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Catrine, Ayrshire

Historical Description

CATRINE, a village, and formerly a quoad sacra parish, in the parish of SORN, district of KYLE, county of AYR, 25 miles (E. by S.) from Mauchline; containing 2659 inhabitants. This place, which, prior to the year 1786, contained only the two families of the miller and the blacksmith of the parish, is indebted both for its origin and progress to the establishment of the cotton manufacture, at that time, by the late Claud Alexander, Esq., of Ballochmyle, and David Dale, Esq., a merchant of Glasgow. The works, after being carried on for a few years, were purchased from the original proprietors by Messrs. Finlay and Company, of Glasgow, who enlarged the concern, and brought it to its present flourishing condition. The buildings are spacious, and replete with machinery of every kind. Two water-wheels, each fifty feet in diameter, estimated at 200-horse power, have been erected for giving motion to the machinery; and two steam-engines, of sixty-horse power each, have been added, to secure the continuance of the work under any failure of water. In the bleaching-works, also, the requisite machinery is propelled by a water-wheel of thirty-two feet diameter, and by a steam engine of twenty-eight horse power. Every process of the cotton manufacture is carried on, with the utmost regularity; the raw material sent from Glasgow is spun, woven, bleached, and finished, either for home consumption, or for exportation to foreign markets. In the bleaching-works, which were established in 1824, in addition to the goods produced in the cotton factory of this place, all the cloth manufactured at the other works of the company are bleached; the process is carried on within the walls, at all seasons of the year, and from 150 to 200 acres of land, which would be requisite for the exclusive purpose of a bleachfield, are thus appropriated to agricultural uses. The number of persons employed in both the works is 960.

The village, which alone constituted the parish, is pleasantly situated in an extensive and picturesque vale, through which the river Ayr pursues its winding course, and is neatly built on the north bank of the river, over which is a handsome stone bridge. It is lighted with gas, from a work belonging to the inhabitants, which is considered by competent judges the best constructed of any in Ayrshire, both in regard to the quality of the gas manufactured, and the economy of its production. There are two public libraries, containing each a collection of from 600 to 700 volumes, and supported by subscribers; a philosophical library; and a library in connexion with a Sunday school. Many of the inhabitants are employed in hand-loom weaving for the manufacturers of Glasgow and Paisley, and several in the various trades requisite for the supply of the population; a sub-post has been established, and there is an excellent market on Saturday for provisions of all kinds. The ecclesiastical parish was in the presbytery of Ayr and synod of Glasgow and Ayr. A chapel of ease was built by Mr. Alexander, in 1792, at an expense of £1000; and was purchased sixteen years ago by the feuars of the village, who are bound by their feu disposition to erect a church, and inclose a piece of land for a burying-ground. It is a substantial edifice, and, by the addition of galleries about twelve years since, is adapted for a congregation of 1160 persons. A convenient place of worship has been built for members of the Free Church, which is calculated to contain 978 persons; and there is also a neat church belonging to the United Presbyterian Synod, affording accommodation for 650. Here are three public schools, and a school for the young persons employed at the works is supported by the proprietors. A friendly society was established in 1829; it has a fund of £300, and has proved very beneficial in obviating necessity for parochial aid. In 1834 a female society was established, under the act of George IV. and William IV.; this possesses a fund of £120, and has been of great benefit to many families. The late Dugald Stewart, the eminent professor of moral philosophy at Edinburgh, had a summer residence here, which still remains in the possession of the family, but is let to a tenant, his son Colonel Stewart having built an elegant mansion about a mile distant from the village, where he resides.

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