The Rise And Progress Of Coatbridge And Surrounding Neighbourhood.
Andrew Miller, Dundyvan Iron Works, Glasgow 1864
The iron trade, from 1835, increased rapidly up till 1845, when, so far as regards the number of furnaces in blast, it then reached its highest point; but the gross production, on account of improvements in the construction of the furnaces, is still increasing.
*The reduction on this year's produce was caused by a strike, to which after reference is made.
The price of the metal so produced from the numerous works was ruled much upon the same principle as at present, according to the demand and supply; but, to give a more comprehensive idea of the magnitude of the trade, and also to show its increase from year to year, the preceding table, carefully prepared, will give a better idea of the subject than can be conveyed by any other method. The information has been gleaned from many sources ; and at a glance it will be seen, with one or two exceptions, first, when each work started, or each furnace put on blast; second, the number in blast, and those not working; third, the average produce of pig iron, and its annual value at the average price over each year; also the price of bar iron on the same principle, according to the market value. The totals so given are roughly estimated, as scarcely two furnaces are found to produce the same quantity of pig iron.
The following extract from the Economist, on the "Fluctuations in the Scotch Iron Trade'' for the last twenty years, gives an excellent outline of this branch of manufacture, in its prosperity, and depression, and prices, and forms a fitting appendage to this Table.
FLUCTUATIONS IN THE SCOTCH IRON TRADE.
A glance at the course of prices of Scotch pig-iron during the last twenty years, reveals an alternation of periods of prosperity and depression, recurring apparently with the regularity and certainty of fixed economical laws. In the following brief remarks, each of these periods is separated; and some of the causes which have influenced, or the collateral circumstances which have accompanied fluctuations in prices noted. Whether we judge by inference from what has taken place under similar conditions at former' periods, or from the actual indications now presenting themselves, it will be sufficiently obvious that the iron trade is now entering upon one of its decennial periods of prosperity.
Period of depression previous to 1844. - This was a period of extreme depression in the iron trade, Scotch pigs having been sold at 40s per ton, and even lower, while Welsh bars had fallen to £4 per ton. Owing to the very cheap rate at which Scotch pigs could then be produced - say about 30s to 35s per ton - an opinion prevailed that no future advance of importance was possible; just as at present many think that the cheap iron of the Cleveland district will have the effect of keeping the price low. In 1844 there was an excellent harvest; at the same time money was abundant, the rate of discount being only 2 per cent. Towards the close of the year iron began to rise; and from September till December prices steadily advanced, until 65s was reached for Scotch pigs, and £6 for Welsh bars.
Prosperous period, 1845 to 1847. - 1845 was a year of great prosperity and speculative activity. Early in the year Scotch pigs rose to 120s per ton, at which high price very large transactions took place, and for many months the quotation was maintained above 100s. The average price of the year was over 80s per ton. Bars ranged between £9 and £11 per ton. 400,000 tons of Scotch pigs were produced this year, and at its close the stock was 240,000 tons, or seven months' supply. Throughout 1846 the price remained steady, at the still high average of 72s 6d, and by December the stock had declined to 140,000 tons. During the first nine months of 1847 the average price was 70s, and the stock further declined to 80,000 tons, which was the minimum for this period. Then came the commercial crisis and financial panic which culminated in October, by Government interposing its sanction to the suspension of the Bank Act, the minimum rate of discount being 8 per cent. This abruptly terminated the prosperity of the iron trade, and Scotch pigs fell to 45s per ton.
Period of depression, 1848 to 1852. - During these five years which followed the crisis of 1847, the iron trade remained depressed, the price ranging from as low as 36s to 52s 6d, while the minimum cost of production was about 40s per ton. Year by year the stock increased, until, at the end of 1852, it had accumulated to 450,000 tons, which was the maximum for this period; and, as the annual make had now risen to 780,000 tons, the stock was thus again just equal to seven months' supply.
