Greenock, pp.103-114.

SelectViewsGreenock

 

Commerce brought into the public walk 
The busy merchant; the big warehouse built; 
Raised the strong crane; and chok’d the loaded street 
With foreign plenty. 
THOMSON. 

 

GREENOCK, the most important sea port in Scotland, is pleasantly situated on the shore of an extensive and beautiful bay on the south bank of the Clyde. It stands in Long. 4° 45′ 30” W., Lat. 55° 57′ 2” N., is distant twenty-two miles from Glasgow, and two miles west of Port-Glasgow. The bay now called the bay of Greenock was in former times called the bay of St. Lawrence, from a small chapel dedicated to St. Lawrence, which in ancient times stood on the site of part of the present town. The name of Greenock may be derived, from the British Graenag, signifying a gravely or sandy place; or, from the Gaelic Grianach, signifying a sunny place.1 Either of these derivatives are sufficiently applicable to Greenock, which has sandy and gravely soil; and is finely exposed to the sun on the margin of its beautiful bay. The latter derivation agrees best with the fact that the bay besides being denominated after St. Lawrence, was also anciently called the bay of the sun.

As at Port-Glasgow, the town of Greenock is confined towards the north and the south, by the sea, and a range of hills; so that extending along the coast its site forms

A plain, long, but in breadth not wide, 
Washed by the northern sea, and on the south 
To equal length back’d with a ridge of hills 
That screens the fruits of the earth, and seats of men 
From the cold blast. 

 

In consequence of this peculiarity in its local situation, the town has stretched out to the east and west; and is in length, including Crawford’s dyke its eastern suburb, upwards of two miles, while its breadth is but inconsiderable. It has a neat, clean, and in some places elegant appearance. The streets are in general too narrow, but in those more recently laid out at the west end, this has been carefully remedied. The houses are many of them lofty, in general well built, and shops well filled with goods, tastefully displayed for the attraction of purchasers, enliven the various streets. What strikes a stranger most, is the commercial bustle, and activity of the people; the continual arrival or departure of steam vessels filled with passengers; and the large ships which crowd the harbours, laden with the produce of distant climes, destined to supply British luxury, or taking on board the produce of British industry to be carried by them to every corner of the habitable globe.

When approaching from the sea, the stranger at once beholds in the crowded harbours, busy streets, and tapering spires of Greenock, with the beautiful villas of its merchants covering shore and hill around, a favourite resort of industry and commercial enterprise; but, if leaving the busy throng he ascends any of the adjoining hills, he must indeed be cold of soul who finds not all the higher feelings of his nature awakened. Let every lover of nature’s beauties, pass some time in ranging among the hills behind the town, and he will find himself amply rewarded for all his toil. We do not intend to direct the visitor to all the best points of view, or to tell him all that he will see; and he will enjoy his delight the more that we do not do so. We may say, however, that from one hill top,2 he will have a view extensive as it is enchanting. Portions of the shires of Lanark, Argyll, Dumbarton, Stirling, Ayr and Bute are seen in all their beautiful variety of wood and water, hill and dale. Should the sun be about to descend behind the mountains of Argyll, as we have here seen him do, surrounded with all the glories, which cloudland – gorgeous land, exhibits, tinging the hill tops with burnished gold, and reflecting all the grandeur of the scene in the calm bosom of the majestic Clyde, the soul will be filled with the surpassing splendour of the scene, and the spectator’s admiration must at once rise from nature up to nature’s God. The works of man, though all around speak of them so loudly, are for a time forgot, and the splendid magnificence of the whole, and the unfathomable wisdom, which spread out so fair a scene beneath a summer sky, can alone be contemplated.

