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Blairgowrie

A historical perspective, drawn from the Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland: A Survey of Scottish Topography, Statistical, Biographical and Historical, edited by Francis H. Groome and originally published in parts by Thomas C. Jack, Grange Publishing Works, Edinburgh between 1882 and 1885.

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Blairgowrie (Gael. blar-ghobhar, ` plain of the wild goats '), a town and a parish of NE Perthshire. The town stands on the right bank of the Ericht, opposite Rattray village, with which it is connected by a bridge, repaired and widened in 1871. By road it is 4¼ miles NW of Cupar Angus, 5½ WSW of Alyth, 12 ENE of Dunkeld, and 35 S of Braemar; by rail, as terminus of a branch of the Caledoinan, opened from Cupar in 1855, it is 21¼ miles WSW of Forfar, 20¼ NNE of Perth, 67¼ N by W of Edinburgh, and 83¾ NE by N of Glasgow. Its site, 227 feet above sea-level, is a pleasant south-eastern slope that forms the first rise of the Hill of Blair. The churchyard above, before the parish church, looks up Strathmore to the Hunter's Hill of Glamis, and down to its south-western extremity; behind the church a wooded deep ravine falls away steeply to the river's bed. The winding Ericht, overhung 3 miles to the N by picturesque Craighall-Rattray ('Tully Veolan '), and the skirts of the Sidlaws and Grampians, all join to beautify Blairgowrie's setting; and Blairgowrie itself is a well-built thriving town, with spacious market-place and handsome villas. A century since it was only a village of mean, thatched houses; now it is lighted with gas (since 1834) and supplied with good water (in 1871, at a cost of £6050), whilst possessing a post office, with money order, savings' bank, insurance, and telegraph departments, branches of the Bank of Scotland and the Royal, Commercial, and Union banks, a local savings' bank, 9 hotels and inns (the Royal and Queen's with billiard rooms), a masonic lodge, angling, athletic games, bowling, cricket, curling, and amateur dramatic clubs, and a Saturday Liberal paper, the Advertiser (1855). A town-hall, accommodating 600 persons, was built about 1860; and a mechanics' institute, with reading-room and museum, in 1870. Places of worship are the original parish church (rebuilt 1824; 850 sittings), St Mary's or Brown Street church (converted in 1837 from a Burgher chapel into a chapel of ease, and in 1879 erected into a quoad sacra church), the First and South Free churches, a U.P. church, a Congregational church (1824; 300 sittings), St Catherine's Episcopal church (1843; 200 sittings), and St Stephen's Roman Catholic church (1856; 400 sittings). Both the two last are Early English structures, St Stephen's designed by Edward Welby Pugin. The Ericht supplies abundant water-power to 8 flax-spinning, linen, and jute mills in and about the town; and there are also 4 saw-mills, a brewery, 3 malt-kilns, and a farina-factory. Blairgowrie, made a burgh of barony in 1634, a free burgh of barony in 1809, and a police burgh prior to 1864, is governed by a town council consisting of a senior bailie, 2 junior bailies, and 10 councillors, and by 12 police commissioners. The police court sits every lawful day, the bailie court (for civil causes under £2) every Wednesday, and the sheriff small debt court (for causes under £12) on the second Saturdays of January, April, July, and October; Wednesday is market-day; and fairs are held for cattle, etc., on the third Wednesday of March, the Tuesday of May before Old Whitsunday, the 23d of July, the Wednesday of October before Falkirk Tryst, and the 23d of November, for feeing on the second Wednesday of May and the first Wednesday of November. Unless, with Skene's Celtic Scotland, one makes Blair Hill the ` Mons Granpius ' of the Battle of the Grampians, Blairgowrie has no history other than transits of the Marquis of Montrose in his hostile descents from the Highlands, and disastrous spates of the ` ireful ' Ericht, one of which, in 1847, destroyed two arches of the Rattray bridge, and did great damage to the mills. George Drummond (1687-1766), six times Lord Provost of Edinburgh, and a great benefactor to that city, was born at Newton Castle, a 17th century mansion, haunted by a Green Lady, 3 furlongs W of the town. Two public schools, Blairgowrie and John Street, and a Roman Catholic school, with respective accommodation for 726,176, and 140 children, had (1879) an average attendance of 546,168, and 104, and grants of £495,15s. 6d., £80, 5s. 9d., £95,15s. Pop. (1792) 425, (1811) 1025, (1831) 1593, (1851) 2914, (1871) 3830, (1881) 3950.

