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The Clyde from the Source to the Sea
Chapter II. Topographical and Tributaries, &c.


From its source downwards to Glasgow the Clyde flows through Lanarkshire; afterwards, until about Greenock, its course is between Dumbartonshire on the north and Renfrewshire on the south. The fertile slopes of Ayrshire and the Highland hills of Argyleshire continue the boundary to the now widening waters of the Firth.

Lanarkshire, or Clydesdale, is bounded on the north and north-west by the counties of Stirling, Dumbarton, and Renfrew; on the north-east by Edinburgh and Linlithgow; on the east by Peebles; on the south by Dumfries; and on the south-west and west by Ayrshire. It is situated between 55° 54' and 55° 25' of north latitude, and 3° 25' and 4° 18' of west longitude. The length from north-west to south-east is about 50 miles; and the greatest breadth from north-east to south-west is 34 miles. It contains an area of 568,867 acres, or 888 square miles.

Lanarkshire is subdivided into three districts, called the Upper, Middle, and Lower Wards. In the Upper Ward, of which Lanark is the chief town, are the parishes of Carluke, Lanark, Carstairs, Carnwath, Dunsyre, Dolphinton, Walston, Biggar, Liberton, Lamington and Wandell, Coulter, Crawford, Crawfordjohn, Douglas, Wiston and Roberton, Symington, Covington, Pettinain, Carmichael, and Lesmahagow. The Middle Ward, of which the town of Hamilton is the centre, comprehends the parishes of Hamilton, Blantyre, East Kilbride, Avondale, Glassford, Stonehouse, Dalserf, Cambusnethan, Shotts, Dalziel, Bothwell, New Monkland, and Old Monkland. The Lower Ward contains the parishes of Cadder, Cambuslang, Rutherglen, Carmunnock, and part of Govan and Cathcart. In and around Glasgow are the parishes of the City, Barony, Calton, Gorbals, Mary-hill, Springburn, and Shettleston.

Dumbartonshire, in old times known as The Lennox, is more or less mountainous, with some arable land near the Clyde. Loch Lomond stretches for miles towards the Highland mountains, and the “Lofty Ben Lomond,” over 3000 feet in height, rises from the eastern side of the loch, seen from afar, whether from Highland hill or Lowland vale. The area of this county is 172,677 acres, of which the waters of Loch Lomond itself form nearly one-eighth part. The town of Dumbarton, famous for its ship-building enterprise, is the principal industrial centre.

Renfrewshire extends to 162,427 acres, and is much diversified as to soil, minerals, towns, &c., and, like Lanarkshire, contains many important industrial centres of population. From the returns for 1887-88 the valuation of Lanarkshire appears to be £2,079,860.

Several important tributary streams enter the Clyde along its course, and are associated with many circumstances and places of interest. Wilson, in his Clyde poem, enumerates these streams, giving each its particular characteristic, thus:

“Glengonar’s dangerous stream was stained with lead;
Fillets of wool bound dark Duneaton’s head ;
With corn-ears crowned, the sister Medwins rose,
And Mouse, whose mining stream in coverts flows;
Black Douglas, drunk by heroes far renowned,
And turbid Nethan’s front with alders bound;
Calder, with oak around his temples twined,
And Kelvin, Glasgow’s boundary flood designed;
Cart’s sombre stream, which deep and silent moves,
Where kings and queens of old indulged their loves;
Leven, which growth and infancy disdains,
Rushing in strength mature upon the plains.”

John Wilson was born near Lanark in the year 1720. He wrote several pieces of a descriptive and dramatic character. His poem of “The Clyde” was published in 1761. Wilson afterwards was appointed to the Grammar-school of Greenock in 1767, under the condition that he would give up “the profane and unprofitable art of poem making.” This was a sore blow to the poet, but he accepted the position, and devoted himself closely to his work, which he carried on till within a year or two of his death in 1789.

Allan Ramsay was a native of Leadhills, where he was born just about two hundred years ago. As described by himself:

“Of Crauford-muir, born in Lead-hill,
Where mineral springs Glengonir fill,
Which joins sweet flowing Clyde,
Between auld Craufurd-Lindsay’s towers,
And where Deneetnie rapid pours
His stream through Glotta’s tide.”

