(written 1951,final revision 1961)
PARISH OF GRANGEMOUTH
by the Late REV. HUGH R. THOM.
Part 1 - Burgh
The Physical Basis. The civil parish of Grangemouth was formed in 1900, by Order of the Secretary of State for Scotland, by the union of part of the parish of Bothkennar, the remainder being transferred to the parish of Falkirk, the parish of Polmont and part of the parish of Falkirk. The parish boundary was further altered in 1922 by the transfer of part of the parish of Borrowstounness and Carriden in the county of West Lothian to the parish of Grangemouth and by the transfer of part of the parish of Grangemouth to the parish of Borrowstounness and Carriden. The present area of the parish as it was recorded in the census of 1951 is 8,170 acres, of which the burgh of Grangemouth extends over approximately 3,420 acres.
In shape, the parish is very irregular. The boundary on the east is also the county boundary and lies along the river Avon. At a point about a mile from the A.9 road the boundary ceases to be the river and lies south-west through Rumford and California to include Shieldhill and Wester Shieldhill before turning north to reach the Westquarter burn which construtes the boundary to the point at which it flows under the A.905 road. From this crossing the boundary lies close to the road until the river Carron is reached. From the Carron, after including part of Carronshore, the line is drawn almost due north to meet the A.977 road and from there in an easterly direction to join again the estuary of the Forth.
Mineral evidence seems to suggest that in very early times the sea encrc~hed to a much greater extent on the land than is now apparent. The soil inland of the burgh area is of reasonable quality and permits of fair cropping. On the southerly edge of the parish, however, at a height of more than 600 feet the heavy clay of the plateau beconees evident.
The Carron, the Grange and the Avon have all imluenoed the development of the ar~ The Carron in particular followed at one time a winding course considerably different from its present bed. In the past two centuries two diversions of its course have taken place while the early course of the Grange has been altered four tiimes and that of the Avon once. The centres of population, apart from the burgh of Grangernouth, are Brightons, Westquarter, Shieldhill, Redding, Polmont and Carronshore
History. Early history of the area is difficult to establish. There are traces in Zetland park of what imay have been a Pictish fortress. Certainly the historian Skene has no hesitation in placing many of the struggles between Pict and Saxon in this area. In 1142 a charter granted to the monks of Newbattle Abbey gave pasture. arable land and a salt work in Kalantyr. an old name which is said to have been applied to the area between the Avon and the Carron. Alexander granted 'all our land in Kalantyr' to the canons of Holyrood in 1233. Some interesting research into the history of the whole area has been carried out in recent years by Mr. R. Porteous of Grangemouth.
The Burgh of Grangemouth: History. Some of the normal working of a port seems to have been carried on before the creation of the Forth and Clyde Canal, with the building of which the founding of Grangemouth is normally associated. The small port of Greenbrae shipped grain from Bothkennar before that time and there is consider able evidence of the existence of a whaling factory. occupied by the Whale Fishing Company. and later probably a herring factory, in use before the era of the canal. On 10 July 1768, however. Sir Lawrence Dundas of Kerse cut the first turf at the eastern end of what was soon to be known as the 'Great Canal,' and in 1777 the logical outcome. the founding of a port. took place. By 1790 the canal was complete and akeady William Symington had begun his experiments which were to produce in 1801 the Charlotte Dundas. Burgh expansion was rapid. The original town was too closely confined by sea, river and canal and a new town began to grow on the other side of the Grange burn, but the port as a whole maintained its unity. A customs house was built in 1810 and a graving dock in 1811. What is now the Old Dock was built in 1843 and another dock was completed in 1882, by which date Grangemouth had already for ten years ranked as a burgh.
Building of homes continued through all of this period. From 1782 insistence had been maintained on a high standard of house construc fion. Stone was, until 1914, the material employed. Designs were good. The early part of North Basin Street compared well with the best architecture of the same type in finer cities. From about 1860 every house had to have a reasonable garden space, a provision which modern planners appreciate.
Unlike nearby Linlithgow with its ancient and interesting history, Grangemouth is a new town with a brief past and a most promising future. When one looks at the neatly laid out housing schemes, the lovely Zetland public park, the extensive, modernised docks and the industrial sites, garden-fronted, it is difficult to remember that only 200 years ago there was almost nothing where they stand but farmland. The beginnings of the town are, indeed, usually traced back to 1768, but from that time onward the story is one of progress until the Port has become second in importance in Scotland. Some of the details of this story have been excellently recorded in the burgh directory, as may be judged from the following quotation. 'The Old Town is the more picturesque part of the port. It is married to the waters like a second Venice. but a Venice of the north with quaint grey-stone bnlligs jostling with the wharves. boat-slips, workshops, inns with a nautical flavour, warehouses and timber basins. It is a crowded place but it has enchanting vistas down the old-fashioned streets and lanes abutting on waterways where seafowl float, disturbing the placid reflections of the houses of the wealthy merchants of last century.' Unfortunately some of these scenes have now lost their enchantment; some of the buildings are derelict; others have become rather shabby. Picturesque Canal Street is now only a nostalgic memory and Grange Street, once the busy. happy thoroughfare of the town, is now no more than the back way to the docks. Though the Old Town still accommodates the shipyard. the hosiery factory, the laundry and a compact housing scheme with community centre and small public park. it is no longer the centre of activity.
Being by comparison with other burghs of the county, a new town, Grangemouth has little of note of folklore, settled customs and traditions. What local folklore there is has come from one generation to the next by word of mouth. It is a great pity that the Stories of the older characters, their sayings and doings. have not been made avail able in a permanent form. And while the town can boast of few famous men it has produced not a few men of outstanding ability in business and oommerce and in the public service. It is freely acknowledged that these far-seeing men laid the foundations on which their successors are still building. The New Town rose by the side of the old to become the industrial and business centre, as well as the larger residential area. On the east and south farm houses and cottages were erased overnight and green fields were turned into building sites. The realisation that the town occupied a strategic position in the centre of Soctland's industrial belt seemed to act as an incentive to the local planners to make the most of it. Grangemouth, literally and figuratively, was on the map and industrialists began to be attracted to it.