Greenock, notwithstanding the eminence to which it has now attained, is entirely of modern creation. Its site formed originally a portion of the barony of Wester Greenock, from which the name was adopted; and not much more than a century has elapsed, since the place which now presents a rich and commercial city, was occupied by a few miserable huts inhabited by fishermen. The barony belonged of old, to a family named Galbraith; and in the reign of Robert III. it was divided between the two daughters and heiresses of Malcom Galbraith, one of whom married Shaw of Sauchie, and the other, Crawford of Kilbirnie. The two divisions were long held as separate baronies; West Greenock by the Shaws, who also held the barony of Finnart, now part of the estate of Greenock, from whom the present Sir Michael Shaw Stewart is descended, and East Greenock by the Crawfords till 1669, when Sir John Shaw of West Greenock purchased the eastern barony from the female heir of Crawford of Kilbirnie, and thus became the proprietor of all the three baronies. The Castle of Easter Greenock stood on the shore about a mile east of the present town; that of Wester Greenock on an eminence behind the town, surrounded, as Crawford3 says, “with pleasant parks and enclosures, having on all sides a great deal of regular planting with spacious avenues and planting.” The lands of Finnart lie west of those of west Greenock. They formed part of the estates of the noble family of Douglas, and upon their forfeiture in 1445, were gifted by James II. to James, first Earl of Arran, by whom they were disposed in 1510 to Sir James Hamilton his natural son. On his forfeiture in 1540, his estates were annexed to the crown; but the lands of Finnart were bestowed by king James V. upon Alexander Shaw of Sauchie, who in 1542 disposed Finnart and Wester Greenock to John Shaw his son. The barony of Greenock, and the lands of Finnart formed originally part of the parish of Innerkip [Inverkip]; but as already mentioned there was in ancient times a Chapel at Greenock dedicated to St. Lawrence, at which the inhabitants of the barony met to worship. The chapel, however, was swept away amid the wreck of religious houses at the reformation, and the inhabitants of the barony of Greenock were afterwards obliged on the Sabbath to travel six miles, through bad roads and over dangerous rivulets to the church of Innerkip. Much inconvenience being found from the great distance of the parish church, John Shaw of Greenock obtained in 1589, a charter from the king, authorising him to build a church for the accommodation of the tenants and inhabitants of his lands of Greenock, Finnart, and Spangock; and he and they were exempted from any further attendance at their “auld parish kirk” of Innerkip, and from all taxations or imposts for upholding the same. This grant was ratified in parliament in 1592.4 At the time of this grant there was no mention of any town on the barony of Greenock; the inhabitants are described as the “puir pepill duelling vpon his lands and heritage, qlks ar all fischers and of a ressonable nowmer.”

The proprietor having obtained this charter, erected a church and manse, and set apart a piece of ground as a church yard. On the 4th of April 1592, the Synod of Glasgow, authorised the burying of the dead in the new kirk yard of Greenock.5 In 1594 another act of Parliament was passed in favour of John Shaw, by which his lands of Greenock, Finnart, and Spangock, with all their titles, and ecclesiastical duties, were disjoined from the parsonage and vicarage of Innerkip, and erected into a distinct parsonage and vicarage, which were assigned to the newly erected parish church of Greenock. The parish of Greenock continued as thus established till 1636, when there was obtained, from the lords commissioners for the plantation of churches, a decree, whereby the baronies of Wester and Easter Greenock, and various other lands, which had belonged to the parish of Innerkip, with a small detached portion of the parish of Houston, were erected into a parish to be called Greenock, and the church formerly erected at Greenock, was ordained to be the parochial church of which Shaw of Greenock was the patron.6

During the seventeenth century, the inhabitants of the fishing village around the bay of St. Lawrence began to increase, but even in 1695 Greenock and the adjoining barony of Crawford’s dyke did not contain above 1000 inhabitants. They had acquired some shipping, and under the fostering care of the proprietors of the barony, had begun to engage in foreign, as well as in the coasting trade. The natural haven, however, was as yet without any pier. In 1635 the village of Greenock was erected into a burgh of barony by a charter from the crown in favour of John Shaw the superior. This charter gave the privilege of holding a weekly market, on Friday, and two annual fairs. The creation was confirmed, and renewed by a charter of Charles II. In 1670, which was ratified by parliament in 1681. The second charter granted to John Shaw of Greenock and his son an heir Sir John Shaw, power to appoint baillies, clerks, serjeants, and other officers for governing the burgh; also to build, and keep there a tolbooth, a market cross and a trone [weighing machine for market goods]; to hold burgh courts weekly; and to build and maintain free ports at Greenock.

