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Borrowstounness and District
Chapter XIX. Conclusion—Educational: Industrial

1. Borrowstounness a Plague-infested Town in 1645 : Special Committee to Prevent Spread of Pestilence: Their Powers and Regulations : Erection of "Gallases" by Magistrates of Linlithgow: An Outspoken Skipper Gets into Trouble : Customs Revenue, 1654: Proposed Bridge over the Avon, 1696—2. Defoe's Visit to and Description of the Town, c. 1726: Jacobite Soldiers on Borrowstoun Muir, 1745: Their Depredations: Visit of the Poet Burns, 1787, and his Impressions—3. Population of Parish between 1755 and 1841: Longevity of Inhabitants: History of Custom House : Shipping Returns to Admiralty for 1847 and 1848 : Grain Trade—4. Tambouring and Silk-spinning : The Greenland Whale-fishing: The Whaling Vessels and their Officers : Sailing and Home-coming of the Fleet Described : The Boiling House at the Wynd: The Fire: End of the Industry: 5. Bo'ness Pottery: Its Various Owners: The Ware Produced: Extent of the Works : Character and Customs of Potters—6. The Soapwork, Flaxdressing Factories, The First Iron Foundry: Links Sawmill and Woodyard, Ropework: The Distillery: The Kinneil Furnaces: The Snab and Newtown Rows: Kinneil Band : Carriden Band—7. The Carting Trade : Tolls and Tollbars—8. Educational: Schools and Schoolmasters in Carriden—9. Those of Bo'ness: The Notorious Henry Gudge : Kinneil School—10. The Care of the Poor : Interesting Facts and Figures: The Resurrectionists — 11. The Cholera Outbreaks: Carriden Board of Health: Its Instructions to the Inspectors—12. Foreshore Reclamation Schemes: Formation of Local Company of Volunteers, 1859: The Burgh Seal and Motto.


In this chapter we conclude by gathering up a number of historical facts which lie scattered throughout the three centuries embraced by the present narrative.

Notwithstanding every precaution Borrowstounness. became a plague-infected town in 1645. So much so that the Scottish Parliament1 appointed a Special Committee to prevent the spread of the pestilence. / Many persons succumbed; and because the seaport was then the resort of many people from Linlithgow, Falkirk, and other places the danger of the plague spreading throughout the country was considerable. Full power was given to the Earl of Linlithgow, Lord Bargany, Sir Robert Drummond of Midhope, John Hamilton of Kinglass, John Hamilton, chamberlain of Kinneil; the Provost and Bailies of Linlithgow, and others, or any three of them to meet at Linlithgow, or any other place, at such times as were necessary to cause Borrowstounness to be visited and inspected, and to do everything requisite. Strict "bounds" were prescribed the people of the Ness, and they were specially enjoined " not to come furth thereof without their order under the pain of death." It may be mentioned that these Commissioners had power, should any person disobey their commands, " to cause shoot and kill them." The Provost of Linlithgow, and in his absence any of the bailies, was to be convener of the rest "upon emergent occasion." But the people of the infected seaport did not respect either the commands in the Act or the regulations of the Committee, and the magistrates of Linlithgow considered that an "emergent occasion" had arisen, for we find2 that they "ordaint the Maister of Wark to erect twa gallases—ane at the East Port, the other at the Wast Port, and gar hang thereon all persons coming frae Borrowstounness and seeking to enter the town." No doubt this summary procedure had a restraining effect on the defiant spirits from the Ness, and we do not expect it would be necessary to adorn either of the "gallases" with any victims. On the recommendation of the Committee, Parliament at a later stage ordained that a collection be made in the shires of Linlithgow and Stirling for the sufferers in Borrowstounness.

In the troublous times of the Civil War, which resulted in the beheading of King Charles I. and of his loyal henchman, the first Duke of Hamilton, one local shipmaster got into trouble for speaking his mind. The matter came fully before the Kirk Session, and also the Estates in Edinburgh. The latter body found it "cleirlie pro vine that John Watt, skipper, had uttered some disgraceful speeches against certain of the ministers of this kingdom, affirming that they had been accessory to the death of the King." Watt was ordained to pay £100 Scots to the Kirk Session of Borrowstounness; and "the chairges of the witnesses" who went to Edinburgh and were examined about the speeches uttered by him were to be " payt them aff the first end of the said hundreth punds." Watt was also ordained to acknowledge and confess before the congregation of Borrowstounness that he was "a lier" in uttering them; also to find a surety who would become bound with him that he would never do the like again. A perusal of the old Scots Acts reveals, among other things, that the Parliament in 1655 fixed the salaries of the officers of Customs and Excise, and it is incidentally mentioned that the receipts for these branches of revenue for October, November, and December, 1654, were estimated at £382 0s. 4£d.; also that in 1701 it considered a "petition of the poor seamen of Borrowstounness who served in the Soots frigate commanded by Captain Edward Burd for payment and relief from the cess imposed on the town and for redress for wrongs committed by William Cochrane of Ferguslie "; and, further, that in 1706 an address against the Union was signed and submitted by several of the inhabitants. But perhaps the most interesting thing to be found is the authority which the Parliament granted in 1696 " for the building of a bridge at Borrowstounness over the Avon and a wall enclosing the road to it through the grounds of the Earl of Arran," and it also fixed the bridge toll. This proposal emanated from the seaport during its first period of commercial prosperity. At that time a very large quantity of the imports were taken by pack horses to the west. The only suitable road was by way of Linlithgow, and this involved the payment of Customs dues to that town. The new bridge, it was thought, would avoid these, and also give a more direct means of communication with the west. The Burgh of Linlithgow protested against the scheme, and apparently some of the inhabitants of Borrowstounness also petitioned against it. Whether the funds were not forthcoming, we know not, but the proposal was not carried into effect.


We must not omit to chronicle that one of the earliest descriptions of the Ness is from the pen of Defoe, celebrated as an English pamphleteer and politician, but more known to fame as the author of "Robinson Crusoe" (1719). His first visit to Sootland occurred in the year 1706, and lasted for twelve months. He was then on a mission to promote the Parliamentary Union of the two countries. In after years he was frequently in Edinburgh, and his impressions of it and the other Scottish towns which he visited are recorded in his "Tour Through Great Britain" (1724-26). In this volume he writes, "Borrowstounness consists only of one straggling street, which is extended along the shore close to the water. It has been, and still is, a town of the greatest trade to Holland and France of any in Sootland, except Leith; but it suffers very much of late by the Dutch trade being carried on so much by way of England. However, if the Glasgow merchants would settle a trade to Holland and Hamburgh in the firth by bringing their foreign goods by land to Alloa, and exporting them from thence, as they proposed some time ago, 'tis very likely the Borrowstounness men would come into business again; for, as they have the most shipping, so they are the best seamen in the firth, and are very good pilots for the coast of Holland, the Baltic, and the coast of Norway."