To the older generations of business men, as has been said, much is owed, for their imagination. common sense and energy. qualities which are very evident in their successors who are meeting the opportunities and challenge of the present with faith and courage, but not only to these men is credit due. Much of Grangemouth's history has depended on one factor, the sterling quality of the Grangemouth docker and working man. To be known as a 'Grangemouth docker' meant to be known as hardworking, honest, thrifty, frank and upright in dealing. determined to succeed. concerned to uphold a high reputation earned throughout the years. At one time it was claimed that nowhere in Britain had so many dockers built their own cottages and retired in comfort as in Grangemouth. If present-day dockers do not always show the same qualities it is not for lack of high example. Yet most of the well-known shipping companies are attracted to the Port, not only because of its situation but also because of the quick 'turn round' given by the dockers. This in turn is ensured by the happy relationship between employers, Dock Labour Board and workers. One under- lying reason for this may be that, in many cases, employer and worker have grown up together and there is a mutual trust and willingness to co-operate which is lacking in many of the more depersonalised relationships of larger concerns. Whatever the reason, strikes by Grangemouth dockers are rare events. The spirit and common sense of the docker have played a considerable part in Grangemouth's history.
Population. The rapid rise of the population of the burgh is seen in this table.
The increase between 1931 and 1951 is one of 25.6 per cent. The figure for 1961 represents an increase since 1951 of 22.2 per cent. Some part of this increase has come about as a result of the arrival in the burgh of families from Glasgow. Grangemouth town council's agreement to receive overspill population from Glasgow was confirmed in 1958 and a building development plan was begun. The remainder of the increase has undoubtedly resulted from the rapid growth of the industrial concerns in the burgh. It is anticipated that the population of the burgh by 1965 will have increased to about 22.500, and further, to 30,000 by 1975. This factor among others has influenced the town council's decision to promote a provisional order for a further exten sion of the burgh boundaries. If this extension is granted the area over which Grangemouth will extend will increase to approximately 6,019 acres. The order also seeks to make provIsion for the creation of the burgh as a 'large burgh.'(l)
(1) The plea for 'large burgh' status was refused.
Public Services. Grangemouth is a small burgh
in terms of the Local Government (Scotland) Act of 1947 and a water supply authority
within the meaning and for the purposes of the Water (Scotland) Acts, 1946 to 1949. All
the applicable local authority services are administered within the burgh.
Roads. The town council is responsible for construction of new roads, widening of existing roads and improvements, as well as for the maintenance of the 22.863 miles of unclassified roads and streets in the burgh. Classified roads (8.336 miles) are maintained by the county council but the town council acts on occasion as agent for the county council in the performance of certain maintenance and improvement work. It is claimed locally, and the claim is a tribute to the wisdom of the early planners, that no old street, except Station Brac, has had to be widened since 1772.
Street Lighting. In recent years complete conversion from gas to electricity has been achieved. In May 1961 there were 1,250 lighting standards in position in the burgh. Maintenance and service are the responsibility of the lighting department of the town council.
Gas. The first gas company works was erected in 1836 in the area in which Junction Dock now exists. There is a suggestion that in the early nineteenth century William Murdoch, whose pioneer work in street lighting by gas is well known, studied the area as a possibfr source of marsh gas for lighting purposes. The town council became the body responsible for provision of gas supplies in the late 187Os and this situation held until nationalisation of the industry.
Electricity. The source of supplies of electricity is now the South of Scotland Electricity Board. I'ublic electricity supply was introduced into the burgh in 1910, the company being the Scottish Central Electric Power Company, but there had been a very efficient station, owned by the Caledonian Railway Company, providing power to the dock area since 1884. Until nationalisation, supplies to the burgh came from two 2,000 kW transformers. By 1958 demands of industry had increased the load to 12,000 kW and it continues to rise.
Drainage. The flat, low-lying carseland of the Forth makes the drainage of the burgh area a considerable problem. The general elevation is between ten feet and twenty feet O.D. The highest recorded tide reached a level of 13.81 O.D. Discharge of sewage through the original system, which discharges into the tidal reaches of the Carron, is restricted to periods of low water. Flooding at one time caused the construction of two small pumping stations to assist in discharge at the main outfalls. A separate system to cope with the demands made by new development in the Beancross area has been completed. This system uses the large pumping station at Zetland public park where three sewage pumps of 1,750 gallons a minute and five storm water pumps of 12,000 gallons a minute capacity have been installed. After separation, the storm water is discharged into the Grange burn. Sewage at the moment is pumped into the existing system but a new main drainage scheme is planned to deal with the needs of a wide new area of development; a pumping station on the lines of that in Zefland park will be constructed and ultimately all sewage will be conveyed to a new puriiication plant which will be built, it is planned, on the West Lothian side of the mouth of the Avon, from which discharge into the Forth will be carried out.