Prosperous period, 1852 to 1857. - In 1852 there was again a very abundant harvest, and money was a drug at 2 percent. Such was the state of collapse from the commercial activity of the previous years, that in June the Bank of England held upwards of £22,000,000 in bullion, and only £10,000,000 of bills under discount. Just then, when money was cheapest, and stocks of iron largest, resuscitation commenced; and, in anticipation of revived prosperity - indicated first by brisk demand for manufactured iron - an active speculation set in, which run up the price from 36s in June to 78s in December. Here was a rise of 42s per ton occurring chiefly in September, October, and December, coincidently with the maximum stock. In 1853 there was a reaction, from the over-speculation, which sent the price down to 50s in the spring. The year ended, however, with pigs at 82s, and the stock reduced to 215,000 tons. In 1854 the price touched 92s 6d, and for six months of the year averaged 84s 6d per ton. By December the stock had farther declined to 150,000 tons. During 1855, 1856, and the first nine months of 1857, the average prices were 70s 9d, 72s 6d, and 74s respectively; and the top prices of each year 83s 6d, 81s, and 83s 6d. The minimum stock of this period, 120,000 tons, was reached early in 1857. The disastrous crisis of October and November, 1857, when the Government was again compelled to suspend the Bank Act in order to allay panic and arrest general bankruptcy, again violently terminated this long sun of iron prosperity. Pigs declined from 80s to 48s per ton in a few months. During this period, while the highest prices ruled, discounts ranged from 5 to 7 per cent.; and those who dread the effect of war upon prices should note that iron was dearest while the Russian war and the fear of consequent complications was at its height.
Period of Depression, 1858 to 1863. - Now commenced a long period of depression, from which the trade is only just beginning to emerge. For the six years from 1857 to 1862 the stock steadily increased, until it reached, at the end of last year, 690,000 tons, which, singularly enough, is, at the present rate of production, again just about seven months' supply. This was the maximum stock of the period. It is now on the decline. Throughout these years the prices ranged between 47s and 61s 6d, the average being about 53s per ton. It will be observed that the minimum price of this period, 47s, was 11s above the lowest price during the previous period of depression - a difference which corresponds with the increased cost of production, owing to the expiry of cheap leases of minerals, and the exhaustion of easily worked seams.
New Period of Prosperity, 1863. - That a new period of prosperity is dawning upon the iron trade, appears from many indications. There has just been an unusually abundant harvest; money for some time has been cheap and plentiful, taking advantage of which a great many schemes - banking and credit companies especially - have been started, tending to foster enterprise; an immense demand exists for iron for shipbuilding purposes, as well as a general demand for all classes of manufactured iron; and extensive railway schemes are projected all over the world, especially in Russia and America. During the last twelve months iron vessels measuring in the aggregate 240,000 tons have been launched. Iron, in fact, is entirely superseding wood in shipbuilding. With regard to railways, it is estimated that there are at present 20,000 miles of line in progress and projected in different parts of the world, which is nearly double the whole mileage open in the United Kingdom. The railway interest in America is at present in a highly prosperous condition; and, owing to the increased cost of production in that country - wages of iron men having risen to 5 dollars, to 6 dollars per day - she has taken from this country a largely increased quantity of iron this year, and has bought, and is now buying, extensively for next year. It may be mentioned that when America imported from Scotland eight or ten times the quantity of pig iron she has taken recently, the price, including freight and duty, amounted to 40 dollars per ton- The present quotation in New York is 40 to' 42 dollars currency, which leaves about 80s per ton here. As regards the Cleveland iron,—in that district the stock is estimated at only 10 days' supply, while the makers are reported to have sold 20,000 tons in anticipation of their future production. A similar state of matters exists in the Cumberland district; and the stock held at the Lancashire ports is said to have decreased by 30,000 tons. Another circumstance favourable to the enhancement of price is, that wages all over the iron districts are steadily rising; and, as it has been found that miners work less the higher the wages they receive, any tendency to increase of production will be held in check. It was so in 18&3, when, notwithstanding an increase of 40s per ton in price, the production fell off 10 per cent. Finally, the shipments of Scotch pig iron are greatly increasing, and are only limited at present by the scarcity of vessels. Subjoined are the shipments for the last eight weeks, with those of the corresponding weeks of 1862:-
This shows an increase of 40,650 tons, or 53 per cent., in the shipments during these eight weeks; and there has likewise been a very large increase in the local consumption, amounting so far this year probably to 100,000 tons over 1862, which was the largest previously known.
The stock of "good merchantable brands" at present in store, represented by "warrants," is 280,000 tons, which is rather above the quantity of warrants in 1852 - the beginning of the last prosperous period; but the quantity of g. m. b. in makers' hands is now very small.
