Alloa Habour from South Alloa
©2024 Gazetteer for Scotland

Alloa Habour from South Alloa

The administrative centre of Clackmannan Council Area, Alloa is situated on the north bank of the River Forth 7 miles (11.2 km) east of Stirling. The settlement developed at a ford and ferry crossing defended in Mediaeval times by Alloa Tower which was built on land acquired by the Erskine family around 1360. Restored in the 1990s, Alloa Tower is the oldest building in the town and one of the largest surviving tower houses in Scotland.

Other buildings of interest include the Burgh Chambers (1874), now replaced by the new District offices at Greenfield; Alloa Town Hall, built in 1888-98 to a design by Paul Waterhouse funded by John Thomson Paton, director of Paton's Alloa mills; the old Church of St Mungo's with its graveyard and 17th-century tower; St Mungo's Parish Church, built to a design by James Gillespie Graham in 1819 and one of Scotland's finest Neo-Perpendicular Gothic hall kirks; Bauchop's House, built in 1695 by a noted local stonemason Tobias Bauchop; the Mar Inn, built in the 18th Century beside a thriving harbour and reputedly a haunt of the locally-born artist David Allan (1744-96), whose father was shoremaster. Others born in Alloa include coal-owner William Mitchell (1781 - 1854), architect James Smith (1808-63), brewers Dr. William McEwan (1827 - 1913), Viscount Younger of Leckie (1851 - 1929) and William Younger (1857 - 1925), together with footballer Alan Hansen (b. 1955).

A harbour existed here as early as 1502, but Alloa developed as a significant port in the late 18th and 19th centuries in association with expanding textile, sawmilling, rope-making, sail-making, shipbuilding, distilling, brewing, coal and glass-making industries. Alloa Pottery operated between 1783 and 1907, specialising in teapots. The Carsebridge Distillery opened in 1799 but closed in 1983, although its cooperage remained operational until 2011. Diageo still operate a copperworks in Alloa which has manufactured copper stills since 1790 and maintains the stills at all of Diageo's European distilleries. George Younger started brewing here in 1762 and by 1900 there were ten breweries in and around Alloa. Only one remains, Williams Brothers, which took over the Forth Brewery in 2004 and produces notable beers such as Fraoch, Caesar Augustus and Joker IPA. Glass bottles are made in a large plant on the site of the former Alloa Glass Works, which was founded in 1750 when Lady Frances Erskine invited workers from Bohemia to supervise the construction. Founded as a spinning mill in 1813, Paton's were synonymous with wool for hand-knitting. They merged with J. & P. Coats of Paisley in 1961 but their Kilncraigs Mill in Alloa closed in 1999. In 2004, part of the building was redeveloped with a striking glass extension as offices for Clackmannanshire Council. Other industries including malt-making, the manufacture of specialist pumps and logistics. Its port trade declined after World War I, and the harbour closed in 1960, making way for the Kelliebank and Riverbank Industrial Estates, and later the Harbour View housing development, which was completed in 2019. A few small boats still tie up in the channel.

The Lime Tree Walk created in 1714 between the harbour and the town, formed part of an extensive designed landscape largely created by John Erskine, 6th Earl of Mar, who was responsible for establishing the deep water port with its independent Customs House. The 7th Earl built the Alloa Waggonway in 1768 to connect his coal mines to the north with Alloa Harbour. It had several branches and included one of the earliest railway tunnels in Scotland. Wooden rails were replaced with cast iron in 1810 and the waggonway operated until 1924. Part of the route now serves as a cycleway.

Alloa also has the Trade Centre commercial estate, as well as a sports centre, golf courses, and a library and museum (Speirs Centre).

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