During the Jacobite Rebellion of 1745 a portion of the Pretender's army on its way to the east country encamped three nights on the Common or Muir, which lay to the south of the thriving village of Borrowstoun. The village had a considerable population of weavers, brewers, and agricultural labourers. In fact, it is said that it contained four breweries about that time. The Highlanders during their sojourn there made free, like Mr. Wemmick, with everything portable. When remonstrated with by the irate villagers for plundering their fowls, meal, milk, and butter, the soldiers offered the oonsolation that they would bring them "a braw new King." Many of the inhabitants were so alarmed at the wanton depredations that they buried their valuables in their gardens. Instructions and warrants had been sent on different occasions through the Custom-house here to the Sheriff of Linlithgow, the magistrates of South Queensferry, and the bailie of Borrowstounness regarding suspected persons and ships. The Custom-house then contained a number of broad-sword blades and cutlasses, which formed part of a shipment from Germany. So when here the rebels conceived the idea of plundering the building, because they were very indifferently provided with arms. On the Sunday morning they marched down, with their pipers in full play, to the east end of North Street, where the Custom-house was then situated, and succeeded in carrying off some of the weapons and other articles. The morning after their departure from Borrowstounness a small silver box, shaped like a heart, was found on the Muir by the great-grandfather of James Paris, Deanforth, in whose possession it now is. The workmanship is chaste, and in the centre of the lid there is a fine Scotch pebble. The curiosity looks like an old-fashioned snuffbox, although the opinion has been expressed that it had probably been used for holding consecrated wafers. In considering this view it is useful to remember that many of the Prince's followers consisted of Roman Catholic Highlanders, who, though rude and turbulent, were devoted to the ceremonial rites of their religion.

In August, 1787, the poet Burns left Edinburgh on a tour to the Highlands in company with his friend Nicol, one of the maeter of the High School of Edinburgh They first journeyed to Linlithgow, then to Bo'ness, and from there to Falkirk and Carron. His diary contains this entry, "Pleasant view of Dunfermline and the rest of the fertile coast of Fife as we go down to that dirty, ugly place, Borrowstounness; see a horse race, and call on a friend of Mr. Nicol's, a Bailie Cowan, of whom I know too little to attempt his portrait." Mr. Cowan was the Duke's baron-bailie. He lived for a time in the old mansion-house of Gauze, and later at Seaview. It would seem that he was in the latter house at the time of the poet's call. In front of it there was then a fine stretch of open shore ground, upon which horse racing often took place, and it was doubtless from the bailie's house that Burns watched the sport. From his references to the view of Dunfermline and the dirtiness of Borrowstounness it is thought that Burns travelled from Linlithgow by the easter road, and came along to Seaview through Grangepans and Bo'ness. The place apparently damped his poetic ardour, for he did not leave any effusion upon a window pane or elsewhere. By the time he arrived at Carron the muse had returned. The visit to the famous ironworks was made on a Sunday, and admission was refused. Whereupon on a window pane of an old inn near by he scratched—

"We cam' na here to view your warks In hopes to be mair wise, But only, lest we gang to hell, It may be nae surprise; But when we tirl'd at your door, Your porter dought na hear us; Sae may, should we to hell's yetts come, Your billy Satan sair us."

To this a Mr. Benson, at that time employed at the works, and the father-in-law of Symington, the inventor of steam navigation, penned the following reply:—

"If you came here to see our works, You should have been more civil, Than to give a fictitious name In hopes to cheat the Devil.

Six days a week to you and all We think it very well; The other, if you go to church, May keep you out of hell."


The following figures4 regarding the population of the Parish of Borrowstounness are noteworthy: —

In 1755 it was - 2668
In 1795, town, 2613; oounty, 565, - 3178
In 1801, exclusive of 214 seamen, - 2790
In 1811, exclusive of 184 seamen, - 2768
In 1821, exclusive of 158 seamen, - 3018
In 1831,............2809
In 1841,............2347

A table compiled with much care from the register of deaths for a period of twenty-five years immediately preceding 1834 shows the number of deaths was 1342. During that time 167 persons died between sixty and seventy years of age; 227 between seventy and eighty; 119 between eighty and ninety; and 11 upwards of ninety. The town, in fact, was remarkable for the healthiness and longevity of its inhabitants.

Subjoined is a list5 cf the local mechanics in 1796, exclusive of journeymen and apprentices—

Bakers, - - - -


Masons and Slaters,






Blacksmiths, -








Clock and Watchmakers,


Joiners, Glaziers, Cart-wrights, &c.,




Also one surgeon, one writer, one brewery in the town, and one distillery in the parish.

The Custom-house was removed here from Blackness through the influence of the Hamilton family; and the first ledger of the " Port of Borrowstoun Ness " commences on 26th December, 1707. About the year 1796 Grangemouth, South Queensferry, North Queensferry, St. Davids, Inverkeithing, Limekilns, Torry, and Culross were all attached to the Customhouse here. The annual revenue received, excluding these creeks, averaged £4000; and the salt duty amounted to about £3000. Altogether the number of officers employed in the Custom-house business was forty-four. On the 1st December, 1810, Grangemouth was erected into a separate port. Thereafter the area of Bo'ness district and the staff employed were gradually reduced. In 1845 there was one collector, one comptroller, and one tide-waiter, and eight others at the creeks still remaining part of the establishment. Now, the port and district of Borrowstounness includes the Firth of Forth from the right bank of the river Avon to the left bank of Cramond Water and midway to the stream. The establishment consists of a collector and eight officers.

The following returns for two years were sent to the Admiralty from Bo'ness: —

The corn trade, both British and foreign, was very considerable. There were three large granaries and some smaller ones in 1796, with accommodation for upwards of 15,000 bolls. Any rooms which were in repair in the old Town House at this time were also used as granaries.