It is to be observed that the prices of manufactured iron in Staffordshire, Wales, and Scotland, have advanced 80s to 40s per ton during the last few months, while Scotch pigs have only risen 10s per ton. The difference of price between Scotch pigs and common bars is now as high as £5 10s per ton.
It will be gathered from the foregoing, that the most important advances in price have been established while stocks were at their maximum; and the greatest falls when they were at their minimum, - the principal change occurring at the beginning of each period of prosperity and depression. Also, that the highest prices have been coincident with high rates of discount, and the lowest prices with low rates. It may be observed, in conclusion, that invariably while the trade is depressed, merchants and retail dealers at home and abroad purchase only for their immediate wants, and that consequently stocks accumulate at the point of production. Whereas with a more active trade and improving prices, traders acquire stocks. Hence the rapid dispersion of the home stock which took place in 1853.
In the foregoing table the year 1830 has been taken as the period from which the manufacture of pig iron assumed an importance in point of production, as previous to that time it was, comparatively speaking, small.
The relative proportions of coal, ironstone, limestone, and dross, required in the manufacture of pig iron, taking the year 1830 as an example, may be roughly estimated as follows: Coal, 100,000 tons; Ironstone, 18,000 tons; Limestone, 5,000 tons; which, together with 10,000 tons of Dross for blast-engines, gives a total of 133,000 tons in the produce of 10,000 tons of pig iron, on the cold blast principle. The disproportion of coal used in the above calculation is accounted for by the fact that it had all to be coked before using it in the furnaces. For the hot-blast process, taking 1861 as an example, the proportions may be estimated as follows: Coal, 962,500 tons; Ironstone, 673,750 tons; Limestone, 154,000 tons; Dross for heating air and blast-engines, 288,750 tons; total, 2,079,000 tons, used in the produce of 385,000 tons of pig iron. The weight of atmospheric air consumed in blast for the furnaces, has been estimated at 5 3/4 tons, or 172,720 cubic feet to each ton of pig iron.
In the foregoing table and calculations, both in the produce of iron and mineral used, a margin has been allowed for stoppages or temporary repairs on furnaces. It will be observed also that in the statistics, the Clyde Iron .Works have not been included; for, although they are situated in the parish, at the western extremity, they, nevertheless, properly belong to the Glasgow boundary. The Clyde Works are among the oldest in the country, having been erected as far back as 1786. The total of pig iron produced from the tabulated works from 1830 till 1862, (1863 not being included) represents, in round numbers, the sum of £24,826,250 as the price of 8,460,000 tons of iron, the average price over all being nearly £2 19s per ton. In extending the calculations to the minerals required in the process for the manufacture of such a quantity of pig-iron as shown in the foregoing table, for 32 years, and taking what may be considered a fair average price for each of these per ton, the result would give as follows:-
As it depends greatly on the quality of the respective minerals, the quantity required, and as nearly every iron work must have different prices for many portions of the material so used, the above is only given as an approximation. The figures, as above, might suggest other calculations as to the labour required to produce such a mass of minerals, but that must be left to the reader's imagination ; and by deducting the weight of iron produced, the product for ashes, slag or scoria, &c., together with the gases that have amalgamated with the atmosphere, from the pillars of fire - all such refuse may be set down at 36,276,500 tons; the slag heaps, or mountains of refuse, at the respective works are sufficient indications of this. With the exception of two new furnaces, erected at Summerlee, no addition has been made at any of the other pig-iron works since 1844, but the greater portion of those built previously have been taken down and enlarged, or reconstructed on a modern principle, while others of them have been standing out of blast for several years. The number of furnaces on blast at the works referred to, in 1863, were as follows:- Calder, 6; Chapelhall, 3; Calderbank, 6; Gartsherrie, 13; Dundyvan, 3; Summerlee, 8; Carnbroe, 4 ; and Langloan, 6 - making a total of 49.
