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The Anecdotage of Glasgow
Harvie's Dye Warfare and popular triumph


THE famous "Harvie’s Dyke" was erected about seventy years ago by Thomas Harvie, then proprietor of Westburn, for the purpose of blocking up the footpath along the margin of the Clyde, from Glasgow to Carmyle, which had previously been in possession of the public from time immemorial. Great indignation was, of course, excited at the time by the encroachment upon popular rights. Indignant articles, letters, and pasquinades appeared in the local journals, and at length, in the summer of 1823, the ire of the citizens was roused to such a degree that a numerous party, principally composed of weavers and other operatives from Bridgeton and Parkhead, armed with pickaxes and crowbars, laid siege to the obnoxious barrier and levelled it with the dust.

Passing afterwards in triumph to the opposite extremity of the Westburn estate, which was likewise defended by a strong wooden palisade, they continued the work of destruction by setting it on fire. While engaged in this patriotic, though certainly illegal operation, intelligence was brought to the excited crowd that a party of dragoons, who had been sent for, were approaching, when an immediate dispersion ensued. Several of the ringleaders were afterwards apprehended and sentenced to various periods of imprisonment for their share in the transaction. The wall was speedily rebuilt, and for several years thereafter the thoroughfare was completely suspended.

Thanks, however, to the public spirit of certain gentlemen connected with the city, among whom were the late Mr. George Rodger, of Barrowfield Printworks, Sandy Rodger, the poet, and Mr. Adam Ferrie (who subsequently went to Canada), the warfare was resumed in the courts of law. Subscriptions in support of the popular cause were liberally forwarded by all classes of citizens; and, after a lengthened litigation, the case was finally terminated by a decision of the House of Lords in favour of the right of passage. The estate afterwards passed into other hands, and as no attempt at let or hindrance has since been made, the public continue to enjoy the right of passage along the beautiful bank by which the arable portion of the land is encompassed.


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