He afterwards went to Edinburgh, where, amongst many pieces, his “Gentle Shepherd” was published in 1725. He died in Edinburgh in 1757, aged 78.

Taylor and Symington, who were associated with the first attempts at steam navigation made by Patrick Miller of Dalswinton just a century ago, were also natives of this district.

Lanark is an ancient town and royal burgh, situated a few miles north of the Clyde. According to some it was a seat of royalty and the home of an early parliament in the tenth century. Its associations with the patriot Wallace in his early struggles are graphically portrayed in the Scottish Chiefs, and it was doubtless one of the many points in the Roman system of military ways which passed down the Clyde valley at the eastern end of the town.

A local guide-book states that “Lanark formerly enjoyed the privilege of keeping the standard weights of the kingdom. These weights were stamped with a spread eagle with two heads, the arms of the burgh. In 1790 they were measured by Professor Robison of Edinburgh, and a second time (about 1800) for the purpose of rectifying those of Edinburgh.”

Here the ruins of the church of St. Ken Bern, dating from the early part of the twelfth century, are interesting as an example of the "Early English” architecture. The Lee Aisle is attached to the building, and a number of quaint old tombstones may be seen in the cemetery, together with a handsome monument erected to the martyrs who suffered for conscience sake and belonged to the district.

Sir Walter Scott, in his tale of the Talisman, tells us that this talisman was an amulet supposed to possess special healing virtues, and which was brought from the East in the fourteenth century by Sir Simon Lockhart of Lee and Cartland, who “left it to his heirs, by whom, and by Clydesdale in general, it was, and is still, distinguished by the name of the Lee-penny, from the name of his native seat of Lee.”

The history of bells is always curious and interesting. One of those in the spire of the parish church has been recast several times, the earliest date on it being 1110.

One of the principal tributary streams of the Clyde is the Douglas Water, an important stream, draining the large district to the south of Lanark and the Falls of Clyde, and lying to the west of Tinto. The beautiful and fertile valley through which this stream flows is called Douglasdale, the parish of Douglas extending from the Clyde for about 12 miles. The parish is said to take its name from the stream, Douglas signifying a dark colour, and which appears to have given the surname of Douglas to the family who so powerfully affected the history of Scotland in earlier days. Douglas Castle, the “Castle Dangerous” of Sir Walter Scott, played, like other strongholds, an important part in the War of Independence, and he states that its surrender by the English about the year 1306 “was the beginning of a career of conquest which was uninterrupted until the crowning mercy was gained in the celebrated field of Bannockburn.”

The Mouse enters the Clyde on the right bank a short distance below Lanark. It is principally noticeable from the bold and striking scenery near its point of junction with the river, where it flows through the chasm of the Cartland Crags, spanned by Telford's viaduct carrying the Glasgow road. Writing of Telford’s works in roads and bridges, Smiles says: “Owing to the mountainous nature of the country through winch Telford’s Carlisle and Glasgow road passes, the bridges are unusually numerous and of laro-e dimensions. Thus the Fiddler’s Burn Bridge is of three arches, one of 150, and two of 105 feet span each. There are fourteen other bridges, presenting from one to three arches, of from 20 to 90 feet span.

But the most picturesque and remarkable bridge, constructed by Telford in that district, was upon another line of road subsequently carried out by him, in the upper part of the county of Lanark, and crossing the main line of the Carlisle and Glasgow road almost at right angles. It was carried over deep ravines by several lofty bridges, the most formidable of which was that across the Mouse Water at Cartland Crags, about a mile to the west of Lanark. The stream here flows through a deep rocky chasm, the sides of which are in some places about 400 feet high. At a point where the height of the rocks is considerably less, but still most formidable, Telford spanned the ravine 129 feet above the water.”

The Netlian enters the Clyde on the left below Stone-byres Fall. It flows through the parish of Lesmahagow (famous for its gas-coal), and not far from its junction passes through a rocky gorge, on the top of which stands the ruins of Craignethan Castle, believed to be the prototype of the Castle of Tillietudlem in Old Mortality-A considerable extent of Silurian rocks are met with in this district, some of the characteristic Lingula fossils being found in the rocks of the Nethan.

