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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Lockerbie, a market town and police burgh in Dryfesdale parish, Annandale, Dumfriesshire. It stands 244 to 297 feet above sea-level, at the SW base of steep Whitewoollen Hill (733 feet), on a flat tract 2 miles E of the river Annan and 1¾ mile W of the Water of Milk. Its station, on the main line of the Caledonian, is the junction for Dumfries and Portpatrick, by rail being 25¾ miles NW of Carlisle, 14½ ENE of Dumfries, 47¾ SSE of Carstairs, and 75¼ S by W of Edinburgh; and this station, on 15 May 1883, was the scene of a railway accident, in which 7 persons were killed and 25 wounded. The country around is one of the pleasantest parts of Annandale; and the town itself, a neat and thriving place, stretches N and S, on the E being flanked by a beautiful rising-ground, called Lockerbie Hill (515 feet). Like most of the Border towns, it originated in the protection and influence of a castle or fortalice. On a ridge, which was nearly surrounded by two lochlets, now drained, and one of them anciently traversed by the great Roman road up Annandale, stands an ancient quadrangular tower, the seat in bygone days of the Johnstones of Lockerbie. Around this tower grew up a hamlet, which gradually swelled into a village, and eventually, by the liberal policy of granting feus and long tacks, increased to the bulk of a small provincial town. But though the place is of remote origin, and the scene of some curious traditionary tales (the phrase, `a Lockerbie lick,' dating back to the battle of dryfe Sands, 1593), it comes mainly into notice as the seat of a vast lamb fair, and of considerable pastoral traffic. After the union of the Crowns, and the commencement of international friendly intercourse, English dealers here yearly met the Dumfriesshire sheep-farmers, to buy their surplus stock for the southern markets. The `tryst,' as the meeting was called, was held on the skirt of Lockerbie Hill; but it grew with the growth of intercourse between the two nations, till it could no longer be held within the limits of its original arena. Some one, unknown to record and tradition, now granted, for the holding of the tryst, the whole hill in perpetuity as ` a common' to the town. This common-above 100 acres in extent-was once, in some way or other, dependent on the city of Glasgow; but, the right of superiority having been bought up by the Douglases of Lockerbie House, it is let out by auction to a person who exacts a small sum per score for the lambs -shown on it, and who, in some good pays, pays £30 to the proprietor for a single day's collection. The lamb fair of Lockerbie is the largest in Scotland, no fewer than from 30, 000 to 50, 000 lambs being usually on the ground; and the day for it is late in the season, being the 13th of August, old style, unless that be a Saturday, a Sunday, or a Monday, and in that case the Tuesday following. Thursday is market-day; and fourteen other fairs-for pork, cattle, and sheep, or hiring-are held in the course of the year-on the second Thursdays of Jan., Feb., March, April, May, and Nov., on the third Thursdays of June, July, and Oct., and on the Thursday before Christmas (all ten according to old style), on the Thursdays before 19 April and 30 Sept., and on the Thursdays after the October Falkirk Tryst and the first November Doune Tryst. Lockerbie has a new post office (1883), with money order, savings' bank, insurance, and telegraph departments, branches of the Bank of Scotland and the Clydesdale, Commercial, and Royal Banks, a local savings' bank (1824), 19 insurance agencies, 2 hotels, a gas company (1855), a drill-hall, and a Thursday Liberal paper-the Annandale Herald and Moffat News (1862). Nearly £1000 has been expended by the police commissioners on the erection of water-works at the head of Bridge Street; but the water supply, as also the drainage, is still very defective. A project started in 1873 to build a market-house from designs by the late David Bryce, R.S.A., has resulted only in the purchase of a site and the depositing in a bank of £900 subscribed. A mechanics' institute, originating in a bequest of Mr George Easton of Chester, was erected in 1866 at a cost of £1050. Scottish Baronial in style, it comprises a reading-room and a lecture-hall, with accommodation for more than 800 persons. The minister of the parish, the U.P. minister, and the Provost of Dumfries are its trustees. Dryfesdale public school is a handsome and commodious Gothic edifice, built in 1875 at a cost of £4500, exclusive of site, and having accommodation for 600 children. Dryfesdale parish church was built in 1757, and contains 750 sittings; the session-house and the front wall of the churchyard were rebuilt in 1883 at a cost of £350. There are also a conspicuous Free church (1872) and an Early English U.P. church, rebuilt in 1874-75 at a cost of £2600, with 500 sittings and a spire 135 feet high. The municipal voters numbered 445 in 1884, when the annual value of real property amounted to £6500, whilst the revenue, including assessments, is £325. Pop. (1831) 1414, (1851) 1569, (1861) 1709, (1871) 1960, (1881) 2029, of whom 1046 were females. Houses (1881) 414 inhabited, 25 vacant, 13 building.—Ord. Sur., sh. 10, 1864.

A Free Church presbytery of Lockerbie, in the synod of Dumfries, comprises the churches of Annan, Canonbie, Ecclefechan, Eskdalemuir, Halfmorton, Johnstone, Kirkmichael, Kirkpatrick-Fleming, Langholm, Lochmaben, Lockerbie, and Moffat, which 12 churches together had 2138 members in 1883.

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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