THE ruined walls of the old
Parish Church of Blackford, and old burying-ground, are beautifully
situated on the top of a high knoll to the north-east of the village,
and immediately above the railway station. From it can be obtained a
fine view of the surrounding country, including a long stretch of the
beautiful Ochil Hills to the south. Below it lies the quiet village of
Blackford, built not in the usual irregular fashion throughout Scotland,
but in two regular parallel streets, from end to end of the village,
with a number of short regular streets or lanes running at right angles
between the two. The south street is the old town of Blackford, and
forms part of the old highway from Perth to Stirling. It was along it
that, on Saturday the 12th day Of November 1715 (167 years ago), the
Earl of Mar, with his army of Highlanders, marched from Auchterarder to
meet the Duke of Argyle, with some 5000 royal troops, in the
neighbourhood of Dunblane, and on the following day fought the stubborn
battle of Sheriffmuir.
Mar left Perth on
Thursday the 1 0th of November, and reached the battlefield on Saturday
night; and on Sabbath the 13th November, about noon, the battle
commenced, and raged so long and furiously that darkness alone put an
end to it. At the close of the day it was hard to tell which side had
gained the victory, which gave rise to the following amusing lines:-
Some say that we wan,
Some say that they wan,
And some say that nane wan at a', man;
But o' ae thing I'm sure,
That at Sheriffmuir
A battle there was that I saw, man.'
I may in passing refer to
what led to this famous battle of Scottish history.
On the death of Queen
Anne in 1714, George, Elector of Hanover, succeeded to the British
crown; but a great portion of the inhabitants of Scotland (notably the
Highland clans) had wished James Francis Edward, commonly called 'The
Chevalier,' instead, and, headed by the Earl of Mar, determined to raise
the standard of revolt, and get this foreigner deposed and their
favourite put in his place. Hence the rebellion of 1715.
Some idea may be formed
of the feeling in Scotland regarding George I. from the following
'Wha the deil ha'e we
gotten for a king
But a wee, wee German lairdie.'
A good many of the houses
in this south street of Blackford are very old, but it has also some
good new buildings; while the north street—which is the more modern part
of the village—has some fine new houses, with two beautiful churches,
the Established and the Free, with handsome spires and clocks, which
give the village quite a smart appearance.
One of the principal
industries of the village is brewing, for which it has long been
celebrated—Blackford ales being well known throughout Scotland. There
are three pretty large breweries, only two of which are at present in
operation; but although they must carry on pretty extensive businesses,
they do not, unfortunately, give employment to many hands.
About a dozen of
hand-loom. weavers, or so, still get occasional employment from
Auchterarder; but as a weaving village, its day has gone by.
Before the introduction
of the power-loom, however, Blackford, like many villages in Scotland,
used to get a weekly supply of webs from Glasgow, which were sent to
agents who gave out the webs to the weavers, superintended the weaving,
and got the cloth returned to the city; and thus employment was given to
very many hands. But this is all changed now. The introduction of steam
and the power-loom have concentrated very much the manufacturing of all
these goods in the large cities, where large public power-loom factories
have been built, the proprietors of which weave goods to any one; and
very extensive manufacturing firms in Glasgow get all their weaving done
there, and are not possessed of a single loom themselves, except for
making patterns on. The proprietors of these establishments are called
'job weavers,' and some of them are possessed of very large premises,
with many hundreds of looms, do a large trade, and are possessed of
considerable wealth. Cloth can be woven in these factories at a mere
tithe of what it used to cost on the old hand-loom; and hence these
small weaving villages throughout Scotland have been ruined, so far as
weaving is concerned.
industry that was at one time carried on very extensively in Blackford,
and gave employment to a great many hands, has now dwindled down to very
small dimensions, and must have told greatly on the prosperity and stir
of the village; and that was the tanning and currying of leather, and
the manufacture of boots and shoes for the wholesale trade of the
country. Although still carried on to a moderate extent, few hands,
comparatively, are now employed, for the bulk of this trade is now
concentrated in steam factories throughout the country, where, with the
aid of the sewing-machine, shoes can be produced at a price that
hand-made goods have no chance with; and hence this industry, like the
and-loom weaving, has suffered greatly in Blackford. From these two
causes it is now a very quiet village, and the first time I paid a visit
to it—in March of this year—I was struck with the great 'silence that
reigned throughout it, and thought it a very rural village indeed.
Though quiet in the village, there s plenty of noise adjoining it,
however; for throughout ,the day, and night also, the 'iron horse' on
the Caledonian Railway (which passes close to the village) snorts away
almost constantly, the number of trains during the twenty-four hours on
this great iron road to the north f Scotland being very great indeed.
The beautiful water of
the Allan passes close to the village, and is (even so near the top of
Strathallan) of considerable size, and is considered a very fine trout-
fishing stream. Danny Burn, from the Ochils, which passes close to the
west side of the village, joins the Allan a little below it. The
foot-road through the Ochils, by Backhill House and the Devon to
Tillicoultry and Dollar, goes up by Kinpauch House, and before the
introduction of the railway was largely used by pedestrians between the
north and south sides of the Ochils.
I have been thus
particular in giving a description of Blackford, from the fact that it
was the birthplace of the writer's grandfather, of whom I will speak
more particularly farther on in this narrative.