The want of a harbour being severely felt by the inhabitants, Sir John Shaw, in 1696 and again in 1700, applied to the Scottish parliament for public aid, to build a harbour at Greenock, but both his applications were unsuccessful. In 1696, however, he obtained an act of parliament giving him and his heirs, the right of holding three annual fairs at the town of Greenock; and of levying the tolls, customs and casualties at those fairs. But this did not supply the want of a harbour, the necessity for which was so generally felt, that the inhabitants of the town were induced to enter into an agreement with the superior, by which they agreed to their being assessed in 1s. 4d. Sterling, on every sack of malt brewed into Ale within the limits of the Town; the money so levied to be applied to liquidate the expense of forming a proper harbour. This important work was commenced about the period of the union; and where nothing but a landing place of the rudest kind had previously been, a large and commodious harbour was erected; it was formed by an extensive circular pier, with a straight pier in the middle, by which the harbour was divided into two. The work when completed, is said t have been the largest then in Scotland; and in its erection an expence of more than 100,000 marks Scots was incurred, equal to L5555 11s. 1d. sterling. The worthy people of Greenock were at first alarmed at the debt thus incurred; but such was the effect of the new harbour in increasing the trade and population, that the assessment, and harbour dues cleared off the whole before 1740, and left in that year a clear surplus of 27,000 marks Scots, or L1500 Sterling. In 1710, after the completion of the harbour, Greenock was established a custom house port, and a branch of Port-Glasgow.

Previous to the erection of the harbour, Greenock as well as other places on the Clyde appears to have prosecuted the herring fishing. “There were” says Crawford7 “about the year 1670, a Company erected, which employed a considerable stock of money for curing herring; and because His Majesty King Charles II, put in a share of the stock, they were called the Royal Company: they built a large warehouse at Greenock, and made that place the seat of their trade, where they had large cellars for keeping their salt and herring till exporting. By this erection, none, except that Company, were allowed to cure herring before the 20th day of September yearly; which being represented to the government as a very hard restraint upon the merchants: the said Company was dissolved in the year 1684. Their houses at Greenock being exposed to roup were purchased by the magistrates and town council of the City of Glasgow.” Mr. Crawford also informs us that good red herrings were in his time “dried at Crawford’s dike, by Mr. John Spreul, merchant in Glasgow, author of the “Accompt current between Scotland and England, who had large conveniences at that place for preparing them.”

We have seen that the superiors of the burgh, were authorized to build a prison. Such a place of punishment would probably be soon felt to be necessary, when we consider the different strangers who frequented the harbour. The first Jail or Black Hole, which was used in Greenock was a thatched house at the bottom of broad close, where the jugs were hung in terrorem of offenders; and another set of jugs were hung for the same laudable purpose, at the west Quay head, on a house, called the Inspector’s Land. The keep, or as it was called Massy-more of the mansion house was afterwards used as a prison, and continued to be so, till after the year 1765, when the town buildings were erected in Hamilton Street. Before 1720, there were only two houses covered with slate; but subsequent to 1759, a clause binding the feuar to cover his house with slates was generally introduced into the charters granted by the superior. Previous to the year 1751, there were only two streets having names; – the High Street, since called Shaw Street, and Dalrymple Street; and a close called the Highland Closs, and a vennel. Probably up to this period, there were no other streets in existence. Before 1757, a new street was opened from the Royal Close to the Square, which is now called Cathcart Street; and previous to 1760, mention is made in some title deeds of a lane leading from the slip in the harbour to the terrace. At the harbour head there was a row of thatched houses belonging to Sir John Shaw, which were feued out and sold by him about the year 1720; and which were subsequently at various periods pulled down and rebuilt.

