Parish of Rhu

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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1791-99: Row
1834-45: Row

Row, (Gael. rudha, a promontory), a village and a parish in the W of Dumbartonshire. The village lies on the E side of the Gare Loch, immediately SE of the small, low, triangular promontory that gives the parish name, and 2 miles NW of Helensburgh, under which it has a post office, with money order, savings' bank, and telegraph departments. Charmingly situated on a small bight nearly opposite Roseneath village, it has delightful environs of slopes and braes, profusely sprinkled with elegant villas, and richly embellished with gardens, shrubberies, and groves. It is not a seat of any trade, and presents a rural retired appearance, yet serves as a point of thoroughfare for very many neighbouring residents, and for crowds of summer tourists; enjoys frequent daily communication by steamers with Garelochhead, Helensburgh, and Greenock; and has a good small steamboat quay. Pop (1871) 242, (1881) 527, plus 401 on board the Cumberland training-ship.

The parish, containing also the town of Helensburgh and most of the village of Garelochhead, was formed out of Roseneath and Cardross in 1643-48. It is bounded NE and E by Luss, SE by Cardross, SW by the Gare Loch and Rosneath, and NW by Loch Long. Its utmost length, from NNW to SSE, is 9½ miles; its breadth varies between 2 and 4¾ miles or 65/8 along Loch Long; and its area is 32 square miles or 20,5301/3 acres, of which 3581/3 are foreshore and 46 water. The road from Helensburgh to Garelochhead and Arrochar runs 7½ miles north-north-eastward along the E shore of the Gare Loch, 2½½ miles northward across the neck of the Rosneath peninsula, and then 3¾ miles north-north- eastward along the E shore of Loch Long, till it leaves Row parish near Gorten. Fruin Water, rising at an altitude of 1500 feet above sea-level, winds 85/8 miles south-south-eastward-for the last 1½ mile along the Luss boundary-till it passes off into Luss parish on its way to Loch Lomond. The surface is everywhere hilly or mountainous, chief elevations from N to S being Creagan Hill (928 feet), Tom Buidhe (936), *Ben Mhanarch (2328), Maol an Fheidh (1934), *Ben Chaorach (2338), *Ben Tharsuinn (2149), the Strone (1683), Auchinvennal Hill (1680), *Balcnock (2092), *Craperoch (1500), and Tom na h-Airidhe (1185), where asterisks mark those summits that culminate on the Luss boundary. Row, on the side of Glenfruin, is naked and heathy; but on the Gare Loch side it has in great part been worked by art into a state of productive- ness or of high embellishment. At its SE end, for 1¼ mile inward from the boundary with Cardross, it de- clines into very gentle upland, and is nearly all under cultivation. The skirts and lower declivities of it, from its eastern extremity to the head of the Gare Loch, are thickly studded with mansions, villas, and cottages ornées, embosomed among gardens and woods, and presenting a lovely series of close landscapes; while nearly all of it, from the beach to the summit, commands magnificent views of the Gare Loch and the Clyde, the Cowal mountains, the peninsula of Rosneath, and the hills of Renfrewshire. The rocks are variously metamorphic, Silurian, and Devonian; transition limestone and clay-slate have been worked, but are both of inferior quality; and some useless searches have been made for coal. The soil of the arable grounds is, for the most part, light and fertile. In the immediate neighbourhood of the village of Row, a large trade in illicit distillation of whisky was carried on about fifty years ago. Most of the stills were in Aldownick Glen, a deep ravine ¼ mile from the church. In the Heart of Midlothian, Sir Walter Scott alludes to the smugglers here, and to this gorge under the name of the Whistlers Glen, so called probably from the fact that those on the outlook gave warning of the approach of a stranger by imitating the whistle of the curlew. When George IV. visited Scotland, he expressed a desire to taste real smuggled whisky; and the Duke of Argyll procured a barrel from a still at the mouth of this glen for his consumption; though the bargain was a difficult one to make, the Duke having to meet the smugglers personally at the end of Row Point. The conflict of Glenfruin is described under Fruin Water. Ardincaple Castle, the principal mansion, is noticed separately, as also is the Shandon Hydropathic. Sir James Colquhoun of Luss, Bart., is sole proprietor. The present Duke of Argyll was born at Ardincaple Castle, 30 April 1823. Including all the quoad sacra parish of Helensburgh and most of that of Garelochhead, Row itself is a parish in the presbytery of Dumbarton and the synod of Glasgow and Ayr; the living is worth £350. The parish church, on the shore of the Gare Loch at the village of Row, was built in 1850, and is a commodious Gothic edifice. An organ was placed in it in 1880, and a clock and chimes in 1881. Its tower, 110 feet high, was par- tially destroyed by the storm of Dec. 1883, but has been since restored. John M'Leod Campbell, D.D. (1800-71), was minister from 1825 till his deposition for heresy in 1831. A monument in memory of Henry Bell was erected in front of the parish church by Robert Napier, Esq. of West Shandon. (See Helensburgh.) Besides four schools noticed under Helensburgh, the three public schools of Garelochhead, Glenfruin, and Row, with respective accommodation for 137, 75, and 200 children, had (1884) an average attendance of 60, 13, and 117, and grants of £57, 10s., £28, 12s. 6d., and £104, 13s. 6d. Valuation (1860) £32, 701, (1885) £79,460, 10s. 8d. Pop. (1801) 970, (1831) 1759, (1861) 6334, (1871) 8439, (1881) 10,097, of whom 1736 were in Row ecclesiastical parish.—Ord. Sur., shs. 30, 38, 37, 1866-76.

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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