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Grangemouth, Stirlingshire

Historical Description

GRANGEMOUTH, for a time a quoad sacra parish, in the county of Stirling; comprising the sea-port town of Grangemouth in the parish of Falkirk, and also part of Polmont parish; the whole containing 1722 inhabitants, of whom 1488 are in the town, 3 miles (N. E.) from Falkirk. This place derives its name from its original situation at the mouth of the Grange burn, a stream flowing round the grange of the ancient abbey of Abbotshaugh, but now, by a recent diversion of its course, falling into the river Carron at a considerable distance to the east. The town was commenced in the year 1777, by Sir Laurence Dundas, and is situated at the eastern extremity of the Forth and Clyde canal. The streets are regularly formed, and the houses well built and of handsome appearance; the environs are pleasant, and the place has generally a cheerful and prepossessing aspect. Its trade has been progressively increasing since the formation of the harbour, and in 1810 a custom-house was established here. The trade consists principally in the exportation of coal, glass, and bricks, to Russia, Sweden, and Norway; pig and wrought iron to Denmark; coal, soap, woollens, and pig-iron to Prussia; coal, pig and cast iron, and cotton manufactures, to Holland; pig and cast iron to Germany; coal, pig-iron, glass, and bricks, to France, Portugal, Italy, and Turkey; glass, and woollen and cotton manufactures, to Van Diemen's Land; coal, bricks, cordage, woollens, and cottons, to Canada and New Brunswick; and coal and beer to Brazil. The imports are chiefly corn, tallow, flax, hemp, matting, tar, bristles, and wooden wares, from Russia; manganese ore, pitch, and linseed-cakes, from Sweden; corn from Denmark and Germany; corn, flax, timber, and wooden wares, from Prussia; bark, cheese, madder, and geneva, from Holland; and timber from Canada and New Brunswick. In a recent year the number of vessels that cleared outwards to foreign ports was 615, of the aggregate burthen of 61,979 tons; and the number that entered inwards from foreign ports was 148, of 21,145 tons: the amount of duties paid at the custom-house was £20,000. This amount of duties, however, does not show the full trade of the place, as a large part of the goods imported was removed under bond to Glasgow, where the duties were paid. The number of vessels registered as belonging to the port, in the same year, was fifty-two, of 7270 tons' aggregate burthen. A considerable coasting-trade is also carried on here and a very extensive inland trade is pursued by means of the Forth and Clyde canal, which is navigable for vessels of ninety tons from this place to Port-Dundas, near Glasgow, and also to the Clyde by Bowling bay: the number of vessels that passed along the canal in a late year was 2959. The custom-house establishment consists of a collector, comptroller, clerk, two land-waiters, six tide-waiters, and a locker; and the officers of the canal company here, are a collector, an overseer of works, and a harbour-master.

The harbour and quays are situated near the mouth of the river Carron, at its junction with the Forth and Clyde canal. Considerable improvements have been recently made under the superintendence of Sir John Macneill, civil engineer, of London, employed for that purpose by the late Earl of Zetland and the governor and council of the canal company. According to the plan adopted, the channel of the Grange burn has been changed to the eastward, and a spacious wet-dock and entrance-lock, east of the harbour, have been constructed: the foundation stone was laid on the 28th of June, 1838, the day of Her Majesty's coronation, and the work was opened for the purposes of trade on the 12th of July, 1843. The dock is capable of receiving seventy sail of merchantmen, and steamers of the largest class can be admitted, the entrance-lock being 250 feet in length, fifty-five feet and a half wide, and twenty-four feet deep. The timber-basin has been very much enlarged; and a canal, fifteen feet in depth, forms a communication between it and the wet-dock and canal. An embankment, also, has been raised from the large lock to the entrance of the river Carron on the south-east side, and another on the north-west side has been more recently completed, so that traders drawing nine feet are now able to enter and depart at low water. Thus have the local advantages of the port been rendered available to its improvement, and the extension of its commerce. Ship-building is carried on with success; and there is a graving-dock, which at spring tides has a depth of fourteen feet: it was constructed by Lord Dundas in 1811, and is capable of receiving two vessels of 300 tons' burthen. The first steam-boat built here, was launched in 1839 as a towing-vessel for the port of Memel: the vessels generally built at this place vary from ninety to 250 tons. The manufacture of sails and ropes is also extensive, and considerable quantities are exported to the colonies. The distance from the quay to the farthest beacon at the mouth of the Carron, is nearly a mile and a half: vessels are partly conducted by the Carron pilots stationed here under the Trinity House of Leith, and partly towed by steam-boats.

The parochial district that was for a time attached to the port, was separated for ecclesiastical purposes soon after the erection of a church here in 1837. It comprised about 1300 acres, of which 100, forming the demesne of Kerse House, a seat of the Earl of Zetland, are ornamented with thriving plantations, and the remainder are divided into farms of from sixty to 120 acres each. The surface is generally flat, and the soil almost uniformly a rich alluvial clay, with a small intermixture of fine white sand; the lands are well cultivated, and the crops are usually favourable. Kerse House, the principal mansion in the district, is surrounded with thriving plantations, and there are a few trees around some of the farm-houses; but otherwise there is little wood in the neighbourhood. The church was erected by the late earl, and is situated near Kerse House; it is a handsome structure in the Norman style of architecture, and contains 700 sittings, exclusively of the front gallery. In the year 1843, this edifice, with the consent of the present Earl of Zetland, passed into the hands of the members of the Free Church, of whom there is a considerable congregation. The only other place of worship is a small one for Baptists. Those who belong to other denominations are connected with places of worship at Falkirk. Schools for boys and girls, with dwelling-houses for the master and mistress, and a room which is used as a library, were erected by the late Lady Dundas, in 1827. The master has a salary of £10, and the mistress of £5, paid by the Earl of Zetland, with an allowance for the gratuitous instruction of poor children; and the fees average £40 and £20 per annum, respectively.

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


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Postal districtFK3
Post TownGrangemouth