The coal fields in the district consist principally of four excellent seams, viz.:- the Pyotshaw, Main, Splint, and Killtongue; the whole representing an average thickness of some 19 feet. The ironstone seams are the Calderbraes, Palacecraig, Mussleband, and Mushet-Blackband, with other seams of inferior quality, or so thin as to be unworkable. The Blackband seam has been the chief source of supply for many years, and extended over an area of some 4000 acres, in that which is usually termed the "Clyde Bason," which lies in both parishes of Old and New Monk-lands. This source, however, is now nearly exhausted, and it can only be said to exist in detached patches, of from two acres to mere fragments. The cost of working has accordingly been rendered more expensive, and were it not for the great value of this mineral, as a mixture with other ores, the cost of production, and other contingent expenses, are so heavy, that these portions yet to be worked would be abandoned, until, at least, the price of pig-iron would warrant such a sacrifice of capital. As to the division of these 4000 acres of ironstone among the respective iron works, it is scarcely possible to give such correctly; but so far as it can be roughly calculated, the division has been as follows:- Calder, 3/16; Chapelhall and Calderbank, 3/16; Gartsherrie, 5/16; Dundyvan, 2/16; Summerlee, 1/16; Carnbroe, 1/16; and Langloan, 1/16. The Monk-lands ironstone field measures somewhere about ten square miles; and the great strata of mineral wealth contained in these 4000 acres, supposing it at the average thickness usually found, viz., 18 inches, would, by a rough calculation, produce ten and a half million tons, independent of the produce from other seams, and to the proprietors of these lands they have proved golden mines, by the lordship paid to them by the iron masters. Among the richest divisions of this El Dorado, is that of Rochsolloch, which, at an early period of the present century, was offered by the Misses Aitchieson of Airdrie House, to one of our present iron masters at a lordship of, it is said, 6d per ton. The gentleman referred to was then a very young man, and ignorant of the wealth the field contained, or was afraid to venture on such a speculation; at all events, he declined this offer, and thus lost the prize. Another, namely the farmer, Mr Cullen, who for many years held a lease of the farm, which included a lease of the minerals at Is 6d per ton, also lost the prize, by resigning the latter for a reduction on the yearly rent of his farm of £30. But knowledge is power, and it is curious to note that although Mr Mushet discovered the Blackband Ironstone, from which he made his experiments in 1806, on the west side of the small burn at Coatdyke, the east side of the water was not searched, and it was not until 1835 that the discovery was made, while all along it was in many places so ebb that the plough grazed its surface when turning over the soil. When the discovery took place, the respective iron masters of Calder, Calderbank, Gartsherrie, Dundyvan, and Summerlee, each took a portion of the field on lease. The first and three last works joined together in company, while Calderbank proprietors kept their own portion and worked it by themselves. The committee of the company thus formed consisted of Alexander Christie for Calder, William Baird for Gartsherrie, John Wilson for Dundyvan, and Walter Neilson for Summerlee. The combination thus entered on was done with a view to economy, as the four portions put together could be worked with fewer shafts, and less expenses in management and oncost. Pits were accordingly sunk to the dip workings, while a great portion lying to the north-west of the field was taken out by an open cast, or mines which required little outlay of capital for machinery. The supply of this ironstone to the four works, in equal proportions, commenced in 1838, and continued till 1852, during which period the quantity produced was upwards of 305,000 tons of calcined ironstone, independent of the Calderbank portion. The average rate paid per ton for Lordship was 7s 6d, which to the proprietor, Mr Alexander of Airdrie House, produced the very handsome return of about £115,000 from scarcely 115 acres, being at the rate of a thousand pounds sterling per acre; and the extraction of the minerals in no way damaged the farm for agricultural purposes after the ironstone was taken out, as at the termination of the lease or leases, the debris or blaes was trenched down and levelled, covered with soil, and the land made once more arable, and quite as valuable for cropping as it had previously been. This was almost the universal condition on which the leases were held. Another proprietor of an estate of 500 acres in the immediate vicinity of the works, whose predecessors had purchased it for fifteen hundred pounds, has been so fortunate as to pocket annually, for many years, as many thousands from the Lordship on the minerals on the estate, and he still-derives a handsome income from it, although the best part of the minerals is nearly exhausted. These examples are merely given to show the proportion of wealth that has fallen to the share of the landlords, without the slightest risk or labour, and many others could be cited equally striking.
