PARISH OF POLMONT.
Maket-Town.-The nearest market-town is Falkirk.
Means of Comunication.-There is no want either of modes of conveyance or of communication. The post-town is Falkirk, from which there is a runner daily for the delivery of the letters but, no doubt, the establishment of a regular post-office in Bennetstown would be a great improvement, for the runner requires to travel over so wide a field, that the letters are seldom received by many in time to be answered in course. There are about two miles of turnpike; and coaches pass daily to and from Edinburgh, Glasgow, and Stirling. The Union Canal also intersects the parish for about two miles and a half; and the projected railway* between Edinburgh and Glasgow, so far as it extends in this parish, will be almost in the line of the Union Canal.
*This railway is now nearly made. It is expected that it will be opened for the passage
of locomotive carriages by August or September next.
Ecclesiastical State.-The present church was built in 1731. It is seated for 607. It is damp, ill arranged, and most inadequate to the wants of the parish. The number of communicants belonging to the Establishment cannot be accommodated in it, for they amount to 749; and the total number of individuals connected with the Establishment, according to the census of 1835, was 2585. Since that period, the proportions have not decreased but increased. Yet how long the present church may stand, it is hard to tell. It cannot be condemned, and by the existing law, all the heritors must agree before a new one can be erected, and, consisting of above thirty, unanimity among so many is not easily attained. In the Redding district, where the destitution is greatest, there is a preaching station. There a probationer of the Church of Scotland has officiated regularly since 1835, in a school-room belonging to the Redding colliery; yet, prior to that period, service was performed occasionally in it on the Sabbath evening by the parish minister. The Dissenters in the parish be-long to the United Associate Synod, the Relief, and the Cameronians, and attend public worship at Falkirk, Lauriston, and Linlithgow. The whole of these, including a few Episcopalians, amount to 503, and the total number of sittings rented in their respective places of worship is 158. There are nineteen persons who profess to belong to no religious denomination. In the village of Bennetstown there has been for upwards of two years frequent service on the Sabbath evening in a school-room, by ministers or preachers of most of the Dissenting denominations in the neighbourhood.
The manse Is in good repair. The glebe consists of five Scotch acres. The garden, with the shrubbery, extends to about an acre more. The stipend is 17 chalders, half meal, half barley, with L. 8, 6s 8d for communion elements
Religious Societies A Bible Society has existed for many years. Since the
dispute between the British and Foreign, and the Edinburgh Bible Societies, its annual
income has never been so large. It now fluctuates from L.6 to L.8.
Education - The parochial teacher receives the maximum salary- L. 34, 4s. 4½ d. The scholars are so numerous, as to render an assistant necessary, who is paid by the teacher- the average number being about 140. The whole emoluments, including the fees of the session-clerkship, exceed L. 100 per annum. This is the fiftieth year of the present teacher, Mr Thomas Girdwood's tenure of office, and no man ever filled it more worthily, or more efficiently discharged its duties. There are other five schools, attended in all by 250 scholars; but the provision for the support of tile teachers, consisting, with one exception, entirely of the school fees, is generally very inadequate.
Of Sabbath schools, there are three, -one taught by the preacher at the preaching station ; one by the teacher at Old Redding, under the superintendence of the minister of the parish ; and another at Polmont by the parochial minister, assisted by the parochial teacher.
Library.-A parish library was instituted in 1820. It contains 840 volumes. While
the novelty lasted the books were eagerly read by the working-classes, for whose benefit
it was intended; but the interest, for some time, has much subsided; and proportionally
the subscribers have been reduced.
Savings Bank.- One of these has existed since 1818. It is chiefly parochial. The deposits are lodged principally by farm-servants. The following is a state of the funds for the last four years.
|January||1835||L. 279, 0s 10d|
|Do.||1836||L. 282, 5s 1d|
|Do.||1837||L. 310, 6s 8d|
|Do.||1838||L. 349, 16s 2d|
|Do.||1839||L. 309, 3s 10d|
There was a benefit society; but, as it was established on faulty principles, the box was broken, and the society dissolved few years ago, in consequence of the payments being inadequate to meet the expenditure, and the rapid diminution of the funds. There are still two societies for defraying funeral expenses.
Poor and Parochial Funds.- The average number of poor on the roll is 37. In 1838, there were 39 regular pensioners. The whole sum divided among them was L.84, 14s. None of them receive above 5s. per month, nor less than 3s. per month. In addition to this sum, there were expended in occasional allowances, L.26, 4s. 5d. The funds are made up of collections at the church doors, proclamation dues, &c. The average amount of collections yearly is L. 78; exclusive of sums gathered for special charities or missionary objects. For the last two years, they have exceeded the usual average ; amounting in 1837 to L. 80, 3s. 7d.; and in 1838, to L.84, 13s. 7d.* The income arising from other sources is very fluctuating. In 1837, it amounted to L. 81, 6s. 8d. ; and in 1838, to L. 42, 8s. 5d. Hitherto the poor have been supported without an assessment,-at least for many years ; and I trust the day is yet distant, when such a mode of providing for their wants must be resorted to, because of the manifold evils which it brings in its train. But much depends on the conduct of the heritors, whether so untoward an event is hastened or retarded, if not altogether averted. Here, as elsewhere, there is a growing disposition to claim parochial aid; and, in consequence of the collieries being wrought so extensively for the last fifteen years, it is not unlikely that the number needing aid will be ere long increased. Then the chief resources at present to supply the necessities of the poor arise from the collections at the church door. But if the church accommodation remains stationary, while the population is augmented, if the means are not afforded for their attendance on public worship, for their being trained up in moral and religious habits, it is more than probable, that, among the baneful effects thereby occasioned, will be an increase of pauperism so great as to render necessary a compulsory mode of relief.
Inns.-Of these, there are three in Bennetstown, and one at Polmont kirk.
The number of taverns or public-houses in the parish is large, and some of them might be
spared, without injury to the comfort, and with advantage to the morals of the people.
Fuel.-It consists almost entirely of coal. Recently the ton cost from 6s.
to 7s. 6d. at the hill. At present the price per ton is 5s. l0d. But even this sum is
considerably larger than the price for the same quantity a few years back.
*It ought to be stated, that, at present, there are two pauper lunatic, for whose
maintenance provision is made by an assessment on the heritors, and the amount of which is
kept entirely distinct from the administration of the funds appropriated to the support of
the ordinary poor.
March 1839, Revised April 1841