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Kirkintilloch Town and Parish
Odds and Ends


The road leading from the Washington inn along the north side of the town to the Kilsyth road, with its bridge over the Luggie, was only made about the end of last century. Previous to that, the whole road traffic passed through Kirkintilloch; and some idea of its magnitude is conveyed, when it was not an infrequent circumstance for a line of carriers* carts to be standing at the one time extending in close array, from where the Washington Inn now is, all the way up East High Street to the Black Bull Inn; besides another lot in the rear at Adamslie; where there was a public-house.

The old ruin still remaining at north Luggie Bridge, just referred to, is all that is left of a cotton mill carried on by Sir John Stirling of Glorat. It was the first cotton mill in Scotland, and no doubt flourished before the inventions of Arkwright and others revolutionised the trade. There was a road to the mill from West High Street at Lady Morson’s, latterly John Allan's property, called Braehead; and long after the mill ceased to work, the Stirlings of Glorat sent a horse and cart along the road to preserve their right of way. Sir John went to America in his youth where he no doubt learned the value of the cotton industry, and he there married before 1771, an American lady, Gloriana, daughter of Samuel Folsome of Stratford, Connecticut. She proved to be a fruitful vine, for she was the mother of nineteen children, the two last being twins. Joseph, one of these twins lived at the Hillhead, and died there not many years ago. Sir John with his large family lived while in Kirkintilloch in the two-storey house next Luggie Green, afterwards occupied by Mr. Peter Neilson and daughters, well known as teachers. Sir John succeeded to the estate of Glorat, and also Renton in Berwickshire, on the death of his father Sir Alexander Stirling.

Mr. Gray was laird of Oxgang about seventy-five years ago, and in these days had “a' the say” about Kirkintilloch and Cumbernauld as well, for he was hand and glove with the Flemings of Cumbernauld. The old road from Kirkintilloch via Meiklehill to the Old Aisle passed in front of Oxgang House so near that persons still living remember Mr. Gray's children playing in front of it. He had influence enough however to get the road diverted, and built the bridge which now stands over the Luggie—and called St Ringan’s bridge—for that purpose—it was built by Charles Robson, mason.

Mr. Gray in draining his land found the stones of the old St Ninian’s church very handy, those of the building above ground were appropriated and taken away long before, but he found sufficient for his purpose by digging out the old foundations. While so engaged, inside of the church the workmen came upon a stone coffin containing the skeleton of a very tall man. Mr. Gray who was present along with a relation who happened to be a man of uncommonly high stature, had the curiosity to apply one of the leg bones of the skeleton to his relative’s limbs to see which was longest, and declared that the dead man must have been the taller—he also said that he was one of the Boyds of Badenheath. One of Mr. Gray’s daughters was married to Mr. Rochead Miller, Duntiblae, and another to Sir Samuel Stirling of Glorat.

Mr. John Watt of Luggie Bank had also the property of Glentore, New Monkland. A neighbour and friend of his at Glentore, a Mr. Clarke, had differed with Mr. Watt about a young lady. The two had been drinking together in an inn and left it in altercation, but Watt being the most quarrelsome. Next morning Watt was found dead, and Clarke was tried for the crime of murder, but was acquitted on the evidence that Watt had deviated from the road to his own house in order to follow up Clarke. Over Watt’s grave a pile of stones was raised, which is known as “ Watt’s Cairn ” to this day. A daughter of Mr. Watt— Mrs. Freebairn—built Glenluggie House, so long occupied by the late Mr. Archibald Gilchrist, iron founder.

It was a saying in the town in old times that there were only two ladies in Kirkintilloch entitled to be called Mrs., except on market days, when there were three. The two were the minister’s wife, and the bailie’s wife, the third being Mrs. Grant, who came to the market from Glasgow on market days, and kept a stall there. Why she was elevated into the title of Mrs. in such a limited aristocracy, was partly due to the tragical death of her son. He was employed in a Glasgow jeweller’s extensive establishment in which was kept a gun of the best make. Probably suspecting peculation, the proprietors set the gun one night, loaded, and arranged with apparatus in such a position that any one entering would receive the contents, and next morning young Grant was found shot dead.

Tradition runs that a lady, from some unhappy circumstances of her life, not specified, died and was buried, but was unable to rest in her grave. She was sometimes seen and heard on dark nights flying through the country, and had a favourite route for her flight. She rose from the back of Woodilee wood, came across by the Old Aisle, down by Kirkside farm, across the mill-dam, thence over the Red-brae where she vanished—her song dying away with her, for she sung during her progress these words •—

“The Woodilee and the Wamphlat, and a* Duntiblae,
And bonnie Johnnie Fleming was laird o’ a* thae.”

A man was going from Adamslie towards Kirkintilloch, on a fine summer day trailing a large branch of a tree along the road, and raising clouds of dust. A party of soldiers overtook him and asked him to stop till they had marched past, but he, paying no heed to their request, the officer in command threatened to inform the magistrate of his behaviour, when he replied, “Ye needna fash, I’m the magistrate mysel’.”

The Broadcroft has been a right-of-way for the public for generations. The late Dr. Marshall’s property was previously held by a Mr. Oswald, and William Knox had a grocer’s shop in the Cowgate where Mrs. Meek’s is now. Dr. Marshall intended to have a road across the Croft to his church and shut off the public, but found this impracticable, as Mr. Knox and others asserted their rights. He then feued the one side of it and fenced off the footpath which forms the lower part, which might indeed be called the Narrow Croft, or Kyber Pass. It is to be hoped that ere long there may be a good street made instead, so that access from the east side of the town to the Cowgate for both pedestrians and vehicles may be such as the wants of the inhabitants require.

The house and shop in East High Street, long occupied by the late Mrs. Robert Hendry, latterly by the late John Mitchell, butcher, and which may be remembered by the shop with its window protruding across the pavement, was the house occupied by the Boyds of Badenheath, and most likely built by them.

The punishment of the pillory existed in Kirkintilloch, although there are no distinct records of it, but there was a space between the jail and the “Blue Tower” where persons

convicted of theft had to stand for a certain time every day, with the articles they had stolen suspended round their necks. They were in charge of David Risk, the town officer, and were subjected to a running fire of jeers from the mob.


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