The great law plea in connection with the hot blast patent was another episode in the history of those connected with the district. Many experiments were tried to evade this patent, but all plans so adopted to heat the air as it passed into the furnaces, were declared a breach of the patent right by the decisions given in the Court of Session in favour of the patentees. The trial in 1843 (a year after the termination of the patent) was considered at that time as second in importance only to the "Great Douglas Case." It lasted for ten days, from 10th till 20th May; and the most eminent counsel in the kingdom was employed in the contest. Those employed by the pursuers were Andrew Rutherford, Esq., P. Robertson, Esq. (Dean of Faculty), Anderson (Solicitor General), and John Inglis, Esq.; Agents, Messrs G. & G. Dunlop, W.S., and Messrs Bannatyne & Kirkwood, Writers, Glasgow. The counsel for the defenders were M'Neil (Lord Advocate), Robert Whigham, Esq., Charles Neaves, Esq., and David Mure Esq.; Agents, ' Messrs J. & J. Macandrews, S.S.C., and Messrs A. & R. Graham, Writers, Glasgow. With such able advocates, the trial was one of profound interest, and both parties were sanguine of success. 102 witnesses were summoned in the case, all gentlemen of practical skill and talent connected with the iron trade, from the several districts in Scotland and England. 42 of these witnesses were for the pursuers, and 60 for the defenders. The result was a verdict in favour of the pursuers; these being James Beaumont Neilson of Glasgow, Engineer, and others. The defenders were William Baird & Company, Gartsherrie Iron Works; and it is needless to say that the trial created immense excitement in the district where the principals in the action resided. The occupations of the jurymen may here be noted:- five were farmers, one lapidary, two merchants, one banker, one factor, one tobacconist, and one tool manufacturer. The evidence .elicited from the witnesses during their examination on the trial formed of itself a history of the iron trade from 1830 till 1842. The patentees thus established their rights, and the amount of money that changed hands after the trial was enormous - one cheque, or order, on the Western Bank of Scotland, was filled up as part of the payment, for £106,000. Such a magnificent stake was worth a contest, and it was ably played for by both parties.
CHAPTER VI. STRIKES.
''Oh man! thou slave of wayward fate,
Why wilt thou add to misery's power?''
In every large mining district, its prosperity, more or less, has been periodically overclouded by times of adversity, arising either from a stagnation or dulness of trade, or, what is often worse, a Strike. The question of the utility of strikes to the workmen has been largely discussed within the last few years; and into the intricacies of that question we do not intend to enter, but rather to note, in a historical manner, the strikes, and the results which have flowed from them in this district. In 1832 the colliers were out on strike for eighteen weeks, and returned to their labour at a reduction of wages, instead of the advance they demanded. In 1837 they made another attempt to get the wages raised, and the struggle lasted for seventeen weeks. Misery and privation were endured without a murmur, and they returned to their labour without any advance. For some years afterwards there were a few local skirmishes; but between the strikes of 1837 and 1843 the bill of Lord Ashley (now Earl of Shaftesbury) came into force, which put a stop to the previous custom of employing women underground. This event took place in 1841. In 1843 another formidable strike was entered on, which lasted for upwards of three months, during which fears were entertained that an outbreak would ensue. The yeomanry of the county were called out, and a company of the 53d Regiment of Infantry was brought from Glasgow and stationed in the town. The men on strike remained quiet but firm, and were successful in their demands; but, in the course of a few weeks afterwards, the employers gave them warning for a reduction of the advance so lately given, and the workmen, worn out by the harassing campaign, submitted to the terms. Other strikes of a trivial nature occurred during the succeeding ten years, when again, in 1853, the district became the scene of another contest, commencing in April; and continuing till August. During its course, combination was met by combination.. Physically, those on strike were masters; morally, they were their own slaves; and financially, in a manner helpless. The majority, improvident and careless for the future; and the result was defeat, for the employers had the advantage in every respect. The strong arm of the law was on this, as on two previous occasions, called into requisition. Military, yeomanry, and constabulary were dispersed over the district; force was met by force; and those men who were willing to work had to be protected to and from their employment, in order to ensure their safety, as monster meetings were almost nightly held by those on strike, from which strong patrols of men were despatched to all the roads leading to the pits to prevent the men who wished to work from getting near them. This system of interference was thoroughly organised by the men, and carried out; the usual method for stopping the "black-nebs" being an invitation to attend a meeting, and, if they did not accede to the request, a stronger intimation followed, that frequently had the desired effect. At such periods, hundreds of men, who were never in a pit or mine in their lives, were employed and trained to the work as miners and colliers, thus increasing the number in the labour market, and augmented when the men on strike resumed their work, consequently reducing the value of labour; and this has been the result of nearly every strike that has occurred in this district. It is short-sighted policy of the men, and it is certain, and may be set down as a general rule, that strikes are an evil to be avoided by every class of workmen. No matter on what grounds they are,raised, or marked by whatever show of immediate success, they are sure at the end to bring misery and wretchedness, if not utter ruin, on those who engage in them. Ask the wives and children of the colliers and miners in this or any other district the result of these strikes, and they will to a certainty confirm these remarks. Their experience cannot be gainsayed. A few solitary families may contrive to live comfortably amidst the general destitution and misery, - but how? Such strikes require leaders; and this may be the secret of the comforts these enjoyed. Education is doing much in the way of enlightening our mining population, and elevating them as a class second to no other body of workmen. Better would it be for all parties, both employers and employed, were a little more "moral suasion" adopted, instead of rushing into such contests - by the workmen especially, who, from example and experience, have often found that the results gained were never adequate to the sacrifices made.
