Tillicoultry

   TILLICOULTRY, a parish, in the county of Clackmannan; containing, with the villages of Coalsnaughton and Devonside, 3560 inhabitants, of whom 2300 are in the village of Tillicoultry, 4 miles (N. E. by N.) from Alloa. The name of this place is by some writers supposed to be of Gaelic etymology, and descriptive of the situation of Tillicoultry on a rising ground in the rear of the county; others deem it a corruption from the Latin, denoting that the place was a settlement of the ancient Culdees. It was once the property of the family of Mar, to whom the lands were granted in the 12th century by Alexander III.; and the estate continued in the possession of that family till about the commencement of the 17th century, after which it passed successively by purchase to numerous families, of whom the last purchaser was R. Wardlaw, Esq., in 1814. Since that time the lands have been divided among various proprietors, the principal of whom is J. Anstruther, Esq. The parish, which is watered by the river Devon, is about six miles in length, and from one mile to two miles and a half in breadth, comprising an area of more than 7500 acres, of which 5000 are chiefly hills, including some of the highest of the Ochil range. The remainder of the area forms a plain, sloping gradually from the foot of the hills towards the south, and intersected by the Devon, beyond which the surface rises gently into a ridge nearly parallel to the Ochils. The most lofty of the Ochils within the parish is Bencleuch, which has an elevation of 2400 feet above the level of the Forth, and commands from its summit an unbounded view of the surrounding country, embracing the Grampian mountains, and the Dundaff, the Lomond, and the Pentland hills. Among the hills, which are interspersed with numerous romantic glens, rise several springs, which, issuing down the declivities, swell into burns. Of these, one, partly bounding the parish on the west, and passing between richly-wooded banks, makes some picturesque cascades; but the largest of the burns is that of Tillicoultry, formed by the union of two streams which rise about the middle of the Ochil range, and, flowing through the plain, turn the machinery of some mills. The Devon has its source in the hills behind Alva, in Perthshire, and falls into the Forth at the village of Cambus.
   The soil is various, in some parts a rich fertile loam, in others sandy and gravelly; and on the hills are large tracts of deep moss. The crops are, oats, barley, and wheat, with the usual green crops. The system of agriculture is in a highly improved state; the lands are well drained, and inclosed partly with stone dykes, and partly with hedges of thorn kept in good order; the farm-houses are substantial, and all the more recent improvements in implements of husbandry have been adopted. The hills afford good pasturage for sheep, of which considerable numbers are reared, chiefly of the black-faced breed, and remarkable for the fineness of their wool. The plantations, which on the north of the Devon are extensive, consist of oak, ash, elm, beech, plane, birch, larch, and pine; all are well managed, and in a very thriving state. The rocks in the parish are mostly of the trap and porphyritic formation, and the principal substrata are sandstone of every variety, whinstone, and coal; in the hills are found iron and copper ores, silver, lead, and cobalt. The iron-ore was long ago wrought to a considerable extent in the Mill Glen, above the village, and there are still some remains of the buildings occupied by the miners; it was partially wrought about forty years since by the Carron Company, and at a later date, much more extensively, by the Devon Company. The copper-ore was wrought for several years by a company from London, and four different veins were found, of which one was eighteen inches in thickness; but though of good quality, the proceeds did not repay the expense of procuring it, and the works were consequently abandoned. Coal of various quality is abundant. There are several seams of it, of which the uppermost is of rough cherry coal, three feet thick, and found at a depth of seventeen fathoms: the second, of finer quality, and five feet in thickness, is at a depth of twenty-six fathoms; and a seam of splint-coal is found below this, at a depth of thirty-two fathoms, and three feet in thickness: the lowest is a seam of main coal, six feet thick, which lies at forty-two fathoms from the surface. Great quantities of coal were formerly sent to Alloa, for exportation; but from the increased demand, the whole produce of the collieries is now distributed throughout the surrounding districts. The rateable annual value of the parish is £5109.
   Tillicoultry House and Harviestoun, both modern mansions pleasantly situated in grounds embellished with plantations, are the principal seats. The village of Tillicoultry, which is rapidly increasing in population and extent, is neatly built, and contains several handsome houses, inhabited by persons engaged in the manufactures carried on in the vicinity; there are also shops well stocked with various kinds of wares and merchandise for the supply of the neighbourhood. The chief articles manufactured are, Scotch blankets and serge, for which the place has been long in repute, and especially shawls and tartans, which were recently introduced. There are not a few well-built mills and factories in full operation, affording employment to 1200 persons, of whom more than 600 are women and children; and many others are engaged in hand-loom weaving at their own homes. The quantity of wool annually consumed in these manufactures is 40,000 stones. There is also an extensive manufactory in the village, for all kinds of machinery connected with the mills; and various handicraft trades are carried on. A branch of the Glasgow Bank has been established here, and there is a post-office subordinate to that of the town of Alloa. Facility of communication is provided by the roads to Alloa, Stirling, and Kinross, which pass through the parish; the bridge over the river Devon has been widened, and there is also a bridge of wood below the village, for foot passengers. There are two other villages in the parish; namely, Coalsnaughton, which is chiefly inhabited by persons engaged in the collieries, and is rapidly increasing; and Devonside, where are five woollen-mills.
   The ecclesiastical affairs are under the superintendence of the presbytery of Dunblane and synod of Perth and Stirling. The minister's stipend is £240. 12.7., with a manse, and a glebe valued at £44 per annum; patrons, the heirs of R. W. Ramsay, Esq. The church, a handsome structure erected in 1829, and situated in the centre of the parish, contains 650 sittings. There are also places of worship for members of the Free Church, United Secession, and Unitarians. The parochial schoolmaster has a salary of £25. 13., with a house and garden; and the school fees average about £10 per annum. There are two subscription schools in connexion with the Established Church, one at Tillicoultry, of which the master has a salary of £8, paid by Mr. Ramsay, and Mr. Johnstone, of Alva; and the other at Coalsnaughton, built by Mr. Ramsay, who pays the master a salary of £5, in addition to the fees. In both villages are also evening schools for the children employed in the factories. On Castle-Craig, above the village of Tillicoultry, are some remains of an ancient fort; and at Cunninghar, remains of a Druidical circle of granite stones. Near Harviestoun House was found a sword in 1796, and in 1802 an urn, both supposed to be Roman: the latter, inclosed within a rude stone coffin, contained some ashes, and a spear-head of flint.

A Topographical dictionary of Scotland. . 1856.

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