Ordnance survey and Ordnance datum are well-known terms, especially the former, the latter belonging more specifically to the province of the engineer. We often speak of differences of levels of places and compare their heights; and if we look over the Ordnance maps, which indeed so well repay careful study, we see not only the country mapped out with accuracy, but we also find certain figures dotted over the surface, showing the elevation of the land above the fixed mean water datum at Liverpool. [This datum is a point 4'67 feet above the level of the old Dock Sill, Liverpool.] The principles underlying such a survey as that which has been carried out in this country depend upon the science of spherical trigonometry, and are more or less complex in their applications to the necessary refinements entered into by the officers of the Survey. It may be interesting, therefore, to note that a native of the parish of Carluke (General Roy) appears to have been the first surveyor who carried out the earlier measurements of the base-lines required. Thus, in a recent notice the Glasgow Herald, referring to the work of General Roy and others about a century ago, says: “General Roy, apart altogether from later labours, may be said to have originated the Ordnance Survey as we now understand the phrase. It is pleasant for west-country people to remember that this distinguished military engineer was a native of Carluke parish, Lanarkshire.”

The Aven or Avon, doubtless from the British word for river, flows into the Clyde at Hamilton, and drains a good extent of country to the south. As it approaches the neighbourhood of Hamilton it finds its way through the fine old woods of Cadzow, whose old oaks, after braving the “battle and the breeze” of a thousand years, are, many of them, still flourishing, and likely to see many more changes in the coming years. Their battles have been mainly with the elements and the somewhat varying conditions of climate throughout the long centuries of their life; but they have struck root firmly, and borne themselves nobly and bravely against the winds and frosts of winter, and the no less trying droughts of summer. Some old veterans there are, hollowed out by time, into whose shelter we can gather; and as we stand within the oak walls, with their still vigorous foliage floating high above us, we seem to hear them whispering to one another old stories of the past, when the wild animals and their Caledonian hunters roamed beneath their branches, and the excitement of the chase or the din of war echoed through the far-stretching glades. Later on the merry hawking party with knights, ladies, and attendants, clad in the armour and gay attire of the middle ages glanced amidst the sombre depths of this forest, and in times nearer to our own, persecuted Covenanters sought shelter amid its friendly covering. And here, even yet, under these old oaks, we have a remnant of the wild denizens of the primeval forest in the white cattle quietly feeding there. Cadzow, and Chillingham in England, seem to be the only places where the old breed of wild cattle now exists.

They are of a white colour with black muzzles, and appear still to retain traces of the wild and untamable spirit of their far-back ancestors of the Caledonian forest.

After passing the Avon we find three different streams bearing the name of Calder as tributaries, two of which flow in on the north side, and one on the southern side of the river. As the wordCalder is said to indicate a place of wood and water, it is not strange that it should be applied to several of the well-wooded streams of this district. The South Calder Water is distinguished for its fine semicircular arch, supposed to he of Roman origin, as it is on the line of the Roman road which ran along the north side of the Clyde.

A short distance below is the village of Bothwell with its curious old church, thus described in the Statistical Survey of Scotland:—

“The Old Church of Bothwell is a very ancient structure, and presents a fine specimen of Gothic architecture. It was used in former times as the quire of the collegiate church of Bothwell. In Catholic times Bothwell was the most important of the five collegiate churches of Lanarkshire. It was established by Archibald Douglas, Lord of Galloway (who married Johanna Moray, heiress of Bothwell), 10th October, 1398, and was confirmed by a charter from the king, 5th Feb. 1398-9. It was about this period that the present quire was built. The master-mason, as was indicated by an inscription in Saxon letters on a stone near the outer base of the old steeple, now removed, was Thomas Tron. The roof is arched and lofty, and presents the most remarkable feature of the building. On the outside it is covered with large flags of stone, hewn into the form of tiles resting on a mass of lime and stone, which in the centre is 11 feet in depth. The side walls are strengthened by strong buttresses to support the weight of the roof.” The new parish church was built in 1833, and is in the Gothic style, to harmonize with the old church to which it is attached, a handsome tower, 120 feet high, rising at the junction of the two buildings. Joanna Baillie, celebrated as an authoress, was born in Bothwell Manse, her father, the Bev. James Baillie, D.D., being minister of the parish.

