Friday, 15 January 2016

Stanley Mills – Our Industrial Heritage

Stanley Mills – Our Industrial Heritage.

Part One . 1786  to 1813 . Why the Mill was built and why the Weavers played  such a vital part in Scotland's changing society .

( we acknowledge the information published by Historic Scotland and Wikipedia and used in the  foregoing account of this unique treasure ) .

Stanley is a town ( or perhaps a large village ) named after  Lady Amelia Stanley, the daughter of James Stanley, 7th Earl of Derby. In the 1600s the area around Stanley was part of the estate of Earls of Atholl and was also the location of Inverbervie Castle. In 1659 the castle was renamed Stanley House in honour of the wedding of John Murray, 1st Marquis of Atholl and Lady Stanley. When the village was built in the 1700s it took the name Stanley after the nearby house.

No , it’s not quite in Strathearn but  a close neighbour lying just north of the Fair City that is Perth . The Stanley Mills were founded  over 200 years ago  by a group of Perth merchants  with technical  and financial support  from Richard Arkwright  , the “ father “ of the English cotton industry . The Bell Mill  which was the original cotton mill , is probably  the best  surviving example   of an Arkwright  - designed  mill  anywhere in the World . 

Textiles were manufactured  here almost continuously from 1787  through till 1989 . Over the years  buildings were added , rebuilt  or  demolished  as demands changed. Likewise the machinery  used came and went . These  were initially powered  by water and  eventually as technology developed , by electricity generated  by  water  power  from the Tay .

Why  did this enormous complex  come  about away back at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution in 1786 ? Perthshire  including the areas around Perth  and Strathearn were an important  hub  of the  traditional hand loom weavers . In the 18th century , towns such as Crieff had over 40 % of the working population engaged in hand loom  weaving . This  was  a cottage industry and the weavers  were  an important part of the social and political  development not only of their  own towns or villages  but of the country as a whole .The traditional wool gave  way  to flax  and  eventually to cotton imported in its  raw state  from the southern  states of what was  to become the USA .
For decades through the early 18th century, Scottish hand loom weavers  could  be termed ,in modern parlance, middle class . Research into the Crieff weavers  carried out during an Open University thesis undertaken  by myself in the 1990s showed  that they worked in many instances a  four day week and found  time a plenty  to engage in social and political chat .The Weavers Guilds throughout Scotland were  prominent in political and electoral reform  by the late 18th century. This coincided  not only with the onset of the Industrial Revolution but also with  a large influx of Irish weavers to the West of Scotland and Glasgow in particular and a forcing  down of the “ going rate “ for the production of hand  loom woven  cotton . The Calton Weavers Strike of 1787 was a prime example.

It was the earliest major industrial dispute in Scottish history, when troops fired on demonstrators, killing six. The Calton weavers became Scotland's first working-class martyrs. Ultimately the strike contributed to a workers movement which achieved fundamental changes in the relationship between workforce and employers. The Calton Weavers massacre of 1787 is commemorated in a panel by Scottish artist Ken Currie in the People's Palace, Glasgow, commissioned on the 200th anniversary of the event.
Calton at the time of the strike was a hand weaving community just outside Glasgow in Scotland. At the peak of Calton's prosperity, wages had risen to nearly £100 a year and weavers had risen to high places in society. However, mechanization and growth in the labour force had since then severely depressed wages.

In the summer of 1787, the journeymen weavers of Calton marched in organized processions through the streets of Glasgow to protest a 25 percent wage cut and lock out. The dispute grew bitter, with the strikers cutting the webs from the looms of weavers who continued to work, and making bonfires in the street from the contents of warehouses. On the 3rd of September the city magistrates, with a force of officers, went to the Calton but were driven back by the mob. A detachment of the 39th Regiment marched under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Kellet, and a pitched battle occurred at Parkhouse, in Duke Street. A volley of musket fire killed three of the weavers. Three other weavers were mortally wounded. Further disturbances later in the day were quickly suppressed by the troops. On the following day more looms were wrecked, but the riots quickly subsided.
In 1788 James Granger was tried in Edinburgh as the ringleader of the strike. He was aged 38, married and had six children. He was found guilty of "forming illegal combinations" and was sentenced to be publicly whipped through the streets of the city at the hands of the Common Executioner, and then to banish himself from Scotland for seven years. James Granger later returned and took part in the 1811-1812 strike. He lived to the age of 75.

