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Denny, Stirlingshire

Historical Description

DENNY, a manufacturing town and parish, in the county of Stirling, 7 miles (S.) from Stirling, and 5 (W. N. W.) from Falkirk; containing, with the former quoad sacra parish of Haggs, and the villages of Fankerton and Loanhead, 4916 inhabitants, of whom 1881 are in the town. This place, whose name, derived from the Gaelic Dun, is descriptive of its situation on an eminence, originally formed part of the parish of Falkirk, from which it was separated about the year 1618. A considerable portion of the parish appears to have belonged to an establishment of Knights Templars that probably existed here or in the immediate vicinity, and the land is still known by the appellation of Temple-Denny. The TOWN, which is situated on the south bank of the river Carron, and on the high road from Glasgow to Stirling, consists partly of a street extending from the church northward to the bridge over the Carron: a second runs eastward from the church, and in a direction parallel to this another spacious street has been more recently built, which, in compliment to the principal landed proprietor, is called Herbertshire-street. The houses are generally well built, and roofed with slate, and have a handsome appearance. A public library, containing nearly 1200 volumes on general literature, is supported by subscription; and there is also a theological library of 400 volumes. Several efforts for the establishment of reading-rooms have been made, but without success. A club for the practice of archery was established in 1828, and the members, who were elected by ballot, held annual meetings in October, when prizes of medals and silver arrows, and other honorary distinctions, were awarded; but this club was dissolved about six years ago. There is still a curling club.

The woollen manufacture is carried on to a considerable extent, for the Glasgow houses; the principal articles are tartans, linsey-woolsey stuffs, and fancy shawls. The machinery of the mills is driven by the Carron, and the softness and purity of the water render it peculiarly appropriate for cleaning and dyeing the various articles produced in the works, in which about 160,000 pounds of wool are annually consumed, affording occupation to 200 persons. A mill for the manufacture of different kinds of coarse paper and milled-boards, at Carron-Grove, employs about twenty persons: the materials are chiefly old tarred rope, of which about a ton is used daily; and the mill is lighted with gas. The manufacture of writing-paper is also extensively carried on, in the Herbertshire mills, by Messrs. Duncan and Sons, employing twenty men and fifty women, who reside principally in Denny and Fankerton; the machinery is driven by two water-wheels, one of which is twenty-four, and the other twenty-two feet in diameter. A mill for crushing dye-woods, on the bank of the Carron, and with which are connected works in Castle-Rankine glen, affords employment to more than twenty persons, in the production of dyeing materials and of pyroligneous acid and the several liquors requisite for the various colours; and on the lands of Knowhead is an extensive forge for the making of spades. A large distillery is in operation, which produces about 50,000 gallons of whisky annually; and a brick and tile work has been established: many of the inhabitants of this place, also, are employed in the print-works in the adjoining parish of Dunipace. There are likewise numerous corn and meal mills on the river, for the better supply of which with water-power, a reservoir of sixty acres has been constructed on Earl's burn, about nine miles above Denny, at an expense of £2000. The town contains well-stored shops for the sale of different kinds of merchandise, and all the various handicraft trades requisite for the supply of the district are carried on at Denny, which also derives a considerable degree of traffic from its situation on a public thoroughfare. The post-office has a good delivery; facility of communication is afforded by excellent roads and bridges, and in 1846 an act of parliament was passed for the construction of a branch railway to Denny from the Scottish Central line near Larbert. A baron-bailie presides over the town, with power to hold a court for the recovery of debts not exceeding £2; and fairs are held annually, for cows, on the Wednesday before the 12th of May and the Wednesday after the 11th of November; but there is no market.

The PARISH is bounded on the north by the river Carron, on the south by the river Bonny, and on the west by the hill of Darrach. It is nearly six miles in length and four in breadth, comprising a little less than 9000 acres, of which 2000 are permanent pasture, and the remainder chiefly arable. The surface, which declines gradually from the hill of Darrach towards the east, is divided nearly in the centre by an elevated ridge throughout its whole length, whence the ground slopes towards the north and south; the only other hill of any note is that of Myothill, on the lands of Temple-Denny. The scenery is richly diversified, commanding a view of Herbertshire House, the seat of the Dowager Lady Forbes of Callendar, and of the beautifully undulated and tastefully embellished grounds wherein it is situated, on the opposite bank of the Carron. There are numerous springs, and, besides the two streams above mentioned, several small rivulets: of the latter. Castle-Rankine burn, which has its source near the base of Darrach Hill, and falls into the river Carron near Denny Bridge, is the largest. The river Carron, rising in the Muckle Bin, to the west of Darrach Hill, and flowing in an eastern course, forms a strikingly picturesque cascade called Auchinlilly-lin-spout, near the bridge on the road to Fintry: a cottage commanding a fine view of the fall was built by Mr. Hill, of Edinburgh, but it is now a ruin, having been destroyed by the overflowing of the Carron. The Bonny flows into the Carron about two miles eastward of the town.

The SOIL on the banks of the Carron and the Bonny is a fertile loam, in the central districts it is gravelly, and in the higher lands are considerable tracts of marshy ground; the crops are oats, barley, wheat, beans, peas, potatoes, and turnips. Though greatly improved, the system of husbandry is still defective from the want of draining and inclosures; and with some exceptions the farm-buildings are of very inferior order. There are a few sheep reared on the lands, and these are chiefly of the Cheviot and Leicestershire breeds; the cattle are generally the Ayrshire, and the horses of the Clydesdale breed, to the improvement of which great attention is now paid. The annual value of real property in the parish is £6293. The natural woods are mostly oak and birch, which are carefully preserved; and the plantations are ash, elm, birch, lime, oak, plane, and larch, Scotch and spruce firs, all of which are properly managed and in a thriving state. In this parish the substrata are principally whinstone and freestone, and ironstone and coal are also found in abundance. The coal on the north of the ridge, though nearest to the manufactories, is only wrought occasionally, from the difficulty of drawing off the water; the mines on the south, at Banknock, are in full operation. There are three seams of the coal, of which the upper is three feet six inches, the middle twenty-two inches, and the lowest five feet in thickness; and the produce, after supplying the wants of the locality, is sent by the canal to Greenock and Edinburgh. The parish contains Myothill House, beautifully situated near the base of Darrach Hill, in grounds embellished with plantations.

For ECCLESIASTICAL purposes the parish is within the bounds of the presbytery of Stirling, synod of Perth and Stirling. The minister's stipend is £250, with a manse, and a glebe valued at £10 per annum; patron, the Crown. Denny church, erected in 1813, was internally beautified in 1838, and lighted with gas; it is a neat structure in the Grecian style, and contains 767 sittings. There are places of worship for members of the United Presbyterian Church and the Free Church. The parochial school is well conducted; the master has a salary of £34, with a house and garden, and the fees average £24: a handsome building has been erected for the school. The only antiquities are some remains of a Roman station at Castle-Carie, near the southern confines of the parish. A rude stone coffin was discovered in digging the foundation for Headswood Cottage, at Woodgate, and found to contain the ashes of an adult supposed to have been killed near the spot, at the time of the wars with Edward I. of England. A circular hollow now under cultivation, in the south of the parish, near the river Bonny, is said to have been the site of a Caledonian encampment during the occupation of Castle-Carie by the Romans.

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