Some mention must now be made of local industries and manufactures other than coal mining, salt making, and shipbuilding, which have already been considered. Many of the women in the town and the country around earned a comfortable subsistence in the early years of last century by tambouring and spinning silk. The latter was spun from the waste of Spittalfields' manufacture, which was sent by sea from London to agents here. They afterwards returned the yarn to be manufactured into stockings, epafrlets, and other things. Tambour work was extensively employed for the decoration of large surfaces of muslin for curtains and similar purposes. Much work was done for the West Indies, consisting principally of light, fancy goods. Many a Bingle woman and many a widow depended solely on tambouring for their living.

What was known as the "long strike" occurred about seventy

Henry Bell

years ago. The dispute was between the laird of Grange and his miners, and the stoppage lasted six months. At that time Mr. Cadell was heard to say, and with some little force, "If it had not been for the wives of the miners tambouring the men would have given in long since." It was fine work, and some of the colliers' wives and those of the sailors were dexterous hands at it. They could make as much as 2s. 6d. per day at the frame. All the light these workers had at nights was got from a collier's lamp placed in the middle of a saucer, and great were the fears of the women folks lest the lamp was upset on the frame. In time pattern weaving was brought to resemble tambour work so closely that it largely superseded it, and the old frames were finally laid aside.

About the middle of the last century the Greenland whale fishing was taken up locally for the second time, and developed to a much greater extent than before. There are only a very few alive now who remember this period. Still we occasionally hear of the narratives of the old sailors and harpooners concerning their trips to Greenland and Iceland, and their perilous encounters in these Arctic regions. The port was the home of many well-known whaling ships, notably the " Success." The popular refrain with the Bo'ness people applicable to this vessel was, " We'll go in lucky Jock Tamson's flhip to the catching of the whale." Besides the "Success" there were the " Home Castle," the " Rattler" (Captain Stoddart), the "Juno" (Captain Lyle), the " Larkins" (Captain Muirhead), the " Alfred " (Captain William Walker), and the "Jean" (Captain John Walker). The officers on board the "Jean " were William White, Alexander Donaldson, John M'Kenzie, and John Grant. A line coiler was paid at the rate of £2 19s. per month. Each whaler carried a crew of fifty, and was away many months at a time. The men during the whaling were required to man the small boats which set out with their harpooners to the capture of the whales. Sometimes their prize would be so large as to require six small boats fully manned to tow it to the whaling ship. The harpooners were looked upon with great pride by their comrades.

Occasionally they suffered a galling experience when they failed to hit their mark, or when, after doing so, the line broke and the whale got away. Harpooner J. M'Kenzie, of the "Jean," had once an experience of the latter nature which had a curious sequel forty years afterwards. The "Terra Nova," of Dundee, captured a whale in which his harpoon was found. The harpoon bore the name of the maker, William Cummings, blacksmith, Kinneil, and the year 1853. It was handed over by the owner of the "Terra Nova" to the Dundee Museum. The late John Smart Jeffrey, Bo'ness, succeeded in getting the harpoon on loan, and exhibited it here for a month. Before returning it he had a facsimile cast for preservation.

There were always great ongoings attached to the sailing of the whalers, and particularly the "Jean." Women came down from the mills at Linlithgow, and sailors' wives and sweethearts were all on the quay. The sailors generally had a new rig-out of canvas trousers and jumper and blue bonnets with double ribbons. Before sailing, cannon were loaded, and whenever the Bails were set the ships sailed away amidst cheers and the booming of the cannon, which made the town shake. The cannon used on board for the whaling were made by the Carron Company, and were about half the size of the field-piece now mounted in Victoria Park. About eight months later the return of the sailors was anxiously looked for, as much by the townspeople as by their own friends. The first intimation the inhabitants received of their homecoming was the boom of cannon, which rent the air, as the whalers sailed up the Firth. The whole population again turned out to welcome them, and for weeks after their arrival the sailors entertained their friends and acquaintances with long stories of their sufferings and hairbreadth escapes on the ice. We can quite understand that the sailors had to overcome many hardships, and not the least of these was scurvy. This was caused by their having to live so long upon salt meat.

There were two boiling-houses in the town, where the oil was boiled and made ready for sale. Latterly the principal one was at the top of the Wynd. Many of the whaling sailors were employed here during the off season. There were two large copper pans from 15 to 20 fpet long and 12 or 14 feet broad. These were sunk in the ground, and fired from below. The blubber was kept at boiling heat, and constantly stirred by two men until the whole oil was boiled out. It was then run off through the large taps in each boiler into casks. All refuse was carted away to the seashore. The men who saw to the tanks and the boiling of the oil were the harpooners. The boiling-house was owned by a company of seven gentlemen, some of them local and some of them from Edinburgh, with John Anderson as its leading spirit. A great fire occurred in the premises nearly sixty years ago. No one knew the cause of the outbreak. It was discovered at nine o'clock at night, and raged with great fury until midnight. As it happened, there was a large quantity of oil in barrels in the building. At considerable risk a good many of these were rolled out into the Wynd and through into the manse grounds by the gate opposite. The burning oil streamed down the Wynd, and caused much consternation. Nothing could be done to save the place, as there was no water available. Indeed, at this time it could scarcely be had for domestic purposes. The premises were gutted, but were shortly afterwards reconstructed on similar lines. A new copper boiler, 12 feet by 6 feet, was fitted up in the north-west corner of the building, and several cast-metal coolers put in on the north side. Whaling, however, soon came to prove unremunerative, and was given up by Mr. Anderson. The "Jean" was turned into a merchant trader, and was lost in the Baltic; and shortly after Mr. Anderson's death, in September, 1870, the plant and furnishings at the boiling-house were sold by auction.


