Besides several fairs in the year, and three trysts, there is a market
every week on Thursday. At these three trysts there are, at an average, 60,000 black
cattle. As most of them are of the small Highland breed, the medium price may be fixed at
L.4 each. Thus at these meetings, it is supposed, L.400,000 sterling are put into
circulation. Not a small proportion of this money passes through the Falkirk Bank. There
are also horses and sheep disposed of at these markets.
By the favour of Mr Longmoor, a very accurate farmer, I have it in my power to lay before the public a statement of the prices which the Carse wheat, barley and oat-meal, brought for the space of 40 years preceding the crop of 1794.
Prices of Kerse Grain for 40 years preceding Crop 1794
Medium price from 1753 to 1774, being 20 years.
Wheat per bol1 L.0 19 5 6-12
Barley per boll 0 16 10 3-12
Meal per boll 0 14 1 3-12
|Crop||Wheat per boll||Barley per boll||Meal per boll|
Medium price from 1773 to 1794, the last 20 years.
|Wheat||L.1 0 3|
|Barley||0 18 8|
|Meal||0 15 3|
Our markets are well supplied with butcher-meat of excellent quality. It is sold by the Scotch Trone weight; the pound of which, as it is used here is to that of the Avoirdupois, as7,000 are to 10,450.
Forty years ago, not more than one heifer, cow, or bullock, together with a few sheep and lambs, were exposed to sale in the weekly market at Falkirk. As to veal, it was scarcely to be found, but in the spring. But I am authorised to say, that there have not been sold in the shambles of this town, during the course of the last year fewer than 2000 black cattle 6000 sheep and lambs and calves in proportion.
Forty years ago few of the common people were in the habit of eating butcher- meat, except a little with their greens in winter. This scanty portion they salted about Martinmas, and consequently about that season of the year, more butcher-meat than common was brought into the market. But now all descriptions of the people are more in the practice of eating animal food.
It appears from Dalrymple's Annals of Scotland, that the price of a hen in 1295 was only one penny; but now one that is well fed will cost fifteen or eighteen pence.
Forty years ago the price of butcher-meat in this market was only about 2d per pound, but now it is from 4(1 to 6d or 7d.
Forty years ago there were but three surgeons in the town of Falkirk; but at present there is 1 physician, 5 surgeons, and 2 druggists.
About 60 years ago this town and neighbourhood were supplied with wheaten bread from Edinburgh and Linlithgow. There were then only 3 bakers in Falkirk, and they were but occasionally employed. Hence it is, that the people in the remote parts of the country, when they come to procure bread for feasts or funerals, do still enquire of the bakers if their ovens be heated.
There are now 18 bakers in the town of Falkirk, and 6 in the different villages within the parish. They make excellent bread and the price is regulated by the Edinburgh assize.
At the period above alluded to there were not more than 200 bolls of wheat per annum reduced into flour for the use of the Falkirk bakers. It was ground in common mills and boulted by hand-sieves. Now, about 7000 boils are made use of annually: it is ground in mills, which are made for the purpose of preparing flour; it is boulted, and the different kinds separated by machinery, which is constructed according to the latest improvements. Seven of these mills are within a few miles of the town.
Forty years ago there were but two grocers in Falkirk; they complained of little business, and one of them was also a tallow-chandler. They had all their grocery goods from Borrowstouness, and imported nothing themselves. We now have 22 in that line of business; some of them carry on an extensive trade, both in wholesale and retail, and import wine, etc., from foreign parts.
It appears that in the reign of Charlemagne, there was but one clock in Europe, and it was sent to him by Abdulla King of Persia1 How different is the situation of arts and improvements now, when there are four clock and watch makers in the town of Falkirk itself!
There are two lodges of free-masons in Falkirk. One of them is so ancient, that it is marked No.18 in the books of the Grand Lodge. The lodge of Carron also meets in a house within the precincts of this parish.
