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East Kilbride, Lanarkshire

Historical Description

KILBRIDE, EAST, a parish, in the Middle ward of the county of Lanark; containing 3810 inhabitants, of whom 926 are in the village, 8 miles (S. S. E.) from Glasgow. This place, distinguished by its affix East from West Kilbride in the county of Ayr, and including the ancient parish of Torrance, is of great antiquity, and once formed part of the see of Glasgow, to which the original grant was confirmed by a bull of Pope Alexander III., in 1178, and by some of his successors. A castle was erected here by Robert de Valnois, about the year 1182; and previously to the reign of Robert Bruce, nearly two-thirds of the lands belonged to the family of Cummin, in whose hands they remained till 1382, when, on their forfeiture by John Cummin, they were granted by that monarch to John Lindsay, of Dunrode, as a reward for his fidelity. The lands of Calderwood were the property of the Maxwell family in the reign of Alexander III., and are still in the possession of their descendant, Sir William A. Maxwell, Bart. Those of Torrance belonged to Sir William Stuart, who, in 1398, was one of the sureties on the part of Scotland for the peace of the western marches, and whose representative, Miss Stuart of Torrance, is the present proprietor. During the prevalence of the plague in Glasgow, the inhabitants of this neighbourhood used to deposit the produce with which they supplied the city, at a spot on the old Glasgow road, about a mile and a half northward of the parish: to this spot the citizens resorted as a temporary market, and it has since retained the name of the Market Hill.

The PARISH takes its name from the dedication of the church to St. Bride or Bridget. It is about ten miles in length, and varies from two to five miles in breadth, comprising an area of 22,786 acres, of which almost 18,000 are arable, and the remainder chiefly peat-moss and moorland, affording tolerable pasturage for sheep. The surface is greatly diversified with hills, from 200 to 1600 feet above the level of the sea. The lower lands are watered by various streams, the principal of which is the Calder, flowing for nearly seven miles along the eastern boundary of the parish; the scenery on its banks, at Torrance and at Calderwood, is richly diversified, and near Calderwood House the river forms a beautifully picturesque cascade. The Powmillon has its rise in the south-eastern confines of the parish, and after a course of about two miles, runs into the parish of Avondale, and thence into the river Avon. The Kittock has its source in the northern portion of the parish, in a marsh about two miles from the village of Kilbride, and after a winding course falls into the river Cart near Busby. The Cart, after bounding the parish for four miles on the north-west, flows into the parish of Carmunnock near the village of Jackton.

The SOIL is chiefly a stiff wet clay; it has been rendered more fertile by tile-draining within the last few years, and considerable improvement has been made in the system of agriculture. The crops are oats, barley, potatoes, and turnips; but the principal reliance is on the dairy-farms, which have been greatly increased, and are under excellent management: their produce is sent to Glasgow, principally in butter and milk, many of the farmers sending about a cart-load every day during the summer. Much attention is paid to the treatment of the milch-cows, which are of the Ayrshire breed; and considerable improvement has been made in the breed of cattle generally, under the encouragement of an agricultural society established in 1816, which holds an annual meeting here on the second Friday in June, when a cattle-show takes place. Numbers of sheep, also, are pastured on the hills and moors. The lands have been partly inclosed; and the farm-buildings have been rendered much more commodious than formerly, and are still improving. The plantations are almost confined to the grounds of Torrance and Calderwood, and the lands belonging to Glasgow College. Around most of the farm-houses, however, even in the more exposed situations, are large trees of various kinds, the favourable growth of which is attributed to especial care in the preparation of the soil by draining previously to planting, and to their protection from early injury by the cattle. It is thought that the subdivision of property has alone operated as an obstacle to the increase of plantations throughout the parish. Coal, ironstone, and limestone are abundant: the coal was formerly wrought, but being of inferior quality, the works have been discontinued, and a better supply is now obtained from the collieries in the neighbouring parishes. The ironstone, which is of a good kind, is wrought by the Clyde Iron Company, who employ about eighty men in their works in the parish. The limestone, which occurs in beds varying from three to ten feet in thickness, and much intermingled with seams of greenstone, is also extensively quarried, and burnt into lime for agricultural use. Freestone is found in several parts; clay of good quality for tiles is also abundant, and Roman cement is made in considerable quantities. The annual value of real property in the parish is £24,190.