The parish, also containing the village of Lornty, ¾ mile NNW of the town, consists of Blairgowrie proper and the detached sections of Blackcraig and Creuchies, these being severed from the first by intervals of 9 and 5 furlongs, and, at their nearest, lying 41/8 miles NW and 2¾ miles NNE of the town. The total area is 15,555 acres, of which 5468¾ belong to the detached sections, and 252 are water. From N by W to S by E Blairgowrie proper has an extreme length of 9¾ miles; its width from E to W varies between 3 furlongs and 3¾ miles; and it is bounded N by Alyth, E by the Drimmie section of Bendochy, Rattray, and Bendochy proper, SE by Cupar Angus, SW by Caputh and Lethendy, W by Kinloch, the Gormack section of Caputh, and the Persie section of Bendochy. The boundary with Persie is traced for 1 mile by the Ardle, and for 3¾ miles by the southward-flowing Black Water, which near Strone House unite to form the Ericht. The latter curves ½ mile eastward through the interior, and then winds 8¼ miles south-eastward on its way to the Isla along almost all the Rattray border, receiving from the W the Lornty Burn, for 5 furlongs bounding and for 9 intersecting Blairgowrie proper, whose SE boundary is roughly marked for 1¾ mile by the Isla itself. Thus the main portion falls into three natural divisions-the first to the N of the Ericht, the second between the Ericht and the Lornty, the third between the Lornty and the Isla; and in these three divisions the summit elevations above sea-level are Ashmore Hill (1277 feet), Cochrage Muir (867), and the Hill of Blair (690). The surface from the town tothe Isla, belonging wholly to Strathmore, and nowhere exceeding much 200, while sinking to 100, feet, is relatively low and level; and here are 4 small lakes-White Loch, Black Loch, Hare Myre, and Loch Bog or Stormont Loch-of which the last and largest lies at an altitude of 167 feet, and has an extreme length and breadth of 5 and 21/3 furlongs. The Blackcraig section, measuring 4¾ miles from N to S, and from 7 furlongs to 2¼ miles from E to W, is bounded E by Persie and Kinloch, SW and W by Clunie, and NW by Logierait. It is traversed or bounded to the E by 1¼ mile of the Ardle, and its south-western border is traced for 9 furlongs by the Lornty Burn, for 2½ miles by the tributary Baden, the surface declining from Blackcraig Hill (1573 feet) in the N eastward to less than 600 feet along the Ardle, southward to 800 on the Lornty. Lastly, the smaller triangular Creuchies section, measuring 27/8 by 1½ miles, is bounded NE by Alyth, SE by Bendochy, SW and W by Rattray, and culminates at 911 feet. The rocks are variously Devoinan, Silurian, and eruptive; and the only ones quarried are a coarse red sandstone and a very dark-coloured trap. The soils vary from shallow moorish earth to deep and fertile alluvium along the Isla; and of the total area about one-third is arable and one-eleventh under wood. Mansions are Blairgowrie House and Blackcraig Castle, ½ mile SE and 9 miles NW of the town; and their owners, Alan M `Pherson (superior of the burgh) and Patrick A. Fraser, hold 741 and 2722 acres, valued at £1103,10s. and £1537,16s. per annum. Six other proprietors hold each a yearly value of £500 and upwards, 21 of between £100 and £500,38 of from £50 to £100, and 74 of from £20 to £50. Blairgowrie is in the presbytery of Meigle and synod of Angus and Mearns, the first minister's income amounting to £439; but, for church, school, and registration purposes, the detached sections are included in the quoad sacra parish of Persie. Valuation (1881) £26,378,3s. 4d. Pop. of civil parish (1801) 1914, (1831) 2644, (1851) 4297, (1871) 5109, (1881) 5161; of quoad sacra parish (1871) 4832, (1881) 4935.—Ord. Sur., shs. 56,48,1870-68.

An accompanying 19th C. Ordnance Survey map is available, or use the map tab to the right of this page.

Note: This text has been made available using a process of scanning and optical character recognition. Despite manual checking, some typographical errors may remain. Please remember this description dates from the 1880s; names may have changed, administrative divisions will certainly be different and there are known to be occasional errors of fact in the original text, which we have not corrected because we wish to maintain its integrity. This information is provided subject to our standard disclaimer

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