The part played  by many weavers in the fight  for equality fair representation both here in Scotland and indeed in the North of England  has been much underplayed . The " Radical War " of 1820 again featured weavers as the  main characters. 

On 5 April 1820 a group of striking weavers was intercepted on the way to the Carron Ironworks, after being infiltrated by government agents. The men, who were protesting following a period of economic hardship and unrest were intending  to capture weaponry  from the works but were ambushed by an armed force outside the village of Bonnybridge near Falkirk. In the ensuing struggle, at least four of the weavers and a lieutenant and sergeant were badly wounded. Three of the rebel leaders - Andrew Hardie, James Wilson and John Baird were arrested and later executed. Nineteen men were transported to the penal colony of  Botany Bay as  punishment .

It is perhaps not surprising that Stanley Mills were erected in 1786 as hand loom weaving was in turmoil and decline from a variety of pressures. Why was this particular locus chosen? It was a far distance from the West of Scotland ports which brought the raw cotton from the Americas but had one very important supporting factor in its choice. The River Tay is the fastest flowing river in these islands and at Stanley it drops 6.5 metres or 21 feet as it snakes around the peninsula on which the mills were built.

Who was behind the development at this particular location ? It was the local land owner – John Murray , 4th Duke of Atholl who realised that by tapping the power of the mighty Tay , he would  have water power in abundance .A key figure in  determining that such an enterprise would indeed  be viable  was the local MP George Dempster . Dempster visited the first ever water powered cotton mill at Cromford in Derbyshire . Here he  met the owner Richard Arkwright and persuaded  him to be involved at both Stanley and at New Lanark .A company was established ( The Stanley Company ) with seven partners  including Arkwright , Dempster and Luncarty bleach works owner William Sandeman. 

William Arkwright 

The new  enterprise required a considerable labour force and some 80 families were 
" recruited " from the Highland counties of Scotland . This again  was utilising a somewhat desperate situation  to benefit  the entrepreneurs . These  families  were, by and large , the victims of the notorious clearances which have  cast a dark shadow over our past history .

A family and the remains of their deliberately demolished house 

In Perthshire , the Clearance had involved the Atholl and Breadalbane Estates , when families had been evicted from their tenanted homes  to make way for the more profitable sheep farming.

By 1795  some 350 people were working  at the Stanley Mills . Of this 350 persons some 300 were women and children under 16 years of age .

Arkwright's  involvement with Stanley had  ceased  in 1787 . The Mill however  
thrived until a double " whammy " hit it in quick succession . The French Revolution and the ensuing wars had a serious  effect on trading creating an economic slump  . On top of this set back , there was a serious  fire in the East Mill forcing the Mills  to close down .

The Mills  were  bought in 1801  by James Craig, a Glasgow muslin manufacturer for
 £4, 600 . Craig was bank rolled  by David Dale , the " father " of the Scottish cotton industry and founder of the mills at New Lanark .Stanley was at this time  managed  by Robert Owen , Dale's son in law . 

Robert Owen

Owen  was a Welsh social reformer  who had  met and married Dale's daughter .He ran the Mill in New Lanark prior  to coimg to Stanley . At New Lanark , about 2,000 people had associations with the mills, 500 of whom were children brought at the age of five or six from the poorhouses and charities of Edinburgh and Glasgow. The children were well treated by Dale, but the general condition of the people was unsatisfactory. Many of the workers were in the lowest levels of the population; theft, drunkenness, and other vices were common; education and sanitation were neglected; and most families lived in one room. The respectable country people refused to submit to the long hours and demoralising drudgery of the mills.