Falkirk was formerly a burgh of regality, and 1 have before me a burgess-ticket, signed by one of the Earls of Linlithgow and Callendar. 1 find no vestiges of any magistrates which have been invested with the powers of the burgh, except the bailiff of barony, who in former times, before the hereditary jurisdictions were taken away, had an extensive jurisdiction both in criminal and civil cases. We have still a baron bailie, who is nominated by the lord of the manor. But the power of life and death is not now attached to any barony. He can within the bounds of his jurisdiction, enforce the payment of rents to any amount, and decide in disputes about money matters, provided the sum do not exceed L.2 sterling. The debtors goods may be distrained for payment, and if not sufficient, he can be imprisoned for one month. He can for small offences, fine to the amount of twenty shillings, and put the delinquents into the stocks in the day time for the space of three hours.
We stand much in need of a police-bill for regulating the affairs of
the town, and making those improvements which the state of its increased population
requires. Much to the honour of the people, it may be mentioned that though there is no
place of confinement in the county nearer than Stirling, which is eleven miles distant,
yet there are few instances of riot or disorder. It has been observed that a considerable
part of the business which comes before the Court at Stirlingshire assises, etc., proceeds
from this quarter of the district; but it ought also tobe attended to, that the population
ofFalkirk, and three of four miles round it, bears a great proportion to that of the whole
A considerable part of these astonishing improvements, which within these 40 years, have been made in this parish, and in the adjoining country, has been owing to the great canal, which is cut from the frith of Forth to the river Clyde. As Scotland is almost cut into parts by the frith and river, which has just been mentioned an idea was formed as early as the reign of Charles II. of opening a communication between the east and west seas through the medium of a canal. In 1723, a survey of the intended track was taken by Mr Gordon, who is well known as the author of the "Itinerarium Septentrionale." In the year 1762, Mr Mackell, at the expence of Lord Napier, took another survey of the projected canal, and gave also an estimate of the money which would be necessary to carry the design into execution. Mr Mackell's report attracted the attention of the Board of Trustees appointed for the Encouragement of the Fisheries and Manufactures of Scotland; and at their request Mr Smeaton in like manner took the business under his consideration, and gave in an estimate of the expence.
After various attempts, a bill was sanctioned by Parliament, which gave powers for raising a stock of 1500 shares for the purpose of making a canal between the Forth and Clyde. Each share was to consist ofL.l 00, and the whole capital would thus amount toL.150,000.
On the 10th of July, 1768, this greatwork was begun under the direction of Mr Smeaton. The operations commenced at the east end, and the late Sir Lawrence Dundas of Kerse, Baronet, cut and removed the first spadeful of earth which was taken from the canal. The spade is yet kept in Kerse House in memory of that transaction, which was the beginning of an undertaking, great in the design, and difficult in the execution; but happy in its effects, and likely to be of unspeakable advantage to succeeding generations.
On the 10th ofJuly, 1775 the canal was fit for navigation as faras Stockingfield, which is within a few miles of Glasgow. About two years afterwards a side branch was cut, by which vessels could go still nearer Glasgow, and a bason, together with granaries, and other buildings were prepared. By this time the Company's public funds were exhausted; for the making ofcanals being then in its infancy in Britain, the manner of doing the business in the easiest way was not understood, and consequently the work was carried out at a much greater expence than it could be done for now, although the value of labour is much increased.
The canal remained in this languishing and unfinished state till by the assistance of Government, the managers were enabled to begin their operations again in July,
1786. The work was conducted by Mr Robert Whitworth, and on the 28th of July.
1790, the navigation from sea to sea was opened. when, by the intervention of the canal, a communication between the eastern and western seas was completed, the event was signalized by the characteristic ceremony of pouring a hogshead full of water of the frith of Forth into the river Clyde,' amid the shouts and approbation of an astonished multitude.
When we consider the novelty of the undertaking, and the difficulty of the enterprise, we shall not be surprised to find that it was 22 years and 18 days in being finished. The canal in its course passes through marshes and over rivers, rivulets, and roads. There is a considerable aqueduct bridge, which conveys it over the Glasgow and Stirling road, a little to the westward of Falkirk. But the most magnificent is that having four arches, which conducts it over the river Kelvin, where the valley in which it runs is 400 feet wide, nand the depth from the summit of the middle arches to the channel of the river is more than 63 feet.
The side cut, which has already been mentioned, was carried forward to within half a mile of Glasgow. Larger and more commodious basons were made; necessary buildings were erected; there is land to be sold for building a village, and the place is called Port Dundas, in honour of Lord Dundas. From this port there is ajunction made with the Monkland Canal, which is a small cut running 12 miles into the country on the east of Glasgow, for the purpose of conveying coals to that city.