Water. The history of the supply of water to the burgh and surrounding area is not entirely clear. When Canal Street was recendy demolished an old filter bed was found, and it is known that an early reservoir, probably a tank, owned by the Earl of Zetland, stood at one time on the south side of the canal. There is a record of the consum~ tion of 2,225,000 gallons between the years 1866 and 1868. The reservoir at MilIhall was in use in the last part of last century and was eventually leased to Messrs. Scottish 0115 when the reservoir at North Third was completed in 1911, from which now two million gallons daily are supplied to Grangemouth. A further agreement in 1951 with the Stirlingshire and Falkirk Water Board was made for the supply in perpetuity of eight million gallons daily to the Salmon Inn tank. By 1955 it became apparent that this quantity of water would be insufficient to meet future needs and, with the approval of the Department of Health, negotiations with the county councils of Perth and Clackmannan were opened; these councils were contem plating the promotion of a water order to develop the resources of Loch Turret as a water supply scheme. In 1958 an order providing for the development of Loch Turret, by the construction of a reservoir, filter station and other plant, was signed and it is anticipated that in the nrst stage of development, Grangemouth will receive a further six million gallons daily. A pipeline from Loch Turret to Grangemouth has been laid. By 1965 the total safe yield of the reservoir will permit of the supply to the burgh of ten naillion gallons daily; this will make the available total twenty million gallons a day. Plans to meet even greater demands are now being prepared. The Bowhouse area of the burgh has been supplied with water by the Stirlingshire and Falkirk Water Board but when the burgh boundaries were extended into the area in May 1961 the town council applied to supply the area with water. Despite opposition by the board the council has won the right to make this provision and, in addition, by its application for large burgh status is requesting power to take over the functions and pipes of the board in the area. This application, also, is being challenged by the board.
Cleansing. Grangemouth's early civic pride is revealed by the fact that in 1787 a charge of 2d. a year for each yard of frontage was levied on all owner occupiers in the burgh, the money to be used to pay for street cleaning. Refuse nowadays is collected twice weekly as is waste paper. Dumping of refuse is carried out in a coup on the foreshore near Bo'ness. The town council has, however, recently purchased 800 or so acres of the foreshore from the Forth Conservancy Board and a coup extending over 250 acres will be developed on this. This measure will mean the reclamation of the area from the sea.
Public Parks. The area of parks and open spaces in the burgh maintained by the town council is 112.25 acres. This is made up principally by Zefland public park (53.38 acres), Dalgrain public park (3.90 acres) and the airfield recreational area (42.70 acres). In Zetland public park a bowling green, six tennis courts, a paddling pool, a swimming pond, an area for children's play and a number of rugby and football pitches have been provided. A football pitch, a paddling pond and a children's play area have been provided in Dalgrain public park and football and rugby pitches are available in the airfield area, which is still being developed. In addition a comprehensive sports stadium is being prepared in this area; it will provide, for all athletic activities, facilities which will include a running track and a cycling track. The development plan of th. burgh allows for the addition of 11.60 acres to existing public open space. The area of private recreation grounds in the burgh is 32.24 acres.
The Town Council. Administration of the burgh and provision of these and other services is the responsibility of the town council, which is made up of a provost, four bailies, a dean of guild. an honorary treasurer, two police judges and four councillors. In addition there is a strong staff of permanent officials.
Valuauon and Rating. The valuation of the burgh has risen to a remarkable degree in the past fifty years. In 1902 the gross annual value of the burgh was £52,976 and the rateable value £51,448. In 1951 these figures had become £216,671 and £137,663. By 1961-2 the gross annual value has become nearly £1,900,000 and the rateable value has risen to more than £1,000,000. Indeed the rateable value, in terms of population of the burgh in May 1961, was £56.87 for each person, a figure considerably higher than that of all the large burghs of Scotland. The product of a penny rate is expected to be exceeded in 1961-2 by that of only three large burghs. Of the twenty large burghs, nineteen depend on the exchequer equalisation grant. No grant, on the other hand, is needed for Grangemouth. These facts and others are being marshalled by the burgh officials to support the burgh's claim to large burgh status.
Housing. Since 1919 under various housing acts the town council of Grangemouth has, to 31 July 1961, built 3,149 houses. These are of a variety of types, cottages, terraced houses and flats; some of the recent houses are 'aLl-electric' and a further proportion is made up of houses for old people. The total of 1 A30 houses built hefore the war of 1939 included 918 houses of three apartments each and 248 of four apartments. Non-subsidised houses built during the period numbered 28, of which 24 were of three apartments. Since the war of 1939, 1,719 houses have been built. Houses of four apartments now make up a larger proportion of new building. Now of all houses built by the town council nearly two thirds are of three apartments and slightly rnore than one quarter are of four apartments. Average annual rent for a twc-apartment house is a little under £20; for a house of five apartments, nearly £35. This is slightly lower than the small burgh average for 1960 but it is above the national average for that year. The rate of building of state-aided houses since 1947 has been about 150 houses a year and some 700 are due to be built by May 1963. Approximately 65 families of the people of Glasgow who are coming to Grangemouth under the overspill agreement have been accommodated so far. Additional houses built since the war include 110 prefabricated dwellings. of which 78 are still in use, and 357 houses which have been erected by the Scottish Special Housing Association. Of these 100 at Beancross are of the cottage type and the remainder, at Abbotsgrange Road, are flats and cottages. The latest of these was completed in November 1961. The Avon Housing Association, members of which are local industrial firms, has built 350 houses, flats of three and four apartments, cottages of four apartments and two or three six-apartment houses. These are really 'tied' houses. being occupied by members of the industrial firms concerned. There has been some private building in recent years but the numbers of houses built are not large. Since the war of 1939, according to Department of Health returns, to May 1961 28 private houses have been built and three more are under construction. There will be little land left for building once existing plans are implemented. Part of Bowhouse farm is likely to be the only area available in 1963. Public building in recent years has included two cornmum.ty centres, a drill hall and a police headquarters. This last was completed in 1961. In 1939 a library extension was completed and in that year the municipal chambers were built. To these a new burgh court-room has been added in 1961.
br> Health. There is a divisional medical officer of health in the burgh; certain of the responsibilities for the health of the burgh rest with the county health department. Attendances during 1960, at the child welfare clinic, of children under one year numbered 3,767 and there were 426 attendances of children above that age. Two of the county's midwives are resident in the town. There is a day nursery in Abbot's Road with places for 29 children, 12 under two years of age and 17 in the age-group two to five; there is a waiting-list for entry to the nursery. Notifications of infectious disease in the burgh numbered 107 in 1960; of these more than half were cases of dysentery. There are seven resident doctors and an eighth has a surgery in Grangemouth.