From a tablet on the
inside of the north wall of the old church, we learn that the good
people of Blackford had been long honoured in having a baronet for their
minister, one of the ancestors of the present Sir Henry Wellwood
Moncreiff, Bart., of Tuffibole, Fossoway. The inscription runs thus
THE REVEREND SIR WILLIAM
MINR. BLACKFD., ORDAINED 1738.
DIED 9TH DECR. 1767, AGED 61.
MRS. KATHERINE WELLWOOD, HIS WIFE,
WHO DIED 31ST MARCH 1768, AGED 45YEARS
My purpose, however, in
drawing attention to this old church and churchyard of Blackford is more
especially to take notice of a very interesting tombstone (so far as the
writer's relatives are concerned) lying flat on the ground about the
centre of the churchyard, and which, from the date on it (1739), must
have been placed there a year after Sir William Moncreiff, Bart., was
ordained to the parish. I herewith give a rough sketch of this stone,
with that part of the inscription which is plainly readable, the rest of
it, unfortunately, being too much wasted to make clearly out what it is,
although words are still traceable.
The James Miller who was
buried beneath this stone, and who was born at the Mill of Duchally in
the year 1.680 (202 years ago), was the writer's
great-great-grandfather. One of this James Miller's sons was named
James, who had a family of nine children—four sons (named William,
James, John, and David) and five daughters, one of the latter of whom
was named Jean, born in 1746, my grandmother by my father's side, and
who lived in my father's house in Dollar till her death, which took
place in October 1842, she being then in her ninety-seventh year.
KINCARDINE GLEN, DUCHALLY
MILL, AND AUCHTERARDER.
The Mill of Duchally is
in one of the most picturesque glens, perhaps, in Scotland—the beautiful
water of the Ruthven (or, as the Auchterarder folks generally call it,
the Water of Riven') flowing through the centre of it. It is situated
directly south from Crieff Junction railway station, and within ten
minutes' walk of it; but although so near, this really beautiful glen is
almost entirely unknown to the many thousands who daily pass that
station. If its beauties were known, I have no doubt it would have very
many, visitors, for no more lovely spot could be selected for a day's
outing, and for picnic parties enjoying themselves. This deep gorge or
glen of the Ruthven, of some 150 feet deep, and from 700 to 800 feet
wide at the top (called Kincardine Glen from Kincardine Castle, the old
seat of the Duke of Montrose), commences at the north end of Gleneagles,
and runs nearly due east, with the beautiful little stream of pure water
running at the bottom of it, which empties itself into the Earn some
dozen of miles away.
For a good distance above
the mill, and about half a mile below it, the steep sloping banks are
beautifully green, with here and there clumps of fine old trees, forming
quite a romantic scene, and just such a place as one would like to shut
himself in for a day from the bustling outside world. About half a mile
below the mill, the fine policies around Kincardine Castle commence, and
the glen is densely wooded down to the water's edge, and is really one
of the most romantic spots one could wish to see.
On the high ground not
far from the mill, the farm house of The Barns is situated, and here it
was that the Duke of Montrose, when resident in Kincardine Castle, kept
his retainers; and many a struggle would no doubt take place between
them and the Duke of Argyle's clansmen residing at Castle Campbell
(romantically situated in the beautiful glen above Dollar)—a deadly feud
having long existed between the two houses. The distance between the two
strongholds would not be more than a dozen of miles or so, and two roads
were available, one through Gleneagles, and the other by the Borland
Glen. The old road through Gleneagles is still distinctly traceable,
near the bottom of the glen, and on the opposite side from the present
The Miller family of
Duchally Mill and Auchterarder, at the beginning of the eighteenth
century, carried on the trade of wheelwrights, that of making
spinning-wheels for the young brides of those days, for no young wife
thought of taking up house without that most essential piece of
furniture, and the making of them was a trade by itself. At that time
the spinning of yarn was all done by hand, and the wool carded with hand
cards; and thus almost every household carded and spun their own yarn,
and gave it to weavers to weave into cloth, for the clothing of their
households. Then it was that 'homespun' cloths were a reality, and not,
as now-a-days, a name given to a cloth which our manufacturers make in
imitation of them.
What a contrast to all
this now exists at the present day! The introduction of the carding
engine, and the invention of the spinning mule, have completely
revolutionized this old state of matters; and now can be seen in any of
our large factories as many as from 30,000 to 40,000 spindles, spinning
yarn, and each spindle turning off as much as at least five women could
do with the old hand spinning-wheel; thus the production of one mill is
now as great as that of 150,000 to 200,000 hand wheels.
The making of
spinning-wheels by the Millers of Auchterarder gradually developed into
a general wright's and cabinet-making trade, which has been carried on
very extensively and successfully up till the present time. Mr. David
Miller [Regarding Mr. Miller and some others referred to in the
following pages, see Appendix to the First Edition.] (who retired from
the business some time ago) is a great-grandson of the James Miller who
was born in 1680, and Mrs. Tainsh (who is nearly ninety years of age) is
The principal occupation
of the inhabitants of Auchterarder in my young days was hand-loom
weaving, the webs being supplied (as in Blackford) from Glasgow. Now
there are three large factories in the town, which supply webs to those
who still continue at the hand- loom, while they give employment to a
very large number of women at the power-loom, of which there will be
well on for a thousand.
