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Tillicoultry

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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Tillicoultry, a town and a parish of Clackmannanshire. The town lies at the southern base of the Ochils, on Tillicoultry Burn, and within ½ mile of the right bank of the Devon, 2 miles E of Alva, 3¾ NNE of Alloa, 33/8 W by S of Dollar; whilst its station, on the Devon Valley section (1851-71) of the North British railway, is 10 miles ENE of Stirling, and 13½ WSW of Kinross. The Queen, who passed it by train on 20 June 1879, just after receiving the news of the death of the Prince Imperial, describes its 'situation, in a wooded green valley at the foot of the hills,' as 'beautiful, reminding me of Italy and Switzerland.' In the course of the last half century, Tillicoultry has grown from a village to a thriving town, such growth being due to the great extension of its woollen manufactures. These date, indeed, from the days of Queen Mary, and long made Tillicoultry serges and blankets famous throughout Scotland; but the weaving of tartans and shawls was not introduced till 1824, and the manufacture of tweeds and silk fabrics is of still later origin. There now are no fewer than eighteen factories; and the larger of these employ several hundreds of hands. The town has a post office, with money order, savings' bank, and telegraph departments, branches of the Clydesdale and Union Banks, 2 hotels, gasworks, a police station, a cemetery, and a Wednesday Liberal paper, the Tillicoultry News (1879). The Popular Institute and Library, with accommodation for 1000 people, was erected in 1860; in 1862 an Academy was gifted to the townsfolk by David Paton, Esq., at a cost of nearly £1200; and in 1875 handsome board schools were built at a cost of £5500. The parish church (1829; 650 sittings) stands 4½ furlongs E by S of the centre of the town. The Free church was built soon after the Disruption; and other places of worship are the U.P., the Evangelical Union, and the Congregational church, the last erected in 1876 at a cost of £3000. The town, having in 1871 adopted part of the General Police and Improvement (Scot.) Act of 1862, is governed by nine police commissioners. Its municipal constituency numbered 550 in 1885, when the annual value of real property within the burgh amounted to £10,000, whilst the revenue, including assessments, was £550. Pop. of town (1851) 3217, (1861) 3684, (1871) 3745, (1881) 3732, of whom 1999 were females. Houses (1881) 847 inhabited, 80 vacant. The parish, containing also the villages of Coalsnaughton and Devonside, is bounded N and NE by Blackford in Perthshire, E by Dollar, S by Clackmannan and Alloa, SW by the detached section of Clackmannan, and W by Alva in Stirlingshire (detached). Its utmost length, from NNW to SSE, is 6¼ miles; its breadth varies between 72/3 furlongs and 2¾ miles; and its area is 6976½ acres, of which 30¼ are water. The Devon first, a little below its source, flows 11/8 mile east-by-northward along the northern border, and then, much lower down, winds 33/8 miles west-south-westward, partly along or close to the Clackmannan boundary, but mainly across the southern interior. Gloomingside or Gannel Burn, rising at 1650, and Daiglen Burn, rising at 1500, feet above sea-level, run 1¾ mile south-south-westward and 15/8 mile south-south-eastward, until, at an altitude of 1650 feet, they unite to form Tillicoultry Burn, which itself flows 1¼ mile south-by-westward to the Devon at Glenfoot. Greenhorn and Broich Burns run northward along the Alva and Blackford boundaries to the Devon, four others of whose affluents have a southerly course, either through the interior or along the eastern and western borders. The scenery of these little mountain rivulets, with their pools, cascades, and wooded banks, is almost as fair to-day as it was in that olden time when the wife of the miller of Menstrie was spirited away by the fairies. In the valley of the Devon the surface declines to less than 50 feet above sea-level; and thence it rises southward to 327 feet near Shannockhill, northward to 1000 at Wester Kirk Craig, 2094 at the Law, 2111 at King's Seat Hill on the Dollar boundary, 2363 at Bencleugh (the loftiest summit of the Ochil Hills), and 1724 at Burnfoot Hill, from which it again declines to close