As already stated, the indefatigable Dr. Roebuck, in the year 1784, established the pottery in which for the next century was conducted one of the most important local industries. This gave Bo'ness a very wide reputation for the manufacture of many useful kinds of pottery ware, and it also created a new ciass of workers in the town. The manufacture of hardware is still continued on an extensive scale in two large new potteries in Grangepans. But the old Bo'ness Pottery, with which we are now to deal, was finally closed, and the works sold fourteen years ago. The pottery passed through the hands of a number of proprietors after Dr. Roebuck. Among these were Shaw & Son, with Robert Sym as managing partner; the Cummings, James Jamieson & Co., and latterly John Marshall <fc Co. A hundred years ago it employed forty persons, including men, boys, and girls. The clay for the stoneware was imported from Devonshire, but the clay for the earthenware was found in the parish. Cream-coloured and white stoneware, plain and painted and brown earthenware were the articles principally manufactured. Seventy years ago the buildings consisted of two kilns on the south side of the Main Street and two on the north. These employed from eight to ten kilnmen. The pottery buildings and kilns occupied all the available space on the north, for the tide then came far up into what is now reclaimed ground. In Mr. Jamieson's time the business was greatly extended, and printers and transferers* were imported from Staffordshire. On his death the business was found to be insolvent, and the Redding Coal Company, who were the principal creditors, took possession for a time. Ultimately a settlement was arranged, and the works were sold to Mr. Marshall, who retained the old manager. Under the new proprietor the business flourished. Ground was rapidly reclaimed, the material for this purpose being carted from the Schoolyard pit. As the ground was filled in, kilns and workshops were added. Mr. Marshall was enterprising, and introduced machinery in every department. Almost every variety of stone and earthenware was now manufactured.

The potters in the days of the Cummings were less respectable in character than what they afterwards became. They had not much reputation for good behaviour and sobriety, as is illustrated by the following story: —A deformed woman, belonging to the town, was unfortunate in not getting a husband, and her somewhat chastened solace on the subject was, "I daursay I'll just hae tae tak' a potter yet." Drinking bouts were frequent within the premises, and at times the main gate had to be locked to prevent drink being taken in. This led to strategy on the part of the potters within. Sometimes, with the aid of accomplices outside, bottles were pulled up to the windows by cords. At others it was smuggled in in a water can. The pottery boys also were often despatched for liquor in many a secret and curious way. But this debauchery was in time rooted out of the works. Mr. Marshall did everything in his power to encourage intellectual and moral culture in his workpeople. As an evidence of this he gave his support to a reading-room and other facilities for the cultivation of the mind. This was established in the house of William Cummings, and was confined to potters. It was carried on for many years with great success. The contribution was one penny per week. Mr. Marshall assumed William M'Nay as a partner, and he likewise took a keen interest both in work and workpeople. The place therefore continued to prosper for many years. At length its trade sadly declined, and the works were ultimately closed.

The potters formed a conspicuous part of the Annual Fair Procession of a past generation, and even down to thirty years ago. The men made a fine display, dressed in white trousers, white apron tied with blue ribbon, and black coat and tall hat. They carried specimens of their ware in the shape of model ships and model kilns, and there was also a brave display of Union Jacks and ships' flags. The first passenger train to leave the town, more than fifty years ago, it is noteworthy, carried the potters on their first excursion.

In the Scottish Exhibition, Glasgow, of 1911, several specimens of the ware manufactured in Bo'ness Pottery in its early days were on view.


During the eighteenth century a soapwork and two considerable manufactories for dressing flax flourished in the town. They are defunct long ago. The soapwork waa situated in the vicinity of the present Albert Buildings. It was owned by John Taylor, who was known as "Saepy Taylor." It employed six men, and paid annually to the Government about £3000 in duty. For the first fifty or sixty years of the same century Borrowstounness was a great mart for Dutch goods of all kinds, particularly flax and flax seed. Very large quantities were imported both for dressing and selling rough. But as the manufactures of this country advanced so as to increase the demand for Dutch flax, the traders and manufacturers in other places imported direct into their own ports, and in consequence the trade here declined.

What we believe was the first of the many ironfoundries to be found in the town in the nineteenth century was started about the year 1836. It was originally carried on under the firm-name of Steele, Miller & Company, and afterwards came to be known as the Bo'ness Foundry Company, which is still its designation. The founder of the firm was Robert Steele, who prior to settling in Bo'ness was a traveller for the Shotts Iron Company. Miller was a moulder to trade, and he was assisted in the practical work by James Shaw. It also gave employment to several other workmen, and for many years a considerable business was carried on.

At the east end of the town there existed about the same time an extensive bonded woodyard, as well as an open woodyard on the Links. Connected with them, and driven by steam, was a sawmill containing both circular and vertical saws, and a very ingenious and efficient planing machine. The same steam engine moved machinery for preparing bone manure. This sawmill and woodyard are still in existence, but on a much larger scale. On the south side of the Links there was also a rope work on a small scale, but the ropemaking was abandoned over twenty years ago.

The Bo'ness Distillery, at the west end of the town, has been in existence for nearly a century. Writing in 1845, the Rev. Mr. M'Kenzie described it as an extensive establishment even then. The revenue paid to Government, he says, including malt duty, was sometimes considerably over £300 per week. It was at that time working on a limited scale, producing only spirit of superior quality. For a time it was owned by the firm of Tod, Padon & Yannan, and afterwards by A. & R. Vannan. In 1874 it was purchased from them by James Oalder. It is now the property of James Calder & Co., Limited, and with its attendant manufactories of by-products is a very large concern indeed. We learn from recent figures that there is a weekly output of 50 tons of yeast, 25,000 gallons of spirits, and 300 tons of grains for cattle feeding; also that the duty last year on the firm's production amounted to £1,000,000 sterling.

With the collapse of the local canal scheme the seaport fell on evil times. The return of better days, however, was heralded in 1843 by the starting of Kinneil furnaces by John Wilson of Dundy van. He was an ironmaster of repute in the west, and his proposal to exploit the ironstone in this district was hailed with delight. Had Dr. Roebuck but realised the value of these seams when he was lessee of the colliery he might have been saved all his financial troubles and losses. The furnaces were four in number, and were situated on the high ground about a mile west from the town. For many years, when in full swing, they were a commanding feature in the landscape, especially in the night. The iron at that time was melted with the hot-air process, and the tops of the furnaces were open. Great columns of flame sprang towards the heavens, lighting up the Firth and the surrounding district for miles. Bo'ness was then poorly lighted, and it is said that the glare materially assisted to illumine the dark places of the town.

Mr. Wilson, who when here lived in the Dean, had the reputation of being an excellent business man and most approachable. He was a Liberal in politics, and contested the county against Lord Lincoln, the Conservative. Wilson was no speaker, but the election was keenly fought, and he only lost the seat by seven votes.

