Govan, pp.59-60.



And yet how fair the rural scene! 
For thou, O Clyde, hast ever been 
     Beneficent as strong; 
Pleased in refreshing dews to steep 
The little trembling flowers that peep 
     Thy shelving banks among. 


THIS very pretty little village stands on the Clyde, about two miles below Glasgow. The ground around it for several miles is flat, and therefore wants the picturesque interest, of much of the scenery we have hitherto met with on the Clyde. But the soil is in general good, and highly cultivated; and it has altogether a fine rural appearance, particularly when seen from the water. It is continually enlivened by the passing of vessels, of every variety of size and description; and with the steam boats, crowded with passengers, to and from the watering places, farther down the river.

Govan has been often likened, by strangers from the south, to Stratford upon Avon, the birth-place of the immortal Shakspeare; and the resemblance has been greatly increased since the erection of the new church: the tower and spire presenting an exact copy of that of the Cathedral at Stratford. The Public are indebted for this beautiful structure, to James Smith, Esq., of Jordanhill, a gentleman, whose taste and genius, particularly in Architecture, are generally known. The Church, manse, and several of the white houses of the village, are seen peeping at intervals from among the fine old trees which adorn the burying ground and its neighbourhood; and their quiet beauty presents a fine contrast to the lively and bustling picture, which the river constantly exhibits.

Beyond the Church, and close upon the south side of the river, is seen Mr. Pollok’s Factory, for throwing silk, commenced in 1824, previous to which time, there was none for that purpose in Scotland. It is built of free-stone, 150 feet long from east to west; 48 feet broad, and five stories high, besides garrets. In its construction, there are several peculiarities, contrived by the Proprietor, with a view principally to the health of the work people, and to security against fire.

It is heated by steam, and the steam pipes, instead of being suspended from the ceiling of each flat, are disposed in beds in the ground floor, within a few inches of the ground. Round the bottom of the ground floor, are perforations in the walls, through which is constantly rushing a current of fresh air, which, being heated and rarefied, by the steam beds, ascends from them through holes and pipes in the floor, to the upper stories, producing a constant supply of pure and warm air, from the bottom to the top of the factory. The benefit of this is evinced, by the total absence of that feeling of suffocation, met with in most other Factories.

These holes in the floors, answer another purpose: in case of fire, a leather pipe may be dropped through them, and a stream of water thrown upon any part of the factory in a few minutes. At the two ends of the garret, are two cisterns, containing 22 tons of water. These cisterns are filled by a force-pump, worked by the steam engine, and are connected by a pipe, in the course of which, there are several fire-cocks, to which leather pipes can be screwed, and then dropped through the holes. The floors are composed of tiles, laid in a bed of mortar. The continuous substance thus being incombustible, it is expected, that in the event of fire, its progress will be so slow, as to be speedily overcome.

The tiles and mortar which compose the floors, are laid upon strong laths, nailed across joists, which are laid across transverse beams, six feet apart, wedged close upon wall plates at each end, and resting upon two rows of longitudinal beams in the centre, supported on two rows of iron pillars, the whole length of the factory; and so contrived, that any beam can be taken out and replaced without stirring a stone. By this, the transverse beams are made ties to the building, which is very necessary in a stretch of such extent without partitions; and all rest on the butts, or solid parts, none being over windows or other openings.

The smoke is consumed in a great measure, by what the Proprietor considers an improvement on the plan of a M. Gengembre, which was adopted at the mint of Paris, many years ago. In front of the furnace, and on each side of its mouth, are two openings, (furnished with cast-iron slides, by which they may be shut or opened at pleasure,) leading to air-passages, one below, and the other at the side of each flue; the air-passages below the flues are connected by three channels, one immediately behind the bars, the other half-way between these and the uptake, and the third at the uptake; on the top of these channels are built two pieces of cast-iron, so inclined as to form a slit at the top, about half an inch broad, and in length, the whole breadth of the fire-place; by this means, the air from the air-passages is thrown in a sheet into the flame, and thereby consumes the smoke, and being introduced below the flame, it does this without injuring the bottom of the boiler. The air-passages at the sides of the flues, communicate with them by slits in the brick-work, through which the air rushes for consuming, in the flues, any smoke that may have escaped combustion below the boiler.

The boiler is fed with boiling water by means of a subsidiary boiler, which the Proprietor has called a colville, in honour of a young man, Peter Colville, whose suggestion it was. Besides saving fuel, the operation of the steam is thereby more steady, not being damped by the influx of water comparatively cold. The colville is placed at the side of the large boiler, constituting for its length one side of the flue, and is thus kept boiling by that heat which otherwise would be lost in the wall.

4 thoughts on “Govan, pp.59-60.

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