Fifty years ago,
Auchterarder was very poorly supplied with water, and in dry seasons it
had to be carted, in barrels, up from the 'Water of Riven.' They have
now, however, got an abundant supply of fine, pure water, from beyond
the Muir of Auchterarder; and for this the town was very much indebted
to the exertions, along with others, of Mr. David Miller, who took an
active part in getting it introduced, which was done in 1832.
In order to get
information about my progenitors, Mr. Miller and I paid a visit to
Blackford. Churchyard in the month of March of this year; and, after
about an hour's work, in 'Old Mortality' style, succeeded in laying bare
the inscription on the old family tombstone, which turned out to be of
such very great interest to us both. It was covered with green mould of
about half an inch thick.
My grandfather, James
Gibson, was born in Blackford in 1756; and married Jean Miller of
Auchterarder in 1780 or 1781.
As grandfather died in
1819, before I was born, I am indebted for any information regarding him
to my elder relatives. He was a tall, stout man, with reddish hair; very
pushing and enterprising; of an affable and genial disposition, and was
a general favourite with the good folks of Dollar.
Grandmother (who died in
1842) I remember well, as she lived in my father's house till her death.
She had been a most active woman in her day, and to her energy and
business tact their success in after life was not a little indebted.
They commenced business
in two small houses in the old town of Dollar, in the north street that
leads up to Castle Campbell, where Mr. Miller's hail (at present a grain
store) was afterwards built.
Like most country shops
in those days, they dealt in almost everything—groceries, drapery goods,
hardwares, etc.; and, from a very small beginning, their business
gradually extended, and became the principal emporium, for almost
everything, for the district for miles around. With what success they
prosecuted their calling may be judged of from the fact that, in 1806,
grandfather built the large dwelling-house and shop farther down the
village, at present occupied by Mr. Hunter, and where, for forty years,
the business was successfully carried on—first by grandfather, and then
by my father, and, where the writer, and the rest of the family, were
born and brought up.
In those early days, and
before the introduction of spinning machinery, business was very
differently conducted from what it is now, and Mrs. Tainsh has told me
that she remembers well of grandfather coming north to Monzie ('Monee')
market, to buy blankets and plaidings, and calling at Auchterarder on
his way there.
The yarn was spun by the
women of the parish, and also in the Highlands beyond, on their spinning
wheels; woven into blankets and plaidings, and sold in the annual market
held at Mouzie. As a fair specimen of how goods were manufactured in
those early days, and of one of our rural weaving villages at that time,
I may here introduce the account given of Monzie parish in the
statistical account of Scotland, in regard to its manufactures, written
by the Rev. George Erskine, in the year 1792. He says:-' The principal
industry in the parish is that of weaving. They weave all kinds of plain
and tweeled linen, and woollen cloth; and these not only for their own
use, but also for sale; the chief kinds of cloth made by them are
plaiden, linen, and scrims. The plaiden they sell at from 10d. to 14d.
per yard. They make a very large quantity of linen cloth, and bleach it
excellently themselves; it is of various degrees of fineness, and they
sell it at from is. to 4s. per yard. Some families, where there are only
two looms, have made and sold 1000 yards per annum. The scrim is a
narrow linen cloth, of different degrees of fineness, and which they
sell without bleaching it. It is all exported, perhaps for trousers. The
women spin a great deal of yarn, which they make into cloth for sale,
and thus by their industry raise a part of their rent. Number of weavers
in the parish, 54. . . . There is only one yearly market in the parish,
when every house, hut, and shade is converted into a dram-shop ;—it is
held in the middle of August.'
When spinning machinery
was afterwards introduced, plaidings and blankets were manufactured in
Tillicoultry and Alva, and the market for them was changed to Perth; and
thither the manufacturers of our neighbourhood used to go regularly to
dispose of their wares. This market must have been discontinued about
the year 1840; for, after that time, the manufactures of our district
were sold to wholesale houses in the large cities, principally in
Glasgow. When I came to Tillicoultry in 1847, I used to hear many
stories about our manufacturers attending Perth market.
Grandfather had two
sisters and a brother—Margaret and Emily; but his brother's name I have
not been able to find out, nor have I been able to trace clearly what
became of him, further than that he settled somewhere in England, was
married, and had a family, and that two of his daughters once paid a
visit to my late married sister in Stirling, Mrs. Daigleish, which must
have been more than forty-three years ago, as she died in 1839. Margaret
married a Mr. Ritchie, and I can learn of only two of her family—Mr.
William Ritchie of Portobello (I am not aware whether he still survives
or not), and the late Mrs. Whitehead of Perth. Emily married a Mr. John
Lawson of Blackford, who commenced business as a brewer in Glendevon,
and died there, leaving his widow with a large family. After the death
of her husband, grandfather brought his widowed sister and her family to
Dollar, where they afterwards resided in one of his houses, nearly
opposite his own. Her descendants are very numerous at the foot of the
Ochils at the present day—Mr. Edward Moir, Tillicoultry (at present
eighty-three years of age), being a grandson; whilst her
great-grandchildren and great- great-grandchildren are very numerous.
Mr. Lawson draper, Alloa, is a great-grandson.
consisted of three— two sons and a daughter, named William, James, and
Janet, the last of whom died in infancy. Whether my father or Uncle
James was eldest, I have not been able to find out; but, from the record
in my father's family Bible, Uncle James died on the first Sabbath of
July 1812, when quite a young man.