The Calder—sometimes called the Rotten Calder—rises in the trap-hills to the south of Kilbride, and flows more or less northwards through a district of much geological interest and picturesque beauty. Both coal and ironstone have been worked along the bed of this stream, the old entrance workings being still visible. Cement-stones and limestones, both commercially valuable, are worked at different parts of its course. One feature of special interest to geologists is that in passing along in its course from the hills to the Clyde it crosses the great “fault,” which runs more or less parallel to the valley of the Clyde, and extends more or less from the Nethan, near its confluence with the Clyde, to about a mile or so to the south of Glasgow Bridge.

There is still another Calder flowing from the north and joining the Clyde almost opposite the Rotten Calder, below Uddingston.

The Kelvin is an important tributary of the Clyde, draining1 a considerable area from its source In the Kilsyth Hills till it falls into the river at Partick. Its course is interesting, as at several points it is not far from the line of the Roman Wall, and at Belmulie, a few miles north of Glasgow, it crosses a point where at one time a Roman station was placed.

The Cart enters the Clyde on the south side, a few miles farther down, passing to the west of the ancient burgh of Renfrew, and not far from Inchinnan, whose religious church history dates back to 1100—a grant to the Knights Templars being made at that time by David I. Two considerable streams—the White Cart and Black Cart—meet just a little above their junction with the Clyde, the Black Cart having been, shortly before the junction, supplemented by the waters of the Gryfe. These streams drain a large extent of country from their sources in the high hill ground bordering the southern valley of the Clyde, passing through well-cultivated and populous districts, abounding in fine scenery and varied associations, both of an antiquarian and commercial character.

The White Cart rises in the Mearns district, eleven miles south of Glasgow, and flows at first in a northerly direction, passing through the parish of Cathcart and near the ruined castle of the same name. Within a short distance is the field of Langside, the battle fought there in 15G8 being so disastrous to the unfortunate Queen

Mary of Scotland. This stream then turns westwards, passing through the populous and industrial centre of Pollokshaws, and shortly afterwards near the now ruined Crookston Castle, a residence of the same ill-fated Queen in her earlier days. Flowing through the busy town of Paisley, the White Cart turns again northwards until it joins its brother with the dark cognomen, which latter rises in Castle Semple Loeh, and flowing north-easterly is joined by the Gryfe Water, which rises on the western side of Renfrewshire behind Greenock, and flows through a long valley lying amongst the hills. The head-waters of the Gryfe are utilized for supplying the town of Greenock with water, and at Bridge of Weir a dam is thrown across to give water-power to the mills there.

Campbell sings of the Cart:—

“Oh, the scenes of my childhood and dear to my heart,
Ye green waving woods on the margin of Cart!
How blest in the morning of life I have strayed
By the stream of the vale and the grass-covered glade!”

Paisley appears to be situated on or near the site of the old Roman station of Vanduara, and has for long been a prosperous town, both in the early days of the hand-loom weaving industry, and later on when water-power and steam gradually superseded the use of hands, and the single work-room of the weaver was extended and enlarged to the factory with its looms and spinning-jennies for the manufacture of various fabrics. Now the great thread-mill, where miles of that indispensable material for sewing, whether by hand or by machine, is made, may be seen rising as a palatial-looking structure many stories high. Our old friend Pennant, always keenly alive to facts and objects of interest, tells us that, “about fifty years ago the making of white stitching threads was first introduced into the west country by a private gentlewoman, Mrs. Millar of Bargarran, who, very much to her own honour, imported a twist-mill from Holland and carried on a small manufacture in her own family.” This early and simple attempt was afterwards extended, and at the time of Pennant’s visit the value of the thread manufacture had risen to nearly £50,000. Besides this the manufacture of lawns, silk gauze, and ribbons, was carried on, and the celebrated Paisley plaid, with its well-marked pine-cone pattern, became quite a fashion. Some of these latter industries have died out, but their place has been taken by others, and Paisley, with her 66,000 inhabitants, is as busy as ever manufacturing, besides thread and some other textile fabrics, starch, corn-flour, and machinery, while on the banks of the tributary Cart iron vessels of various kinds are now built.

Paisley has a long list of eminent men who have been born within her borders. Professor Wilson, the “North” of the Nodes; Wilson, the ornithologist; and the sweet singer, Tannahill, whose home is still shown where he worked at his loom; many others whose names are celebrated were natives of this busy industrial centre.

