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Gilmerton

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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Gilmerton, a village and a quoad sacra parish in Liberton parish, Edinburghshire. The village by road is 4 miles SSE of Edinburgh, and 3 WNW of Dalkeith; whilst its station on the Loanhead and Glencorse branch of the North British, ¾ mile SSE, is 8½ miles from the former city. Standing high, 400 feet above sea-level, and commanding a fine view of Edinburgh, it comprises three streets, and mainly consists of low one-story cottages. At it are a post office, an inn, a police station, 3 schools, an adult and a children's convalescent home (1881), and the quoad sacra church; whilst on its SW outskirt stands Gilmerton House, an old-fashioned white mansion, whose owner, Sir David Baird of Newbyth, Bart., holds 751 acres in the shire, valued at £3456 per annum, besides £400 for minerals. Coal of prime quality has here been mined since 1627 and earlier, and down to the opening of the Dalkeith railway the carters or coal-bearers of Gilmerton, who largely furnished Edinburgh with fuel, formed a class by themselves. The humours of their annual horse races, ' My Lord's, ' as they were called, are vividly sketched by Moir in Mansie Wauch. Ironstone, too, has been mined for a number of years; and the working of it is likely to be greatly extended under the management of the newly-formed Caledonian Steel and Iron Company. A little to the NW of the village is a limestone quarry of vast extent, the oldest perhaps in Scotland, at all events worked from immemorial time. At first it was worked from the surface, afterwards it was mined; and the produce was brought up in successive epochs by women, by asses, and by steam-power. Even with the aid of machinery it ceased at length to repay the cost of working, and since 1827 it has been almost entirely abandoned. Now, like a huge deep trench, ¾ mile long, it presents a shelving declivity, overgrown with brushwood and wild flowers, and sending off lateral caverns, whose roof of solid rock is upborne by massive piers, left as props in the process of mining. This vast colonnaded cavern, instead of proceeding far inwards, where the rapid dip of the stratum-at an angle of 45°-would have carried the miner too far beneath the surface, advances obliquely up the side of the ridge or hill, and thus one may wander some way underground and yet never lose the light of day. At the village itself, near the entrance from Edinburgh, is a singular cave, hewn from the solid rock during 1719-24 by a blacksmith named George Paterson. Rooms, beds, and a table bearing aloft a punch-bowl, all are nicely chiselled from the rock, which thus provided both dwelling-house and furniture. Several apertures in the roof served for windows to let in the light from above. The constructor of this strange subterranean abode had it fitted up with a well, a washinghouse, and a forge; and here, pursuing his craft, he lived with his family till his death, about 1735. The cave was for years a great object of curiosity, and even yet has occasional visits paid to it. The quoad sacra parish is in the presbytery of Edinburgh and synod of Lothian and Tweeddale; the stipend, from endowment of 1860, is £120 with a manse. The church was built as a chapel of ease in 1837, and enlarged by two aisles in 1882. The public, the female industrial, and Mr Moore's school, with respective accommodation for 267, 76, and 110 children, had (1881) an average attendance of 101, 73, and 90, and grants of £92, 13s. 6d., £64, 6s., and £48, 17s. 8d. For the female industrial school an elegant new schoolroom and teacher's house were built in 1882 at the expense of the Misses Anderson of Moredun. Pop. of village (1861) 596, (1871) 765, (1881) 1082; of q. s. parish (1871) 1062, (1881) 1330.—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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