The Charter erecting Greenock into a Burgh of Barony, having been in favour of the Superior, it had hitherto continued his Burgh, and was entirely under his government, and that of the officers appointed by him as feudal Superior. But in 1741, Sir John Shaw then the Superior, granted power to the feuars and subfeuars of the Burgh, to meet yearly and choose managers of the Public funds of the town, arising from the voluntary assessment laid on themselves on all malt ground by them at the Mills of Easter and Wester Greenock. By another Charter granted by Sir John Shaw, upon the 2d Sept. 1751, the community obtained the right to the Burgh of Barony of Greenock with all its privileges. Under this Charter, the feuars and subfeuars of the town, were authorised to make choice of their own Magistrates and Councilors, for the constant management of the funds, or common good of the Burgh. Under this Charter, the Magistrates and Council of Greenock are still elected; and it cannot be doubted that it is in some degree owing to the very liberal constitution of the Burgh then erected, that it has risen in so short a period to so great an extent as it has done. The first Magistrates of Greenock, were elected in 6th August 1751. The Council was nine in number, including the two Baillies and a Treasurer: the government of the Burgh has not since been altered; and the municipal affairs are still managed by this magistracy. They have a Baronial jurisdiction within the limits of the Burgh, and hold Burgh courts weekly.

The progress of Greenock may probably be as well judged of, by observing the regular increase it has made of its inhabitants, as by any other means. We have already mentioned that in 1695, the villages of Greenock and Crawford’s-dike, did not contain above 1000 inhabitants; in 1755 they had increased to nearly 3000. In 1791 the population amounted to 15,000; and in 1801 it rose to 18,400; in 1811 to 20,000; in 1821 to 23,500; and in 1823 to 24,000. It is now understood to be about 26,000, including the seamen, who must always be considered as a very efficient part of the population of a sea-port town. This increased population, has of course repeatedly called for an increase of the places of public worship. The external limits originally assigned to the parish, have continued to the present time; but the town has since been divided into three distinct parishes, each having separate ministers ordained for its service. In 1741, a new parish was established, and a minister ordained; but the church and manse were not built till 1759. In 1809, a third parish was established. These parishes are called the West Parish, the East Parish, and the Middle Parish of Greenock. The two last include eastern and middle divisions of the town; and the stipends of the ministers are paid from the town’s funds. The patronage belongs to the Magistrates and feuars of Greenock, who acquired the right from the old patron. In 1828, the two ministers had between them, L450 sterling yearly, besides a free manse and gardens. The West Parish, also called the Old Parish, comprehends the western part of the town, and the greater part of the country district. The patronage belongs to Sir Michael Shaw Steuart. The minister of this Parish now enjoys a larger revenue, than almost any other in Scotland, in consequence of the glebe having been feued out for building, under the authority of an act of Parliament passed in 1801. The revenue of this charge is considered altogether worth nearly L800 Sterling, yearly.

After the erection of the harbour, the shipping and trade of Greenock continued gradually to increase, until about 1760, after which period this increase for a time became very rapid. The dispute however with period this increase for a time became very rapid. The dispute however with the American Colonies, checked its progress for a time; but after the peace in 1783, it again began to make rapid progress. In 1718, Greenock possessed only one Vessel; but in 1760, Greenock and Port-Glasgow, together possessed 327 Ships, measuring 21,274 tons: in 1780, they jointly possessed 334 Ships, measuring 22,287 tons. During the seven years from 1784 to 1791, the shipping trade of Greenock, was nearly tripled in its amount; and in the beginning of the present century [19th], the shipping had increased to a much greater amount, than that of any other town in Scotland. In 1800, Greenock possessed 475 Ships measuring 35,738 tons; in 1810, 380 measuring 44,789 tons; and in 1820, 341, measuring 46,171 tons. It will here however be observed that although the nominal amount of Ships, owing to their being built of larger size, had decreased, the tonnage which must be calculated had regularly increased. This was the registered shipping of Greenock during these years. The following list of the arrivals at Greenock for the year 1809, will give a different view of the shipping for that year.

