- WILSONTOWN, a manufacturing village, in the parish of Carnwath, Upper ward of the county of Lanark, 8½ miles (N. E. by N.) from Lanark; containing 113 inhabitants. This place owes its origin to the abundance of mineral wealth in that district of the parish in which it is situated, and to the establishment of iron-works in the year 1779 by the Messrs. Wilson, of London, from whom it derived its name. The existence of coal and ironstone in the parish, which rendered it so peculiarly favourable for the enterprise, induced these gentlemen to erect works for the manufacture of pig-iron; and the success with which the attempt was attended, led to the raising of another furnace in 1787. On the erection of a steam-engine to draw off the water from the mines, a much greater facility of access was afforded to an almost inexhaustible field of coal, which had been previously obtained with difficulty; and the works were consequently extended, and carried on with increased activity. An additional furnace was erected, with blowing engines of greater power; and in addition to the making of pig-iron, great quantities of ballast for ships, shots from four to eighteen pounders, and pipes of various kinds, were manufactured. In 1790 an extensive forge for the making of blooms was erected, and the works were progressively increasing in extent and importance; but a misunderstanding taking place in the following year among the partners, the establishment was totally suspended for a considerable time, and lastly sold under an order of the court of session in 1798. Mr. John Wilson, the senior partner in the firm, became the purchaser; and the works, with considerable additions, were again brought into active operation. A rolling and slitting mill was erected, and also an additional blowing engine of greater power; new hammers were set in motion in the forge; and the weekly produce of the works, which previously had been only about twenty tons, was now increased to forty tons, of manufactured iron. The village grew up for the accommodation of the persons employed in these extensive works, which at that time, including carpenters, engineers, and millwrights, afforded constant employment to 2000 persons, whose monthly receipts for wages exceeded £3000. In 1808, however, from the great depression in the price of iron, the works began to decline; and in 1812 they were wholly abandoned, and the manufacturing population of the district bereft of employment. In this state the establishment continued till the year 1821, when the works were purchased by Mr. Dixon, of the Calder iron-factory, by whose son, Mr. William Dixon, the present proprietor, they have been again brought into operation. An act for the formation of a railway, called the Wilsontown, Morningside, and Coltness railway, was passed in June, 1841. The line extends from the south terminus of the Wishaw and Coltness railway to the turnpike-road from Whitburn to Wilsontown, and is now open throughout both for minerals and passengers: the capital of the proprietors is £70,000. There is a chapel of ease in the village, for the accommodation of the people employed in the iron-works.
A Topographical dictionary of Scotland. Samuel Lewis. 1856.
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