The length of the great canal is 35 miles; the collateral cut to Glasgow 2 3/4; and that from Port Dundas to the Monkland Canal, 1 mile; in whole 38 1/4 miles. The extensive track of a canal is supplied with water by six reservoirs, which cover about 409 acres of land, and contain about 12,679 lock-fulls of water; and the Company have it in their power to increase the number of reservoirs.
The summit of the canal is 141 feet above the level of the sea ~. The number of the locks is 20 on the east, and 19 on the west. The length of the locks between the gates is 74 feet, and the width between the walls 20 feet. The medium breadth of the canal at the surface is 56 feet, and at the bottom 27. Vessels of 80 or 90 tons, properly constructed, may be navigated through, and are fit for voyages by sea. The tonnage
dues are 2d per ton every mile, with some exceptions, respecting lime, etc. The direction of the canal is under a Governor, Council in London, and a Committee at Glasgow, who meet monthly. They are chosen annually, by a general meeting, which is held in London every month of March.
The extensive trade carried on through this canal suggested to Sir Lawrence Dundas the propriety of building of a village and quay near the east end of it on his own estate. The place which he fixed upon for this purpose was the angle which is formed by thejunction of the river Carron and the canal. They were begun in to be built in the year 1777; the village is now of considerable extent, and is called Grangemouth.
Vessels bring into this port timber and hemp, deals, flax, and iron, from the Baltic, Norway, and Sweden, and grain from foreign markets, as well as from the coasts of Scotland and England. The trade to London is carried on by the Carron Shipping Company, who in their vessels convey to that place goods which are made at Carron, together with other articles of commerce; and when they return they bring grocery goods, dye stuffs, etc., for the supply of Glasgow, Paisley, Greenock, Falkirk, Stirling, and many of the inland towns of the west country.
The tonnage at this port is, atamedium, nearly as follows:- Vessels which belong to England, which bring cargoes from foreign places, about 5000 tons annually; ditto, from England which carry on a coasting trade, about 4000 tons annually; those belonging to Scotland which are employed in foreign traffic, about 10,000 tons annually; those which carry on the coasting trade are about 9000 tons annually; the Carron Shipping Co. require about 9360 tons, the vessels belonging to foreign nations, which come annually to Grangemouth, may be estimated in their tonnage at 2000. Great quantities of herrings made their appearance last winter in the frith of Forth, and many of them were caught at the very mouth of the river Carron. More than 120 sail from Greenock, Rothsay, Stranraer, etc., came through the canal to fish and they returned homewards with full cargoes.
At Grangemouth there is a great need of additional Warehouses and Shades. But what is most of all wanted is a customhouse or branch thereof. Borrowstounness having till of late the principal place of trade in this neighbourhood, a customhouse was established there, and sufficient attention has not yet been paid to the situation of Grangemouth. Those at this port who have business to do in the Customhouse are obliged to travel to Borrowstounness, which is eight miles distant; and when the river Avon is not fordable they are under the necessity or going round by Linlithgow Bridge, which lengthens the journey four miles.
But the Carron Iron Works have in a peculiar manner tended to improve this town and neighbourhood. They are situated on the northern banks of the river Carron, and though they are not in this parish, yet many of the workmen live in it, and as they are not two miles from the town of Falkirk the shops and markets thereof are generally resorted to by those who are employed in the various operations of that extensive manufacture.
The Carron Company have a charter for employing a capital of L.150,000. It is divided into 6000 shares, and no person can have a vote in the management unless he be possessed of ten shares. These works were first projected and established by Dr Roebuck, and Messrs Cadell and Garbet. They were joined by other gentlemen of respectability, and the company are now in a very flourishing condition. The works are under the immediate direction of Mr Joseph Stainton, who is also a partner.
They are supplied with iron-ore from Lancashire and Cumberland; and with iron-stone from Banton, Denny, and Bonnyhill, etc., in this vacinity, and from the county of Fife, etc. They have limestone from Burntisland, etc., and coals from Kinnaird, Carron-hall, and Shieldhill. All the materials, which are made use of at these works, are brought to them by water-carriage, except coals, and these are found in the neighbourhood. At an average they use 300 tons of coal, 400 tons of iron stone and ore, and 100 tons of limestone per week. The iron-stone is first calcined in an open fire; but the iron-ore needs no preparation in order to be fit for the blast furnace.
