regarding the past conditions of the people of any community is
rightly held to be of interest and importance to their successors.
The knowledge so gained not only enables the present to be compared
with its former state, and so discover what improvements, if any,
have been effected in the economics of the district in the interval;
but it further helps us to discern the trend of the improvements,
and even to some extent, prognosticate the future of the people. The
information thus desiderated for one of the most important periods
in the history of our community, is so far supplied by the subjoined
extract from Fowler’s Commercial Directory of the Upper Ward of
Renfrewshire for 1830.
From it we obtain a glimpse into the general condition of the parish
about eighty years ago, and discover how vast have been the
improvements affecting every phase of social life, all having for
their object the elevation, prosperity, comfort, and general
betterment of the people.
Indeed, nothing could be more striking in this respect. The postal
facilities and travelling arrangements have been quite
revolutionized (the Darlington and Stockton Railway, the first oil
which steam locomotives were used in England, had been opened only
five years before, 1825); the press has been freed from its fetters;
the telegraph and telephone with all their marvellous adaptations,
have been introduced; industries unrepresented at the beginning of
the period, now give employment to thousands of the inhabitants;
whilst in common with the rest of Scotland, education, which was
then left to the indifference of parents, is now established on such
a basis as guarantees the blessed advantage to every child born into
the community. These changes all indicate that the parish has not
simply been marking time, but, on the contrary, that it has kept
pace to the full with the enormous strides that have everywhere in
the kingdom characterized the great Victorian era.