Descriptive Gazetteer Entry for Annan

Annan, a royal and parliamentary burgh of S Dumfriesshire, on the E bank and 2 miles above the mouth of the Annan, which here is spanned by a three-arched bridge, rebuilt in 1824 at a cost of £8000, and by a viaduct of the Glasgow and South-Western railway (1848). It has stations on this and on the Solway Junction section of the Caledonian, by the former being 8 miles W by S of Gretna Green, 17¾ NW of Carlisle, 15¼ ESE of Dumfries, and 73¾ SE of Kilmarnock; by the latter, 2¾ miles NNW of Bowness, 5½ SSW of Kirtlebridge Junction, 89¾ S by W of Edinburgh, and 93¼ SSE of Glasgow. 'The country round is flat upon the whole, but near the town are two or three heights, one of which, dignified as " Annan Hill," commands a magnificent view of Annandale, the Solway, and the Cumberland Mountains. Northward, are seen the little red town, lying amid green trees, the gleaming river, and numberless small dark woods and bare monotonous hills; southward, the sandy shore of the Firth, the Solway Viaduct, the sunlit sea, the grey hills of Kirkcudbrightshire, the long English coast, the picturesque windmill of Bowness, and the great Lake mountains, with Skiddaw, in what Wordsworth calls his " natural sovereignty," towering above the rest' (` Annan and its Neighbourhood,' by F. Miller, in the Border Mag., Oct. 1880). The town itself made Dorothy Wordsworth ` think of France and Germany, many of the houses large and gloomy, their size outrunning their comforts; ' but now, as improved of recent years, it is a thriving wellbuilt place, only unsatisfactory in its sanitary condition, and this should be soon improved, new drainage and waterworks having been undertaken in the autumn of 1880 at a cost respectively of £2850 and £8372. It has a post office, with money order, savings' bank, insurance, and telegraph departments, branches of the Bank of Scotland, the British Linen Co., and the Commercial Bank, a local savings' bank (1835), 18 insurance offices, a gas company, 3 hotels, a coffee-house with reading and recreation rooms (1879), a mechanics' institute, a Free Templars' hall, and a Friday paper, the Annan Observer (1857). The town-hall was rebuilt (1876-77) in the Scottish Baronial style, at a cost of £3000, and, besides burgh offices, contains a large court and council hall, where sheriff courts sit thrice a-year, and justice of peace small debt courts on the first Monday of every month. Friday is market-day, and hir ing fairs are held on the first Friday of May and August and the third Friday of October. At or near the town are a cotton mill (1785), a manure factory, a tannery, a distillery, 5 baconcuring establishments, 2 ropewalks, and 2 saw mills; and a considerable trade is done with Liverpool and Whitehaven in the export of grain, wool, bacon, and live-stock, and the import ascend to within ½ mile of the town, but larger vessels must load and discharge at two wooden jetties, 420 feet long, at the mouth of the river. Here, by the Annan Waterfoot Dock and Railway Co. Bill (1881), it is proposed to construct a dock on the E side of the river, covering 5¼ acres, and connected with the Solway Junction railway by a branch of 71/5 furlongs-the whole to be finished in five years' time, on a capital of £66,000 in £10 shares. Places of worship are the parish church (1790; 1190 sittings) with an elegant spire, a Free church (1845), a U.P. church, an Independent church, a ` Church of Christ,' St John's Episcopal church (1843; 140sittings), and St Columba's Roman Catholic church (1839; 300 sittings). The Academy, rebuilt in 1820, is an excellent higher-class school, at whose predecessor Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881) led ` a doleful and hateful life ' (1803-10) under Old Adam Hope, and later was mathematical master (1814-15). Distinguished Annanites were the blind poet Thomas Blacklock(1721-91), James Johnstone, M.D. (1730-1802), Bryce Johnstone, D.D. (1747-1805), Hugh Clapperton (1788-1827), the African explorer, and Edward Irving (1792-1834), the great-souled founder of a little sect A place of indefinable antiquity, Annan, say some authorities, was a Roman station, and in 1249 possessed a royal mint. Its closeness to the Border exposed it to frequent assaults, and in 1298 it was burned by the English; Robert Bruce two years later built or restored the Castle, on what is now the old churchyard, and this he made his occasional residence. Hither Edward Baliol, in December 1332, within three months of his coronation at Scone, summoned the nobles to do him homage; and here Archibald Douglas, at the head of 1000 horsemen, surprised him by night, slew Henry, his brother, with many lesser adherents, and drove him to flee on a barebacked steed, half-naked, to Carlisle. In 1547, after a valiant resistance, the town was taken by Lord Wharton, who sacked and burned it; it suffered so grievously from the English raids of the two next years, that the sum of £4000 was levied from the bishops and the clergy to repair