Notes of villagers of c1830, Bridge of Allan Dictated by Miss Annie E Selbie and recorded by her niece, Miss Helen McLean, about 1885.
Mr. Archibald Stirling of Keir, married with one son William and two daughters, Hannah and Elizabeth.
Two sisters of Mr. Archibald also had home in Keir House: Miss Marion and Miss Jean.
Miss Stirling looked after everything connected with the catering for the big establishment.
All meat was killed by the shepherd and cut‑up for the big house and the families on the estate.
The best pieces were sent to the Mansion, and the remainder distributed to different small houses according to the size of the family.
Miss Stirling went through the cottages and took a keen interest in seeing that their was sufficient for their wants and she allowed no waste. If she had reason to think people were not acting wisely, she rated them soundly for extravagance or laziness. Should there be too much meat in the “Kail-Pot” Miss Stirling would rebuke the folk. If however on the other hand she realised that there was apparent want or scarcity of necessities she very quickly had these supplied quickly and generously. Workers and families on the estate were strictly, and at the same time, kindly looked after.
Several generations of the same family were to be found in the service of the Stirlings.
All the children from the time they were able, were taught, and had to take part in harvest and shearing operations on the Estate. One thing that Miss Stirling was particular about was that the young people should be taught manners and strictly enforced. This was exemplified on one occasion when two girls, Janet McLean and Marg. Virtue had been on a message to Keir House. Janet’s face and hands gave satisfaction, as well as the customary curtsey. Miss Stirling turned a stern eye on the other girl who had not shown the respect due to a lady and asked her name. Not receiving a satisfactory answer Miss S said that she was a perfect colt in manners etc., etc.,
On another occasion Miss Stirling met a young man leading a calf when she sternly demanded why he did not lift his bomet? The lad promptly answered “Please mem, if ye haud the calf I’ll dae lt.”
Factor: Mr. John Thom, a Bachelor, who lived with two sisters …. a man beloved and respected by Laird and Tenant.
Butler: Thomas Elder, married and lived In North Lodge, with family including four daughters (Mary, Jean, Janet & Barbara) and two sons (Thomas & William.) Mrs Elder died of Cholera in 1847 or 1848.
Governess: Miss Stone.
Gardener: Ninian Niven, a skilful and excellent man. He was succeeded for a time by his son James.
Head-Keeper: Archibald Moir, who had a wife and family.
Coach-Man: Brother of the above Archibald. Had wife and family. One daughter was afterwards Mrs Paul McCagie. Keir House had always a comfortable and plentiful table. Bread was baked and beer brewed within its walls. When Mr Archibald died carriages were put away and others hired when required from Mr Philp, Bridge of Allan Inn, a tenant of Keir.
Extracts from Newspaper Cuttings:
REMINISCIENCES OF KEIR, 1836‑1841.
Shortly before his death, Mr James Cousin, Inverallan Cottage, Bridge of Allan, late farmer, Blackburn, Chernside, Berwickshire, supplied Dr Paterson with some notes on Keir which we have received permission to reproduce. Mr Cousin, while in the employ of the Keir family, was much appreciated, and received some valuable presents, and his death undoubtedly snaps a ring in the chain connecting the present with the world half-a-century ago. Very few are left able to talk of the life then lived, and Dr Paterson did well to secure Mr. Cousin’s reminiscences, short though they may be. We give them as he wrote them:
“Notes on Keir from May 1836 till May 1841, the Proprietor being Archibald Strirling, Esq. of Keir, etc., who excelled in agricultural and other estate Improvements, and took much interest in the woods. Many trees were transplanted to beautify the place. Mr Stirling being of very active habits and a splendid horseman took daily exercise in visiting the works in operation which were extensive improvements in drainage, etc., under the Deanston system. Keir was at the time famed for Shorthorns, and a white bullock won the premium at the Highland Society’s Show in Glasgow for the bent bullock in the yard. A score of the best highland bullocks ware purchased annually at the Falkirk October Tryst, wintered and fed mostly for household use.
The household arrangements were conducted by my sister, Miss Stirling, a woman of strong mind and tact.
All eatables and part of drinkables were manufactured at Keir, the butler brewing then beer which was tip-top, the housekeeper and the cook making fine breed and the gamekeeper the coarse loaves. The bullocks were killed by Buchanan, the butcher from Bridge of Allan, and the shepherd killed and dressed sheep and pigs. The hens were all white.