The strike of 1860 was very peculiar, inasmuch as it was a combination of strikes. The colliers employed by the coalmasters stood out for an advance of wages, which they were successful in obtaining; and a proportionable increase in the price of coal was the result, for which the public had to pay. The ironmasters, having hitherto in respect of wages ruled the labour market, deemed this an innovation; besides, they were unable, from the low price of pig iron, to advance the wages of the colliers who were employed in connection with the iron works; and rather than submit to the demands of the men, they, after due consideration, agreed to damp out the furnaces. This, with one or two exceptions, was accordingly acted on, and, to counteract the increase on the price of coal in the market, they resolved to forward such supplies as they had at command, either from stocks on hand, or from those pits where a few of the men still kept working. The market was soon glutted, and prices fell accordingly; this state of matters lasted for six weeks, causing much distress and privation among nearly all classes of workmen by the want of employment, who rejoiced when the strike terminated. The furnaces were again put on blast; but the strike was a serious logs, not only to the district, but also to the country at large, as many workmen were thrown idle at the works, and upwards of 60,000 tons of pig iron lost to the market, in the manufacture of which upwards of 150,000 tons of coal, independent of the other minerals required, would have been used. The district was, therefore, many thousands of pounds sterling poorer in point of wages for workmanship; and the loss to the country, taking the pig iron at market value, could not be less than £160,000. This, together with expenses for repairs on furnaces that had been damped out for so many weeks, and required to be put on blast again, the whole lops may be roughly estimated at £200,000. Such are a few of the evils of strikes.
CHAPTER VII. MALLEABLE WORKS.
Among the productions of the district in the early part of this century, was the manufacture of steel, which was carried on at Calderbank by the Monkland Iron and Steel Company, for many years, but abandoned in 1839. At that time the manufacture of malleable iron was extended by this Company, and carried on with vigour; and year after year additions were made to enable them to manufacture iron in all its branches, until the works became the most extensive in Scotland. The largest portion of these adjoin the pig-iron works of the company, and the remainder are situated at Moffat and Gartness, a short distance from each other. The works, altogether, consist of 62 puddling and 19'heating furnaces, with 6 driving engines, patent hammers, helves, and other appliances necessary for such an extensive manufactory, which was capable of turning out on an average 3000 tons of finished iron per month. In July, 1861, those gigantic works stopped, the company having suspended payments. The stoppage had a ruinous effect upon the general trade in the immediate vicinity, and also on the town of Airdrie, which, being situated some two miles from the works, was greatly benefited by the circulation of money thus brought into it. A portion of the puddling department was started a few months ago, viz., in October. And it is said that other parts of the work will follow gradually. It is not anticipated that the business will be carried on so extensively as formerly. It has been said that above a quarter of a million sterling are invested in these works.