Torrance House is a spacious ancient mansion, with modern additions of various dates: in front are the arms of Scotland on a stone removed from the old castle of Mains by Colonel Stuart. It is beautifully situated, and the grounds are embellished with thriving plantations. Calderwood House is an elegant mansion, of a castellated form, to which some very tasteful additions have been made; the demesne is richly planted, and the grounds command a fine view of the fall of the river Calder, and comprise much beautiful scenery. Lawmoor is a neat modern house, pleasingly situated; and Crossbasket is a handsome residence, principally of modern character, Kirktoun Holm is now in a dilapidated condition, and occupied by a number of families as tenants. Cleughorn Lodge is a good residence. There are several villages in the parish, namely, Kirktoun or East Kilbride, Maxwellton, part of Busby, and the smaller hamlets of Aldhouse, Jackton, Braehead, Kittockside, and Nerston. East Kilbride was constituted a burgh of barony in the reign of Queen Anne, and had a charter for a weekly market on Tuesday, and four annual fairs. The market has, however, been discontinued many years; and of the fairs, the only one that is still observed is held on the second Friday in June, for the sale of cattle and sheep. The village is pleasantly situated near the river Kittock, and is somewhat compact. A subscription library has been established in it, and it has a post-office subordinate to that of Glasgow, with a daily delivery. The cotton manufacture is carried on to a considerable extent, affording employment to about 300 of the inhabitants. A savings' bank has been instituted in connexion with the Glasgow National-Security Savings' Bank. Facility of communication is afforded to the inhabitants of the parish by the road from Glasgow to Strathaven, which passes through the village, and for nearly five miles through the parish; and by other roads kept in good repair, one of which runs from the village to Eaglesham, and another from Busby to Carmunnock. At the southern boundary of Torrance is a bridge over the river Calder, leading to the parish of Glassford.

For ECCLESIASTICAL purposes the parish is within the bounds of the presbytery of Hamilton, synod of Glasgow and Ayr. The minister's stipend is £280. 8., with a manse, and a glebe valued at £18 per annum; patron, the Crown. Kilbride church, which is situated in the village, is a plain neat structure, with a tower surmounted by a spire; it was erected about 1774, and contains 913 sittings, which number, if the whole of the interior were rendered available, might be increased to 1200. There are places of worship for the Free Church and the United Presbyterian Church. The parochial school is at the village of Kilbride, and has branches at Aldhouse and Jackton; the master receives a salary of £34, and the fees average about £40 per annum. The master of the branch school at Aldhouse has a salary of £8, with a house rent-free, and the master at Jackton a salary of £8, without a house, the residue of their income being made up by the fees. There is also a very efficient school at Maxwellton, supported by Sir William Maxwell. A parochial library has been established, which has a good collection of volumes; and several friendly societies have tended materially to diminish applications for parochial aid. Near Kittockside were some remains of two fortifications, situated respectively on Castle Hill and Rough Hill, about 200 yards distant from each other; but the stones of both have been long removed, and the site of the former planted with trees. Near the latter, an ancient stone celt was found, six inches and a half in length and three inches in breadth, formed of a coarse kind of ironstone. About a mile northward of the church are the ruins of Mains Castle, the once stately baronial residence of the Cummins, and the Lindsays of Dunrode; and the same distance southward of the village, was the castle of Lickprivick, of which nothing remains except the mound near its site. There were also several cairns formerly in the parish, among which was Herlaw, where urns with fragments of human bones were discovered. One near Mains Castle was remarkable for having at the base a circle of flagstones, set on their edges, and sloping outwards; but the stones were long since removed. Dr. William Hunter, the eminent physician, and his brother, John Hunter, the distinguished surgeon and anatomist, both of whom were at the head of their profession in London, were born at Long Calderwood, in the parish.

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