Education. Grangemouth's first school was situated in Burnett Street and existed from about 1777. By 1827 there were five schools, including an infant school. In 1850 a teacher was appointed to teach colliers' children but a request by the colliers for a school of their own was refused. At the moment the number of schools has grown to eight, a senior secondary school, a secondary school and six primary schoolL Grangemouth High School, built in 1909, has been extensively reconstructed in recent years. There is a roll of 578 pupils and there are 3 1 members of staff. Moray Secondary School (526 pupils, 25 members of staff) is a new school opened in recent years; it provides training to school leaving age and has replaced the secondary depart ments of Dundas and Grange Schools which are now primary schools. Dundas Primary School was opened in 1875; it has a roll of 410 pupils and there are twelve teachers. Beancross, another new school, built to meet housing scheme needs, has 487 pupils and a staff of foueteen. Grange School, opened in 1894. has been recently reconstructed; the roll is 762 and the staff numbers 21. Grangernouth Infant School (209 pupils, seven members of staff) was opened in l903.(2) Zetland school is the successor of the early school of last century; it has a roll of 158 pupils and there are five teachers. Roman Catholic pupils attend Grangemouth Sacred Heart Roman Catholic School; the roll is 239 and there are eight teachers. Education in all these schools follows the pattern of training general throughout the county. Pupils of Grangemouth High School spend the sixth year of the secondary course at Falkirk High School.
Evening classes, vocational and non-vocational, in a wide range of subjects are conducted in Grangemouth High School and classes in liberal studies for adults are held from time to time in the library.
The school meals service has kitchens in the High School and in Moray Secondary School.
(2)The Infant School, reconstructed, has become Abbot's Road Primary School, a single-stream school. A new Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Primary School wasopened in 1963.
Industry. Grangemouth is now second only to Glasgow in importance as a port in Scotland. and it is, perhaps, fitting to mention this aspect of the burgh's industrial life first. The early use of the port was closely associated with the Forth and Clyde Canal and indeed, during many of the first years of the canal's existence, inland water traffic was of the greatest importance to the town. From 1810 the town was a registered home port for shipping; docks were built, first a graving dock and then, in 1843, the dock now known as the Old Dock; Junction Dock was completed in 1859, to be followed in 1882 by Carron Dock and by Grange Dock in 1906. Very considerable development of this last dock by the British Transport Commission is in progress. and fine new equipment is being installed to make the handling of cargoes of all types even more efficient and swift. There are now three dry docks. Fifteen shipping lines make use of the port; cargo handled annually is calculated in millions of tons.
The shipbuilding industry of Grangemouth begins, to all intents and purposes. although there were earlier experiments, with the Charlotte Dundas, built in Grangemouth in 1801 by Alexander Hart, and since then shipbuilding has been part of the burgh's life. Todlay up to 1,000 men are employed by Grangemouth Dockyard Company, which carried out its 500th launching in 1952. There are four building berths and dry dock and fitting-out facilities.
In the early part of the nineteenth century timber-yards and sawmills existed in the burgh but it was not until a heavy duty on foreign timber was removed in 1857 that the vast industry which now exists was free to develop. To-day there are seven large sawmills; McPherson and McLaren. Brownlee and Company, and Muirhead and Sons deal mainly in soft woods; Watt Torrance is concerned with box wood; Christie and Vesey with creosoting railway sleepers and poles and props; and pit props are the primary interest of the firms of Abercrombie, Brisbane and Brown, and Gibb and Austine. Grangemouth ranks fifth as a timberimporting centre in Great Britain.
The story of the development of oil refining in the area is a fascinating one and is well told in several of the books and pamphlets published by the industry. It is particularly interesting that the modern industry should have developed to such an extent in Grangemouth, only a few miles from Bathgate where 'Paraffin' Young set up his works in 1851. One year before, James Young had taken out a patent, No 13292, for 'treating bituminous coals to obtain paraffine and oil containing paraffine therefrom.' By 1856 paraffin lamp oil and solid paraffin wax were being marketed in Britain on a commercial scale. The shale industry founded by Young, however, could not meet the competition offered by the newer industry based on natural petroleum and in this century, after the war of 1914, Scottish Oils, a subsidiary of British Petroleum, which was then known as the Anglo- Persian Oil Company, absorbed the existing shale companies. A refinery at Grangemouth was opened in 1924 and was expanded by 1954. In 1947 The British Petroleum Company and The Distillers Company joined to form British Petroleum Chemicals, the name being changed to British Hydrocarbon Chemicals in 1956, by which time Grange Chemicals had joined the group. In 1950 Forth Chemicals was set up, formed of B.P.C. and Monsanto Chemicals. Plant nearby, now owned by Union Carbide, came into operation in 1958.
Crude oil reaches the refinery by means of a pipeline laid across country from Finnart Ocean Terminal on Loch Long. The pipeline has a pumping capacity of 3,250,000 tons of crude oil a year, almost all of which is within the annual capacity of the refinery. Storage is provided in a hughe area, by the Forth, containing ninety main tanks.
The list of products of all these chemical plants and factories and the processes by which they are obtained are best read in the official surveys of the industry, as is the story of the erection of the power station on a concrete raft in the mud of the river-flats. This complex industry has come far since the days of 'Paraffin' Young but it is the logical outcome of his pioneering efforts.
Between Grangemouth and Falkirk lies the vast factory which is the Grangemouth branch of the Dyestuffs Division of Imperial Chemi cal Industries. The original company was that of Scottish Dyes set up in 1919 by James Morton. In 1928 the company's assets were acquired by the British Dyestuffs Corporation, which became the Duestuffs Division of I.C.I. The names of such dyes as Caledon Blue RC, Caledon Jade Green and Monastral Fast Blue are associated with those early days and there have been many famous dyes since but the range of products to-day has widened to include drugs and anaesthetics, plastics, synthetic rubbers, insecticides, synthetic fibres and antiseptics. Once more the full story is best read in the official records of the company. Employment is given to some 2,000 people, from Grange-mouth and a wide area round the burgh.