I was not aware, till the
other day, that I am really descended from a wool-spinner (the business
I have now been engaged in for thirty-five years), but an old and
respected native of Dollar informs me that Grandfather Gibson, a Robert
Pitcairn, and John Burns (father of the first Mrs. Peter Stalker—Eliza
Burns) formed themselves into a company, and built the first wool mill
in Dollar; and that one Willie Wilson was the manager. This mill was
situated between the upper bridge and Mrs. Bell's Hall (formerly the
second wool mill), and stood parallel to the burn; and the water for the
wheel of it was brought in a lade from the weir (now entirely
demolished) at the public bleaching-green, down past the foot of the
gardens, where the Castle Walk is now formed. This original mill was
entirely removed when the second mill was built, some sixty years ago.
Like most country mills at that time, it was for carding and spinning
country wool, and the yarn was made into goods—blankets, plaidings,
cloths, etc.— by weavers throughout the village, for the use of the
respective parties who sent in the wool; and thus, in a sense, each
family was its own manufacturer. This practice is still continued in
many country places, and especially in the Highlands, at the present
day, where many thriving country mills are still carried on.
To show the price of wool
at that period, I have learned, on undoubted authority, that Mr. John
Burns bought a Glendevon clip of black-faced wool, one year, at the very
low price of 5s. 6d. per stone (2d. per lb.).
Mr. Burns was, by the
way, like very many in those days, a famous fiddler, and his services
were had in great request on festive occasions.
Having referred to the
public bleaching-green, I may here give a short account of how it was
acquired by the people of Dollar.
In the end of last
century a petition was got up for presentation to the then Lord of the
Manor—the Duke of Argyle—to grant a piece of ground for a public
bleaching-green, and Mr. William M'Leish (the Rev. John M'Leish's
father) was despatched to Inveraray Castle, to present it to his Grace.
After the long and tedious journey was accomplished, and the castle
reached at last, Mr. M'Leish was ushered into the presence of the
butler—a thorough-bred, true-horn Highlandman, and one who would have
fought to the last drop of his blood to uphold the dignity of the house
of the great M'Callum-Mohr. After the usual civilities had passed
between this dignitary and William, something like the following
conversation took place, which the latter ever afterwards used to tell
with the greatest gusto.
WILLIAM (on seeing a pony-phaeton driving in
through the Castle grounds, with a gentleman, dressed in tartan, in it).
'What gentleman will that be?'
DUGALT. 'That, sir, iss a nopleman; that pe
his Grace ta Tuke of Argyle, ant faar apove eny mere shentlemans.'
W. 'But you are surely joking; the great Duke
would never drive in a small phaeton like that!'
D. 'No, sir, I am not joking; and that isa
shust ta Tuke. He hale thirteen graant carriages, but he shooses to trive
in ta wan that you see him in, ant we have no pusiness.'
W. 'But surely he must have few horses when he
drives with a little beastie like that?'
D. 'Few horses! Dit you'l only saw his thirty
graant horses, you neffer see ta like ov them pefore, nor neffer will to
'But surely my Lord would never dress with a common tartan kilt like that
are not to call him "My Lort," for a Tuke isa faar apove a Lort; ant as
for his tress, it las his Grace's pleasure to wear ta kilt; but he hafe
neffer so many peautiful tress, as you neffer see pefore, neffer.'
W. 'Well, well, I must not doubt your word any
longer, but believe that it was really the Duke I saw; and now I would
like to see his Grace, and present the petition I have come with from the
inhabitants of Dollar.'
D. 'Yiss, yiss, I will now take you to ta Tuke's
shamber, but rernemper you are not to say, "from ta inhapitants of Tollar,"
but "from ta Lordship of Campbell;" ant when you leafe ta Take's presence,
you must walk packwards, shust ta same as from ta King's presence.'
Mr. M'Leish was kindly entertained by order of the
Duke; and the result of the interview was that the petition was favourably
received; and in a few weeks word came to Dollar that a free grant, in
perpetuity, was given of the piece of ground petitioned for. The entrance
to this bleaching-green is by the back of the houses on the north side of
When referring to Inveraray Castle, I think it may
not be out of place here, to give a thoroughly characteristic specimen of
the genuine 'Hielan" proclamations that the good folks of the county-town
of Inveraray were at one time called on to listen to. With stentorian
lungs, Donalt, the town-crier, was heard one day making known the
following terrible warning through the streets of the town:-
T--Ahoy ant T—Ahoy again, ant ta—hither
Ahoy—three times!!! Whisht!!!
'If eny person or persons isa caugcht fushin' spoon
ta Loch, or under ta Loch, or through ta Loch, or in ta Loch, she shall pe
persecute with three persecutions. First, she shall pe droont, then she
shall pe purnt, and syne she shall pe hangit. Ant if she'll evermore come
pack again to do ta same thing, she shall pe veesit with a faar waur
We should think there would not be much fishing of
any kind round Inveraray for many a long day after this.
Behind the second wool mill (which is the only one I
remember of) there was a large, deep pond, for run- fling the dirty Waulk
Mill water into; and this was emptied occasionally during the night, and
the burn not polluted when people were requiring water. It was a most
dangerous place for children, although I don't recollect of any one ever
being drowned in it, but many a poor kitten ended its days there. This
mill pond was in the next garden to my father's, and was a well-known
place to us all.