The Abbey Church is a fine old building, the style being early English Gothic. Adjoining the church is a building called the Sounding Aisle, from the wonderfully fine echo or reverberation of sound which takes place inside. On shutting the door suddenly the noise is intensified to such an extent as to resemble a peal of thunder. The sound of a strong, deep voice is answered by as it were the roar of a lion. Singing, especially low, clear tones, and whistling, can be heard wandering away about the roof as if there were answering spirits hovering above.

Passing down to Renfrew, another ancient burgh, we are in the neighbourhood of Elderslie, where at least one tradition says that the patriot Wallace was born.

“Yet bleeding and bound though her Wallace wight
For his long-loved country die,
The bugle ne’er sung to a braver knight
Than Wallace of Elderslie.”

Renfrew was an important place in early times, and was frequented by royalty. Robert II. had a palace here, and, as showing the condition of the river at these times, it is said that in the sixteenth century the burgesses of Renfrew had sixty boats employed fishing salmon. These fish, indeed, were so plentiful that the apprentices in the ancient and royal burgh made a stipulation that they were only to have a certain number of salmon dinners. Now, a rail way-station, a steamboat wharf, and ship-building yards, are the most striking features which attract the eyes of the visitor. It may be noted that the building of dredgers is made a specialty here, all the newest improvements being introduced, so as more readily to scoop up and remove the dredged material from the river or bank. It is not only in our own river that dredging operations are carried on, but in many other rivers at home and abroad, and on the bars at their mouths, the iron bucket tears its way and brings up its spoil.

Inchinnan parish church stands a little below Renfrew, beautifully situated on a bend of the Gryfe close to its junction with the Cart. A religious house existed here so far back as in the year 1100; and in the graveyard several quaintly-carved old stones may be seen.

The following anecdote is told to show the effect on an upper Clydesdale man of the tidal action in the river here. "In the early part of last century the clergyman of Lamington, in the upper ward of Lanarkshire, had come to assist his friend, the incumbent of Inehinnan, on a sacramental occasion, travelling on horseback, and attended, according to the invariable practice, by his man, who, although from his vocation a severe critic of sermons, was profoundly ignorant of the doctrine of the tides. During the course of the visit the servant was astounded and alarmed to discover that the waters were moving in a direction the reverse of what he had previously witnessed; whereupon, concluding that some awful calamity impended, he hastened to his master’s chamber, broke his slumbers, divulged the appalling phenomenon, suggested the prudence of immediate departure, and concluded by expressing a faint hope that they might yet reach Lamington in safety.”—Statistical Survey of Scotland.

The water from Loch Humphrey in the Kilpatrick Hills is perhaps the largest addition for some distance on the north side, if we except the Forth and Clyde Canal, which empties itself at Bowling. The stream referred to was largely utilized some years ago by the mills at Duntocher erected there. A little above this village the stream crosses the line of the Roman wall, where an old arch, probably of Roman origin, still carries the roadway leading to Glasgow by New Kilpatrick, and contains a stone with an inscription in Latin, which appears to be a copy from an earlier part of the structure. A mile or two lower down the river the small village of Milton is situated in a hollow almost beneath the shadow of the great basaltic hill of Dumbuck. This place, and Rothesay in the island of Bute, have the honour of being the first to start the cotton industry by power.

The Leven, also on the north side, is a short river, being the outlet of the waters of Loch Lomond. It is not now the stream of which Smollett wrote, as its banks are alive with various industries, such as dyeing, printing, ship-building, &c.

“On Leven’s banks, while free to rove,
And tune the rural pipe of love,
I envied not the happiest swain
That ever trod the Arcadian plain;
Devolving from thy parent lake,
A charming maze thy waters make,
By bowers of birch and grove of pine
And edges flowered with eglantine.”

Dumbarton, situated at the foot of its guardian Rock, has, like many other Scottish towns, a history stretching back to the rude and troublous times of centuries ago; thereafter, as the country quieted down, sharing in the manufacturing and commercial progress of the times, due to the enterprise and skill of its townspeople. At an earlier date it was noted for its glass manufacture; now the specialty is ship-building and marine engineering. The Dumbarton people appear early to have shown skill in the ship-building line, as it is said that a ship was built here for King Robert the Bruce, who, after “life’s fitful fever,” died at Cardross in the neighbourhood.