Manufacture of soap and glycerine is carried on in the soap works owned by the Scottish Co-operative Wholesale Society. This is the oldest chemical works in the burgh, having been established in 1897-, it is the largest works of its kind in Scotland and employs a considerable number of local people. An Edinburgh firm of builders, John Wight and Company, moved the company's entrre organisation to Grange- mouth some years ago because of the manifest opportunities of the area. There is a well~established Grangemouth Laundry which has grown with the 'burgh. A firm providing cement in bulk is now operating in the town and there are many small businesses of various types providing goods and services.
Shops and Shopping. A comprehensive survey of commerce and shopping facilities is to be found in the local directory. There is a general post office with three sub-offices and there are three hotels, several restaurants and many licensed premises including club rooms. A variety of shops is provided to meet almost every sort of need. The local Co-operative Society has a large membership and its shops are distributed throughout the town. In recent years several multiple firms have been attracted to the area but the private traders have a large share of the trade and maintain their position in face of growing competition. The internal bus service is a boon to the townspeople who live fa~ from the shops and so, too, is the service provided by mobile shops - vans operated even by traders from a distance who poach unashamedly and incur the wrath of the Burgh Merchants' Association.
A large part of the income earned in Grangemouth, however, is spent elsewhere. During the day the car parks of industrial firms are crowded with hundreds of cam owned by employees and in the evening these cars fill the exit roads from the town, carrying their owners to other districts in which are their homes. In addition, it has for long been a custom of Grangemouth people to do much of their shopping in nearby Falkirk, which has always been, and still is, a busier shopping centre. Until recently this was so much the practice that on Saturday afternoons the streets in the town were almost deserted while the streets of Falkirk contained a seething mass of people. Local people still continue the practice but because of the increased population the exodus to Falkirk is not so noticeable and the streets of Grangemouth are now quite thronged during shopping hours. People who live on the outskirts find access by bus or car to Faikirk as easy as to Grangemouth's shopping centre and this, too, affects their shopping habits. The town's situation, equidistant from Glasgow and Edinburgh, and the existence of a regular bus and rail service to both cities, encourage many local inhabitants to make their purchases of clothes and household goods in these places.
It is generally agreed that shopping facilities in the town have not increased in proportion to the rise in population but much is being done to remedy this. Kerse Road, once a residential area, is gradually becoming a shopping area and plans are prepared to provide more adequate facilities. Six banks, including the Savings Bank, all con veniently situated to serve the needs of town and trade, are alive to the challenge and opportunities of the new era in our commercial history.
Voluntary Orgonisations. The adequacy of the provision for leisure time pursuits is best shown simply by recording the organisations in existence in the town. In addition to the three pre-services units. the Sea Cadets, Army Cadets and Air Training Corps, there are four companies of the Boys' Brigade, three teams of Life Boys, three troops of Scouts and two Wolf Cub packs, five companies of Girl Guides and four packs of Brownies; there are also Rover Scouts, Sea Rangers, Girls' Clubs, a Y.M.C.A. mixed club, Zedand youth club and some school F.P. clubs.
An almost bewildering variety of associations, clubs and societies caters for a wide range of interests, cultural, athletic and recreational, social and educational. There is an Arts Society, a branch of the Workers' Educational Association, a Toastmasters' Club, a choral society and a drama club. Here may also be included Muirhead's Pipe Band which, on two occasions at least, has won the World Champion- ship Cup. Within the past two years the two junior football teams, Grange Rovers and Forth Rangers, have joined forces to become Grangemouth United. There are an amateur boxing club, four bowling clubs, a swimming club, rugby, tennis and yacht clubs, a club for bridge players, an angling club and one or two billiard rooms. Some of the industrial firms have their own recreational clubs with sections devoted to a variety of sports. At the moment the golf club is not functioning, the course having been swallowed up for housing purposes. There are several social clubs, loockers', Railwaymen's, Muirhead's Burns Club and Welfare Club, and for older people, a 'Derby and Joan club. The British Sailors' Society provides hostel and recreation accommodation.
In addition to all of these there Is a host of organisations typical of those found in a busy town: the British Red Cross, the British Legion, Y.M.C.A., Rotary, Round Table, the Guild of Old Scouts, Trefoil Guild, British Women's Temperance Association, the British Sailors' Society Guild, C~operative Guilds, Townswomen's Guild and a Business and Professional Women's Club. The burgh merchants have an association. There are Masonic organisations for both men and women. A Cage Bird Society exists and there is an Horticultural Society with subsidiary interests. This list is by no means complete but it is indicative of the extent of the leisure time occupations offered to the people of the burgh. Many of the clubs have their own premises; others are accommodated in the various halls and rooms available as well as in the community centres.
Political Parties. The two large political parties have associa tions - the Unionist and the Labour, both with women's sections and junior sections. These parties hold regular meetings but find it difficult to muster audiences. There is no Liberal party or Communist party though the former has not a few adherents; the lattet has only very few. The Scottish Nationalists had a party in the town some years ago but it no longer functions. Politically, the town council is equally divided between Labour and Independent, giving the casting vote to the presiding provost who, because of the equal balance, is elected by lot. Ward meetings are very sparsely attended even at election times and voting at town council elections reveals the same indifference to local government affairs.
Trade Unions. One expects to find a number and variety of trade unions in an industrial area. The one with the largest membership is that of the Transport and General Workers. Others include the Amalgamated Society of Woodworkers and the Amalgamated Society of Woodcutting Machinists, the Amalgamated Engineering Union, the Association of Scientific Workers, the Boilermakers' Union, Grange. mouth Trades Council, the National Union of Seamen, the National Union of Railwaymen, the Union of Postal Workers and the Union of Shop and Distributive Workers.