The inhabitants of Dollar were, I believe, indebted
to the Rev. Dr. Mylne for the construction of this pond, and the
preserving to them of their beautiful stream of pure water. Previous to
his coming to Dollar, the dirty Waulk Mill water had been regularly run
into the burn, and greatly polluted it; and against this nuisance the
doctor sent a strongly-worded protest to the manager of the mill, and
insisted on its being stopped at once. Not knowing the calibre of the man
he had to deal with, Willie Wilson sent him back a joking answer, telling
him he didn't see the need of making such an ado about it, and 'that the
water would make fine cream to his tea.' However, he soon found out he had
mistaken his man, and that the doctor was in earnest, and not to be
trifled with, and that some plan must be adopted at once to allay the
wrath of the new priest. Accordingly, the big pond was devised, and
carried into execution; and thus the nuisance was put an end to.
My father had decided to join grandfather in the now
thriving business of general merchants, and after grandfather's death
carried on the business successfully for twenty-seven
years. The shop, during my father's lifetime and for long afterwards, was
where the parlour of the house now is. It was an emporium for almost
everything, and people came from many miles around to it, from Glendevon,
Muckart, Crook-of-Devon, Powmill, Blairingone, Forrestmill, etc.
In the course of his business my
father paid an annual visit to the farmers of the Ochils, and amongst
others with whom he dealt I may mention one or two of the names—Mrs. Low,
of the Borland Glen; Mr. Guild, of Glenquhey; Mr. David Taylor, of the
Eind, above Auchterarder, etc.
For ironmongery goods, such as
grates, fenders, etc., he went always to headquarters,—Carron and
FalkirkIronworks,—and bought at first hand. I remember well of going with
him on one of these visits, when a very little boy; and as there were no
railways in those days, the journey had to be done on foot. It was a very
hot day, and when trudging through the moss between South Alloa and Carron,
we couldn't get a drop of drinkable water, and I was almost on the point
of giving in. How much the present generation ought to prize the
facilities they have for travelling now-a-days; only those who remember
those early times can fully appreciate the immense advantages we now
Dollar is beautifully situated at
the foot of the Ochils, immediately below the ruins of the famous old
stronghold of the Duke of Argyle—Castle Campbell; and although a small
town, is of very ancient date, John Knox having dispensed the sacrament at
Castle Campbell, while the guest of Archibald, fourth Earl of Argyle, in
the year 1556; and Thomas Forrest, vicar of Dollar, being a well-known
character in Scottish history. The bridge over the Devon, about a mile
east from Dollar, where he crossed the stream on his peregrinations
between the monastery at Inchcolm and Dollar, still takes its name from
him—The Vicar's Bridge. The following inscription is on it, and was put
there by the well-known antiquarian, the late John Coventry, Esq. of
Sacred to the memory of THOMAS
FORREST, the worthy Vicar of Dollar, who among other acts of benevolence
built this bridge. He died a martyr, A.D. 1538.
This inscription, however, is a
little misleading, as the actual bridge built by the vicar forms only the
eastern half of the arch. It was a narrow bridge, without ledges, for foot
passengers only; and about eighty years ago another arch was built
alongside the old one, thus widening the bridge, and making it suitable
for conveyances. Low parapet walls were then built, but not proving
sufficient to prevent accidents, the present higher ones were afterwards
Authentic records in connection
with Castle Campbell date even about a hundred years before John Knox's
time, the oldest title-deeds known for it and the lands of Dollar being
dated the 19th of April 1465— four hundred and seventeen years ago. They
were then the property of John Stewart, third Lord Innermeath, and passed
into the possession of the Argyle family in 1481, when Cohn, first Earl of
Argyle, married Isabel Stewart, one of Lord Innermeath's daughters, and
must have got them along with his bride as a marriage dowry. The Castle at
this time went by the name of Castle Glaume (Gloom); but in 1489 an Act of
Parliament of James III. was passed, changing it to Castle Campbell, which
would seem to show that the Argyle family had decided to make it one of
their principal places of residence. How long before 1465 the Castle was
built, there is no authentic record, but it is more than probable it was
two or three hundred years. It continued in the possession of the Argyle
family till 1805 (three and a quarter centuries), when it was sold to
Craufurd Tait, Esq. of Harviestoun, and is now the property of James Orr,
Harviestoun and Castle Campbell
estates were for a great many years in the possession of the Globe
Insurance Company, but were bought by Sir Andrew Orr in the year 1859. Sir
Andrew also bought Aberdona estate in 1860, and that of Sheardale in 1861.
Mr. Gibson, Dollar—the writer's brother—was appointed his factor in 1862,
and continued to hold the appointment till he resigned in favour of his
son, Mr. John. Mr. James Orr, who succeeded to the estates on the death of
his brother in 1874, is now one of the largest landed proprietors in the
county of Clackmannan.
Castle Campbell was burned in 1644
by the Macleans (who formed part of the Marquis of Montrose's army) when
passing along the valley after the battles of Auldearn and Alford, and
immediately before the battle of Kilsyth. And not only was the Castle
destroyed, but all the houses in Dollar and Muckart, with the exception of
one in each place (which were saved through a mistake), the inhabitants of
both parishes being vassals of Argyle.