One of the managers for John Wilson & Co. at Kinneil was Mr. John Begg, a grand-nephew of the poet Burns. He lived at the Dean for many years, and took an active share in the government of the town. After his death, in 1878, the manufacture of coke was established on an extensive scale. Eventually the ironworks were closed down, and have since fallen into decay. The remains of the furnaces and coke ovens are still to be seen. It should be stated that the erection of the furnaces led to the building of the Snab or Kinneil Rows for the accommodation of the miners and other workers employed. This contract was in the hands of James Brand, and its execution caused considerable stir about the place in several employments. The Newtown Rows on the Linlithgow Road were also built about the same time, largely by William Donaldson, mason. Another thing connected, in a sense, with the furnaces was the institution of Kinneil Reed Band on the 30th of June, 1858, the inaugural meeting being held in the Old Schoolroom at Newtown. All the members were connected with Mr. Wilson's ironworks, hence the reason of the name. On the roll of original members were eight of the name of Sneddon, six Robertsons, two Grants, and two Campbells. On Christmas Eve, 1858, in response to an invitation from Captain William Wilson, the band proceeded to his residence at the Dean. They played in their best style, and the captain expressed himself as highly pleased with their performance, and entertained them to supper. Bo'ness and Carriden Band was instituted in the same year. Its members, again, were mostly connected with the Grange Colliery. This band has made a great name for itself, and has perhaps been more conspicuously successful as a musical combination than any band in Scotland.

there was abundance of work for the carting contractor driving the parrot coal from the pits to the quay and the iron from the furnaces. The iron was known to be carted to the quay at as low a charge as 9d. per ton, although the ordinary rate-was Is. It was shipped to the Continent. The leading carters in the town at that time where William Kinloch, the-Edinburgh carrier, and James Johnston, the Glasgow carrier, and James Gray. Thomas Thomson and his father, in-Grangepans, also did a large share of that work, and, while-the Thomsons had the honour of carting away the first pig-iron turned out at Kinneil, their principal work was in carting the barley which arrived by boat from the north for the distilleries of Glenmavis, at Bathgate, and of St. Magdalen at Linlithgow. They also carted stones to Linlithgow Bridge from Bo'ness for the formation of the arches in the viaduct there prior to the opening of the Edinburgh and Glasgow railway. The Bo'ness Pottery also afforded them considerable trade. Most of the ware there manufactured was carted' to Edinburgh. On the return journey the carts brought back rags, which were used for chemical purposes by Robert W. Hughes in what was known as the Secret Work at the Links.

Allied to the carting trade is the subject of the tolls and' toll bars. There was supposed to be a distance of six miles-between each toll, but the miles appear to have been short in-those days. To begin with, there was the Carriden toll at the foot of the brae, where the toll-house can still be seen. The next was on the Queensferry Road at the Binns west gate, and known as the Merrilees toll. Further east was the-Hopetoun Wood toll, just at the present hamlet of Woodend. At Kirkliston there was another, and going west towards; Linlithgow was the Maitlands toll at St. Magdalen's Distillery. On the Linlithgow and Queensferry Road was the Boroughmuir toll, and on the road between Linlithgow and Bo'ness was the-Borrowstoun toll. An important toll in the west was the Snab toll, which was situated a few yards to the east of the present entrance to Snab House. These tolls were under the control of the Justices and Commissioners of Supply for-the county. They were put up to auction every year, and knocked down to the highest bidder. Many of the tolls were licensed, which raised their value, and as high as £500 has been known to be given for the lease of one of them for a year. Borrowstoun toll was licensed, and the thirsty Newtown miners had methods of their own for getting a supply there early on the Sunday mornings. This and the Snab toll were the two best in the district. They always let at the highest rates, because the traffic through them was exceptionally heavy. Merchandise for the west all went towards Grangemouth for shipment through the Forth and Clyde Canal. In addition, the farm traffic was considerable. After the opening of the Edinburgh and Glasgow railway a big traffic was done to and from Bo'ness by way of Borrowstoun toll. The receipts from the tolls must have yielded large sums, as the tariffs were fairly high. A scale of charges was approved by the Justices, and exhibited at each toll bar. The keeper could not demand more than the stipulated rates, but was free to make special terms, and take less from regular customers. The approved scale exacted 6d. for a horse and loaded cart. If the cart returned empty no further charge was made, but if loaded the sixpence •charge was again imposed. One of the lessees of Borrowstoun toll was a Waterloo veteran, named James Bruce. He was badly wounded in the battle, and lay on the plains of Waterloo for three days and three nights. At length he was picked up and cared for, and although he had been frightfully slashed about the shoulders and other parts of his body by the swords •of the Frenchmen, he ultimately recovered, and was able to return to this country. He also got a bullet in his arm, which was extracted after his death, and kept as a curiosity by his son. Bruce kept the toll at Borrowstoun for a long time, coming there from the Woodside toll, on the Bathgate Road. The tolls were abolished on the passing of the Roads and Bridges Act in 1878.


Only very fragmentary information can be recorded concerning the educational affairs of the district. Had it embraced a University or even a Burgh or Grammar School8" there would doubtless have been much of interest to relate. As it is, we are confined to four kinds of schools—the Kirk Session Schools, the Parish Schools under the Act of 1803, the Private Schools, and the Secession Schools. The old Parish School of Carriden was situated at the Muirhouses, the title to it being dated 1636. In 1804 we find one Alexander Bisset referred to as the schoolmaster at Carriden, and twelve years later there are references to Samuel Dalrymple as the schoolmaster. There must have been others prior to these, but we have not traced them. We have seen6 the record of a meeting held at Carriden on the 7th May, 1829, for the purpose of fixing the schoolmaster's salary, in terms of the statute, for the twenty-five years following Martinmas, 1828. It was then resolved that the salary should be the maximum one (£34 4s. 4d.), with the allowance of two bolls of meal in lieu of a garden until such should be provided for him. At the same time it was; agreed that the school fees be as follows : —

For Reading English, - - 2s. 6d. per quarter.
For English and Writing, - 3s. per quarter.
For English, Writing, and Arithmetic, - - - 3s. 6d. per quarter.
For Reading English, Writing. Arithmetic, and English Grammar, - - - 4s. per quarter.
For Latin, along with the other branches above mentioned, 5s. per quarter.

And for any higher branches of education the fees were to be according to agreement between the teacher and pupils.

