Descriptive Gazetteer Entry for Grangemouth

Grangemouth, a seaport and post-town in the parishes of Falkirk, Bothkennar, and Polmont, SE Stirlingshire. Built about the entrance of the Forth and Clyde Canal, where the Grange Burn falls into the river Carron, it is 7 furlongs above the confluence of the latter stream and the Forth, and 3 miles ENE of Falkirk, with which and Larbert it is connected by branch lines of the North British and the Caledonian. The town was founded in 1777 by Sir Lawrence Dundas, in connection with the formation of the canal, which was opened in 1790; and it soon became a place of some importance through the canal traffic, the neighbourhood of the Carron Iron-works, and the convenience of the situation. All the trade of Stirlingshire speedily found its way to the new port, and its trade was benefited by the high shore-dues levied at Leith. Till 1810, Grangemouth was a creek of Bo'ness, but, in that year, it was recognised as a head port by the custom house. In 1836 permission was obtained from parliament by the councillors of the Forth and Clyde Navigation, to construct a dock; and this, now known as the old dock, was opened in 1843. It covers an area of 7½ acres; and one-half of it has a depth of 17 feet, the remainder drawing only 13 feet of water. Up till 1859, when another basin was formed, the trade was mostly coastwise; but there has since arisen a considerable foreign and colonial trade, as shown by the following table, which gives the tonnage of vessels that entered from and to foreign and colonial ports and coastwise with cargoes and in ballast:—


Of the total, 1519 vessels of 382,725 tons, that entered in 1881, 970 of 287,804 tons were steamers, 137 of 21, 265 tons were in ballast, and 982 of 263,608 tons w-ere coasters; whilst the total, 1517 of 383,080 tons, of those that cleared, included 977 steamers of 290, 959 tons, 689 ships in ballast of 177,219 tons, and 1005 coasters of 258,513 tons. Again, the total tonnage of vessels registered as belonging to the port was 9080 (only 828 steamers) in 1 853, 12,649 in 1869, 8270 in 1874, and 10, 499 in 1881, viz., 57 sailing vessels of 1875 tons and 32 steamers of 8624. This increase, and the fact that it was a common experience to have from 40 to 80 vessels lying in the Roads waiting for room in the docks, showed the necessity of extending the harbour accommodation; and in 1876 the necessary powers for the construction of the new dock were obtained. After considerable engineering difficulties, arising from the nature of the soil, the dock was formally opened on 3 June 1882 amid much enthusiasm, the interest of the occasion being enhanced by the inauguration, on the same day, of a public park presented to the burgh by the Earl of Zetland. The new works, which cost £300,000, give a water area of 19½ acres for the new docks and timber basins, 10½ acres being the actual extent of the dock. The entrance is 55 feet wide, with a depth on the sill of 26 feet. Outside the gates, on the E side, is a wall 850 feet long, where ships can unload should they be hindered from entering the dock by lack of water. At the entrance there is a depth at low water of 8 feet; the rise in spring tides is 18 feet and 14 in neap tides. The quayage extends to 900 yards, and the length of the dock is 1100 feet, its breadth 400. The timber-basin, at the S end, is 8 acres in extent, and has a depth of 8 feet. A channel, 70 feet wide and 15 feet deep, passing through the new timber-basin, connects the old and the new docks, and a substantial swing bridge, laid with rails, spans the entrance to the dock. The quays of the dock have been fully equipped with hydraulic coal-hoists on an admirable system and with Armstrong cranes. At the bridges, which are arranged to move by water-power, hand power is also provided in case of a breakdown of the hydraulic machinery. Sheds to the extent of 600 feet are provided, and the railways in connection with the works have a total length of 32 miles. The trade of the port is of a general character, the principal imports being timber, metals, flax, grain, sugar, fruit, chemicals, paper, and provisions. Of timber 91,950 tons were imported in 1879, 160, 018 in 1880, and 92,940 in 1881. In spite of its proximity to the great iron-producing districts of Lanarkshire, large importations of pig-iron from Middlesbrough have recently begun, and, in 1882, amounted to over 1000 tons daily, 20, 000 tons being forwarded yearly to Glasgow. Of coals 64,208 tons were shipped to foreign countries and coastwise in 1860, 104,939 in 1869, 174,526 in 1878, and 101, 359 in 1881, when the total value of foreign and colonial imports was £1, 087, 038 (£1,255,943 in 1880) and of exports £354,657 (£565,884 in 1875). The trade between Grangemouth and London, amounting to 100,000 tons annually, is wholly in the hands of the Carron Iron Company, and there are numerous steamship lines trading with ports in Norway, Sweden, the Baltic, and elsewhere. The first steamer launched from Grangemouth was the Hecla, 80 feet long, built in 1839 as a tug for use at Memel, in Prussia; and shipbuilding, after declining for several years, has again revived, 12 vessels of 1835 tons having been launched here during 1879-81, all of them iron, and all steamers but two. Employment is also afforded by saw-mills, brick and tile works, and a rope and sail factory. Apart from its trade and manufactures, Grangemouth is a place of little note. It is regularly and substantially built, but is far from picturesque. This chiefly arises from the situation, which is low and flat; and this, with the prevalence of so much water in river, canal, and docks, has led to Grangemouth being likened to a Dutch town. It has a post office, with money order, savings' bank, insurance, and telegraph departments, branches of the Bank of Scotland and the Commercial Bank, offices or agencies of 22 insurance companies, 2 hotels, a gas company, a good recent water supply, etc. The Public Institute, erected in 1876-77 at a cost of £2100, contains a lecture-room, with accommodation for 450 persons; the public park, 8 acres in extent, is adorned with a handsome spray fountain. In 1880 Grangemouth was constituted a quoad sacra parish in the presbytery of Linlithgow and synod of Lothian and Tweeddale. Its church is an Early English edifice, with a spire 60 feet high, having been erected in 1866 as a chapel of ease, in lieu of one built by the first Earl of Zetland in 1837. The Free church is a handsome edifice of 1878, in the Norman style, and there is also a United Presbyterian place of worship. Two public schools, Dundas (1875) and Zetland (1827), with respective accommodation for 486 and 327 children, had (1881) an average attendance of 438 and 250, and grants of £412, 14s. and £232, 3s. Erected into a police burgh under the Lindsay Act in 1872, Grangemouth is governed by nine commissioners. In 1881 the Earl of Zetland, whose seat, Kerse House, stands 5 furlongs SW of the town, asserted his superior rights over the burgh by pointing out that the feu-charters he had granted forbade the establishment of public-houses. The attempt to suppress such houses gave rise to a litigation which was carried on in the Supreme Courts of Scotland and the House of Lords for a long time. In the Court of Session it was held that such powers in a feu-charter were contrary to public policy, and could not be enforced; but on appeal the House of Lords reversed this decision, holding that the only question to be tried was whether the superior's rights had lapsed by disuse. The municipal constituency numbered 882 in 1883, when the annual value of real property amounted to £32, 382. Pop. (1831) 1155, (1841) 1488, (1861) 2000, (1871) 2569, (1881) 4560, of whom 2382 were males; whilst 2993 were in Falkirk parish, 1493 in Bothkennar, and 94 in Polmont. Houses (1881) 856 inhabited, 77 vacant, 2 building.—Ord. Sur., sh. 31, 1867.

(F.H. Groome, Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland (1882-4); © 2004 Gazetteer for Scotland)

Linked entities:
Feature Description: "a seaport and post-town"   (ADL Feature Type: "cities")
Administrative units: Grangemouth Burgh       Stirlingshire ScoCnty
Place: Grangemouth

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