Miss Stirling knew how to do things, and gave a grand supper and dance at the New Year and on our Queen being of age, and also at the Coronation, a dance in front of the kitchen door to all employees to the music of Dan Cameron’s fiddle.
Miss Stirling was a majestic woman and was ably assisted by her niece Miss Hanna Stirling, a young lady of much beauty and great aptitude, and was a good spinner at the wheel. No gentleman’s establishment could have been better conducted, no tittle-tattle being heard, accuser and accused having to step on the carpet, and which no doubt kept peace.
Prayers were hold each morning at 9 o’clock. Wages at the time being low, best men paid at 1/6d per day, and women workers, 8d, all sundry who applied were appointed. In fact the poor of Dunblane were much assisted through Mr Stirling’s bounty, the meal girnel during the winter being in daily use, his generosity being such he could not pass a tramp on the road without giving a coin. MrStirling generally rode a Characteristic bay cob named Satan, an animal generally docile with its master, but few others dared to cross its back.”
Dr Paterson once ventured to cross Satan’s back, but that, as Rudyard Kipling would say, is another story.
The present manse of Lecropt was built for the Rev. Dr. Muir in 1814 who was inducted to the Parish in 1803 and who afterwards went to St. James’s Church in Glasgow. He was twice married. His second wife was a Miss Bullough of Loch Couter. He had 12 children, also 5 by a former marriage. The latter came from a farm called the Moon on the Doune road ….. named May MacNab.
When Dr. Muir left Lecropt, the Rev, Peter MacLaren from St. Fillans became Minister. A pleasant kindly man who ministered to his people for 23 Years, and died after the Disruption. Buried in Lecropt, near the Church. Peggy his servant.
The minister was often accompanied by a big dog and the children were afraid of the animal as they teased it frequently The minister would laugh and say “you see I have a good guard.”
The present School House. In olden days the school room stood at the East end, and had to be removed when the Railway cut through the embankment. 0n damp days the mark can still be seen where it stood on the gable of the Schoolmasters House.
School Master: Mr. John Kinnison. Wife Mary. Family: Patricia, Caroline, Mary, Jane, Elizabeth, John, James and William.
Lecropt Kirk, Bellmans House: Robert McPherson, wife and family,
The Ministers Man: Old William Anderson. He lived In the old Mill
Milsey Bank Ladies School: Miss Young teacher. Servant, Mennie McLeish
Rose Cottage: (Built 1700 demolished 1936) James Gillan wife and family. William, James, Margaret, Jean and Christian.
Inverallan House: William Jardine, and family, William, Edward, Am and Mary. Wm Jardine snr was runner at Keir. An expert horseman. Had Orchard where Railway Station now stands
House Next to Inverallan: John Horn, wife and family. William, John, Robert, Menie, Margaret, Isabella, Janet and Ann.
Inverallan Inn: (built 1710)….. Old Janet Baird, one son Robert, daughter Lisbeth. Rab married Betsy Robertson, Nanny their servant.
Meal Mill: (built 1710)…. James Baird the Miller. Wife and family, William, Margaret, Mary. Adam Bennet Flesh House across the road.
Bridge of Allan Inn: John Halley and family. William, George and John.
Smithy and Dwelling House: James Ferguson, wife and family. Helen, Isabella, Christina and Jessie.
Then little Bridge across the lade: – right hand side. First Tibbie Rankine and her Johnnie. Old Mrs Dick and son Johnnie. Annie Gaunt and family: Thomas, James, William, Menie, Isabel, Catherine, Esther and Jean Stirling.
Next door: Robin Knowsay, wife and family. Sandy, John, Peter, Margaret and Bell Ferguson.
Left side of road, between Meal Mill and River Allan:
- First house, James Mitchell the Blacksmith, wife Kirsty – family, Willie, James, John and Jessie. Kirsty sold tea, tobacco, sweeties and superfine scones.
- Second Door: Lewis Haldane, Mill Wright, wife and family – John, William, Peter, Janet and Margaret. Wife Agnes Ferguson.
- Third Door: George Battison, wife and son John, now farmer in Steeds House afterwards occupied by James Robertson, ploughman at Keir, wife Ann Sloan and family – John, James, Margaret Ann, Betsy Isabella, Jane.
- Fourth Door: Helen McLean and her sister Annie, widow Mrs Selby. Family Helen, Ann, Lilias.
After Rose Cottage: Inverallan cottage: William Horn, wife Jane Headrig, family: Jean, Janet, Marion, Isabella, Margaret, Ann, William, Robert (Dean of Faculty in Edinburgh). The above William owned and worked a small distillery and brewery.
