Polmont

   POLMONT, a parish, in the county of Stirling, 3½ miles (E. by S.) from Falkirk; containing, with the villages of Bennetstone and Redding, and a part of the late quoad sacra parish of Grangemouth, 3584 inhabitants, of whom 2220 are in the rural districts of the parish. This place, the name of which is of very uncertain derivation, was originally included within the parish of Falkirk, but was severed under the authority of the Court of Teinds, and erected into an independent parish, in 1724. Very few particulars of its early history have been recorded, though undoubtedly it must have participated more or less with Falkirk in the wars between the Romans and the Caledonians under Fergus II., and in many important transactions subsequently. Till within the last few years vestiges of the wall of Antoninus, or Graham's dyke, as it has generally been called since the time of Robert Graham, who was killed by the Romans while fighting under Fergus, could be distinctly traced in its way through the parish from the Frith of Forth to the Frith of Clyde; but in the progress of cultivation within the present century, they have been totally obliterated. On a hill beyond the village of Redding is a stone called Wallace's stone, marking out the spot from which Sir William Wallace, after his quarrel with Sir John Stuart, one of the Scottish chiefs, is said to have viewed the battle of Falkirk, from which he had been compelled to retire, and to have witnessed the defeat of the Scottish army.
   The parish is bounded on the north by the Frith of Forth, and on the east partly by the river Avon, which separates the counties of Stirling and Linlithgow. It is about six miles and a half in extreme length, and from two to three miles in extreme breadth; comprising 5000 acres, of which 3800 are arable, 100 woodland and plantations, and the remainder moorland pasture and waste. The surface is beautifully varied. Part extends for a considerable breadth, along the shore of the frith, in a tract of carse land having little elevation above the sea, against the encroachment of which it is defended by strong embankments; and from this the ground rises gradually towards the south, in gentle undulations, to a height of 550 feet. From the high lands, which in contradistinction to the carse are called the "dry-field," an extensive and richly-varied prospect is obtained, embracing the vale of Forth, in a high state of cultivation, and interspersed with numerous elegant mansions and pleasing villas, surrounded with stately woods and thriving plantations. The Avon has its source in a lake in the parish of Cumbernauld, in the county of Dumbarton, and, after a long course along the borders of Muiravonside, skirts a part of this parish, and flows by fantastic windings into the Frith of Forth. Of the several small rivulets in the parish, one called the Westquarter burn runs along nearly the whole of its western boundary into the Carron; another intersects the interior of the parish, and falls into the Westquarter; and a third, after forming its south-eastern boundary for nearly two miles, flows northward into the Avon. Sea-trout of large size are found in the Avon during the spring and autumn, but very few salmon ascend the river. The soil on the carse lands is a deep clay of fine quality, and, from the number of marine shells with which it is embedded, evidently alluvial: on the dry-field the soil, being lighter and of a gravelly or sandy kind, is less fertile and productive. Of the land not under regular cultivation the principal tract is Redding moor, of which the greater portion is undivided common, the property of the Duke of Hamilton, but on which various of the heritors claim a right of pasture: within the last few years, portions of it have been inclosed by permission of the superior, and cultivated with the spade by the neighbouring colliers at their leisure hours. The crops raised in the parish are, oats, wheat, barley, beans, potatoes, and turnips, with the usual grasses. The system of husbandry has been brought into a very advanced state: and from the facilities of obtaining manure from Edinburgh and Leith by the Union canal, the most abundant crops are grown. Tile-draining has been very generally introduced, to the great improvement of the lands, which have also been mostly inclosed; the farm buildings and offices are usually substantial and well arranged, and all the more recent improvements in the construction of agricultural implements have been adopted. The plantations, though not extensive, are in a thriving state, and contribute much to the beauty of the scenery; they consist of the various kinds of firs and the most usual hard-wood trees, for which latter the soil appears to be peculiarly favourable. The rateable annual value of Polmont, according to returns made under the income-tax, is £14,144.
