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Parish of Ratho

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: Ratho
1834-45: Ratho

Ratho, a village and a parish of Edinburghshire. The village stands 1250 to 320 feet above sea-level, near the S. bank of the Union Canal, 1¼ mile S by E of Ratho station on the North British railway, this being 8¼ miles WSW of Edinburgh, and 9¼ ESE of Linlithgow. Its sight is the slope or eastern declivity of gentle uplands; and it consists of a single street, coming down the declivity from W to E, and bending northward, near the end, to terminate on the canal. Most of its houses are neat whinstone cottages, lintelled with sandstone, and roofed with either tiles or slate. Anciently a place of considerable note, Ratho fell into great decay, but has in modern times been revived, extended, and much improved. In a poem by Joseph Mitchell, who published two large octavo volumes of miscellaneous poetry in 1724, and who is known as ` the poet of Ratho,' it figures as having at one time risen to splendour, and then at another time sunk to desolation, till ` Ratho looked like Troy a field of corn.' It has now a post office, with money order, savings' bank, and telegraph departments, a police station, and gas works. Pop. (1838) 539, (1861) 658, (1871) 717, (1881) 713. The parish is bounded W and NW by Kirkliston, N by Kirkliston and Corstorphine, SE by Currie, and SW by Kirknewton. Sending off along, narrow, south-south-westward projection, it has an utmost length from NNE to SSW of 51/8 miles, a varying width of 5 furlongs and 5 miles, and an area of 6168¾ acres, of which 21½ are water. Almost the only stream, and that a tiny one, is Gogar Burn; but the Union Canal (1822) goes 3¼ miles north-westward and westward across the interior. .With a gentle southerly rise from 132 to 350 feet above sea-level, the surface of the main body in its eastern half is a slightly variegated level; in its western is a congeries of broad-based hillocks or low table-land, with gentle swells. As the position is midway between the Pentland Hills and the Firth of Forth, and about 8 or 9 miles W of Edinburgh, magnificent views are obtained from the little heights of the scenery of the Lothians, the Forth, Fifeshire, the Ochils, and the frontier Grampians. The surface of the southern or projecting district rises slowly from a low line of connection with the main body to near the southern boundary; and it there shoots abruptly up in the two bold isolated heights of Dalmahoy and Kaimes Hills, each 800 feet above sea-level. These form a conspicuous and picturesque feature of the general Lothian landscape; and, like Salisbury Craigs, the rocks of Edinburgh and Stirling Castles, and various eminences at the NE end of the Lennox Hills, they break down in cliffs, or stoop precipitously to the W. The general aspect of the parish, from the diversity of its contour and the richness of its embellishments, possesses much beauty, and presents many fine close scenes. Nearly six-sevenths of the entire area are either in tillage or in an arable condition; and the remaining seventh is distributed, in not very unequal parts, into plantations and pasture. The soil is, in general, a light loam, with a preponderance of sand; but, towards the eastern border, it passes, in a great degree, into clay. Except for intrusions of diorite in the W, and of basalt in the southern hills, the rocks belong to the Calciferous Sandstone series. The basalt and- sandstone have both been quarried; whilst claystone, or ` calmstone, ' was formerly worked upon the property of Ratho Hall. Coal is said to have been mined-long ago at Bonnington, but cannot now be found. The only noticeable antiquities are vestiges of two camps, both probably Danish, the one on Kaimes Hill, the other on South Platt Hill, a commanding little summit on the W. In 1315 the barony and patronage of Ratho were, along with much other property, granted by Robert I. to the Steward of Scotland, as the dowry of the Princess Marjory; and on the accession of Robert II. to the throne in 1371, they became part of the property of the king's eldest son as prince of Scotland, for whom, in 1404, they and the other estates were erected into a principality with regal jurisdiction. Among eminent persons connected with the parish were William Wilkie, D.D. (1721-72), ` the Scottish Homer,' who was for six years minister; Sir Robert Liston, G.C.B. (l742-1836), British ambassador at seven courts, who spent his last years at Millburn; and Sir William Fettes (1750-1836), another resident and heritor, whose vast property was bequeathed for the founding at Edinburgh of the great Fettes College. Ratho Park, ¾ mile E by N of the village, is a good modern Grecian building, with beautiful grounds. Other mansions, noticed separately, are Ashley, Dalmahoy, Hatton, Millburn Tower, and Norton; and 12 proprietors hold each an annual value of £500 and upwards, 5 of between £100 and £500. Ratho is in the presbytery of Edinburgh and the synod of Lothian and Tweeddale; the living is worth £422. Standing near the village, on the opposite side of the canal, and embowered by ancient trees, the church is a somewhat cruciform structure, part old, part modern, its Dalmahoy aisle bearing date 1683. It contains 750 sittings. There is a Free church designated of Ratho and Kirknewton; a pretty little Roman Catholic church, St Mary's, with 100 sittings, was opened in 1883; and 1 mile SSE of the village is St Mary's Episcopal church of Dalmahoy. Three schools-Ratho public, Ratho female, and Dalmahoy Episcopalian-with respective accommodation for 167, 82, and 119 children, had (1884) an average attendance of 93, 58, and 104, and grants of £84, 3s., £49, 16s., and £96, 18s. Valuation (1860) £12, 764, (1885) £16,486, plus £4978 for railway. Pop. (1801) 987, (1831) 1313, (1861) 1659, (1871) 1744, (1881) 1815.—Ord. Sur., sh. 32, 1857.

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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