Inverallan Inn: William Baird and wife Janet. Family: James and Adam who afterwards were Grain Millers at Bridge of Allan and Dunblane. Second Family: Robert and Elizabeth.
William Baird owned flour mill in the Old Mill, the district where Avenue Park now stands was called Old Mill. The mill was situated about the middle of Avenue Park. Now a dwelling house. Two sons Adam and James. One got Meal Mill and Adam the flour mill at Mill of Keir, and Drumdruills Farm.
James’s family: James Banker in Bridge of Allan
Adam’s family: Married Susan Rutherford.
William Baird’s second wife: One son Rab who married………. Robertson; one daughter Lizzie married……McNaughton, died early.
Meal Mill, James Baird: Wife Mary Rutherford.
House: Green painted door with brass handles, a kitchen in one end and a parlour in the other and off that a double bedroom and again off that a milk house then a byre. A small shop occupied as a flesh house by Adam Bennett next to the Lade. Adam killed sheep or pig or other beast to anyone for a certain sum, and once or twice a week he killed and sold a sheep.
An old row of houses stood at the turn facing present Mill, with back to the public road. You could go in at the one end and come out at the other.
Old Mill. Right hand side: A little below Olivers Inn (Bridge of Allan Inn) stood a red tiled cottage with byre at south end.
Old Mill. Right hand side: going to the Carse stood a row of thatch cottages:
- First occupied by John Bain the miller. Jenny his wife and family – John, James, Jenny and Jean. Across the road stood the flour mill with a green before the door.
- Second occupied by John McLean, wife Agnes Robb, family – William, Annie (died when two years of age), John (died age 4), Archie (died aged 27 and buried in Logie Old Churchyard), Janet and John.
- Third occupied by Lizzie and Jean Ogilvie, next tenant James Boyle, the only Irishman in the Parish of Lecropt. Wife Mary.
- Fourth occupied by Mrs Luke, her maiden name Mary Young. Two sons John and James. The carriers between Keirfield and Glasgow.
- Fifth occupied by Jock McLean, known by the name of Billy, wife Nell Christie, son Hugh, and two daughters Annie and Janet. The last named Mrs Weston of Causewayhead.
- Sixth occupied by Duncan Ferguson, wife Kirsty Dewar.
Going to the Carse on the Left hand side: was the flour mill already mentioned, now made into dwelling houses. Then a row of houses:
- First Door: lived Hugh McLean, wife Tibby Scott, daughter Isobel. Right hand door: Mary Webster and her sister Bell. Upstairs, left hand: John ‘Dollar’ McIntosh, known by the name of the place he came from “Dollar.” He was a cooper to trade, wife Annie Dow, family, two sons and one daughter Abigail. Right Door: Peggy Duncan
- Second Door: left-hand entrance, lived Lizzie Graham, who married a man named James Murray, family – Peggy, Jenny, James and another son. All went abroad. Mr McEwen, wife Margaret Baird, son Willie.
House occupied by Miss Rennie: then road across to coach road at hall.
Old Tiled Cottage with window in end (built at top gable end of Manager’s House)
Right side of cottage – John McIntosh, wife Janet Robb, family: Janet, Mary, James, William and John.
Left side of cottage – Mary McDonald and daughter Peggy.
The above John McIntosh took in the cloth to be bleached. The women were known as latchers – they sewed on the cloth bags in front and pinned the cloth to the ground. There wages were £10 a year.
Flour Mill made into dwelling house:
- Second door upstairs – In one end Jennie McGregor, other end Janet Robb, daughter of Joseph Robb.
- Third door upstairs – Katie (you see) husband named Ferguson.
- Fourth door upstairs – Peter McNee. Left hand. Right side – William Jenkins, wife Jean Buchanan, family, Willie and Peter, daughters, Katie, Nancy, Lizzie who married Gavin Borthwick and went to Dollar. Katie Jenkins married Alex. Virtue, brother of George Virtue, uncle of Aunt Jessie (Jessie McLean) by marriage only.
- Lower row – William Henderson, son Tom, daughter Jean; Jean Fechney; Sandy Fraser and his father; Will Martin and wife Jess McNie; Duncan Ferguson (called ‘Daily Bread’), wife Nancy McFarlane and family.
- Lower houses – Margaret McFarlane, her mother and sister.
- End of row – James Thomson and son who married Miss Gow.