Many employers operated the" truck system" and paid workers in part or totally by tokens. These tokens had no value outside the mill owner's "truck shop". The owners could supply shoddy goods to the truck shop and charge top prices. This abuse was stopped by a series of "Truck Acts "  (1831–1887), making it an offence not to pay employees in common currency. Owen opened a store where the people could buy goods of sound quality at little more than wholesale cost, and he placed the sale of alcohol under strict supervision. He sold quality goods and passed on the savings from the bulk purchase of goods to the workers. These principles became the basis for the cooperative shops in Britain, which continue in an altered form to trade today.
Owen's greatest success was in support of the young. He can be considered as the founder of infant child care in Britain, especially Scotland. Although his reform ideas resembled those of European innovators of the time, he was probably not influenced by such overseas approaches; his ideas on ideal education were his own.
Although Owen achieved  renown as a social reformer  , his acumen as a mill manager was perhaps not quite as able . The Stanley Mills closed  down in 1813  with debts  totalling  some £ 40 000 .

Part Two : This covers  the re opening of the mill in 1826 and traces its history through to its eventual closure in 1989 .

Sunday, 10 January 2016

Strowan Past and Present

Strowan Past And Present

The old bridge of Strowan was demolished in the 1960s and replaced with a modern structure about half a mile downstream . This realigned the road from Monzievaird thus virtually isolating the old market place of Strowan and the ancient kirk to the east . 

The name Strowan is derived from Saint Rowan who is reputed to have lived in this airt in the mid seventh century . He was  a  Celtic saint who is recorded as having been involved in the contentious debate of the time  over the keeping of Easter . Rowan crossed swords with the formidable Fiaan , Bishop of Lindisfarne in this matter .

Strowan House with the Strowan Cross clearly depicted about 1900

Old Strowan Bridge


New Strowan Bridge 

The church has been in a ruinous state for many a long year . This account written in an article penned in the 1880s could well have been written in 2006 .

The ruins of the old Church or Chapel of Strowan surrounded by the kirkyard are near the bridge  . It had been a thatched one storey erection . The East gable and a considerable part of the side walls are standing . Several memorial stones are built in the walls but there is now difficulty in deciphering them owing to defacement and the masses of ivy which cover the buildings . It ceased to be used in 1804 when the new Parish Church of Monzievaird and Strowan was erected about a mile northwards . The old school and teacher’s house was close to the Southern wall of the kirkyard .It was latterly a stable but was demolished a number of years ago . 

The only remaining gable wall ( the east one ) of the old kirk

We have heard old men , whose history dated from the end of the last century , tell of the worshiping in the old kirk . The young people gathered at seven o’clock in the Sunday mornings to receive instructions from the minister . Long before the hour for public worship , the inhabitants of the surrounding braes and uplands would assemble in the kirkyard and discuss private and parish matters , and retail the news of the district. Ministers in those days were looked up to and venerated in a manner we now little understand . If traditions can be believed , they did their best to promote harmony and peace in their bounds .

St Ronan’s name was long associated with various things connected with the neighbourhood . Besides the Pool of Saint Ronan , there was Fil - Ronan , ie the festival or fair of Ronan , latterly known as Strowan Market now transferred to Crieff .
Ronan is the name of a fine spring of water and a fish cruive in the Earn close by was also called Ronan .The fairs were held round the Market Cross of Strowan . Tradition says that the Cross of Crieff was taken from Strowan to Crieff upwards of 200 years ( ie circa  1680 ) ago and the rent in the stone took place in transit . Certain it is that the Crieff Cross does not face the East nor any of the cardinal airts . We have heard it said that the stone stood on the South side of the highway beside which it now stands  . The present Cross of Strowan is said to have replaced the previous Cross and tradition says that it was taken out of the kirk or kirkyard for the purpose . It stands on a small mound West from the Old Kirk under the shade of the drooping branches of a lime tree.