Churches and Church-going. Though the ecclesiastical history of the neighbourhood may be traced back for centuries the history of the Church in the burgh is comparatively modern, dating from 1837. There are six places of worship for members of the Church of Scotland. A seventh is about to be erected as a church extension charge to meet the needs of the people in the Bowhouse area of the town.
The Old Parish Church is situated in Ronaldshay Crescent and is the third building to be used by the congregation. The first was built in 1837 by Lord Dundas in the Old Town and is now known as the West Kirk. This building had not been legally conveyed to the Established Church and at the Disruption was the first to be handed over to the Free Church. Left without a place of worship the members of the Old Parish erected a church in the New Town but, because of the encroachment of the Caledonian railway on the site, this building had to be abandoned in 1911 - (It was used for some years as a cinema and is now a bonded store.) The present building was opened for worship in 1911. To mark the jubilee a brief history of the vongregation has been published. Kerse Parish Church is situated in Abbots Road. It was opened for worship in 1897, at a time when church extension in Grangemouth was considered to be essential. The founder members came largely as dissenters from the Old Parish Church, which at that time had had a little Disruption of its own. The history of Kerse is recorded in a booklet issued at the time of its jubilee. The West Church is, as already stated, situated in the Old Town and was built by Lord Dundas for the members of the Church of Scotland. In 1843 the 'gratuitous use and enjoyment' of the building was transferred to the members of the Free Church. At the Union of the Churches in 1929 this building became once more the property of the Church of Scotland. Charing Cross, originally known as Zetland Free Church, was built in 1884 and is situated at Charing Cross in the 'centre' of the town. At the time of its erection it was intended to close the West Church and to concentrate on the new area. The West Church was, indeed, closed. but for one Sunday only; the intention miscarried and Ihe town then had two Free Churches as well as two 'Parish' Churches. Grange Church stands at the corner of Park Road and Ronaldshay Crescent; it was erected in 1903. Originally a United Presbyterian congregation, formed in 1853, the members worshipped for a time in the town hall which was then situated in the Old Town. In 1859 they removed to another place of worship in Grange Street and later to the Y.M.C.A. building in Abbots Road, until the present church was opened. Dundas Church is situated in the centre of the town on Bo'ness Road; it was opened for worship in 1894. Its founder members came as dissenters from Grange Church and so the town added to its two 'Aulds' and its two 'Frees' two 'U P.s.' Happily they have now all united under the title 'Church of Scotland' to which each continues to make its own special contribution from its own particular background. Apart from the West Kirk the churches are situated in close proximity to one another at what was at one time the centre of the town and, while no church is far removed from any section of the community, the new Kirk of the Holy Rood (as the extension charge is called) will be more conveniently situated near a large housing area.
The Scottish Episcopal Church was built in 1938 at the corner of Carronflats Road and Ronaldshay Crescent. Prior to its erection the congregation worshipped in a temporary church nearby. The member- ship is not large but the members are loyal and enthusiastic. The Roman Catholic Chapel is placed on a lovely site near the entrance to Zefland park. It was built in 1891 and draws its worshippers from all parts of the town. There is a small congregation of the United Free Church whose members worship in the Y.M.C.A. hall. This charge is linked with the one in Falkirk and is in the charge of one minister who resides in Falkirk.
In recent years the Salvation Army has opened a hall in Cunningham Street; the Grangemouth Evangelistic Mission at one time used the burgh court-room but they now have a hall of their own in Hawthorn Street. One sect of Christian Brethren has its headquarters in the Albert Hall in York Lane and another in rooms elsewhere. Two rooms in Nelson Street are used by Jehovah's Witnesses and the Mormons are at the moment endeavouring, with little success, to establish a bridgehead.
Church organisations include Sunday schools, Bible classes, Woman's Guilds and all the fellowships, clubs for various purposes and youth organisations nornially associated with the work of the Churches
At one time Grangemouth enjoyed the reputation of being a 'Kirk- going' place and, no doubt, the reputation was worthily earned. And while the 'Kirk-going' is not so marked as it was, there is still a strong congregational allegiance which is expressed in the phrase 'Oor Kirk' and which obviously stems from the chequered dissenting history of the churches. On the other hand, large numbers of townspeople, who could not be called irreligious, are indifferent to the churches and their activities. Hostility to the Church is never encountered. Morning congregations are, on the whole, fairly large. Evening services are sparsely attended, particularly in summer; as the old headle nid, 'When the weather's ower bad, they'll no come oot, and when it's ower guid, they'll no come in.' The observance of Holy Communion still commands the attendance of most church members and congregations are very much enlarged on these occasions. There are many enthusiastic helpers in all the congregations. Kirk sessions and boards of manage ment draw their members from all classes of the community and particularly from among younger men. Voluntary workers on behalf of the Church are numerous. The general prosperity of the towns people is reflected in the figures of Christian liberality; congregational youth organisations are very fully attended and adequately staffed with leaders and teachers. Ministers are much encouraged in their work by the support and loyalty they enjoy in a community which is sympathetic to the services they seek to render.
Way of Life. Living in a welfare state brings much for which one may be thankful. The health and welfare of old and young are cared for as never before. In Grangemouth this is being done by panels of doctors, three doctors in each panel, who discharge their duties with the customary professional courtesy and efficiency. The services of the district nurses are appreciated beyond the power of words to express. There is now no hospital in the town but Palkirk Royal Infirmary serves the needs of this community as well as others.