and strengthen its defences, and, 6000 French auxiliaries landing soon after in the Clyde, the greater part of them were sent to form its garrison. The castle, once more demolished in 1570 by the Earl of Sussex, was once more rebuilt; but in 1609 the townfolk, too poor to build a church themselves, by leave of Parliament either converted it into a place of worship or used its stones to build one, and no trace of it now is left, the last having disappeared in 1875 along with the old townhall. The Great Rebellion brought Annan to a miserable plight, from which it was rescued soon after the Restoration by the privilege of collecting customs; at Annan the retreating army of Prince Charles Edward bivouacked, 20 Dec. 1745- Under a charter of James VI- (1612), renewing one granted by James V. (1538), the burgh is governed by a provost, 3 bailies, and 9 councillors, with a dean of guild, a treasurer, and a town clerk. It unites with Dumfries, Kirkcudbright, Lochmaben, and Sanquhar in returning one member to Parliament, its parliamentary and municipal constituency numbering 422 in 1881, when the corporation revenue amounted to £618, and the annual value of real property within the burgh to £10,805 (£5164 in 1843). Pop. of municipal burgh (1841) 4409, (1861) 4620, (1871) 4174, (1881) 4629; of parliamentary burgh (1841) 3321, (1861) 3473, (1871) 3172, (1881) 3366 The parish of Annan also contains the villages of Bridekirk and Creca, 3 miles N by W and 4¾ NE of the town. Bounded N by Hoddom and Middlebie, E by Kirkpatrick Fleming and Dornock, S by the Solway Firth, and W by Cummertrees, it has a length from N to S of from 3¾ to 5¼ miles, a width from E to W of from 2¼ to 4¼ miles, and an area of 12,047¾ acres, of which 994½ are foreshore and 137¾ water- The Kirtle traces for ¾ mile the boundary with Kirkpatrick-Fleming, and the Annan flows 33/8 miles on the Hoddom border, and 4¾ through the interior to the Firth, which here was crossed by the open iron Solway Viaduct (1866-69). Was, since that `triumph of engineering art,' suffered such damages from masses of floating ice on 31 Jan. 1881, as to need almost entire reconstruction. With banks from the English and Scottish shores, 440 and 154 yards long, it had itself a length of 1960 yards, divided into 10 yard spans, ran 34 feet above the Solway's bed, and with the embankments cost £100,000. The shore of the Firth-3¼ miles in Annan parish-is low and sandy; and inland the surface is comparatively level, at Woodcock Air in the NW and Hilltown towards the NE but little exceeding 400 feet of altitude, whilst lesser elevations are Hillside (100 feet), Whitesprings (223), Creca (356), Bonshawside (323), and Mossfoot (305)- The rocks, belonging to the Carboniferous formation, yield plenty of good sandstone, but not any workable coal; the soils are exceedingly various, including rich alluvinm, strong argillaceous and fine friable loam, reclaimed moss, and barren moor, but most of the area is under cultivation. Mansions, with distance from the town, proprietors' names, and the extent and yearly value of their estates within the shire, are:-Mount Annan, 2 miles N (Lieut- -Col. Thos. Dirom, 1502 acres, £1480); Newbie, 2 miles SW (W. D. Mackenzie, 2929 acres, £5263); Ashly Grange, 1 mile (Mrs Halbert, 356 acres, £1079); Fruidspark, less than 1 mile (- Bogie, 238 acres, £612); Northfield, 1 mile N; and Warmanbie, 1½ mile N. In all, 7 proprietors hold within Annan a yearly value of £500 and upwards, 34 of between £100 and £500, 57 of from £50 to £100, and 84 of from £20 to £50 The seat of a presbytery in the synod of Dumfries, Annan is divided between the quoad sacra parishes of Annan (living £477), Bridekirk, and Greenknowe, and contains, too, the mission church of Kirtle. Five public schools are the Academy, the infant and girls' schools, Breconbeds, Greenknowe, and Bridekirk, the last under a separate school-board. With respective accommodation for 197, 225, 138, 176, and 169 children, these had in 1879 an average attendance of 116, 214, 89, 119, and 97, and grants of £101, £167, £73,16s, £74, 3s., and £87, 10s Valuation (1881) £15,801, 7s 5d. Pop. of civil parish (1801) 2570, (1851) 5848, (1871) 5240, (1881) 6791; of quoad sacra parish (1881) 4943.—Ord. Sur., shs 6, 10, 1863-64.

The presbytery of Annan comprehends the old parishes of Annan, Cummertrees, Dornock, Graitney, Hoddom, Kirkpatrick-Fleming, Middlebie, and Ruthwell, the quoad sacra parishes of Bridekirk and Greenknowe, and the chapelry of Kirtle. Pop. (1871) 14,676, (1881) 14,426, of whom, according to a Parliamentary return (1 May 1879), 2312 were communicants of the Church of Scotland in 1878, the sums raised by the above 11 congregations amounting in that year to £861.

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

Linked entities:
Feature Description: "a royal and parliamentary burgh"   (ADL Feature Type: "cities")
Administrative units: Annan Burgh       Dumfries Shire ScoCnty
Place: Annan

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