   The principal substrata are, freestone, ironstone, coal, and clay of excellent quality for pottery. The freestone, of which the rocks are chiefly composed, is extensively quarried, especially on the land of Brighton, where the quarries have been in operation for the supply of materials for constructing the railway from Edinburgh to Glasgow. It is of fine texture, of a brownish colour, and, from the hardness and durability of its quality, well adapted for public works. There is another vein of equally hard texture, and of a brilliant white colour, found at a greater depth from the surface, on the lands of Battock, where a new quarry is about to be opened. The ironstone occurs in several seams of different extent, of which three have long been wrought by the Carron Company, and are now almost exhausted; and besides these, two have been discovered at a greater depth, which have not yet been brought into operation. Coal is found in various parts, in seams from two and a half to four and a half feet thick, and at depths varying from eight to forty-six fathoms from the surface; they are the property of the Duke of Hamilton, and John G. Drummond, Esq., of Abbot's Grange. The principal colliery is that of Redding, belonging to the duke, which is wrought upon a very extensive scale, affording employment to about 600 men. The Shielhill colliery, of which the Carron Company are the lessees, was formerly wrought to a large extent; but the greater number of the men have been removed by the company, within the last few years, to their works at Falkirk. The coal is raised from the pits by steam-engines, and conveyed to the Union canal by railways constructed upon an inclined plane; one railway is 800 yards in length, and capable of delivering from ten to twelve tons at a time. The kinds mostly wrought at present are the splint and the soft coal, which are of excellent quality; they occur in seams thirty-four inches in thickness, at depths of twenty-five and thirty-five fathoms, and are sent in large quantities to the Edinburgh market. The clay is chiefly used for the making of bricks, and tiles for the draining of lands, for which it is well adapted; and two extensive works for that purpose have been lately established.
   The seats are, Polmont Park, Park Hill, Polmont House, Polmont Bank, Kersiebank, Westquarter House, Millfield, and a few others, all of which are handsome modern houses situate in pleasant demesnes of moderate extent. The villages of Bennetstone and Redding, which are described under their own heads, are partly inhahabited by persons engaged in the collieries: the small village or kirktown of Polmont, situated on the road to Falkirk, nearly in the centre of the parish, contains only a few dwellings and an inn. Letters are delivered daily by a runner from the post-office at Falkirk, the nearest market-town; and facility of communication is partly maintained by the high road from Edinburgh to Glasgow, which passes through the parish, and by roads kept in good repair by statute labour. The Union canal, connecting the friths of the Forth and the Clyde, intersects Polmont for nearly three miles; and the Edinburgh and Glasgow railway, recently completed, takes, in its course through the parish, a direction almost parallel with that of the canal, to which in some places it approaches within a distance of a hundred yards. The ecclesiastical affairs are under the superintendence of the presbytery of Linlithgow and synod of Lothian and Tweeddale. The minister's stipend is £264. 1.11., with a manse, and a glebe valued at £12. 12. per annum; patron, the Crown. The old church, erected in 1731, and in many respects inconvenient, has been superseded by a handsome new church, built in the course of the year 1845, and containing about 1000 sittings. A probationer of the Established Church officiates regularly in a schoolroom belonging to the Redding colliery, where divine service was previously performed on the Sunday evenings by the parish clergyman; and there is also occasional service in the village of Bennetstone, in which various dissenting ministers officiate. The members of the Free Church have a place of worship. The parochial school affords instruction to nearly 150 children; the master has a salary of £34. 4. 4., a house and garden, and a small portion of land, and the fees average about £70 annually. A parochial library was established in 1820, and is supported by subscription; the collection contains about 340 volumes, but within the last few years it has not increased. There is also a savings' bank in which are deposits to the amount of more than £300. Dr. Henry, author of the History of Great Britain, though not a native, resided for several years during the summer months in this parish; he died in 1790, and was buried in the churchyard, where a monument has been erected to his memory. The place gives the title of Baron Polmont, created on the 31st of March, 1639, to the Duke of Hamilton.

A Topographical dictionary of Scotland. . 1856.

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