 
Vessels. 
Tons. 
Total.
From Foreign places and Ireland. 
433 
60,936 
 Vessels.                 Tons.
Coasters. 
363 
19,168 
   947                    85,590 
Fishing Vessels. 
151 
5,486 

The foreign trade of Greenock, may truly be said at present, to be with all places of the habitable globe, where British merchandise can find a market, or foreign produce supply the wants of the British people. The most important part of it is with the West and East Indies, North and South America, and the Mediterranean. The coasting trade is still considerable, but it has obviously decreased since the commencement of the present century, in consequence of the deepening of the Clyde towards Glasgow. The herring trade, originally with the coasting, the most important portion of the trade of Greenock is still thriving. The number of barrels cured in the ten years preceding April 1826, gives an average of 18,608 barrels annually.

We have stated hitherto only the registered shipping of Greenock. The trade, however, is not carried on entirely by vessels belonging to the port. The following will show the present state of the whole shipping clearing inwards and outwards from the harbour.

In the year ending 1st January, 1829, 130 vessels cleared inwards; being 57,873 tons, and 233 outwards; being 58,396 tons in the foreign trade. The coasting trade including Ireland, cleared inwards 1577 vessels, carrying 96,123 tons, and outwards 1374 vessels of 107,420 tons; making a grand total of 319,712 tons, cleared inwards and outwards that year. The registered shipping amounts at present to 364 vessels, or 36,164 Tons.

Commerce and maritime affairs being the great objects at Greenock, manufactures cannot be expected to have flourished greatly. There are, however, various branches carried to considerable extent, connected with the shipping, well worthy of being noticed. Ship-building has long been carried on here, on an extensive scale. The first steam vessel which ventured to navigate the open sea, was fitted out from Greenock, and those subsequently built for the trade between the Clyde and the Mersey. More recently that splendid vessel the United Kingdom was finished, at an expence little short of L40,000 sterling. There are four building yards, from whence vessels of the largest class have been built and fitted out, many of them forming the finest models in ship building. There are five houses for refining sugar, all of them employed on a large scale, and boiling on the new or patent steam principle. Hat-making is carried on extensively; and to Messrs. Muirs of this place, the public are indebted for the best imitation of the Leghorn straw plat, yet produced in Britain. There are large works for the manufacture of steam engines and other machinery, which are of the most complete description; and a flint glass work, which produces various articles of elegant workmanship. Greenock possesses also a bottle work, breweries, distilleries, a pottery, soap works, paper works, tan works, and manufactories of chain cables. There are also extensive cooperages, and works for the manufacture of cordage and sail-cloth.

The harbour and quays of Greenock certainly more than any thing else, attract the stranger’s notice. In 1772 they were purchased by the magistrates and council from Sir John Shaw Stewart, then the superior. At that time they were described as “all and whole the harbour of Greenock, and pier and quays of the same, which have been all built and gained from the sea since the year 1700, consisting of, and comprehending eight acres, three roods, and ten falls.” These harbours, important as they might be at the time they were erected, have since been improved and enlarged at an immense expence. In executing which, a debt of about L100,000 sterling has been incurred; but the dues, after payment of the interest, leave a considerable annual surplus. It is in contemplation at present to enlarge them still farther to the east, for the accommodation of the North American trade; and when this is accomplished, there will be no harbour in the kingdom more commodious. There are three dry or graving docks. The oldest belongs to a number of individuals, formed into a joint stock company; another is attached to the building yard of Messrs. John Scott & Son, and is their own private property; and the third, which is distinguished for its elegance as well as its excellent accommodation to the trade, is the property of the town. The harbours now occupy a space of more than twenty Scotch acres. The management of them is vested in the town council and certain commissioners, appointed under a variety of acts of parliament, which have been from time to time obtained for the improvement of the harbours and the town. Every ship owner paying L3 per annum of dues, is entitled to vote at the election of commissioners; but only those paying L12 per annum, are entitled to be elected commissioners. In 1783 the harbour dues of Greenock produced only L111 4s. 8d.; but in 1792 they produced L812 9s. After more capacious harbours and dry docks had been formed, the dues produced in 1809, L4219 4s. 5d. At present, they and the revenues of the town exceed L10,000 annually.

