Bishopton and Langbank in old picture postcards volume 2

Bishopton and Langbank in old picture postcards volume 2

:   John F. Anderson
:   Renfrewshire
:   United Kingdom
:   978-90-288-4951-8
:   80
:   EUR 16.95 Incl BTW *

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Fragmenten uit het boek 'Bishopton and Langbank in old picture postcards volume 2'

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The history of the parish of Erskine , Renfrewshire, in which are located the villages of Bishopton and Langbank. can be traeed back to 3300 B.C. The people ofthe New Stone or Neolithic Age lived at th at time, and a summer camp ofthese peopie was discovered at Whitemoss Farm, near Bishopton, in 1954. Crannogs were built in the Bishopton and Langbank area. The majority of these riverside dwellings in this area date from the first and second centuries A.D. In 1901 the crannog opposite Langbank Parish Church was excavated, but there are few remains of it today. The crannog dwellers at Langbank were from a tribe who originally came from Devon and Cornwall.

During the Roman occupation of Britain, a fort was built by Agricola at Bishopton on the site of what is now Whitemoss Farm. This fort was built about 80 A.D. for 500 soldiers, and extended to 4.5 acres. Archaeological excavations were undertaken at Whitemoss from 1951-1954. The barracks which were excavated had held horsemen. The Romans were based at this fort in order that they could patrol the river as far as Old Kilpatriek to guard the Dumbuck crossing.

The church of Erskine was originally included in the Diocese of Glasgow. Thus, it was under the jurisdiction of the Glasgow c1ergy who collected Church revenues throughout the Diocese. However, in 1207 this arrangement was altered and in that year there appeared 'a confirmation of the church of Eriskyne by Florentius, Bishop of Glasgow to the Abbot of Paisley'. From that time until the Reformation the church at Erskine belonged to the Abbey of Paisley. The first minister of Erskine after the Reformation was the Reverend Robert Sempill in 1567.

The site of the present Erskine Parish Church, Bishopton, dates from 1813. Prominent families in the parish of Erskine were the Erskines, the Brisbanes of Bishopton. and the

Stewarts, Lords of B1antyre. The Erskine Estate was owned by the Lords of Blantyre and their descendants from 1703 until 1912. On the wider canvas of Scottish history, Walter Stewart, 6th Lord Blantyre (1683-1713), as a Member of the Scottish Parliament, voted against the Union of the Scottish and English Parliaments which took place in 1707. John Brisbane of Bishopton, as a Baron of the Shires in the Scottish Parliament, then residing in Ayrshire, also voted against the Union of the Parliaments .

The Bishopton area has been known for a considerable period as an agricultural area. However , wh en Walter. 6th Lord Blantyre, purchased the Erskine Estate at the beginning of the eighteenth century, the condition of the farms in the parish was very paar. Several decades later, in about 1775, ncw methods of farming were introduced by Alexander, 10th Lord Blantyre. One of his innovations was the rotation of crops, which was at first resented by the farmers, who could not appreciate the value of such a change. Later, in the 1840s, the Reverend Robert W. Stewart, minister of Erskine, drew attention to the recent system of tile-draining on the parallel or furrow system, which had been introduced in the farms of the parish.

Raad transport developed during the eighteenth century. The Old Greenock Raad was a turnpike road for stagecoaches, and was built about 1750. A new raad was built in 1793. This raad followed the line of the present Greenock Raad in Bishopton. The harses for the stage-coaches were changed at the Bishopton Old Inn at the west end of the village. No trace of this inn now remains. There was formerly a toll-house at the intersection of the roads near the inn.

When the new road came into use , houses were built on the land of the Wester Rossland Estate. A village was established on the line of Greenock Raad at the west end of Bishopton.

This was named Blackstown in honour of the mother of Mr. Matthew Rodger , who was the owner of the Wester Rossland Estate. In the 1840s there were 26 families who lived in Blackstown. At the same period there were only five houses, which contained twelve families in the hamIet of Easter Rossland, which was also on the line of the new Greenock Road at the east end of present -day Bishopton .

River transport also developed in the eighteenth century. By the early 1840s it was possible to travel to Glasgow or Greenock by steamboat from Erskine Ferry. As a result of this, stage-coaches no longer operated between Glasgow and Greenock.