Chuckie Row: William Henderson the watchman and wife Marge Lawson. No family; William Martin, wife Jessie McNee, family Margaret, Jess, Teenie; James Thomson his wife, a farmers daughter, son James; James Young, grandson of Sandy Young, wife Nellie Lucas, and elder in the U.P. church; Annie Christie, his mother. Annie had three bairns, one to her master, one to Sandy Young and one to W. McEwan.
Two-storey block: Widow Lizzie Graham (Hugh Graham, husband) three daughters and one son James who went to America; Mary Webster – had brother, a soldier, who afterwards worked in James Baird’s Mill. He was the carrier.
Old Mill – Managers House: David Rutherford and wife, two sons, John and Charles, three daughters, one of whom married Sandy Stewart, a saddler in Stirling.
John became the beloved the beloved Bridge of Allan Doctor, and Charles the Bridge of Allan Chemist. David Rutherford came from East Lothian. Born 1765. Fifty years manager of the Keirfield Bleach Works. He died 1842. A good business man, a wise father and a good neighbour. The cholera and smallpox in 1846 was raging in the country and Bridge of Allan did not escape. John Rutherford, the Doctor was in the thick of it and he himself fell a victim in 1849 aged 41.
One daughter, Elizabeth, married Alex. Stewart, Allanvale. Another, Mary married James Baird, and her son was William Baird, the agent of the Union Bank of Scotland immediately prior to Robert Jenkins, William died In 1871 aged 36.
All the makers of the modern bridge of Allan have passed or will yet pass the same way, but it is especially sad that two lives with such potentialities for service to their fellows as those of Dr. Rutherford and Wm. Baird, uncle and nephew, should have been out short when they had no more than reached maturity.
On the death of Mr. Rutherford in 1842 the owner of Keirfield works wrote to the relatives a letter of sympathy saying:
“Take him all in all, his piety, his integrity, his manner of life, his Christian principles and practice – we shall not see his like again.”
Mr McVicar , Master of Keirfield: Mrs McVicar, two sons and two daughters, John, Neil, Miss… & Mary Ann.
The Mill Lade on the Stirling road, was crossed by a tiny Bridge, hog backed, same as the larger bridge crossing the River Allan. The earliest record of a Bridge over the river goes back to 1520. This was strengthened about 1695-1697, was widened and strengthened and road raised to a higher level in 1842.
After crossing the bridge the first house on North side was occupied by James MacLaren wife and family – David, Margaret Mary, Nancy, and Isabella. The above James MacLaren was Millwright at Keirfield.
Behind the MacLarens was a row of small houses, first door occupied by Johnnie Stewart, shoemaker – wife Jenny Wright and family.
But-and-ben – Annie Christie, father and and Con.
Second door – MacGowan, a tailor, wife and family.
Third door – James Hunter a Mason, wife Fanny Rutherford, sons and two daughters, Mary and Kirsty.
Main Street – next to James MacLaren lived James McFarlane a mason, son Tom, mason, and two daughters.
v Next door – Old Sandy Ure and his grandson Sandy.
v Then Donald Brown, wife and son Johnnie and “Meg” the bear.
v Next George Virtue, wife and one son Sandy.
v Next door Old Laird Steenson, wife and niece Maudie.
Main Street, North side – John McIntosh, wife.
v Jennie Robb and family, James, John, William, Janet and Mary.
v Old Mrs. Rae and two daughters.
v Mrs McGibbon, husband had been jailor at Stirling.
v Catherine Gault, and Jenny Clowes.
Gardens along to the old Well Road, and then horse watering trough. A straight road from this, with thorn hedges and green fields on either side on to old Coney Hill house owned and tenanted by Mr. and Mrs. Edmund and family. An orchard and beautiful glen was then here. After this a wood, where Mount Hope Terrace now stands. Next house occupied by Andrew Clason. Farther along stood a two storied white-washed house with thick walls and small windows, occupied by two brothers: James and William Wright, masons on Lord a Estate of Airthrey. Famous curlers. Further the Porter Lodge to Airthrey where old Sandy Morrison lived. He was one of the men who helped to save Mr. Haldane from drowning in Airthrey Loch. He received a free house and pension for life. A shoemaker to trade, had one son Jack.
In Airthrey Castle – Lord and Lady Abercromby who lived In Herbertshire Castle. The eldest daughter Mrs. Fox Maule, the second daughter Miss Abercromby.
South side of road going west – Airthrey Castle Farm, tenanted by Andrew Classon. One sister Miss Agnes Classon and a neice Margaret Classon, Nothing more except fields straight along to the spot whore the Westerton Arms now stands, at that time the Village bleaching green.