Pennant says, “The Roman fleet in all probability had its station under Dumbarton; the Glota or Clyde has there sufficient depth of water; the place was convenient and secure, near the end of the wall, and covered by the fort of Dunglas; the Pharos on the top of the great rock is another strong proof that the Romans made it their harbour, for the water beyond is impassable for ships or any vessels of large burden.”

From Dumbarton many fine steamers and sailing vessels have been launched into the Leven, and its various shipbuilding and engineering yards employ many thousands of workmen. And not only is the practical department of ship-building so well represented, but this town has the honour to possess a special feature, unique on the Clyde, viz.: a tank, erected by the Messrs. Denny in the Leven Shipyard, in which models of the various ships about to be built can be experimented upon, and the results for the ship obtained from the experiments with the model by means of the relations established by the late Dr. Froude, whose tank at Torquay has yielded so many results alike valuable to the ship-builder and the marine engineer.

From Pennant’s tour we learn that: “After a long contest with a violent adverse wind, and very turbulent water,” he passed under on the south shore, Newark, a castellated house with round towers, and reached Port-Glasgow. He says it is “a considerable town with a great pier, and numbers of large ships, dependent on Glasgow, a creation of that city since the year 1608, when it was purchased from Sir Patrick Maxwell of Newark, houses built, a harbour formed, and the Custom-house for the Clyde established.”

Port-Glasgow, with its many old-fashioned houses with crow-stepped gables, and its distinctive odour to the passerby in the railway train of tar or oakum from the rope-spinning works, recalls the past times when there were few or no steam-boats and no electric telegraph, and the sailing ship was the great ocean carrier. The merchant in those days, after sending off his ship and cargo, could rest contentedly, so far as these possessions went, and was not worried, as his successor is at the present time, with swift passages and “wires” from all quarters of the globe. This town was originally called New Port-Glasgow, or shortly “Newport;” at least, Wilson, about 1764, refers to it thus:

“Where, crowned with wood, fair hills embrace the bay
Where Newport smiles, in youthful lustre gay.”

Ground was originally feued here by the magistrates of Glasgow for a harbour for the shipping of the city. The Glasgow people had at first thought of Dumbarton and then Greenock as their port; but difficulties with the authorities of these independent burghs caused them to set up one for themselves, hence Port-Glasgow.

Greenock, like the larger commercial city further up the river, was but a comparatively small town about the middle of last century, the population at that time being-under 4000. Looking at a map of the river and firth published in 1760 by John Watt, junr.,1 we see Greenock and the neighbouring town of Cartsdyke (now long since united) as each clustered round their quays or harbours, which project boldly into the river like bent arms, as if to it el come and secure the passing sail.

Greenock, according to Dr. Leyden in 1767, was a “thriving seaport, rapidly emerging into notice. In the beginning of last century it consisted of a single row of that died houses, stretching along a bay without a harbour. In 1707 a harbour began to be constructed, but the town increased so slowly that in 1755 its population amounted only to about 3800 souls.'' In 1785 a dry-dock was built, and from time to time the harbour accommodation improved, so that about 1829, when the population amounted to about 27,000, the length of quays was over 700 yards. The Custom-house was erected in ISIS at a cost of £30,000, and with its handsome classic front has long been a well-known object to the steam-boat travellers up and down the river, and especially in the old days before the Princes Pier and Wemyss Bay routes were opened. Many a hurried, and perchance wearied, foot has trod the narrow and dirty lane which used to lead from the railway terminus to the quay, passing this tine edilice on the way. But not only has the march of improvement in railway service been going on. it has also passed over the quaint old crow-stepped gabled houses of this part of the town, and new buildings in all the glory of fresh ashlar fronts have arisen in their place. A few years ago a handsome group of buildings, with an elevated tower, were erected for the municipal work of the town.