The Castle is most romantically
situated in Dollar Olen, on a high rocky promontory between the two burns
of Sorrow and Care (or, as they are now called, the Bank and Turnpike
burns), and immediately above the junction of the two, and is so
surrounded by the deep, densely-wooded, rocky gorges, at the bottom of
which the burns run, that no grander scenery is to be found, I believe, in
Scotland. That this is the general opinion throughout the country is fully
borne out by the many thousands who annually visit it, it being evidently
considered one of those romantic sights which must not be overlooked. The
old tower of the Castle, with its walls of some seven or eight feet thick,
shows what a place of great strength it must have been, and before the
introduction of artillery must have been almost impregnable. Tradition
says that Argyle's retainers were away on a foray of their own when the
Macleans attacked and destroyed it, and this seems more than probable, as
a very small number of defenders might, in such a situation and with such
a stronghold, have defied the whole of the Marquis's army.
In my young days, and for long
after, the road to Castle Campbell was by the old cart-road to the north
side of the Ochils, that goes up past the Brewlands (so Iona the abode of
Mr. Alexander Stewart), and through Gleuquhey. At Gloomhill Quarry a
foot-road branched off, down to the bottom of the beautifully-wooded glen;
and, after crossing the Turnpike Burn, the ascent to the Castle was made
up the almost perpendicular brae, by a series of steps worn out of the
turf by the tramp of many hundreds of years. There is now, however, a
romantic walk up to the Castle, through the beautiful glen, the whole way;
and for this the inhabitants of Dollar are indebted, I believe, to the
late Dr. Strachan and Mr. Peter Stalker, who first talked the matter over,
and inspected the ground, with the view of making it, and the inhabitants
afterwards deserve great credit for the spirited way in which their
efforts were seconded; for, by subscriptions, concerts, etc., the handsome
sum of £300 was raised to carry the project out. How well this was done
must be attested by every one who visits the Castle, for every advantage
has been taken of the romantic glen in the formation of the road, and the
view from various parts of it is very fine indeed. To stand on the end of
the long bridge, at the foot of Kemp's Score, and look around, presents a
view that is unsurpassed for grandeur, I believe, anywhere in Britain. The
fine scenery, also, at Sochie—above the Castle— was opened up to the
visitor by the formation of this walk, which was carried as far up as
Nellie's Dell, beyond the fine waterfalls of Upper and Lower Sochie. Until
it was formed, few people in Dollar, I believe, had ever seen these
beautiful waterfalls, or the deep rocky gorge through which the water for
a considerable distance runs.
The first meeting in connection
with this walk was held in the Castle Campbell Hotel on the 9th of August
1864—the late Dr. Strachan in the chair when the following committee was
appointed to arrange for a public meeting:—Mr. Stalker, Dr. Strachan, Mr.
Bradshaw, Dr. Lindsay, Mr. Brown, Mr. Cousin; Mr. Bradshaw, convener.
On the 15th of August 1864, a
public meeting was held, when the following committee was appointed to see
to the proper laying out and constructing of the new path:—Mr. Stalker,
Dr. Strachan, Mr. Bradshaw, Dr. Lindsay, Mr. Brown, Mr. Cousin, Mr.
Westwood, Mr. Horn, Mr. Alexander Wardlaw. Mr. Bradshaw was appointed
secretary, and Mr. Wardlaw treasurer.
The public of Dollar are greatly
indebted to this committee, and to those who were afterwards added to it,
for the great amount of trouble entailed upon them, and the complete
success which crowned their labours. Mr. Westwood, Mr. Stalker, and Mr.
Horn were of great service to the committee in the engineering part of the
work; and Mr. Bradshaw as secretary, and Mr. Wardlaw as treasurer, deserve
special thanks for the extra share of work that fell to their lot. Dr.
Strachan took a keen interest in the carrying out of the scheme, and for a
considerable number of years, and so long as he was able to officiate,
acted as chairman at all the meetings held in connection with it.
The footpath was formally opened
on the 26th of May 1865, when nearly a thousand people assembled on the
ground. At the conclusion of the ceremony, the Dollar Flute Band, which
had been in attendance, proceeded through the streets of the village, and
played a number of favourite airs.
The open-air proceedings were
followed by a supper in the Castle Campbell Hotel—Dr. Strachan in the
chair, Mr. Brown and Mr. Westwood acting as croupiers —when eighty
gentlemen sat down to supper. The evening was spent very pleasantly, and
amongst many other toasts, that of the Lord of the Manor, Sir Andrew Orr,
and of Mr. James Cairns, tenant of Dollarbank, were specially proposed,
and a vote of thanks tendered to them, for kindly giving their consent to
the making of the footpath through the Castle grounds, and those adjoining
From a most interesting speech by
Mr. James Christie about Castle Campbell, I here give the following short
Solitude reigns around, broken only by the dashing
cascade, the caw of the rook, or the merry laugh of some visiting party.
The jackdaw nestles in its towers,
Devoid of every
And spiders spin their airy webs,
Where hung the sword and
The warder's tread no more is heard,
In echoes deep
And in its wild, dismantled ha'
Is hushed the minstrel's
During the course of the evening it was announced from
the chair that, in honour of the occasion, a new song had been composed by
Mr. James Christie, and that it would now be sung by Mr. Deany. It is as
Winsome lassie, will ye go, will ye go, will ye go?
Winsome lassie, will ye go, to the woods o' Castle Campbell?
The Ochils smile in summer dress,
waves her silken tress,
While nature bathes in loveliness
woodland paths o' Campbell.
Winsome lassie, etc.
The burnie dashes doon the glen,
O'er rocky scaur,
where brackens ben',
Or wimples saft by fairy den.
Among the woods
Winsome lassie, etc.
