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.

This edition is copyright © The Editors of the Gazetteer for Scotland, 2002-2022.

It has taken much time and money to make the six-volumes of Groome's text freely accessible. Please help us continue and develop by making a donation. If only one out of every ten people who view this page gave £5 or $10, the project would be self-sustaining. Sadly less than one in thirty-thousand contribute, so please give what you can.

Use the tabs on the right of this page to see other parts of this entry Arrow

Dalmellington, a small town and a parish on the S border of Kyle district, Ayrshire. The town stands, 600 feet above sea-level, in a recess sheltered by hills, at the terminus of a branch (1856) of the Glasgow and South-Western, ¾ mile NE of the Bogton Loch expansion of the river Doon, and 9 miles SE of Hollybush, 15 SE of Ayr, 51 SSW of Glasgow, and 72 SW of Edinburgh. Dating from the 11th century, and a burgh of barony, it was long little else than a stagnating village, but in recent times has become a centre of traffic in connection with new neighbouring iron-works; at it are a post office, with money order, savings' bank, and telegraph departments, a branch of the Royal Bank, 4 insurance agencies, 2 hotels, gas-works, a reading-room and library, and a public school, erected in 1875 at a cost of £3000, whilst fairs are held here on the last Thursday of February and the day after Moniaive, i.e., on the second or third Saturday of August. The parish church, built in 1846, is a handsome edifice in the Saxon style, with a lofty tower and 640 sittings; and other places of worship are a Free church (400 sittings), an Evangelical Union chapel, and the Roman Catholic church of Our Lady of the Rosary (1860; 170 sittings). Pop. (1861) 1299, (1871) 1514, (1881) 1453. The parish, containing also the mining villages of Benquhat, Burnfoothill, Craigmark, Lethanhill, and Waterside, is bounded N by Coylton and Ochiltree, E by New Cumnock, SE by Carsphairn in Kirkcudbrightshire, SW by Loch Doon and Straiton. Its greatest length, from NW to SE, is 9½ miles; its breadth, from NE to SW, varies between 1½ and 4½ miles; and its area is 17,9262/3 acres, of which 144 are water. Loch Doon, with utmost length and width of 5 miles and 6½ furlongs, lies just within Straiton, 680 feet above the level of the sea; and, issuing from it, the river Doon winds 10¼ miles north-westward along all the rest of the Straiton border, near the town expanding into Bogton Loch (6 x 2¼ furl.), and receiving Muck Water and other burns from the interior. On the Kirkcudbrightshire border, 4 miles SSE of the town, is Loch Muck (5 x 1¾ furl.). Below Dalharco, where the Doon quits Dalmellington, the surface sinks to 500 feet above sea-level, thence rising eastward and south-eastward to 1103 feet near Hillend, 986 on Green Hill, 1426 on Benquhat, 925 on Craigmark Hill, 1521 on Benbeoch, 1333 on Benbain, 1107 on Knockskae, 1621 on Benbrack, 1760 on Windy Standard, 1484 on Campbell's Hill, and 1071 on Muckle Eriff Hill. A plain or very gentle slope lies along the Doon over a length of about 3 miles in the vicinity of the town, and, measuring 1 mile in extreme width at the middle, has nearly the figure of a crescent, narrowed to a point at both extremities. The surface everywhere beyond that plain rises into continuous eminences or mountain ridges, of which that nearest the Doon almost blocks its course at the NW angle of the parish, and extends away eastward as a flank to the plain, till it terminates abruptly, to the NE of the town, in a splendid basaltic colonnade 300 feet high and 600 feet long. Two other ridges run south-eastward and southward, and to the N are adjoined by a ridge extending into New Cumnock. The hills, in general, have easy acclivities, and in only three places, over short distances, are precipitous; yet they form mountain passes of picturesque character, in one or two instances of high grandeur. Two of the ridges, on the way from the town to Kirkcudbrightshire, approach each other so nearly for upwards of a mile, as to leave between them barely sufficient space for the public road and the bed of a mountain-brook; two others which flank the Doon at its egress from mountain-cradled Loch Doon, are rocky perpendicular elevations, and stand so close to each other for about a mile, as to seem cleft asunder by some powerful agency from above, or torn apart by some convulsive stroke from below. The gorge between these heights, a narrow, lofty-faced pass, bears the name of the Ness Glen, and opens at its north-western extremity into the crescent-shaped plain. The springs of the parish are pure, limpid, and perennial, and issue, for the most part, from beds of sand and gravel. The rocks are partly eruptive, partly Silurian, partly carboniferous. Sandstone, limestone, coal, and ironstone abound. The coal belongs to the most southerly part of the Ayrshire coalfield, is of excellent quality, has been worked in numerous pits, and affords a supply not only to the immediate neighbourhood, but to places in Galloway 30 miles distant. The ironstone also is of good quality, and has been extensively worked since 1847. Iron-works were erected in that year at the villages of Waterside and Craigmark, and had five out of eight furnaces in blast in 1879. The soil, along the river side, is chiefly a deep loam; on the north-western acclivities, is a wet argillaceous loam, resting on sandstone; on the hills of the NE and E is moss; and on those of the S is partly peat but chiefly light dry earth, incumbent on Silurian rock. About 1310 acres are regularly or occasionally in tillage, 750 under wood, and 275 in a state of commonage, whilst about 1150, now pastoral or waste, are capable of reclamation for the plough; and 150 at a spot ½ mile below the town are morass, resting on a spongy bed, and embosoming some oaks of considerable size. An ancient moat, surrounded with a deep dry fosse, and supposed to have been a seat of feudal justice courts, rises on the SE of the town; and within the town itself an edifice lately stood, which, known by the name of Castle House, is said to have bornedate1003 (?), and supposed to have been constructed with materials from a previous strong castle beyond the moat. Another ancient structure, believed to have been a place of considerable strength, and traditionally associated with a shadowy King Alpin, surmounted a cliff in a deep glen, and was protected on three sides by mural precipices, on the fourth side by a fosse. The Roman road from Ayr to Galloway passed through the parish, and was not entirely obliterated till 1830- Three very large cairns, one of them more than 300 feet in circumference, w ere formerly on the hills. Dalmellington figured largely in the Stuart persecution of the Covenanters, and is rich in traditions respecting their sufferings. Mr M'Adam of Craigengillan and Berbeth is much the largest proprietor; but 3 others hold each an annual value of £500 and upwards, 2 of between £100 and £500,5 of from £50 to £100, and 25 of fro-m £20 to £50- Dalmellington is in the presbytery of Ayr and synod of Glasgow and Ayr; the living is worth £212Dalmellington, Benquhat, Craigmark, Lethanhill, and Waterside schools, with respective accommodation for 300,203,222,292, and 585 children, had (1880) an average attendance of 137,149,181,216, and 328, and grants of £135,8s- 6d., £123,14s. 6d., £151,13s. 6d., £150,10s., and £292,13xs. Valuation (1882) £18,082, plus £2987 for railway. Pop. (1801) 787, (1841) 1099, (1851) 2910, (1861) 4194, (1871) 6165, (1881) 6384, of whom 772 belonged to Benquhat, 525 to Burnfoothill, 383 to Craigmark, 1165 to Lethanhill, and 1473 to Waterside.—Ord. Sur., shs. 14,8,1863.

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

If you have found this information useful please consider making
a donation to help maintain and improve this resource. More info...

By using our site you agree to accept cookies, which help us serve you better