In the Statistical Survey of Scotland we have the following curious extract:—

“In the Literary Rambler for October, 1832, there are some curious excerpts from a manuscript in the Advocates’ Library, purporting to be a report by Thomas Tucker, one of Cromwell’s servants, who was appointed to arrange the customs and excise in this country; from which we may form some conception of the state of commerce in Greenock and the neighbouring towns two centuries ago. The report is addressed ‘ To the Right Honourable the Commissioners for Appeals,’ and is dated November 20th, 1656. After describing Glasgow as a ‘very neate burghe towne;’ all whose inhabitants were traders except the students, ‘ some for Ireland, with small smiddy coales in open boates from four to ten tonnes some for France with pladding, eoales, and hering.’ And some venturing as far as Barbadoes, but discouraged by the loss they sustained, ‘by reason of their going out and coming home late every year.’ The reporter proceeds to describe the towns of Port-Glasgow and Greenock in the following terms: ‘The number of ports in this district are, 1st, Newarke (Port-Glasgow), a small place where there are (besides the laird’s house of the place) some four or five houses, but before them a pretty good roade, where all the vessells doe ride, unlade, and send their goods up to the river Glasgow in small boats; and at this place there is a wayter constantly attending. 2dly, Greenock—such another—only the inhabitants are more, but all sea men or fishermen trading for Ireland or the isles in open boates. Att which place there is a mole peere where vessells in stresse of weather may ride and shelter them selves before they pass up to Newarke; and here, likewise, is another wayter.’ ”

Greenoek, with a population of about 70,000, is a busy commercial centre. Ship-building, marine engineering, iron-foundries, and sugar-works, all combine to give employment to large numbers of work people. In busy times the smoke from the many tall chimneys, although indicating commercial activity, has quite an obscuring effect on the splendid landscape which opens out to the passerby on the railways carried along the steep hill-sides above the town.

The Shaws Water-works, for supplying Greenock with water, were designed by Mr. Robert Thom, who had so successfully carried out the water-power required for the Rothesay cotton-mills, by laying various loehs under contribution, and regulating the supply in the various channels by self-acting sluices. Mr. Thom reported in 1824 on the Greenock supply, showing the great value of the power which could be obtained. Mr. Thom was so impressed by these advantages, that he says, “Here you would have no steam-engines, vomiting smoke, and polluting earth and air for miles round, to the no small annoyance and discomfort of the community at large, and to the unspeakable vexation and chagrin of gardeners, bleachers, and washerwomen.” Mr. Thom afterwards says: “It is not to be inferred from this that I think lightly of the steam-engine. I merely wish to draw a little attention to another source of national wealth, which (perhaps obscured by the dazzling blaze that has so long encircled the inventions of Watt) has been hitherto almost totally neglected. Such, indeed, has been the eclat of the steam-engine, that whenever a work became scarce of water, either from its being enlarged or from a dry season, nothing was to be heard but the general cry: ‘Put up a steam-engine, and be independent of water.’ ” Mr. Thom, however, thought that the cry would soon change to, “ Get water if you can, and down with your steam-engines.” He, however, acknowledges the importance of his rival, especially for navigation, and concludes by saying, “Nor shall the name of the less fortunate inventor of the steam-boat be ultimately lost to fame, for although a thoughtless public should allow him to linger out the evening of his days in poverty, yet the time is coming when public meetings will be held and monuments erected to the memory of Henry Bell.”

Harbours and docks present an inviting water-way and secure retreat for the various ships freighted with merchandise from all quarters of the globe, and from the fine esplanade carried along the shore to Fort Matilda a splendid view is afforded of the busy river, with its variety of shipping, the outward and inward bound Altantic liners at the Tail of the Bank, and the distant Highland hills beyond the Kilcreggan shore. The range of the tide at Greenock being small, from 8 to 10 feet, docks inclosed with locks or gates were not so much required as in ports having a greater range. Several of the docks or harbours are therefore open to the river.

Greenock, in its prosperity, has not forgotten the poor and the aged. A large and well-appointed building to the west of the town, called Wood’s Mariners’ Asylum, was founded in 1850 by Commissary-General Sir Gabriel Wood, for the benefit of aged merchant master-mariners and merchant seamen, natives of the county of Renfrew and neighbourhood. Hospitals and Infirmaries, Charity Schools, a Seamen’s Friend Society, homes for destitute boys and girls, and many other benevolent undertakings, all go to show that the present age, marked out as it is by the splendour of commercial success and scientific skill, is yet especially noticeable above the ages which have passed away as one of individual and public benevolence. Greenock has also several scientific institutions, one of which, the “Scientific Library,” was founded by James Watt in 1816.


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