'Sweet scenes o' beauty wait the e'e,
rock, and flower, and tree,
A richer picture conidna be—
glens o' Campbell.
Winsome lassie, etc.
Well roam the Castle's ruined towers,
calm and dewy hours,
When starnies blink frae siller bowers
the woods o' Campbell.
Winsome lassie, etc.
'Let ithers seek for golden gain
On stormy sea or
Content I'll be wi' you—my sin,
Among the woods o'
Winsome lassie,' etc.
Although the new path was now formally opened, the
labours of the committee did not then by any means terminate, but went on
for the long period of nine years, the last committee meeting in
connection with it being held on the 23d of April 1874, and the whole
proceedings were finally brought to a close on the 8th of May 1874, when a
supper took place in the Castle Campbell Hotel, a company of twenty
gentlemen being. present on the occasion.
The original committee had from time to time the
following gentlemen added to its number:—Dr. John Strachan, Mr. James
Christie, Mr. Symmers, Mr. Henry Cadogan, Mr. Charles Davies, Mr. T. S.
Bradshaw, Mr. J. B. Henderson, all of whom seem to have taken a very
active part, along with the original members of committee, in devising
means to raise money for the extinction of the large debt entailed by the
construction of the walk.
Some idea may be formed of the labour of Mr. Bradshaw
in connection with it, when I state that no fewer than seventy-seven
meetings were held from first to last, the minutes of some of which are of
very great length; and that, besides, a very extensive correspondence had
been carried on between the committee and the several parties interested,
the whole of which is engrossed in the minute-book.
The debt was wholly extinguished, and a small balance
of £1, 5s. 9d. left over, which was given to a few of the poor people of
GRANT OF WATER TO DOLLAR.
When finished with this account of the making of this
really most romantic walk to Castle Campbell, I think it would not be out
of place here to refer to an undertaking that has been a great boon to
Dollar, and that was the successful introduction of a bountiful supply of
fine pure water from Dollar Glen, which must have proved an inestimable
blessing to the village. The inhabitants of Dollar are under a deep debt
of gratitude to the late Sir Andrew Orr for giving them a free grant in
perpetuity of this abundant supply of fine water, and thus freeing them
for ever from an expensive water-rate.
It used to be considered one of our great schoolboy
feats to go up Kemp's Score, and, in company with George Gibson (a son of
the janitor's of the Academy), I accomplished it once, but was never
tempted to try it again. My companion got fairly stuck for a time, and
could neither get up nor down; and, considering all further efforts
fruitless for that day, bawled up to me at the top, to go down and tell
his folks to send up his supper, as it was evident to him he must remain
there all night. However, by a last, almost despairing effort, he got over
the difficulty, and reached the top in safety.
Our worthy minister, the late Dr. Andrew Mylne, had the
misfortune to make a slip at the top of 'The Score,' and slid all the way
down to the bottom on his back; and the wonder to every one was how he
wasn't killed on the spot. As it was, he was very much hurt, and his
nether garments were in a woful plight.
A young lady, also, from a neighbouring village, when
visiting the Castle along with two gentlemen, had ventured down a little
bit at the top of 'The Score,' and she, too, shared the same fate as the
Doctor, and was so seriously hurt that she was confined to bed for a
considerable time after it.
Whether Kemp's Score was a natural chasm, or one
quarried out by the inhabitants of the Castle, I suppose no one can tell;
but it must have been of great service to them when the Castle was
besieged, as by it—if provided by wooden steps (as it would very likely
be)—a supply of water could at all times be got, independently of their
I used often to imagine that part of the ground below
the Castle garden had a hollow sort of sound, and that possibly some
subterranean rooms might be in existence there; but no exploration of it
was ever made, although I think it might yet be worth while doing so.
Perhaps some antiquarian friend may persuade Mr. Orr to take the matter
Mr. and Mrs. John Taylor, and a large family, lived for
a very long time in the Castle, in the two rooms at the foot of the stair,
which must have been a very dismal abode to live in; but they were all
very strong and healthy-looking notwithstanding, and seemed to get on
quite comfortably in them. Looking at the whole place and its
surroundings, it is really a mystery how some of the children didn't get
A family is at present living in the Castle, but the
accommodation for them has been very much improved and enlarged since John
Taylor's time. The danger, however, for children is as great as ever, and
must keep the parents very anxious.
The Castle was thoroughly repaired in 1874-75, by the
present proprietor, James Orr, Esq., and may now stand for very many
centuries. Previous to this it was fast crumbling into decay, and in the
course of another hundred years would probably have been a shapeless mass
of ruins. The internal accommodation also, for the family who live in it,
has been greatly enlarged and improved, and no more picturesque spot could
be got anywhere for summer quarters.
The hamlet of Pitgober, about a mile east from Dollar,
and not far from the Vicar's Bridge, was called, it is said Portgober in
days of old, and an anchor, tradition says, was once discovered there,
deeply imbedded in the soil. Whether this be a myth or not, there cannot
be a doubt but that at one time (although at a considerably remote period)
the whole valley of the Devon and the carse lands of Clackmannan and
Stirlingshire were covered to a great depth by the waters Of the ocean,
and that most probably vessels would regularly trade to the inland seaport
of Portgober. In that most interesting book, Ossian on the Clyde, the Rev.
