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Campsie, Stirlingshire

Historical Description

CAMPSIE, a parish, in the county of STIRLING, 3½ miles (E.) from Strathblane; containing, with the villages of Birdstone, Haugh-head, Lennoxtown, Milton, Torrance, and the Clachan, 6402 inhabitants. This parish, previously to the year 1649, was much larger than at present; and on account of its isolated situation, arising from its natural boundaries, it was distinguished by many peculiarities and singular customs. At the period named, its southern extremity was erected into a new parish called Baldernock, and its eastern extremity united to Kilsyth. It now extends in length about seven miles, and six miles in breadth, comprising an area of 17,000 acres, of which about 7550 are hills, 7550 arable, 500 wood and plantations, and the remainder lakes, &c. The surface consists of two ranges of hills, and the intermediate valley, running nearly from east to west. The highest eminences are those forming the northern boundary, called Campsie fells, rising at their greatest elevation 1500 feet above the sea, and intersected with numerous glens of exquisite beauty, exhibiting a profusion of romantic scenery on their rocky sides. In the glen called Kirktoun glen artificial terraces have been cut, shrouded with ferns, lichens, and all kinds of wild flowers; and numbers of persons resort to it in fine weather, on account of its attractive scenery, and to witness the variety and grandeur of the prospect from the neighbouring heights. The southern range, called the Brae, is a continuation of the braes of Kilpatrick, and rises about 700 feet. The valley is covered throughout with a succession of undulations, reaching to the precipitous sides of the northern fells, whence several burns pour down, three of which, uniting their streams, form the river Glassert, which, after traversing a considerable extent of ground in the parish, falls into the Kelvin near Kirkintilloch.

Near the base of the fells, which are clothed to their summit with rich verdant pasture, the soil is chiefly a light clayey earth, and the subsoil tilly, and exceedingly tenacious; the hillocks and undulations in the strath are frequently a light earth, resting on sand and gravel, and in several places loamy. The southern brae is all under tillage, with the exception of about 500 acres of heath, and 250 of wood, and has a clayey soil on its side towards the Kelvin, which is succeeded by lower grounds of a sandy, gravelly, alluvial, and mossy character, reaching to the neighbourhood of the river. On account of the proximity of the parish to Glasgow, dairy produce forms a leading object; other branches of husbandry, however, share much attention, and all kinds of grain, pulse, and green crops are raised, under the best system of management, and of excellent quality. The Ayrshire breed of cows, without any admixture, is kept for the dairy; the cattle grazed on the hills are mostly West Highlanders, and the sheep the black-faced breed. The annual value of real property in the parish is £18,140. The mineral contents of the district are extensive and valuable, consisting of most of the varieties of the trap rocks, and coal, with the layers of which latter, beds of freestone, aluminous clay-slate, ironstone of the argillaceous kind, and limestone, are found alternating. About 35,000 tons of coal, and large quantities of lime, are every year produced. Alum is obtained from a schist found in the coal strata, and ironstone has been partially wrought lately, and is abundant. The plantations, comprising larch, Scotch fir, spruce, sycamore, oak, and ash, have been much increased since the close of the last century, especially in the vicinity of Woodhead. In the same neighbourhood stands Lennox Castle, on the acclivity of the south brae, 500 feet above the level of the strath, and commanding extensive views. This splendid mansion was finished in 1841, in the Norman style; and nearly opposite is situated the mansion of Craigbarnet, and a little eastward that of Balancleroch, besides which, the parish contains those of Kincaid, Antermony, Glorat House, and Auchinreoch.

The inhabitants are partly employed in weaving, and in mills for cotton-printing, and bleachfields, the operations of which have been greatly extended on account of the large supply of coal and of water. At Lennox-mill, employing 700 persons, every description of cotton fabrics is printed, from the coarsest to the finest, and about 250,000 pieces are every year finished, partly for home use, and partly for exportation. The other establishments are, Clachan bleachfield, commenced in 1819, for preparing various kinds of muslins for exportation; Kincaid, established in 1785, for bleaching and printing cottons; Lillyburn, commenced in 1831, for the printing of linen and calico shawls and handkerchiefs; and Glenmill, begun in January 1831, chiefly for bleaching book-muslins. There are also works for the manufacture of alum, copperas, prussiate of potash, Prussian blue, &c. A turnpike-road from Strathblane to Kilsyth passes through the parish from east to west, and another crosses this, and runs over the fells, from Glasgow to Fintry and Kippen; the Glasgow road, also, to Stirling, by Kilsyth, passes the south-east corner, and the Forth and Clyde canal on the southern extremity. Great facility of intercourse is afforded by the Campsie branch of the Edinburgh and Glasgow railway.

Ecclesiastically the parish is in the presbytery of Glasgow, synod of Glasgow and Ayr, and in the patronage of the Crown; the minister's stipend is about £285, with a manse, and a glebe valued at £18 per annum. The church formerly stood at the Clachan, but the present edifice was built in 1829, on a far more convenient spot, at Lennoxtown; it is a handsome structure, capable of accommodating 1550 persons, and cost nearly £8000. There is a place of worship for the United Presbyterian Synod. The parochial school affords instruction in all the ordinary branches of education; the master has a salary of £30, with £18 fees, and the interest of £270 left by Robert Blair, Esq., of Glasgow. Two other parochial schools are supported by the heritors, at Craighead and Torrance, the master of the former of which, in addition to the salary of £41. 5. 11., receives £20 per annum from Messrs. Inglis, who, in connexion with Mr. Lennox, have rebuilt the premises on a much larger scale. There are also two subscription libraries. The remains of two forts of native construction are visible at the base of the Campsie fells; and Roman urns, and coins of Elizabeth, James I., and Charles I., have occasionally been dug up.

Transcribed from A Topographical Dictionary of Scotland, 1851 by Samuel Lewis