The first house farther west – occupied by brothers Stevenson, weavers. Next a red tiled cottage and weavers shop. Next cottage occupied by the “Highland Laddie,” famed for making fiddles.
Next door, Jennie Drapper, the village, laundress.
Then good old Robert Wrights joiner shop and then his wood yard where the Queens Hotel now stands.
The brick house belonging to Mrs. Miller. One daughter Nancy and the first party who left this district for New Zealand.
Next Robert Wrights dwelling house and garden. The family consisted of four sons; William, Robert, James and John; and three daughters; Janet, Mary, and Nancy. Then road down to the Carse.
Toll House – occupied by Peter McDonald, wife and family. Four sons and four daughters.
Next door – 0ld Peter Hosie in one end, old Mrs. Kesson and two daughters in the right hand side and in the centre lived Jean and Marget Drummond, two worthy old women.
Next door – both ends occupied by James Kesson son of the old woman already mentioned. Wife and large family. The centre room occupied by old Annia Tait, mother of Annie Gaunt. A few steps led down to those houses which were thatched.
Next house – permanently occupied by the Exciseman, as long an their services were required, till
duty was wag taken off the paper. His name was Mr. Grassie. and family. Then the River Allan.
On the high ground beginning at Blawlowan, lived Laird Bryce and brother John and four sisters, Mary, Marget, Nancy and Ann. This was one of the few good lodging houses in the district.
Logie manse and Parish Minister, Old Mr.Clason and family. After this field on to the Mine House occupied by Lord Abercromby’s factor. Mr. Boyd wife and family. Old Well Well House kept by George Hollis, wife and family. Hollis supposed to be the man who found the mineral water when working at the copper mine. He and others came from England to work in the mine.
A red tiled row of cottages stood at the corner of field where Hydro boots etc. now reside. In one end lived John Finlayson and one son. Middle house Mr. and Mrs. Hampseed and one daughter who was married to Mr. France, Gamekeeper at Airthrey. Next door occupied by John and James Eadie, pack-men. Then gate in to Westerton. The only cottage on the hill, where Claremont now stands, was occupied by William Hollis, wife and son of aforementioned Hollis.
John Turnbull, a gardener and sister Annie.
Westerton House – belonged to Major Henderson who was in the army and for several years let the place.
Bath House, or as now named Jeanie Bank – occupied by John Hallie and two servants, Annie Halley & Grace McGregor and let for lodgings.
The Old Mineral House – occupied in season from April to end of September. In charge Helen McLean and her two nieces, Annie and Lily Selby.
An old thatch cottage stood at the top of Coneyhill Glen whore old museum now stands. One end occupied by old Tibbie Drummond, west side by John Ritchie, wite and family.
Head of New Street – James Gilchrist, wife Betty. She hanged herself on the end of her bed with a wisp of straw. James Ross, postman, letter carrier to Dunblane and went to Dysart for Salt.
Copper Mine – The working of a copper mine first led to the discovery of the Mineral Springs. When this mine wan first discovered, cannot be accurately ascertained, but a tradition exists that the “Bawbees” coined at Stirling at the coronation of Queen Mary (being the first struck in the kingdom) were made of copper token from thin mine. If this tradition is correct, then the mine must have bean opened before the middle of the 16th century. Work in the mine was abandoned for many years. However, about 1785 working was resumed, but finally ceased in 1807. Several shafts were sunk and anyone interested can see one of the air shafts in the wood immediately behind the bowling green. Other two exits are still to be seen. One is near that noted swimming pool, called Cape Horn on the River Allan – well known to all local boys – another is in the front garden at Mineral Bank.
West side. The entrance is covered with a very heavy iron grating and on looking down you observe a high thick iron door. On the front of this door there is the figure of an angel blowing a trumpet. The depth is about 6 feet, and there is a steady flow of water mixed with an overflow of mineral water. The supply flows into the main sewer. At Lilly Bank Lane, right hand side, over wall in the garden, there is a well, (now covered with flat stones) called the “Pigeon Well” It was here that the beneficial effects of the mineral water became known.
Before the present Henderson Street was constructed about 1809 there was what one would call a Bridle track to Causewayhead and Stirling. Where Mineral Bank stands there was a wooden trough which was always full of mineral water. It was related by old residenters 80 years ago that that cattle and sheep which partook of a drink of this water always arrived at the markets in the south, and always arrived in much better condition. The drink at Mineral was evidently very efficacious.
“What a pity that the brute instinct was, or is, superior to the human.”