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Gourock, Renfrewshire

Historical Description

GOUROCK, for a time an ecclesiastical district, in the parish of Innerkip, Lower ward of the county of Renfrew, 2 miles (W. N. W.) from Greenock; containing 2448 inhabitants, of whom 2169 are in the village. This district, which was formed for ecclesiastical purposes under act of the General Assembly, is situated on the Firth of Clyde, by which it is bounded on the north; and is about three miles and a half in length and three miles in breadth. Near the shore of the bay of Gourock the surface is tolerably level; but the ground rises thence gradually towards the south and east, and the higher parts command pleasing views over the Firth, and of the adjacent country, in some directions richly cultivated, and in others boldly romantic. The soil is of moderate fertility; in several places light and sandy, and in others of better quality. The total number of acres is not precisely known; about 2000 are arable, 2500 uncultivated moor, of which nearly one-half might be rendered profitable, 200 undivided common, and about thirty acres woodland and plantations. Considerable improvements have been made in the system of husbandry, furrow-draining has been extensively practised, and the crops are generally favourable and abundant. The scenery is enlivened with some agreeable seats and villas. Gourock House is a handsome mansion, erected on the site of an ancient castle, the remains of which were taken down in 1747; it is beautifully situated, and the grounds are tastefully laid out, and embellished with flourishing plantations. Several headlands mark this part of the coast, of which Ironotter Point on the eastern, and Kempock Point on the western shore of the bay, are the principal; the bay has depth of water sufficient to render it accessible to vessels of the largest class, and a small pier has been constructed for the landing of goods.

The village of Gourock, situated on the bay, is said to have been the first place in Scotland where the curing of herrings was practised, it having been introduced in 1688, by Walter Gibson, provost of Glasgow, who built salt-pans for the purpose; but that trade has long been discontinued, and the inhabitants, though during the season employed in the herring-fishery, are now chiefly engaged in the fishery off the coast. The fish taken are cod, ling, haddock, and whiting, with some few salmon and trout, the proceeds of all which are estimated at £300 per annum. There are two sloops, and several smaller boats, belonging to the fishermen of the place. The beach affords great facilities for bathing; and numerous families from Glasgow and Paisley consequently frequent the village in summer, for whose accommodation there are several handsome houses. The manufacture of ropes is carried on extensively by a company, who employ about thirty-five persons; the quantity of cordage averages 180 tons annually, and the proceeds amount to more than £7500. Gourock church was built in 1832, at an expense of £2286, of which sum £1731 were raised by subscription, and £535 given by General Darroch, who also presented the site; it is a handsome structure, containing 947 sittings. The minister's stipend is £120, paid from the seat-rents and by General Darroch: patrons, the Congregation. The members of the Free Church have also a place of worship. Connected with the church is a parochial library of nearly 600 volumes, but altogether in disuse. A parochial school is supported by the chief landed proprietors; the master has a salary of £20, but no dwelling-house, and the fees average £30.

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