Among the public buildings, the Custom house is worthy of the first notice. It was erected by government in 1818, at an expence of L33,000, for the accommodation of the excise and customs departments. The situation of this building is peculiarly fine. Close upon the river, with a broad esplanade in front, from which there is a fine view of the opposite coast, it appears to admirable advantage to strangers approaching the harbour. It is a large handsome structure, with an elegant portico in the Grecian Doric order of architecture, supporting a pediment. In the year 1826, the duties of customs for this port amounted to L395,774 2s. 5d.; and in 1828 the sum of L455,597 0 3½d. was that year collected. We have already stated that the excise department is in the same building and has an elegant front towards the east. The revenue from the post office in 1797 was L2800; and in 1828 the sum of L4183 was collected.

The other public buildings are not numerous, but shall be shortly noticed. In 1801 an elegant inn, with an assembly room, was built, at an expence of L10,000. In 1809, the hospital was erected at an expence of L2394; but the want of increased accommodation in the fever wards has rendered it necessary to enlarge the building. The exchange buildings, which contain the assembly rooms, the Greenock bank, and an elegant reading room, though in a confined situation, are an ornament to the town. Immediately behind the exchange is a neat but small theatre. The town-hall, in which the different courts are held, and to which is attached the various public offices, is centrically placed, but has nothing very remarkable in its appearance. A commodious jail and bridewell was in 1808 erected immediately behind the new parish church.

The institutions of Greenock, though not numerous considering the size and importance of the place, shall now be enumerated. There are two public reading rooms, well supplied with metropolitan and provincial newspapers, various literary periodicals, and works on nautical matters. In both these rooms, strangers are freely admitted without subscription or introduction. The one is as already mentioned, an elegant room in the exchange building’s; the other is an equally handsome room fitted up for the purpose at one end of the square. The Greenock Medico-Chirurgical [Surgical] association instituted in 1818, consists of medical practitioners in the town and neighbourhood, who meet once each month; belonging to the institution, there is an extensive medical library, and a museum. A mechanics’ institution has lately been formed, and lectures have been delivered to those attending; a library is attached to it, for the use of the students. The Greenock library was instituted in 1783, and is still carried on by subscription. It now contains nearly 7000 volumes, in all the various branches of general literature and science. There is one newspaper published twice a week, – the “Greenock Advertiser,” commenced in 1802, and is still respectably conducted.

In Greenock, education has been well provided for. The principal seminaries are the grammar school, the academy, free school, and school of industry. There are besides, a variety of other schools, where the various branches of mercantile education are successfully taught. Attached to the mathematical school is an observatory, belonging to the town, which contains the requisite instruments for astronomical observations. There is also an elegant Observatory, belonging to Mr. Heron, for regulating chronometers, which contains some valuable instruments, and an astronomical clock of an ingenious construction.

The illustrious James Watt was born in Greenock; and here, for a time was engaged in business. In honour of this great man, the James Watt club was instituted some time ago, composed of gentlemen belonging to the town, and honorary members in other places. The club-room is in the James Watt tavern, which stands on the very spot where Watt was born. The house was pulled down several years ago, and that which contains the inn erected on its site. Near the ancient manor house on a fine terrace that overlooks part of the town, it is in contemplation to erect a splendid building to his memory. In the principal room of the building is to be placed a fine statue by Chantrey of this benefactor of his country; and in another room will be kept the books of the Greenock library. The subscription for the statue amounts to L1700 sterling; and the son of Mr. Watt has, in the handsomest manner, made a donation of L3000 towards completing the building.

This town has been recently lighted with gas, and supplied with excellent water from the hills behind. The works for the preparation of the gas are situated in the glebe, at the west end of the town, and present an exceedingly handsome appearance to the street. They are constructed, on the best principals; and the gas, the light from which has greatly improved the appearance of the town at night, is said to be of the purest kind. To facilitate the approach of steam and other vessels to the quays at night, a handsome Corinthian pillar, on the top of which is a beautiful light, has been erected on the Custom House quay.