on 1000 feet at the northern border. The entire landscape, whether we view the hills or the plain, is pleasant and beautiful. A rising ground, called the Kirk Craig and the Cuninghar, which closes a fine plain stretching out to it from the Abbey Craig near Stirling, has a strikingly romantic appearance as approached from either the E or the W, and is supposed to be 'the mount at the back of the country,' the tulaich-cul-tir, whence the parish derived its name. The rocks are mainly eruptive in the hills, carboniferous in the plain. Red and grey porphyries compose the summits of the central and loftiest heights; and they exhibit some very fine varieties, and contain large crystals of black schorl. Clay-slate is a prevailing rock in the King's Seat chain; and basaltic rocks, in some instances containing curious decomposed masses, occur in the lower heights. Micaceous schist, too, is found, containing numerous garnets. Some veins of copper ore were worked towards the middle of last century; but, after the expenditure upon them of a very great sum of money, were abandoned as not defraying the cost of mining. Silver, lead, cobalt, arsenic, and sulphur seem also to exist, but in small quantities. A rich variety of ironstone, and rich veins of iron ore of the kidney kind, are in sufficient quantity to have been an object of marked attention to the Devon Company. A stratum of dark-blue clay, suitable for fire-bricks, occurs; and on the banks of the Devon are singular concretions of hardened clay in a great variety of fantastic shapes. Sandstone, of good quality, occurs on the skirts of the hills and in the plain, and has been largely quarried. Coal, in four workable seams, and of various quality, occurs in the same district as the sandstone, and is the object of extensive mining and traffic. The soil, at the foot of the hills, is a fine quick loam, of no great depth; on the haughs of the Devon is a deep loam mixed with sand; and in other parts is now loamy, now argillaceous, on a variety of subsoils. Much of the ground is stony; but in many fields where little soil can be seen, on account of a thick powdering of quartzose nodules, it is, nevertheless, of high fertility. Antiquities are remains of a Caledonian stone-circle on the SE end of the Kirk Craig, and of a circular fort on the basaltic eminence of Castle Craig. At ' Tuligcultrin ' St Serf is said to have wrought many miracles, one of them, the raising of a woman's two sons ` frae ded to lyf.' Tillicoultry House, 1 mile ENE of the town, is an elegant mansion, erected about 1806. The estate was granted by Alexander III., in 1263, to an ancestor of the Earl of Mar and Kellie, and in 1483 came to the Colvilles of Culross, of whom Sir James Colville served with much distinction in the French wars under Henri of Navarre, and was created Lord Colville in 1609. In his latter years he spent much of his time at Tillicoultry, where he loved to walk on a beautiful terrace, and to rest himself beneath an aged thorn. It happened, one day of the year 1620, that, standing on a stone, and looking up at the thorn-tree, describing his battles, he fell down the sloping bank of the terrace, and, it is said, was killed on the spot. His grandson sold the property in 1634 to the poet, Sir William Alexander of Menstrie, afterwards Earl of Stirling; and since, it has changed hands no fewer than twelve times. The present owner, Robert George Wardlaw-Ramsay, Esq. of Whitehili (b. 1852; suc. 1882), holds 4147 acres in Clackmannan, and 2963 in Edinburgh shire, valued at £3430 and £5134 per annum. Harviestoun, with its memories of Burns and of the late Archbishop Tait, has been noticed separately; and, in all, 4 proprietors hold each an annual value of £500 and upwards, 5 of between £100 and £500. Tillicoultry is in the presbytery of Dunblane and the synod of Perth and Stirling; the living is worth upwards of £400. Two public schools, Coalsnaughton and Tillicoultry, with respective accommodation for 309 and 783 children, had (1884) an average attendance of 234 and 559, and grants of £204, 15s. and £489, 2s. 6d. Valuation (1881) £18, 598, 11s. 4d., (1885) £19, 685, 8s. 7d. Pop. (1801) 916, (1831) 1472, (1841) 3213, (1861) 5054, (1871) 5118, (1881) 5344-Ord. Sur., sh. 39, 1869.

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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