The Dundyvan Malleable Works commenced operations in 1839, and have been carried on successfully ever since. At these works there are 44 puddling and 15 heating furnaces, 4 driving engines, two patent (Condie) hammers, and a helve hammer. The machinery is capable of producing 1400 tons of finished iron monthly, of nearly every variety, plates, rails, bars, &c., &c. For the last twelve years the average amount of finished iron forwarded to the market annually has been 12,000 tons, to manufacture which 34,000 tons of coal were annually required. There are a number of other malleable works in the district, but as their existence dates from a later period than the two already mentioned, they will follow in order accordingly, and be noticed at the proper period.
CHAPTER VIII. EDUCATION
"Tis education forms the common mind; Just as the twig is bent, the tree's inclined.''
A very important subject connected with the district, is that of education, the requirements for which, both religious and secular, increased in accordance with the growth of the population. In 1835 there were no churches nearer than the Old Monkland, two miles to the south-west, or the town of Airdrie, two miles to the east; and the first religious denomination that' took possession of the field was the "Relief," a very appropriate name for the pioneers. On the 7th of August, 1836, the Rev. Peter Brown, late of Wishaw, delivered the first sermon from a tent forwarded from the Relief Congregation at Tollcross, by Mr Meiklam of Clyde Iron Works. The site of the first meeting was a lovely green haugh, lying about three hundred yards to the east of the bridge, and on the bank of the Monkland Canal, on the Dundyvan estate. The congregation that assembled on that memorable occasion to listen to the truths of the gospel, was very large, and had only the green sward for seats, and the blue canopy of heaven for a roof. Shortly after this a large hall was taken from Mr William Gray, Founder, where the adherents formed themselves into a congregation, and in 1839, the Relief (now the ILP.) Church was erected, at a cost of nearly £1400, with accommodation for 800 sitters. During this period those in connection with the Established Church were also busy. They set to work with vigour, and the Gartsherrie (quoad sacra) Church was built and opened for public worship, three months prior to the Relief. The erection of this substantial edifice, with its spire, &c., which stands so prominently on the hill, cost £3000, with accommodation for 1300 sitters. It is told of the late parish minister, Mr Thomson, that he jocularly remarked about the "Relief" that the citadel had been taken possession of by the enemy, and it would require hard work to drive them from such a stronghold, a prophecy that has been fulfilled. Another staunch churchman, who was noted for his waggery, and a resident in the town, was one day asked by a gentleman who had descended at the Inn from the Stage Coach, "What building is that?" pointing south to the Relief Church, "That," said Johnny, "is just a barn, sir." "Nonsense!" was the reply. "Aye, deed sir, it's just a barn for threshing the Kirk o' Scotland in," was the rejoinder. There was room for more such barns, as was evident by the additional churches which were built, In 1841 the Saint John's Episcopal Chapel was erected, at a cost of £2000, with accommodation for 450 sitters. This was followed in 1844 by the erection of the Free .Church, at a cost of £800, with accommodation for 700 sitters. The Roman Catholics, a very numerous class in the district, had a preaching station for several years, and in 1848 they erected the St Patrick Chapel, the cost of which, with additional building for manse and school, was nearly £4000. The last church added to the town was the Evangelical Union, a neat, compact structure, erected in 1860, at a cost of £700, with accommodation for 700 sitters. In Baillieston, which is nearly three miles west from, this, the Crosshill (quoad sacra) Church was erected in 1835, at a cost of £507, with accommodation for 500 sitters. The site for this church, which consists of half an acre of land, was the gift of the late George Scott of Daldowie, who, for this, claimed the right of naming the church after the farm on which it is erected, viz., Crosshill. The St John's Episcopalian Chapel was erected in 1851, at a cost of £1000, with accommodation for 600 sitters. Mr Andrew Buchanan, of Mount Vernon, presented the church with an acre of ground on which it is erected; the funds for building this structure and parsonage adjoining were collected by public subscription. This year, 1864, there will be another church added, an erection which will cost upwards of £1200, with accommodation for between 400 and 500 sitters. This church belongs to the United Presbyterians, and the feu upon which it is built is a gift from James Beaumont Neilson, who has already been mentioned in connection with the Hot Blast [The church was opened for public worship on 14th February ; Dr George Jeffrey, of Glasgow, Rev. William Stirling, of Coatbridge and Dr Anderson, of Glasgow, officiating at the three diets.]. All these churches, both in Coatbridge and Baillieston, have one or more Sabbath schools in connection with them, which are excellent auxiliaries for training the young, in conjunction with the schools and academies.