The coming of the railway to the parish in 1841 had a great impact on the community. Rates for luggage on the railway were so moderate th at the local farmers generally preferred it to any other form of transport for heavy goods. The total cost of building the Glasgow, Paisley and Greenock Railway was ±:800,000. Within a year of its completion, the number of passengers travelling on the steamboats had been cut by half. The village of Langbank dates from the middle of the nineteenth century. By 1864 there was an entire row of substantially built villas facing the river, while others had been constructed above the line of the railway. In the First Statistical Account, the Reverend Walter Young in describing the names ofthe places in the parish of Erskine, pointed out that 'the greatest part of them are English compounds, descriptive of the situation of the place, or expressing some circumstance relating to it'. In this context he referred to 'Longbank' which is now rendered in the Scots form as Langbank.

By 1881 the population of Bishopton was only 308, while Langbank's was slightly higher at 322. In 1900 there were only 21 houses in Bishopton. while there were 69 in Langbank. However, there was growth in house-building in Bishopton

after this time. A further 79 houses were built by 1920 and 133 more by 1940. In addition to these, 100 houses were built in Bishopton by Renfrewshire County Council before the Second World War. By contrast, only 21 new houses were built in Langbank from 1900 until 1952. Between 1945 and 1959 almost 90 new houses were built in Bishopton. Considerable housing development took place there in the 1960s and 1970s. The population of Bishopton in 1988 was 5,610. There have been some recent housing developments in Langbank, but the latest population figures for the village were much lower than Bishopton , and stood at 860.

The small rural parish of Erskine has been greatly affected by the many changes which have taken place during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The railway, the deveopment of the Georgetown Filling Factory and the building of the Royal Ordnance Factory have all had a great impact on the lives of people in the area. A major development in recent years has been the building of the new town of Erskine , which now greatly exceeds both Langbank and Bishopton in terms of population and housing development. The keys of the first completed house in Erskine were handed over on 19th April 1971. By 1975 the population of Erskine was 5,100 and in 1981 it had more than doubled to 10,480. The most recent population figures in 1988 showed that 11,790 persons resided in the town. Industrial developrnent also continues and recently the American computer firm of Compaq built a factory on land which previously belonged to Erskine Hospital.

However, despite these changes, access is easily gained from both Bishopton and Langbank 10 the nearby countryside. Also, the grounds of Formakin House, Finlaystone House and Erskine Hospital provide much of interest and retain their rural charm at a time when there is increasing encroachment on agriculturalland for building purposes.

1. Funeral of Sergeant-Major Bell. This is the gun-carriage carrying the flag-draped coffin of Sergeant-Major Bell who died in March 1914. He was in his 86th year and from 1889 until 1909 was the caretaker at Erskine Hall. Sergeant-Major Bell had an adventurous military career which began in March 1846 when he joined the Royal Artillery. He served in the Crimean War of 18541856 and took part in the battles of Alma, Inkerman, Balaclava and Sebastopol. In 1859 he was sent to Scotland as a drill instructor and in 1882 he was appointed Brigade Sergeant-Major of the 1st Renfrewshire and Dunbartonshire Volunteers whose he adquarters were at Greenock. In 1912 th is Crimean veteran was awarded the meritorious service medal with an accompanying gratuity of no per annum in addition to his pension, Sergeant-Major Bell was greatly admired by the villagers of Bishopton both for his genial nature and for the diligence with which he carried out his duties as caretaker at Erskine Hall. He was interred in Erskine churchyard on 21st March 1914 alongside his wife whom he pre-deceased by only two days,


2. Erskine Golf Club. A group of ex-servicemen and others are seen here in front of the club-house in the 1920s. Erskine Golf Club was formally opened in March 1904 by Mr. W.A. Baird of Erskine House, grandsou of the 12th Lord Blantyre. Mr. Baird financed the cast of the course which was Iaid out by Willie Fernie of Troon, It was Mr. Baird who drove the first ball after which an exhibition game was played between Willie Fernie and Bernard Sayers of North Berwick. Special membership terms for the club were offered to the first two hundred who joined, but one hundred were already members at the time of the official opening. Two days after the opening, a meeting was held to elect office-bearers and appoint a managing committee. The club-house was opened by Mr. Baird on 28th January 1905 and was described by the 'Paisley and Renfrewshire Gazette' as 'a particularly handsome structure and is replete with every necessity for the golfer's game'.

3. Erskine Hall. This building was opened in August 1889 with the first of a series of special evangelistic services. The cost of building the hall was met by the 12th Lord B1antyre. The area of the second f100r was designed to seat 350 persons, although this figure could be extended to 400 if necessary. This part of the hall was fitted with a reading-desk and pulpit. Special attention was given to the ventilation system which was the work of Mr. Henry Wilson, who was Lord Blantyre's foreman joiner. The ground floor on the right of this view was to be occupied by a house for the caretaker, the first appointment to this position being Sergeant-Major Robert Bell. Erskine Hall was built by the 12th Lord Blantyre in memory of his daughter, the Marchioness of Ailsa. In 1927 Erskine Hall was purchased by Erskine Parish Church for the sum of f550 and is now known as the Church Youth Centre.