The last of the old parish schoolmasters was Adam B. Dorward. He was an excellent teacher, and during his later years served under the School Board in the new school near Carriden toll. Half a century ago the first wife of Admiral Sir James Hope established a school in what is now known as the West Lodge at Carriden. This was successfully •conducted for many years. In paragraphs ten and eleven of •our first Appendix will be found some interesting information by Mr. Dundas about the "pettie" or private schools in •Carriden. We are in a position to supplement these somewhat. A school which occupied an important place in Carriden from the early part of last century onwards was the Grange Works cSchool. Most of the children connected with the Grange Colliery and saltworks were sent here, the school fees being deducted from the wages of the employees. This school was .situated on the north side of the Main Street near the east end of Grangepans. The building is still standing, and is yet known as the Old School. A salt girnel or cellar occupied the ground floor. The whole of the second floor was utilised .as a schoolroom; and the top storey was used as the schoolmaster's house. One of the early schoolmasters here was a Mr. Blair, who prior to coming to Grangepans had been in .service at Hopetoun House. His school was attended by nearly one hundred scholars, and his advanced pupils assisted him in teaching the younger children. Blair was succeeded by a weaver from Bathgate named Wardrop. But the most •eminent of all the masters in that school was Thomas Dickson, who in his early years had been educated for the ministry. He was painstaking and conscientious, and his abilities attracted to the Grangepans School many of the children of the well-to-do merchants in Bo'ness. Many of his pupils .achieved great success in after life, and several of them followed in his steps professionally. Among these were William Wallace Dunlop, who became headmaster of Daniel Stewart's College, Edinburgh; the late Alexander Shand, the successor •of the second John Stephens, Bo'ness, and afterwards one of the Established Church ministers of Greenock; and William Anderson, late Rector of Dumbarton Academy.


With regard to Borrowstounness there were five schools in the town and parish in 1796, and all well attended. The parish schoolmaster commonly employed an assistant, and had generally from eighty to ninety scholars. He had a salary of 200 merks Scots (£11 2s, 2fd.), besides the perquisites of his office as session clerk. The fees then paid were—

English and Writing, per quarter, - - £0 2 6
Latin or French,.....0 5 0
Arithmetic and other branches of Mathematics, ......036
Navigation or Book-keeping, per course, - 1 1 0

We find that on 7th November, 1803,8 the amount of schoolmaster's salary in Bo'ness Parish was fixed at 400 merks Scots per annum, and that was to continue to be the salary payable for and during the period of twenty-five years, from and after the passing of the Act.

It was at same time determined that a commodious house for a school be provided, with a dwelling-house for the residence of the schoolmaster, and a portion of ground for a garden. A scale of fees was likewise fixed at this meeting. This minute was subscribed by Dr. Rennie, the minister, before these witnesses—George Hart, shipbuilder, and John Taylor, baker, in Bor-ness.

This school was, we understand, the first in the Presbytery built under the 1803 Act. It was erected at what is now known as George Place, and contained more than the legal accommodation. The schoolrooms were on the ground floor, and the schoolmaster's house, which had a separate entrance to the west, was upstairs. The garden ground was rather deficient in size, and an equivalent in money was given. So far as we can gather, John Stephens, who had been schoolmaster under the old system, was retained under the new Act, and his whole service extended over a period of fifty years.

In December, 1808, Mr. Stephens petitioned the heritor and minister, pointing out that the fees fixed in November, 1803, were " too low in general, and not equal to the fees paid in almost every town in Scotland." He therefore requested that they be' increased and made more in keeping with those towns of "similar size and respectability over the kingdom," and the request was acceded to. The following are the scales of 1803 and 1809 : —

5—English, per quarter



English and Writing, per quarter



English, English Grammar, and Writing
per quarter



Arithmetic, per quarter



Arithmetic and English Grammar, per



Practical Mathematics, per agreement.




a guinea

Latin, per quarter



French, per quarter



1—English Reading, per quarter



English and Writing



English Grammar and Writing



Arithmetic, with English Grammar and
Writing, per quarter, ...



Latin and Greek, per quarter



Practical Mathematics, per quarter



Book-keeping, per quarter



In 1845 there were ten schools in the parish, only one of which was a parochial school. The others we will refer to later. Early this year Mr. Stephens died, and in March John Stephens, his son, then parochial schoolmaster in East Kilbride, was appointed as his successor. He died in 1865, and on 19th April Alexander Shand, then a teacher in Newington Academy, was elected to the vacancy. His father was cashier at Kinneil, and he himself, as we have seen, was educated at Mr. Dickson's school in Grangepans. Mr. Shand resigned in 1868 to prosecute his studies for the ministry. Among the favoured applicants; for the position at this time were William Thomson Brown,.

Hector of the Grammar School, Dunfermline, and Adam B. Dorward, Carriden. Mr. Brown was finally chosen, and at the time of his retiral, upwards of twenty years ago, was headmaster of Bo'ness Public School. Among the masters of the many private schools were James Adams, who taught in the Big House at Newtown, and John Arnot, whose premises occupied the site of the present Infant School. Arnot taught navigation, and many of his pupils became captains in the merchant service.

One of the local teachers of this period achieved an unenviable notoriety. We refer to Henry Gudge, whose school was situated at the rear of the present Co-operative Store in South Street. The story of his downfall is well known to the older generation. He lived in Corbiehall, where he had some property, which, it is said, was transferred to John Anderson in settlement of some debt. Gudge became despondent over the transaction and intemperate in his habits. He worked himself into the belief that he had been wronged, and decided to have his money back. There was no bank in Bo'ness then, and he knew that Mr. Anderson was in the habit of sending money to Falkirk by a boy who was Gudge's nephew. One Saturday the dominie lay in wait for the boy about a mile and a half from Bo'ness, and, on meeting him, directed his attention to a hare in a field. While the boy went in chase of the hare, real or imaginary, Gudge got possession of the money bag, containing about £300, and absconded to Edinburgh. Mr. Anderson offered a reward of £25 for information leading to the arrest of Gudge. The advertisement was seen by a girl living in Edinburgh, who was a native of Grangepans, and had attended Gudge's school. She kept her eyes open, and one day saw him enter a public-house in Bristo Street, and informed Detective M'Levy. M'Levy-took Gudge into custody, and found £180 of the money concealed in three ginger beer bottles found in his pockets. Gudge was transported to Tasmania for twenty years. Towards the expiry of the period he showed a desire, from letters which came to Bo'ness, to return to his native country, but he died in Van Diemen's Land in 1859.