There are five furnaces of this description, which we supplied with strong currents of air from cast iron cylinders, instead of bellows. These cylinders are constructed somewhat like forcing pumps, and are not only more durable than bellows, but have more power, and produce a better effect. They have three cupolas which receive a proper supply of air by means of pipes connected with the forcing cylinders. There are also fifteen furnaces, which are kept in action by the external air without the aid of any artificial blast.
At Carron all kinds of cast-iron goods are made in the best manner. A short kind of cannon called Carronades were invented there; and, in certain situations, they are considered as of great importance. They are moved in grooves; and thus the increased friction more effectively opposes the force of the recoil. The caliber of the cannon is bored out of the solid metal and thus the whole is more smooth andjust in its direction, than when cast with a core, and the piece is less ready to burst in time of action. The outside of the cannon is turned by proper instruments, and the whole is not only neat, but substantial.
At these works bar-iron is also made; and in accomplishing that business, the following method is pursued. The pig-iron is melted in a finery, where coke is used; while hot, it is beaten out into plates about an inch in thickness. These plates are afterwards broken into pieces about two inches square, for the convenience of scouring them, etc. They are then scoured in an iron cylinder which is connected with the water-wheel, and when they are properly prepared by this operation, they are put in pots which are made of fireclay, and in an air furnace they are brought to a welding heat; in this state of preparation they are put under the hammer, and wrought into blooms; the blooms are heated in a chasery or hollow fire, and then drawn into bars for various uses. In this condition the iron is equal in goodness to that which is imported from Russia under the name of new sable iron.
The machinery is moved by the water of the river Carron, and for a supply in time of drought, they have a reservoir to the extent of about 30 acres. But as this precaution is not enough in very dry seasons, they have moreover an engine for throwing back the water that it may be used again and this engine raises 4 tons every stroke, and makes about 7 strokes in a minute. If we take into the account, along with the people who are directly employed in the manufacture at Carron, those who are engaged in the mines and pits, together with those who carry materials to the works, and goods by sea and otherwise immediately from them, we may estimate the whole at 2000 people.
Nobody is admitted to view the works on Sundays, except those who are properly recommended, or known to be worthy of attention. Mr Burns, the Ayrshire poet, not knowing, or not attending to this regulation, made an attempt to be admitted without discovering who he was, but was refused by the porter. Upon returning to the inn at Carron, he wrote the following lines upon the pane of glass in a window of the parlour into which he was shown:
We cam na her to view your warks
In hopes to be mair wise;
But only, lest we gan to hell
It may be na surprise.
But when we tirl'd at your door,
Your porter dought na hear us;
So may, should we to hell's yetts come,
Your billy Satan sair us.
1 Edinburgh Magazine for April, 1793.
1 Andrew's History of Great Britain, vol. i.
2. The summit of the canal was at first but 140 feet. One foot in heigbt was afterwards added to all the lock-gates, which had made some people conclude that as twenty locks are on the east, the summit must now be 160 feet. But though the water throughout the canal be one foot deeper, yet the summit is only raised 12 inches. The first lock from the sea does now elevate vessels 3 feet; but the increased height of this lock raises the water on the next one foot; thus the upper gate of the second lock, which was 7 feet ahove the level of the water on the lower side, is reduced to 6 feet, and consequently when a foot is added to its height, it only, as formerly, raises the vessel 7 feet. The same thing happens to the third lock, and
so on through the whole; and when you arrive at the summit the boat is only one foot higher than it would have been before the addition was made to the gates, and this foot was gained at the first lock. The circumstance of there being 20 locks on the east side of the summit, and only 19 on the west, may be accounted for as follows:- On the east the canal terminates in the Grange Bum, where there was so little water that the vessels &c left nearly dry at the ebb tide; whereas on the west it ends in the Clyde, where the water is eight feet deep without the help of the tide, and thus one lock is saved.
The revenue arising from the canal was annually increasing from the commencement till 1792, when it amounted to about L.14,000. By the stagnation of trade in 1793, it did not reach L.12,000; but in 1794 it was somewhat more than L.12,000. Govemment have shares in this canal to the extent of L.150,000.