Dumfries and Galloway

©2022 Gazetteer for Scotland


A planned small town in Dumfries and Galloway, Dalbeattie lies in the valley of the Urr Water, 14 miles (22 km) southwest of Dumfries and adjacent to Dalbeattie Forest. In 1325 nearby Buittle was chartered as a burgh of barony near the site of Buittle Place which had been the home of Lady Devorguilla, mother of John Balliol the pretender to the Scottish throne. In the 17th century there was a Mill of Dalbety on a stream known as the Kirkgunzeon Lane, but it was not until the 1780s that the town of Dalbeattie appeared when Alexander Copeland established a water-powered paper mill here. The town had a little harbour on the Urr, accessible to small ships and barges which brought coal and lime, and exported granite, grain, tiles and bricks. Originally this was at Dub o' Hass, but by the 19th century had moved south to quays at Steadstone and Kirkclaugh. Yet, the channel proved difficult to keep clear of silt and port declined as ship got larger. The town also had a station on the Castle Douglas and Dumfries Railway, which opened in 1859 but closed in 1965. In the 19th century local grey granite was quarried and shipped out, first by boat from Craignair Bridge and later by rail. Stone blocks were cut for the building of Liverpool Docks, the Thames Embankment and the Eddystone Lighthouse as well as export throughout the world, but by the 1970s most of Dalbeattie's granite was in the form of road chippings. While old quarries surround the town, the principal operational quarry is at Craignair, ¾ mile (1.2 km) to the west. Munches Brick and Tile Works operated in the town from the 1850s until the 1950s, using local clay but coal imported by sea or later via the railway. In 1939, an explosives factory opened in the northeast of the town. This operated until 1945 and at its peak employed 2200 people. Part of the site was reused as a Royal Navy Armaments Depot until 1960, thereafter the more accessible buildings became the Edingham Industrial Estate. A creamery opened in Dalbeattie in 1940, but also closed with the demise of the railway. The premises are now home to a Scottish gifts and food business, noted for producing the See You Jimmy hat. To the east, at Barclosh, a large sawmill employs 150 staff on a 56-ha / 138-acre site. Facilities include a library, post-office, fire station, police station and four churches. The Dalbeattie Museum is situated on Southwick Road, while Dalbeattie Golf Course lies to the northwest of the town. Dalbeattie Learning Campus opened in 2017 and brings together Dalbeattie High School and Dalbeattie Primary School and Nursery onto one shared site, next to the former High School on Haugh Road. St. Peter's Roman Catholic Primary School remains in Maxwell Street.

Natives of Dalbeattie include Lieutenant William Murdoch (1873 - 1912), First Officer of the Titanic, and the artist John Maxwell (1905-62).

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