We should mention that in 1845 there was a school at the farm town of Upper Kinneil, supported by the tenantry, for the convenience of children in the barony. The schoolmaster got a small salary, and the Duke provided him with a schoolhouse so that he might make his school fees moderate. About this period the teacher was James Rutherford, a big man, but very lame. He was a good, all-round scholar, and was often employed in land measuring. Among other things he taught basketmaking. The reeds and willows were gathered in the district by the pupils, many of whom became expert basketmakers.

The Dissenters supported a school for many years. This and the other schools in the town were not endowed, and many of them were taught by females.


Both in Bo'ness and Carriden the care of the poor was a subject which received most sympathetic and generous treatment. Even at the present day it could not be more carefully and usefully handled. We need make no reference to the administration of the poor funds in Carriden, for that is done very fully by Mr. Dundas.8 The minutes of Carriden heritors also, it should be said, contain most carefully compiled lists of the poor there, and full annual statements of poor funds. In Bo'ness the poor were numerous. The funds for their support included weekly collections at the church door, rent of property purchased with poor funds saved, the interest of legacies, and mortcloth dues. The amount received from the last was trifling, because the county parishioners and the different corporations in the town, such as the Sailors and Maltmen, kept mortcloths of their own, and received the emoluments. In 1796 the pensioners who got regular supply numbered thirty-six. Occasional supplies upon proper recommendations were often granted to such persons as were reduced to temporary distress. Upon any pressing emergency, wrote Dr. Rennie, the liberality of the opulent part of the inhabitants was exemplary. These people, he also says, were well-bred, hospitable, and public-spirited.

A severe winter was experienced about 1795, and nearly £60 sterling was collected and distributed in a most judicious manner by a committee of gentlemen in the town. Begging was oommon, but it was explained that the paupers who went about from house to house were, for the most part, from other parishes. We have elsewhere referred to the method of managing the poor funds of Kinneil. The average receipts and expenditure of the poor funds for Bo'ness for the three years ending 1837 were as follows:—Income—Church door collections, £45 2s. 6d.; rent of landed property, £32 8s.; interest of bond, legacy, mortcloth dues, and proclamations, £37 18s. 7d.; total, £115 9a. Id. The total expenditure, however, came to £225 0s. Id., and the deficiency of £109 lis. had to be made up by the Duke of Hamilton. There was in 1845, and still is, we believe, an association of ladies for the purpose of supplying the poor with clothes, meal, and coals in the winter. The farmers generously aided in this work by carting the coals gratuitously. There was also a Bible and Education Society, in the support and management of which Churchmen and Dissenters united. From its annual contributions about twenty-five poor children received a plain education. And the Scriptures, the Shorter Catechism, and school books were supplied to the poor gratuitously or at reduced prices.

The whole interesting history of the poor funds of Bo'ness was recently reviewed in an action of declarator at the instance of the Parish Council,9 and as a result the body now known as Bo'ness Parish Trust was formed.

We now refer to a more gruesome subject. Until some twenty years ago there stood at the gate of the South Churchyard, at the Wynd, a small watch-house. This was used for the purpose of sheltering the watchmen during the raids of the "Resurrectionists" in the first quarter of last century, when corpses were stolen for anatomical and other purposes. Every householder had to take his turn in the watch-house, or find a substitute. It was usual to watch for at least a sufficient time for the body to be considerably decomposed. Some of the local worthies made a profession of watching, and they were paid for their services at the rate of Is. per night. In addition, parties employing them invariably provided bread and porter for supper. It was no unusual thing therefore for miners on their way to work in the early morning to find certain of these watchers hanging over the churchyard wall suffering from a more potent influence than the want of sleep.


There were two serious outbreaks of cholera here last century. The first occurred in 1831, and the second about twenty years later. The second outbreak was especially deadly, and it was not an unusual thing to meet a friend in good health the previous night and to learn of his or her death the following morning. Many well-known people of that day had fatal seizures. These included Mrs. Hill, wife of Mr. George Hill, watchmaker; Mrs. Campbell, of the Green Tree Tavern; Robert Grimstone, her brother; Matthew Faulds, West Bog; and Peter Thom, of the East Bog. We understand the churchyard on the shore at Corbiehall was necessitated because of the havoc which this outbreak caused among the inhabitants.

We have not seen any records bearing on these outbreaks so far as concerns Bo'ness. One of the minute books of the heritors of Carriden, however, contains the "Minutes of the proceedings of the Board of Health instituted in the Parish of Carriden to adopt precautionary measures against the threatened invasion of the pestilential disease, usually denominated Asiatic or epidemic cholera morbus." The first of these is dated Carriden

Church, 20th December, 1831, and contains this introduction— "A disease of the most malignant description, and formerly unknown in Europe, originating in Asia, and taking its course through Russia and other countries in a westerly direction, having begun to make its ravages in some of the southern parts of our island, a public meeting of the inhabitants of the parish was called on the previous Sabbath from the pulpit to adopt measures for the purpose of preventing, if possible, by human means, the communication of such disease by infection, and of mitigating its virulence if, unfortunately, the malady should come among us."

A local Board of Health was then instituted, having Mr. James John Cadell of Grange as president and the Rev. David Fleming as secretary. Power was given them to convene the Board as circumstances required. Mr. Fleming stated that, in consequence of an urgent recommendation which he had felt it to be his duty to give the people from the pulpit, a good deal of attention had been paid by them to the cleaning, whitewashing, and ventilating of their houses. He also read an extract from a letter from Mr. James Hope of Carriden, then in London, recommending the instant adoption of strong measures to ward off, if possible, the threatened evil. Mr. Hope had sent the sum of £20 for the purpose of providing warm clothing for the poor, and this the minister had been endeavouring to disburse to the best of his judgment. The parish was then divided into seven districts, each under the inspection of three or four persons.

The following rules were adopted as instructions to the inspectors, and recommended to be duly enforced by them upon the parishioners: —

 1. No private dunghills to be allowed nearer the dwelling-house than 12 feet.

2. All pigstyes to be removed from dwelling-houses to a convenient distance, and to be kept regularly clean.

3. All rabbits to be removed from dwelling-houses, and all other animals to be recommended to be removed, except the usual domestic animals, such as dogs and cats.

4. All dung to be removed when equal in quantity to a cart-load, and all householders to clear once a week immediately before their own dwellings.

