Galston, a town and a parish in the NE of Kyle district, Ayrshire. The town stands chiefly on the southern bank of the river Irvine, and on the Newmilns branch of the Glasgow and South-Western railway, 1 mile SSW of Loudoun Castle, 2 miles W by S of Newmilns, and 5 E by S of Kilmarnock, under which it has a post office, with money order, savings' bank, insurance, and telegraph departments. Its site is low, surrounded by gentle rising-grounds, and overhung on the N by the woods and braes of Loudoun; and with its charming environs it presents a very pleasing appearance. A fine stone three-arch bridge across the Irvine unites a Loudoun suburb to the town, which long was a mere hamlet or small village, maintained chiefly by the making of shoes for exportation through Kilmarnock. It acquired sudden increase of bulk and gradual expansion into town by adoption of lawn and gauze weaving for the manufacturers of Paisley and Glasgow, and had 40 looms at work in 1792, 460 in 1828. Weaving is still the staple industry, there now being seven muslin and blanket factories, besides a paper-millboard factory and a steam saw-mill; and Galston wields a considerable local influence as the centre of an extensive coalfield and of an opulent agricultural district. It has a station, branches of the British Linen Co. and Union banks, offices or agencies of 10 insurance companies, a stately pile of the feudal times called Lockhart's Tower, 4 hotels, a gas company, and fairs on the third Thursday of April, the first Thursday of June, and the last Wednesday of November. The parish church, erected in 1808, has a spire and clock, and contains 1028 sittings. Other places of worship are a Free church, an Evangelical Union chapel, and a U.P. church, the last a handsome recent edifice in the Byzantine style; whilst in Oct. 1882 a costly Roman Catholic church was about to be built. Blair's Free School, an elegant massive edifice, affords education and clothing to 103 children; and Brown's Institute, built by Miss Brown of Lanfine in 1874 at a cost of over £3000, comprises reading and recreation rooms, with a library of nearly 3000 volumes. In 1864 the town partially adopted the General Police and Improvement Act of Scotland; and it is governed, under that Act, by 3 magistrates and 6 commissioners. Valuation (1882) £6633. Pop. (1831) 1891, (1851) 2538, (1861) 3228, (1871) 4727, (1881) 4085, of whom 434 were in Loudoun parish.
The parish, containing also the hamlet of Allanton, with parts of the villages of Newmilns and Darvel, is bounded N by Kilmarnock and Loudoun, E by Avondale in Lanarkshire, S by Sorn, Mauchline, and Riccarton (detached), SW by Craigie, and W by Riccarton. Its utmost length, from E to W, is 10 miles; its breadth, from N to S, varies between 1½ and 3¼. miles; and its area is 15, 304 acres, of which 60¾ are water. Avon Water, rising in the south-eastern corner, runs 4½ miles north-eastward along the Lanarkshire border. Cessnock Water, at three different points, traces 7½ furlongs of the boundary with Mauchline, 2¾ miles of that with Craigie, and 15/8. mile of that with Riccarton; whilst the river Irvine, from a little below its source, flows 10 miles eastward on or close to all the northern boundary, and from the interior is joined by Logan Burn, Burn Anne, and several lesser tributaries. Where, in the NW, it quits the parish, the surface declines to less than 140 feet above sea-level, thence rising to 359 feet near Millands, 566 near Sornhill, 618 at Molmont, 797 near Burnhead, 965 near Greenfield, 1054 near Hardhill, 982 at Tulloch Hill, and 1259 at Distinkhorn. A strip of rich alluvial level, highly fertile and well cultivated, lies all along the Irvine; a belt of brae, largely covered with woodland, extends southward from the alluvial level to the distance of 2½ miles; and much of the remaining area consists of rising-grounds and hills which, bleak and sterile till 1810, are now variously arable land, good pasture, or covered with plantation. In the extreme E and SE is a considerable tract of high upland, mostly carpeted with heath or moss, and commanding magnificent prospects over all Cunninghame, most of Kyle, and a great part of Carrick, away to Arran and the dim distant coast of Ireland. Loch Gait, at the eastern extremity, was once a sheet of deep water, but now is a marsh; and Loch Bruntwood, too, in the south-western extremity, has been completely drained. The rocks are partly eruptive, partly carboniferous. Trap rock appears on the summits and shoulders of many of the hills; coal is largely mined in the W; sandstone, of a kind suitable for paving and roofing flag, is quarried; and limestone also is worked. Agate and chalcedony, though seldom of a character to be cut into gems, are often found at Molmont; and a beautiful stone, called the 'Galston pebble,' occurs in the upper channel of Burn Anne. The soil ranges in character, from rich alluvium to barren moor. Nearly two-thirds of all the land are arable; woods and plantations cover some 1000 acres; and the rest is either pastoral or mossy. An ancient Caledonian stone circle at Molmont has been destroyed; in the E of the parish a Roman coin of Caesar Augustus was discovered in 1831; and here an extensive Roman camp above Allanton has left some traces. Sir William Wallace fought a victorious skirmish with the English at or near this camp; he had several places of retirement among the eastern uplands of Galston and Loudoun; and he has bequeathed to a hill in the former, and to a ravine in the latter, the names of respectively Wallace's Cairn and Wallace's Gill. The 'Patie's Mill' of song is in the neighbourhood of Galston town. Cessnock Castle and Lanfine House are separately noticed. Seven proprietors hold each an annual value of £500 and upwards, 50 of between £100 and £500,33 of from £50 to £100, and 11 of from £20 to £50. Giving off since 1874 a portion to Hurlford quoad sacra parish, Galston is in the presbytery of Ayr and synod of Glasgow and Ayr. The value of the living is returned as £298, but a considerable extra revenue has of late years been derived from the working of minerals in the glebe. Three public schools-Allanton, Barr, and Galston-with respective accommodation for 53, 368, and 337 children, had (1881) an average attendance of 26, 340, and 370, and grants of £21, 17s. 6d., £205, 12s., and £115, 12s. 11d. Valuation (1860) £16,475; (1882) £30,808, 9s. 2d., plus £2614 for railway. Pop. of civil parish (1801) 2113, (1831) 3655, (1861) 5254, (1871) 6331, (1881) 5961; of ecclesiastical parish (1881) 5768.Ord. Sur., shs. 22, 23,1865.
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