It is a Maltese Cross about four feet high .  The arms are 7 inches long and the outer parts are 12 inches broad and 7 inches thick .On the West side are a series of embossed letters and signs .The south arm is broken about 3 inches from the centre as shown by the wavy line on the arm . Part of the lettering is I.N.R.I, being the initials of Jesus Naseremus Rex Judeoum . The embossing is partly indistinct. That on the pillar seems like a shield or coat of arms .There is no lettering on the east side of the stone .

The jures, dewars, bellmen or beadles of Strowan were proprietors in the parish . St Rowan left  three acres of good ground , a little west from the Church to the dewar or bellman , the charter for which required the bellman and his heirs to ring the holy bell of St Ronan under his gown when mass was said . The bell is a large wired hand bell apparently made of brass and iron , but now minus the tongue . It was carefully preserved by the dewars , generation after generation . Over a hundred years ago  , a dispute took place regarding the ownership of the three acres of land and the case was taken to the Court of Session . Upon examination of old records, the bellman’s claim was established . Till about fifty years ago , the dewars occupied the land but for many years both the ground and the bell have been possessed by Mr Graham Stirling of Strowan . A short distance westwards from the Cross are the stables of Strowan , which occupy the site of what was anciently known as Bogha’ farmhouse . Amongst the last , if not the last tenant of the farm was a Mr McRostie whose name still faintly recurs in the traditions  of the district .He was a character and father of nineteen children  . He had a peculiarity in his tongue which caused a thickness or deficiency in his utterance . He tried to rule his own house in proper form and frequently sung Psalms , always reading or reciting a line or two previous to singing . His family and others used to smile at the uncouth sentences as peculiary drawn out .. The line , “ The pelican in wilderness “ , was rendered “ The pelican in wild duck’s nest “ . Bogha’s quaint sayings used to form a frequent subject of gossip and amusement .

Old people used to tell of the great doings of Strowan Market , and how from time immemorial the agents of the Duke of Athole ( sic ) attended in due form and received , in acknowledgement of feudal  rights , a number of graip , spade and rake shafts , after which the Market was declared open .

Strowan House was erected in 1804 by Sir Thomas Stirling , Bart , who died in 1808 . He left the property to the second son of Mr Thomas Graham of Airth , his nephew m being the present proprietor  Mr Thomas J Graham – Stirling , who succeeded to the estate at his birth , and in time assumed the name Stirling . The mansion was considerably improved and enlarged in 1864 .It is nicely situated on the banks of the Earn , and has a fine southern exposure . The small estate of Lochlane lies east from Strowan and was of some note in former times . Old people yet occasionally speak of the Laird and Lady of Lochlane . The mansion house was the old white farm house on the south side of the wood of Lochlane .The last lady was Mrs Campbell , widow of Captain James Campbell , and sister to General Sir Thomas Stirling , previously referred to  . The marriage settlement of these two is dated 3rd August 1760 and one of the witnesses is James Bruce of Kinnaird , the great Abyssinian traveller .  The estate with that of Trewin or Trowan , on the north side of the earn passed into the possession of Lady Baird of Ferntower and is now owned by Lord Abercromby . Lochlane was long owned by the Murrays , and a gravestone inside the walls of the Kirk of Strowan records , in embossed letters round the margin that “ Here lys ane gentleman , John Murray of Lochlane , who departed this life 1632 . “ Across the stone is recorded “ Jean Hum his spouse , 1622 “ . The Earn runs for about a mile eastwards on the north of Lochlane where it has worn a deep bed for itself . Along the high part of the south bank are the remains of what looks like a mill – lade , with ruins of small buildings at short distances along the track . There is no information or tradition concerning the lade , and the source from which  water could be taken is unknown . The works must have been made many generations ago  and cost a considerable amount of engineering and trouble .

Strowan Kirkyard is the burial place of the family of Strowan . One of the most recent interments was that of young Strowan , whose neat marble headstone records that
“ Thomas James Graham – Stirling , Lieutenant , the Black Watch , fell at Tel- al – Kebir , Egypt , 13th September 1882 in his 24th year . “

The Strowan Cross is now displayed in the Old Town Hall in Crieff., but there was another one ! 

Perhaps like this sketch appearing in a local periodical of the late 19th century ?

referred to as the Strowan Cross !