5. The inspectors to meet in a week to give in their report, and thereafter the Board to meet once a fortnight on Tuesdays in the Session-house at twelve o'clock noon.

On the 27th December the inspectors reported, for the most part, that everything was "in a tolerable condition of cleanliness, with the exception of John Black's keeping a sow." This he was required to remove. Dr. Cowan reported that the fever was abating, but the inspectors were urged to continue their efforts to remove all existing nuisances. Subscriptions to the amount of £54 are detailed in February, 1832, and lists of those relieved. The quantities of flannel and blankets, meal and potatoes given out are also detailed from time to time.

Towards the end of the year the dread disease was greatly mitigated. This, in a great measure, was due to the excellent services of Dr. Cowan and to the thorough methods of the local Health Board.

When the disease was stamped out the doctor submitted an interesting tabular view of all the cases, giving name, age, date of the seizure, date of death or recovery. In it we find the smallest number of hours from time of seizure till death, 11; greatest, 95; average, 33. He also stated that the patients who died were all, with one exception, in a state of collapse, no pulsation of the heart being perceptible. The exception was not in a state of collapse—the patient had recovered, but rose too soon, and this caused a fatal return of the malady.

We have not observed any record of the second outbreak having extended to Carriden. As we have said, it was very bad in Bo'ness, so more than likely Carriden was seriously affected also.


In modern days the important subject of foreshore reclamation is at last receiving great attention. Here, however, we had a practical illustration of it on Kinneil estate in the time of the first Lord Hamilton, who, as we have seen, made extensive reclamations from 1474 onwards. Mr. Cadell in his recent work13 evidently unconsciously refers to these when he says—"A portion of the Carse of Kinneil, on the Duke of Hamilton's estate, has been reclaimed long ago by a low dyke faced on the outside with stone. The land inside the bank is a few feet below the level of high water at spring tides; but this is a very old intake, the record of which I have not been able to discover." Reference to his foreshore reclamation map confirms our impression. Those who wish to study this very practical and far-reaching subject will find the whole matter fully discussed in two of Mr. Cadell's chapters. The methods employed in his own extensive reclamations are also described. We can do no more here than quote what was written on the subject to the two Statistical Accounts in 1796 and 1845 respectively.

Dr. Rennie states—" It is highly probable that all the low ground in the parish was formerly part of the bed of the river Forth. This opinion easily gains assent, because immediately at the bottom of the bank, far from the shore, and far above the level of the present spring tides, shells, particularly oyster shells, are to be seen in several places in great quantities. At low water, above two thousand acres, opposite to the parish, are left dry. It is said that a Dutch company offered for a lease of ninety-nine years to fence off the sea from the acres with a dyke to prepare them for the purposes of agriculture, which would have been a vast accession to the carse grounds of the parish. But the project failed, and a large extent of ground remains useless, showing its faoe twice every twenty-four hours to reproach the fastidiousness and indolence of mankind." Mr. M'Kenzie referred to the same subject thus—" Between Bo'ness harbour and the mouth of the Avon about one thousand acres of a muddy surface are exposed at low water. These, if reclaimed from the sea for agricultural purposes, would be a valuable addition to the Carse of Kinneil. This part of the frith' is becoming shallower, owing to the accumulation of mud brought down by the Avon and Carron, and especially by the Forth, and the beach is assuming more of a fluviatic character. Sir Robert Sibbald says, 'These shallows have the name of the Lady's Scaup.' The Dutch did offer some time ago to make all that scaup good arable ground and meadow, and to make harbours and towns there in convenient places upon certain conditions, which were not accepted."

Towards the end of the year 1859 the inhabitants of Borrowstounness were summoned by tuck of drum to assemble at the Old Town Hall to take into consideration the formation of a company of Volunteers. Captain William Wilson, of Kinneil, a son of Mr. John Wilson, and a captain in the 2nd Lanark Militia, was called upon to preside. On the platform with him were the Rev. Kenneth M'Kenzie, Provost Hardie, Linlithgow; John Vannan, distiller; John Stephens secundus, parish schoolmaster; Patrick Turnbull, factor to the Duke of Hamilton; John Begg, manager, Kinneil; and Dr. Murray. The Rev. Mr. M'Kenzie, who sported a scarlet vest as a badge of patriotism, delivered a powerful oration on the duties of the citizens of a free country, concluding with a stirring appeal to come forward at once and enrol. As a result of this no fewer than one hundred patriotic and sturdy fellows from Bo'ness and Carriden enrolled before the meeting was closed. The swearing-in of the company took place at Kinneil House on 1st June, 1860. Sheriff Kay officiated, and was accompanied by many of the gentry of the county. The day was observed as a holiday in BoJness, and crowds of people assembled to witness the interesting ceremony. As showing the enthusiasm of the members it need only be said that those whose occupations prevented them from attending drill in the evenings turned out at five o'clock in the morning. At that period the Government did nothing except supply the rifles. The county gentlemen came to the rescue, and paid for the accoutrements. The salary of the drill instructor had to be paid by the members of the company, who had to bear the cost of their own uniforms besides. The price of each uniform wras £2 15s. This and the 10s. 6d. per man for the instructor the Volunteers bore cheerfully. Latterly the Government became alive to their duty, and increased their grant. But it was not until they made the full grant that drill went on in a proper way and the interest increased.

A memorable event in the history of the Volunteer movement was the great Scottish Review of 7th August, 1860, in which 122,000 Volunteers took part in Holyrood Park. The Bo'ness men were taken by steamer to Leith, and marched up to Lochrin, where they were attached to the Breadalbane Highlanders.

Among the few who now remain of the originally enrolled company are Captain William Miller, V.D., and Corporal James Paris.

When Borowstounness began to officially adopt a seal and motto we have not precisely ascertained. It is almost certain, however, that it was not much more than fifty years ago. They are described by the late Marquis of Bute 

On the waves of the sea a three-masted ship in full sail to sinister.

The seal on which these arms appear is in a general way taken from that of the Seabox Society. When both are closely examined, however, a number of differences are seen. The society's seal has the three-masted ship on the waves and turned to sinister, but the sails are in this case furled. There is also in chief a lion rampant, which latter upon the old bell of the society, dated 1647, is represented as passant. The origin of the lion cannot be satisfactorily accounted for. As for the motto, "Sine metu," this, again, is a departure from that of the Seabox Society, which was, as we have elsewhere stated, "Verbum Domini manet in (sternum."

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