Nevertheless, no matter how far and wide the welfare net is cast there are always those who slip through the meshes and these are the special charges of the voluntary social service worker. In Grangemouth there is no shortage of such workers. The 'Old Folks' Treat' com mittee, for example, arranges for the old age pensioners, at present numbering approximately 450, to have a bus trip on a summer afternoon and at Christmas a treat in the town hall. This is a big undertaking but it is made easy by willing and sympathetic helpers, the wholehearted response by the townspeople to the door-to-door collection and the generous support of local firms and industries, some of whose workers have agreed to a weekly deduction from wages to help to finance this service to the aged. Much also is done for the old folks by other organisations, the combined services reaching a climax at Christsnas when voluntary social workers, particularly those in the W.V.S., extend their activities to Falkirk Royal Infirmary where, as has been said, Grangemouth patients are nursed and treated. In a sense there are no 'old people' nowadays; there are simply some who have had more birthdays than others. Compared with 'old folk' of, perhaps, fifty years ago, old people of to-day look so much more youthful and healthy, retaining a keen interest in local and national affairs.
Leisure hours may be occupied in many interesting ways. In summer afternoons Zetland park usually presents a busy scene. Local people are justly proud of the park. which is one of the most beautiful sports and pleasure grounds in the neighbourhood. and make full use of its amenities. Special care is taken in maintenance of the park, and the tree-lined paths and secluded garden of shrubs and flowers are kept in excellent order, to be appreciated by those who seek exercise. and, in days when walking as a leisure time occupation is not popular, by those who seek rest and relaxation.
The park provides the setting for Grangemouth's 'big day' the annual Children's Day; this festival day was instituted in 1906; in 1909 it was decided to elect a May Queen and to hold a crowning cereniony, a procedure which has continued ever since, with the exception of the war years. Each school in turn has the privilege of electing the queen. and to be chosen is to be given high honour amongst the school population. On the day appointed, the third Saturday in June, the school children, numbering approximately three thousand, proceed through the streets which are lined with spectators; the infants travel in gaily decorated lorries and the seniors are on foot, along with the members of the uniformed organisations, marching to the accompaniment of eight bands. When the procession returns to the park the crowning ceremony is carried through and then the pupils of each school are conducted to places reserved for them, for lemonade. buns and sweets. The rest of the afternoon is occupied with children's sports and the evening is spent at the fair ground. Though it is called 'Children's Day' it could more appropriately be called' Parents' Day' or 'Re-union Day.' Hundreds of exiled 'Portonians' return to meet with old friends on this day. An indication of its importance may be found in the fact that at Jubilee Day in 1959 the crowd in the park was estimated at thirty thousand.
In winter, leisure hours outside the home are spent at the various clubs, guilds and meetings in churches and halls, according to one's interests and taste. There is only one cinema in the town and the fact that no second one is planned would indicate that one is adequate to meet the demands of those who wish to spend a leisure hour at a fllm show. Summer and theatre outings are very popular; these are sponsored by the various organisations and. in some cases, by private parties. Public houses are well patronised, especially on the evenings after the weekly pay-day. 'Bingo' has an almost compelling attraction for the smailminded and is played in many places in the town, including the community centres, and on Sundays as well as on week nights. There is at least one Bingo Brake Club' the members of which travel for 'away games.'
Most of the big industries work on the shift system and as a result the workers cannot always have their leisure hours at the same time as the other members of the family; this also affects the leisure time of the housewife, reducing it to a minimum. In some cases shifts are so arranged that the worker finds himself at regular intervals with two or three days' leisure at a time. Placed in this situation some men take on spare time jobs to occupy their enforced leisure and to earn 'an extra stijiling.' Others, disliking leisure and preferring 'overtime' work for the extra money it yields, have developed the 'overtime technique' to a modern fine art.
Victoria Public Library makes a very large contribution to the occupation of leisure hours. It was established in 1887 as part of the celebration of the jubilee of Queen Victoria. Some small private libraries existed before then but the only library of any size has been the burgh library. The townspeople are justly proud of the imposing building, situated at Charing Cross and having accommodation for a reference and magazine room, reading room, children's reading room and lending department and an adult lending department. In 1961 membership of the library was recorded as 6,900 adults and 2,200 children. Stock totalled 30,897 books including 807 works of reference and 11,368 works of fiction. Children's books numbered 5,486. Issues for the year 1960-1 included 128,485 works of fiction, 7,199 of history and travel, 2,572 of sociology; issues of children's books totalled 25.362, a figure which represents an increase of fifty per cent over the total for the previous year. The influence of television as a distraction from reading is now fading. Fiction reading declined for a time but has recently risen. Reading in all classes of non-fiction is rising, too, and there is quite a demand for technical material from local industry - for example. for books on chemistry and marine engineering. Such in fact are the demands on the library that at the time of writing plans are in hand for an extension of the premises. Apart from library books. reading material in the homes is in the main confined to newspapers and magazines. Of the weekly palrers the Grangemouth Advertirer, now in its sixty-first year, is the most popular, providing, as it does, all the local news. The Falkirk Herald comes second, with local news from a wider area. Others have precedence according to taste. Of the national daily papers the Doily Record and Daily Express are most co~monly read. On Saturday evenings the 'pink' and 'green' sports editions are eagerly bought up by the football fans. Business men read either The Glasgow Herald or the Scotsman and have been known to buy a 'pin~' There is a wide range of weekly papers for the children; their choice is usually of profusely mustrated 'comics.'
It is not at all easy to assess the force of the impact of state education on the citizens of Grangemouth. Compulsory state education in early days resulted in an appreciable improvement in mental activity. One sometimes wonders if its effects are now more obvious in the improved physical condition of the children than in any substantial academic advancement. Opportunities for better education were never so plentiful and available but it remains to be seen how advantage will be taken of these and their purpose achieved school children in Grangemouth are well fed. well clothed, healthy, boisterously happy and a joy to see. They travel to the various schools, some by bus, some on foot and many on bicycles. Every encouragement is given to a pupil to attain the standard within reach of liis capacity. Further education classes are fairly well attended and much appreciated; a wide choice of interesting subjects, academic and practical, is offered.
