(Muckle Toon)

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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Langholm, a town and parish of E Dumfriesshire. The town stands, 280 feet above sea-level, on the river Esk, at the influx of Ewes Water from the N and of Wauchope Water from the SW. By road it is 73 miles S by E of Edinburgh, 23 SSW of Hawick, 12 N by W of Longtown, 21¾ N by W of Carlisle, and 18 NE of Annan; and, as terminus of a branch of the North British, it is 7¼ miles NNW of Riddings Junction, this being 14 miles N by W of Carlisle, 31¼ S by W of Hawick, and 84 S by E of Edinburgh. Embosomed in one of the prettiest landscapes in Scotland-neither wide, romantic, nor grand, but strictly and eminently lovely- it comprises an old town on the E bank of the Esk, immediately below the influx of the Ewes, and a new town on the W bank of the Esk, immediately above the influx of Wauchope Water. The old town includes one principal street with a central market-place, and consists of houses mostly built of white freestone from Whita or Langholm Hill, and many of them in a style superior to what are seen in most small towns. The new town was founded in 1778, and originally consisted of nearly 150 houses, built in regular street arrangement, in the form of a triangle. The town hall, in the market-place, is a neat structure with a spire. Near it stands a handsome marble statue of Admiral Sir Pulteney Malcolm (1768-1838); and an obelisk, 100 feet high, was erected at a cost of £1300 to the memory of his brother, General Sir John Malcolm (1769-1833), on White Hill, immediately above the town. An old two-arched stone bridge spans the Ewes, a little above its influx to the Esk, which itself is crossed by a three-arched stone bridge (1780), and by an iron suspension foot-bridge. The parish church, built in 1846, is a fine Gothic edifice, containing upwards of 1200 sittings; and a handsome mission church, built in 1881 at a cost of over £2000, contains 470. The Free church was built soon after the Disruption; and of two U.P. churches, the one was rebuilt in 1867, the other in 1883. The Evangelical Union chapel, built in 1870 at a cost of £1000, is Gothic in style, and contains 300 sittings. The town has a post office, with money order, savings' bank, and telegraph departments, branches of the National and British Linen Co. 's Banks, a local savings' bank, 19 insurance agencies, 6 hotels, gasworks, a subscription library, a temperance hall, a view police station, a Freemasons' lodge, mechanics' and Oddfellows' benefit societies, football, curling, and cricket clubs (the last with a fine cricket ground, provided by the Duke of Buccleuch, in front of Langholm Lodge), and 2 Wednesday weekly newspapers, the Eskdale Advertiser(1848) and the Border Standard (1880). A weekly market is held on Wednesday; and fairs are held on 16 April, the Wednesday before 26 May, the last Tuesday of May o. s., 26 July, 18 Sept., 5 Nov., and the Wednesday before 22 Nov. A cotton factory was built in 1788; and an extensive cotton trade, in connection with firms in Glasgow and Carlisle, was carried on till 1832, when the manufacture of shepherd's plaids and shepherd check trouserings was introduced, and led to the production of very beautiful and highly finished fabrics. The manufacture of tweeds followed, and rose rapidly into such prosperity, that now seven mills employ a capital of £130,000, and turn out goods to the value of more than £200, 000 a year. The town has also a distillery and two tan-works. Erected into a burgh of barony by charter from the Crown in 1643, Langholm was long governed by a baron bailie, under the Duke of Buccleuch as superior; but now its affairs are managed by commissioners of police, comprising a chief magistrate and 15 other members. Sheriff small debt courts are held on the third Saturday of January, May, and September. The town figures curiously in history for the taming of shrews, and for the pretended pranks of witches. Langholm is the headquarters of the Fishery Association; and excellent fishing is to be had, the Esk abounding in salmon, sea-trout, and whiting or herling. Pop. (1831) 2264, (1861) 2558, (1871) 3275, (1881) 4209, of whom 2179 were in Old Langholm, and 2276 were females. Houses (1881) 848 inhabited, 41 vacant, 15 building.