Bell of St Rowan of Strowan 

The Bell of St Rowan is typical of many of that associated with  Celtic saints such as St Fillan . The History of the Parishes of Monivaird ( sic ) and Strowan penned by the local minister the Rev Porteous gives a reasonable amount of information about the Saint whose name is encapsulated in the place name of Strowan . This was written in the mid 19th century and seems to have escaped general publication . One suspects ( or should I say in the much more descriptive vernacular - jalouse ) that these words were seized upon by later Perthshire authors such as Marshall to satisfy the Victorian hunger for the past .

On the east side is the estate and town of Strowan ( or St Rowen ) , as well as Trowen , which seems to have been the eastern part of this estate before the river was made to run this way , named from St Rowen , who also , in some histories , is called Rowan , a clergyman , who was proprietor thereof , AD 660 . He travelled through France and Italy , was made professor in one of the universities of Germany , and was highly esteemed  every where  for his learned writings . The venerable Bede  informs  us that he was daily engaged in controversy against Finan , Bishop of Lindisfarne  , or Holy Island , - the Bishop strenuously maintaining , with all the British churches  , that Easter was to be observed on one day ; and Rowen , with the Pope and Church of Rome , that it ought to be kept on another . It was perhaps for this reason that he was afterwards canonised . He left three acres of good ground  to the bellman of Strowan . The term Dewar ,in Gaelic , signifies a bellman ; and the service required by the charter granted to his heirs  is , to ring the holy bell of St Rowen . This is not the church bell   a fine hand – bell , still carefully preserved by the Dewars , which was rung by the bellman under his gown when mass was said . This land pays nothing to the public  , to the minister or the school master . About fifty years past , a plea happening betwixt the Dewars before the Lords of Session , concerning their right to this land , Andrew Dewar , as advised by his lawyers , applied to to the minister and session , who , upon examination of old records , found  out the right of their claim to a succession in said office as beadle of Strowan ; by which means he carried his plea . We have here St Rowen’s Lin , a part of the river wherein he bathed himself ; and St Rowen’s Dam – dike , going through the water , wherein he had a cruive * , which furnished him with fish on his fasting days . Below this is his well of fine water ; and a little west of the church  is his large stone cross where his market is still kept .

The term “ cruive “ noted above is defined in Warrack’s Scots Dialect Dictionary ( Edinburgh .1988 ) as “ an apparatus for and method of catching salmon in a river “ .

After the above history was written in the early 19th century , it transpired that the Dewars who had established their legal ownership of the “ Bellman’s Acres “ sold out to the then Laird of Strowan ( the Graham – Stirling family , a cadet branch of the Stirlings of Kippendavie near Dunblane ) . The Bell of St Rowan also passed into his possession and the following extract from the minutes of Scottish Society of Antiquaries  recounts how it was passed by TJ Graham – Stirling of Strowan as a donation to their Museum .

The “ Bell of St Rowan “ of Strowan in Strathearn – This bell is reputed to be the “ Bell of St Rowan “ , who is supposed to be St Ronan , as there is a deep pool in the River Earn near the church called “ Pol Ronan “ , and a fair which used to be held in the neighbourhood was called “ Feil Ronan “ . The bell however is a cast bell of the ordinary circular form , and not the tall quadrangular and flat sided form peculiar to the early Celtic Church . It measures 6” in height and 6” in diameter and the metal of which it is composed appears to contain silver . Two holes have been bored through the top of the bell into which the ends of a squarish looped  handle of brass hve been inserted and roughly soldered . This handle has originally pertained to some object of much greater antiquity than the bell into which it is now fastened  , and may probably have belonged to a bell or a bell shrine  of the Early Celtic form . It is rudely engraved with a simple variety of fret , which occurs pretty frequently in the ornamentation of the sculptured stones and Celtic manuscripts  . It seems that this bell had a hereditary keepership  , with a grant of land attached  , like many of the ancient Celtic bells ( see “ Archoeologia Scotica , “  
vol.ii.p.75 ) .