Cruggleton Church.