The parish of Langholm comprehends the ancient parishes of Staplegorton and Wauchope, and about half of the ancient parish of Morton; and was constituted in 1703. It is bounded N by Westerkirk, NE by Ewes, SE and S by Canonbie, SW by Half-Morton, and W by Middlebie and Tundergarth. Its utmost length, from E to W, is 7 miles; its breadth, from N to S, varies between 23/8 and 63/8 miles; and its area is 17,152 acres, of which 181 are water. The river Esk first runs 9 furlongs south-by-eastward along the boundary with Westerkirk, and then winds 6 miles south-south-eastward through the interior, till it passes off near Irvine House to Canonbie. To the Esk flow Ewes Water, ¼ mile along the boundary with Ewes parish, and then 1½ mile south-south-westward; Wauchope Water, formed by the confluence of Logan Water and Bigholm Burve, 35/8 miles north-westward; Tarras Water, 27/8 miles south-south-westward along the south-eastern boundary; and Irvine Burn, 1 5/8mile southward through the interior, then 1¾ east-by-northward along the southern boundary. Three medicinal springs, one of them sulphurous, the other two chalybeate, are in the western district. In the extreme S, at the Tarras' and Irvine's influx to the Esk, the surface declines to 195 feet above sea-level; and thence it rises to Whita Hill (1162 feet), Earshaw Hill (921), Bloch Hill (878) Mid Hill (1070), Calfield Rig (1025), Tansy Hill (1065), and Haggy Hill (1412) at the meeting-point of Langholm, Middlebie, Tundergarth, and Westerkirk parishes. The tracts adjacent to the Esk and Ewes are flat, well cultivated, and highly embellished; elsewhere are smooth hills, green to the very summit, and grazed by large flocks of sheep. The scenery in many parts, especially along the Esk, is very ' beautiful. The rocks of the northern district are eruptive and Silurian, of the southern are carboniferous. Greywacke slate has been quarried; lead ore occurs on West Water farm and Broomholm estate; sandstone, greyish white and yellowish grey, abounds between Langholm Bridge and Byreburn; and fossiliferous bluish-grey limestone lies incumbent on the Silurian rocks. The soil of the flat grounds is mostly a lightish loam; of the hills is exceedingly various. Nearly one-seventh of the entire area is in tillage; plantations cover some 500 acres; and all the rest of the parish is pasture. Langholm Castle, a plain square tower or peel-house, now a ruin, belonged to the Armstrongs, the powerful Border freebooters, and sent forth Johnnie Armstrong of Gilnockie, with his gallant company of thirty-six men, to disport themselves upon Langholm Holm, prior to their execution by James V. at Caerlanrig (1529). Wauchope Castle is represented only by grass-covered foundations; and Barntalloch, Irvine, Nease, Calfield, and Hill Towers are quite extinct. The Roman road between Netherbie and Overbie traversed the parish north-westward, and is still partly traceable; and Roman coins have been found of Nero, Vespasian, Otho, and Domitian. Natives were William Julius Mickle (1734-88), the translator of Camoens, and David Irvine, LL.D. (1778-1864), author of the History of Scottish Poetry. Langholm Lodge, near the Esk's left bank, 1 mile NNW of the town, is a villa of the Duke of Buccleuch. Broomholm has been noticed separately; and 3 proprietors hold each an annual value of £500 and upwards, 8 of between £100 and £500, 24 of from £50 to £1v00, and 21 of from £20 to £50. Langholm is the seat of a presbytery in the synod of Dumfries; the living with glebe is worth £442. Two public schools, Langholm and Wauchope, with respective accommodation for 997 and 45 children, had (1881) an average attendance of 625 and 21, and grants of £673, 16s. 6d. and £32. Valuation (1860) £9008, (1883) £18,294, 19s. 2d. Pop. (1801) 2536, (1831) 2676, (1861) 2979, (1871) 3735, (1881) 4612.—Ord. Sur., shs. 11, 10, 1863-64.

The presbytery of Langholm, formed in 1743 at the abolition of the presbytery of Middlebie, comprehends Eskdale and Liddesdale, and contains the parishes of Canonbie, Castleton, Eskdalemuir, Ewes, Half-Morton, Langholm, and Westerkirk. Pop. (1871) 11, 032, (1881) 11,446, of whom 2226 were communicants of the Church of Scotland in 1878.

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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