The deficiency of water had been long a subject of complaint in Greenock, and in dry seasons, it had to be carted for the supply of the inhabitants, from a considerable distance. Many attempts were made with the desire of remedying this, but until the undertaking of the Shaws Water Co., nothing of importance was effected. Mr. Rennie made a survey, and increased the supply a little, by erecting a small reservoir near the town; but it was usually exhausted by two or three weeks of dry weather. About forty years ago, the late Mr. Watt accompanied by the late Mr. Geo. Robertson, also walked over the whole neighbouring grounds, and gave it as his opinion, that nothing could be done but by small reservoirs, such as that afterwards made by Mr. Rennie. It appeared to Mr. Thom of Rothsay, however, that by turning the source of the Shaws water and other streams in the hills behind, and constructing reservoirs and acqueducts, the town might be plentifully supplied with water, but the attempt was by many pronounced impracticable, without raising it over the hills by force of steam. In 1824, he prepared a report in which he stated it not only practicable to procure a supply sufficient for the use of the inhabitants, but also to impell machinery to an extent, at least equal to what is impelled by steam in and about Glasgow. In consequence of this, a company was immediately formed, and incorporated by act of parliament, under the name of the Shaws Water Company, with a capital of L31,000 sterling. The works were commenced by embanking the lower extremity of the valley through which the Shaws water flowed, to the height of 60 feet, by which a reservoir, covering 294¾ imperial acres of land was formed, and capable of containing 284,678,550 cubic feet of water. Other reservoirs have been subsequently made. The compensation reservoir contains 14,465,898 cubic feet of water, and covers 40 imperial acres. Its embankment is 23 feet high from the bottom of the rivulet. The auxilliary reservoir, No. 3, also finished, contains 4,652,775 cubic feet. The other auxilliary reservoirs, Nos. 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, are at present forming, and will contain something more than six millions of cubic feet of water. Thus, the reservoirs formed, contain 303,797,223 cubic feet, and when the whole are complete, they will contain above 310 millions of cubic feet. The quantity already obtained, is computed to be adequate to the consumption for a period of six months without rain; while the stream is equal to 108 horse power on a fall of 30 feet. The height of the first sluice above high-water mark, is 520- feet; the entire run of water, till it reaches this spot, is about seven miles, and the power supplied for machinery at given distances, will yield nearly an equivalent to the power of 2000 horses, working at the rate of 12 hours per diem.

It is intended there shall be two lines of mills; but one of them, the east line, has only been yet completed. It was finished on the 16th of April, 1827; and the inhabitants of Greenock had the satisfaction of seeing, through their united exertions, and the skill and genius of Mr. Thom, a stream, which for ages had flowed in a different course, brought murmuring along its new bed, until it poured into the Clyde from the Deling burn. The water for supplying the domestic purposes of the inhabitants, is collected into reservoirs, set apart for the purpose; and a separate acqueduct has been made to carry the water to the filters, which are situated above the town, and where a basin has also been formed, from which an abundant supply of pure water can be given to the inhabitants. The filters are exceedingly ingenious, and were constructed under Mr. Thom’s direction. There are two banking houses in Greenock, the Renfrewshire, which is situated on an eminence behind the square; and the Greenock, which as already mentioned, occupies part of the exchange buildings. They both issue notes, and do business to a considerable amount, having branch establishments in Glasgow, Port-Glasgow, and other towns. We regret exceedingly that the limits of this work, will not permit our going further into detail, as we are aware that many objects worthy of being pointed out, at greater length have been necessarily abridged. To the stranger however, who visits this place, we have given as much information as will lead his inquiries in the search for more. And Greenock is one of the many spots on the “beautiful Clyde” well worthy of being glanced at, whether we consider its rapid rise, its extensive works, or the beautiful scenery by which it is surrounded.8

 

1  Chalmers’ Caledonia, vol. iii. p. 845.
2  Prospect Point.
3  History of Renfrewshire, Robertson’s Ed. p. 124.
4  Acts Parl. vol. iii. p. 549.
5  Caledonia, vol. Iii. p. 845.
6  Caledonia, vol. iii. p. 846.
7  History of Renfrewshire, p. 13.
8  We are indebted for a considerable portion of the information contained in this article to Mr. Daniel Weir, Editor of “Sacred Lyre, Lyrical Gems,” &c. 

2 thoughts on “Greenock, pp.103-114.

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