In no respect does family life in Grangemouth differ from family life in any town in Scotland today. When it is compared, however, with family life of thirty years ago, many differences are visible. Families are not so large as they once were, the average being two or three. Most baptisms take place in church at the request of the parents, although some of these may not be seen in church again until the next occasion. Marriages, too, almost all take place in church. Few of these are marriages of necessity, perhaps because we live in days of 'family planning.' In most cases much expense is lavished on the wedding 'reception' and generous hospitality extended to friends of the family from far and near. The minister usually presides at the reception and proposes the toast of 'Bride and bridegroom.' The average age of the bride is twenty-two and of the bridegroom twenty- five. Funerals are undertaken by Falkirk firms as there are no under takers in the town at present; they are generally private, confined to members of the family, friends and near neighbours. The mourners no longer appear in funeral garb, though the mourning is, naturally, as sincere as ever. There is rigid adherence to the custom of allocating 'cords' in order of precedence.
It may be said that there is not so close a bond in the family as there once was. The growth of organisations for young people and women has been accompanied by a decline of the central position formerly occupied by the home. Not a few married women continue to work to supplement the family income, to secure for themselves 'pin- money' and to help to meet hire purchase commitments. In these cases children of pre-school age are often placed in nurseries; this enables the mothers to undertake work outside the home. When these women are out of work it is not an uncommon sight to see the pram with baby in it standing outside the Labour Exchange while mother is within giving the necessary signatures to qualify for unemployment benefit.
There have been welcome improvements in living conditions and a great increase in wages and spending power. This is apparent in homes well furnished and equipped with comforts and labour-saving devices. Children are given much more money to spend than formerly and are much less appreciative of all that is given by parents or outside bodies by way of treats or special occasions. In some ways, on the other hand, life is more diflicult for them. The peace and silence conducive to earnest study is so often absent from the home. Concentration is disturbed by television and the record player so that homework suffers and the results appear in school record cards. There are children in the town who have been brought up in a materialistic atmosphere and led to assess the value of 'things' as of more importance than mental, moral and spiritual riches. Too many of them show little respect for the possessions of others. Property, both public and private, is made the target for vandalism. It would, however, he difficult to prove that juvenile delinquency is on the increase. In bygone days delinquency, not then known by that name, was not recorded in the statistics of juvenile courts but was dealt with by the parents, and sometimes by the local policeman, who detected the offence and meted out appropriate punishment to save the other members of the family from the stigma of court proceedings.
Few families find their entertainment within the homes of their parents. The teen-age members go their separate ways, mostly to 'the dancing.' Father and mother are left alone with radio or television and these are used, on the whole, more for light entertainment than for information or education. Most people listen to the weather forecast and news bulletin at 6 p.m. and thereafter select the programmes they wish to hear and See. A few switch on, in the eanly morning, receivers which are allowed to remain on until late evening when they cease to emit sound or picture.
Gambling and betting on racing, by both sexes, is more widespread than may be generally believed, while the football pool coupon is to be found in the majority of homes. There are a few betting shops in the town, and, as in most places, betting takes place in premises unlicensed for the purpose. On the whole, drinking is not so prominent a feature as it once was; though there is indulgence by both sexes. It is rarely that one sees an intoxicated person, apart from a few foreign seamen, on the streets. Statistics for the country as a whole show that the amount of alcoholic liquor consumed in recent years has risen steeply and Grangemouth carries its share of this increase. In their drinking habits young people show a preference for the cocktail bar.
In general, the homes in Grangemouth are happy places where husbands and wives are loyal to each other; it is very rarely that marriages are broken up and divorces are very rare indeed. Children are well cared for and given every opportunity to achieve success. Family life is still valued highly and jealousy safeguarded as the stronghold of all worthwhile life and character. The relationships between families are very happy, making the town a happy place.
Most citizens are proud of the town, its amenities and its administra tion. There appears, however, an unwillingness to take an active part in civic affairs and it is left to the few to shoulder the burden of responsibility and at the same time to incur the criticism for the manner in which they do it. I-ocal government has become alinost a full-time occupation for the councillor and it is for this reason that men, preoccupied with business, cannot take part in it as some would like to do.
The rapid expansion of the burgh and the large increases in population have been reflected in particular ways in the life of the cornmunity. The change in a few years from a large village, in which the inhabitants were known to one another, to a busy town in which even the location of some of the new streets is not immediately known to the native Portonian has not been an easy transition. For some time Portonians outnumbered Incomers but that time has passed and the Portonians are now very much a minority. No longer can the native of the place recognise everyone he meets. Yet he has welcomed the Incomer most cordially and made him feel at home. The Incomer tends, perhaps, to be a little slow to adapt himself to life in the new community but he has a large contribution to make in shaping its character. There are exceptions, among whom the most noteworthy have been the people who came to the town some years ago in the shale mining industry to continue work in Scottish Oils. Although, in the main, concentrated in a self-contained area they have so unreservedly entered into the spirit and life of the community as to become an essential part of it. The process of transition and absorption, however, goes on. Many of the original characters, in which this town was rich. characters distinguished for their fund of natural talent, pawky humour and homely philosophy, have disappeared, or, perhaps, are not so noticeable in the busier modem world. The talent, the humour and the philosophy remain, however, as characteristics of the people of Grangemouth; they have a past for which they are grateful and of which they are proud and a future which they are facing with confidence and hope and very considerable energy, allied to a flexibility of outlook, a willingness to be first in the field, to encounter the setbacks in hope of the rewards. For fullest fruition of these qualities a strong sense of citizenship is essential. Knowing that it is only from such a sense of citizenship or 'pride of place' that the full and integrated community can spring. The immediate task of all who love the Port is to consider how that spirit and pride can best be fostered.
Tom Paterson (last updated 26th Oct 2020)