4. The Station. A Caledonian Railway steam engine halts at Bishopton on its way to Paisley and Glasgow in this pre-First World War scene. There was formerly a goods yard at the station and two wagons are visible on the right of this view. The appearance of the station has now completely altered as the signalbox and the waiting room on the left have been demolished. The footbridge over the railway has also been replaced. However, the central section of the station buildings with the crow-stepped gables on the right still remains after a major refurbishment by the Strathclyde Passenger Transport Executive in 1988. The advantages of the Bishopton Railway Station were emphasised in the sale document of the Erskine Estate in 1912 where it was mentioned that there was an excellent train service between Bishopton and Glasgow with about 17 trains daily each way. The 12th Lord Blantyre insisted that the architecture of the station buildings was to be of an equal standard to the buildings of the Erskine Estate.

5. The Station. The train from Wemyss Bay is seen entering Bishopton Station in the early years of this century. The train is being drawn by the six-coupled engine No. 826 of the Caledonian Railway. During the construction of the Glasgow, Paisley and Greenock Railway in 1839-1841 there were considerable problems when the tunnels were being built at Bishopton, as it was necessary to cut through solid whinstone rock. The work was carried out mainly by manuallabour. There we re delays in the building of the tunnels during a long period of wet weather which extended from July 1839 until February 1840. At the beginning of March 1841 four hundred men were working at the Bishopton tunnels, which were nearing completion. The railway was opened on 30th March 1841 when the first train left Greenock at 11.15 a.m. and arrived in Glasgow at 12.20 p.m. Large numbers of workmen were still employed after the opening in the tasks of extending and widening embankments and cuttings on the railway.

6. Station Staf]. This is a group of the staff of Bishopton Station in the 1930s. The stationmaster, Mr. Matthew Woodrow, can be seen on the extreme left of this group. After his retirement, Mr. Woodrow went into business as a newsagent near the station. After his death in 1946, the shop was taken over by his son Mr. John D. Woodrow. It can he seen here th at passenger accommodation was more generous than it is today, with both a general waiting room and a waiting room for ladies on the eastbound platform. The coming of the railway to Bishopton had a major impact on the area. However, it was not universally welcomed and in 1842 was strongly condemned by the Reverend Robert W. Stewart of Erskine Parish Church.

·enue. Bishou on.

7. Dargavel Avenue. The tree-lined avenue led to Dargavel House which is now within the grounds of British Aerospace, one mile from Bishopton Station. In the 1880s the Laird of Dargavel was William Hall Maxwell, who had succeeded to the estate on the death of his father in 1866. He was appointed Deputy-Lieutenant of Renfrewshire in 1873. William Hall Maxwell was the representative of two ancient Renfrewshire families, the Halls of Fulbar and the Maxwells of Dargavel. The Maxwells held the lands of Dargavel by charter from the Earls of Lennox, as superiors, from the early years of the sixteenth century. The Hall family was in possession of the lands of Fulbar at the end of the thirteenth century. Dargavel House was originally built in the sixteenth century, but there were Baronial additions by David Bryce, R.S.A., in 1849 with further alterations by Peter Macgregor Chalmers in 1910. There is now a Dargavel Avenue in Bishopton.

8. Easter Rossland. This is known as 'the Old CastIe' and is situated in Kingston Raad. In 1912 Easter Rossland was one of the thirty lots of Erskine Estate whieh we re offered for sale by auction. This particular lot consisted of a row of three two-storeyed stone built and slated cottages which had a gravitation water supply. One of the cottages had three rooms and a kitchen, while the others each had two rooms and a kitchen. All of the cottages were described in the sale document as having a box room, pantry, coal cellar and washing-house. At the time of the sale in 1912 the three cottages had been let on an annual basis and produced a total rent of f40.75. Beside the cottages there was a three-stalled stable which was let at an annual rent of i5 along with the small walled park. In the Paisley and District Directory of 1927 Mr. J. Hall is listed as a blacksmith with his address given as 'Old Castle' , which are the premises in this photograph. There were two other blacksmiths in Bishopton at that time, Mr. A. Craig of Freeland Smithy and Mr. J. Stirrat, The Smithy, Bishopton.

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