Hateley Waddell clearly proves that the whole valley of the Clyde was at
one time an arm of the sea, and that where Govan and the lower parts of
the city of Glasgow now stand, it was covered to a great depth with water;
and that probably small boats and vessels of light draught could then sail
from Ardrishaig to Crinan with- out the aid of a canal. If this, then, was
the case on the west coast, it would, of course, be the same on the east,
and the towns and villages of those days must have been at a very much
higher level than at present.
That this was the ease is established beyond the
possibility of doubt, from the fact that the skeleton of a whale,
sixty-four feet long, was discovered on Coruton Farm, near Bridge of
Allan; and about seventy years ago one of seventy-two feet long was found
in the 'Moss Park,' on Airthrey estate, not far from Logie Church, and
this park has ever since been known by the name of the 'Whale Park.' This
latter whale is only six feet shorter than the skeleton of the one in the
Museum in Edinburgh, which is seventy-eight feet long, and which was
caught, stranded on the beach near North Berwick, in the year 1826.
On the authority of those who live in the
neighbourhood, there is said to be a very old rusted ring in the front of
the 'Yellow Craig,' above Logie Church, to which, tradition says, vessels
in those ancient times had been moored; but I have not seen it myself,
although a guide in Blairlogie offered one day to take me to it, if I had
had time, which unfortunately that day I had not. It is very doubtful,
however, that it really was used for this purpose, as I am afraid iron
could not last so long exposed to the action of the atmosphere. Sea
shells, however, have been dug up on the top of the 'Yellow Craig,' which
shows the sea to have been at one time there.
Two very worthy brothers, Mr. James and Mr. Adam
Hutton, lived in Pitgober in my young days, and a great intimacy existed
between them and and my father's family. Mr. James worked a small farm,
and many a happy night we spent in his house at the 'Harvest Home,' or
'Maiden,' as we used to call it. His son William served an apprenticeship
in my father's shop, and afterwards commenced a wholesale business in
Glasgow, in the prosecution of which he travelled through the greater part
of England, and pushed very bard to establish a business for himself. He
was cut off, however, when quite a young man. Mr. Adam Hutton was factor
for some of the small proprietors around, and in this capacity acted for a
great number of years for Dr. Paton of Lawhill and Middletown. Mr. Adam
was a bachelor, and lived with his brother. Their house was the farthest
west of the little village.
Another well-known inhabitant of Pitgober in those days
was Mr. Charles Stewart (Charlie Stewart he used generally to be called),
a very pushing small farmer. Charles was 'excellent company,' and I have a
very distinct recollection of a curlers' dinner in the Castle Campbell
Hotel, at which he acted as one of the croupiers, and kept us all in good
humour the whole evening.
Extensive and valuable seams of coal underlie the whole
of Dollar parish, and further east into that of Muckart, and forty to
fifty years ago were extensively wrought. Dollar in those days had a
considerable mining population, and Carbo, in the old town, was built
specially for the colliers. It is as far back as I can recollect of the
Fiddlefield coal-pit being wrought, which was the nearest pit to the
village. Some of the seams of coal crop up to very near the surface, and,
it was said, the folks used to hear the sound of the picks in below their
houses when this pit was wrought. This I can readily believe, for in
Tillicoultry Burn, adjoining Castle Mills, the coal actually comes up to
the surface, and could be got in considerable quantity with very little
trouble in digging.
The Middletown coal-pit was carried on very
successfully for a great many years by Mr. Maxton, with Mr. Snowdowne as
his manager, and the row of houses just under it was then built. The
Apple-yard pit, too, near to Kellybank, was also carried on for a long
number of years.
At the same time that Mr. Maxton had the Dollar coal,
he was lessee of the Tillicoultry coal-pits (the Woodlands, etc.) as well;
and when he left the district, Mr. Snowdowne became lessee, and continued
so for a good many years. They are now in the hands of the .Alloa Coal
When the Devon Iron-Works were in operation (near to
Sauchie Old Tower), the ironstone mines at Vicar's Bridge were extensively
wrought; but the long cartage between the two places must have been a
serious item of expense, and have added greatly to the cost of the
finished iron. The mineral water got in these mines was at one time quite
celebrated throughout the kingdom for its healing properties, and sent to
all parts of the country. This was discovered from one of the miners
having got a severe flesh wound, which was quickly healed by working
amongst the water. The entrance to these mines is now entirely closed up.
Now that the railway has. got within a few hundred yards of them, however,
they may again probably be opened up.
A good story is told in connection with the Middletown
coal-pit. A Mr. Lachlan M'Intosh (or 'old Lachie,' as he used to be
called), an Excise officer in Dollar, got frequently and seriously 'on the
spree,' and was a well- known character in the district. Well, in one of
his drunken 'bouts' he had somehow wandered down the stair of this
coal-pit, and, lying down on the stair, fell sound asleep. On some of the
colliers coming up from their work, Lachie was discovered, and, a happy
thought striking them, he was at once hoisted on one of their backs, and
carried down into the workings. After sleeping off his carousal, he was
horrified to find himself, on awaking, in some dreadful place of darkness,
with lights flitting about in all directions, and as at once seized with
the most dreadful forebodings. Coming forward at the moment, a black
creature, with a light on its head, paused before him, and in stern
language demanded, 'Who are you, sir?' when Lachie dolefully replied, 'I
was a gauger in the last world, but I dinna ken what am gaun to be in
this.' We can easily imagine what a relief it would be to him when he got
back to terra firma again.