About the beginning of the present century, the means of education were in accordance with the small population, and the only seat of learning near the village was a small thatched house at "Auld Muirend," on the Dundyvan Estate; under the roof of which presided Mr James Merry, or "Dominie Merry" as he was termed -
" There, in his noisy mansion, skilled to rule, The village master taught his little school. A man severe he was, and stern to view" -
who trained the young ideas how to spell and read, enforcing his teaching with frequent application of the taws. A few of the dominie's pupils are still living, who declare that he was a hard hitter, and made them feel on a sensible part, the great importance of education. In noticing past events, it may be interesting to record that about eighteen years ago, when the grave was opened in which the body of the maister had been buried in Old Monkland Churchyard, to receive the last remains of one of his descendants, the grave-digger was astonished at discovering that the body of the dominie was nearly entire, arms, leg, (for he had but one leg) &c., were petrified into a hard substance; the whole of the body had a blue, chalk-like appearance, which, after a few hours' exposure to the air, crumbled at the touch. It was, altogether, a curious specimen of a body petrified into stone, and from the fact of its becoming brittle when exposed to the influence of the atmosphere, showed that a few years more were required to complete the process of petrifaction. The phenomenon attracted considerable attention at the time, and was duly noticed in one or more of the Glasgow newspapers, under the title of "The Petrified Dominie." Since then, several bodies have been discovered in the same burying ground, more or less petrified, according to the time they have been buried. This petrifaction is generally believed to be the result of the mineral water, that acts upon the remains, and hardens them into this state before they decompose. Mr Merry died about the year 1807 or 1808, and the schoolhouse was allowed to go to ruin, the site of which is now occupied by a neat cottage, occupied by Mr Thomas Johnston of the Dundyvan Iron Works, and close adjoining is the Dundyvan Academy.
At the period above referred to, the parish could only boast of a parochial school, and six private schools, and even these were but thinly attended. The successor to Mr Merry, was a Mr Robert Black, who established a school in Lang-loan, which, as the population increased, was succeeded by others in various parts of the district. Amongst those teachers who have, during the course of subsequent years, been engaged in training and imparting knowledge to the young, may be noted, Rev. Thomas Martin, RP. Church, Strathmiglo; Rev. Peter Sawyers, Free Church, Gargunnock; Rev. John Gow, Free Church, Carmylie, Arbroath; Rev. John Torrance, U.P. Church, Dumfries, and many others now equally notable. The oldest teacher in the district, Mr David Reid, has, for upwards of a quarter of a century, fulfilled the arduous duties in a very unassuming manner, and is very much respected. After the iron works and collieries began to extend, the proprietors very judiciously established schools in connection with them, and now there is scarcely an iron work or colliery which has not its school, or academy, with a staff of efficient teachers, where the children of the working men receive an education qualifying them for college, or for entering upon the active duties of life, and for which the parents pay but a nominal charge, levied according to the rules of each work, and varying from fourpence to one shilling per month for all the children of each family above five, or under ten years of age. After this period a small fee is exacted for the more advanced branches of education, and for many years past both clergymen, doctors, and lawyers have had, and are still getting their ranks augmented from students trained in these schools and academies, who are an honour to the profession; so that the opportunity and benefits derived from such a system of education are appreciated by the working classes, and many instances could be given of the great sacrifices made by working men to push on their children and give them an education qualifying them for the learned professions. The parents (all honour to them) in the struggle have the inward, satisfaction and pleasure of doing their duty, and thus giving their children a heritage whereby they can elevate themselves and become ornaments to society. Thus have the collieries, the iron works and foundries, produced men now eminent in the respective ranks of ministers, doctors, lawyers, civil and mining engineers, bankers, merchants, &c., &c. Knowledge is power, and the lever, education, has been carefully attended to, and supported by the respective iron and coal masters, as the preceding table amply shows, it being an outline of the majority of these institutions, with the average attendance of scholars taken last year.
W., K and M. in the table, are West, East, and Mid districts. There are thus 4 schools for the first, 6 for the second, and the rest for the latter; and, taking into account children attending small private schools out of the district, together tfith the attendance at the evening classes, the 3488, as given, may be augmented to 3700, as a fair average attendance, out of a population of upwards of 29,000 inhabitants, this being at the rate of about 13 per cent.