My Gilchrist family came from Cumbernauld in Scotland and before that Denny. Click HERE to see a map of the area where old Cumbernauld is. The Gilchrists lived in The Wynd, the street I have marked on the old map below of the village.
Cumbernauld is a parish containing the village of Condorat, the station of Croy and the town of Cumbernauld itself in the district of Dunbartonshire. The Parish of Cumbernauld around the late 1800s would have been about 8 miles by 4 miles covering an area of about 9,146 acres. The rivers Kelvin and Luggie form parts of the north and south boundaries. The land comprised of small hills and fertile dales. The highest part being the Fannyside Moor producing nothing but heath and furze (gorse). The remainder of the parish was mostly arable with a deep clay soil and moderately fertile. Lime, coal, ironstone and freestone were extensively worked.
Some traces of Antonius Wall occur along the northern border and vestiges of a Roman road in the moss of Fannyside. Roads and railways then and now make Cumbernauld an easy place to arrive at.
The population in 1831 was 3,080, in 1851 it was 3,378 with 478 houses. The parish church is an old building which was repaired in 1810. This is a Free Church which belonged to the original secession, then to the establishment, and is still called the East Church. There was also a United Presbyterian Church, several schools, a savings bank and a subscription library.
A part of the Caledonian forest flourished until a comparatively late date in the district of Cumbernauld; and here roamed the last unpreserved specimens of the Caledonian Ox. This beast was said to be of a white colour with a thick mane resembling a lions and it was very wild and savage, that when irritated would rush upon the hunters, overthrow horses, and disperse packs of hunting dogs. The ox formerly abounded in the Sylvia Caledonia, but was then only to be found at Stirling, Cumbernauld and Kincardine.
The old town of Cumbernauld itself lies in the centre of the parish and occupied a sheltered, pleasant valley. The village was once wall in. Roadside Street runs along the north perimeter of the town and the two streets of The Wynd and Smithyends cut through to the Main Street. On Main Street itself between Smithyends and the Wynd was where the merchants would set up their stalls once a week on market day.
Medieval Cumbernauld would be largely constructed of timber; the wooden houses being replaced with stone ones as the centuries advances. In turn, stone houses would replace each other, the new ones always exactly on the site of its predecessor, on its allotted street frontage. There are still some old house in existence, one at least dating back to the end of the sixteenth century, a few more from the seventeenth and most from later years. Some houses which look like they have been constructed in the middle of the nineteenth century are often very much older, their fronts only having been re-constructed. Many of the inhabitants were employed in weaving for Glasgow manufacturers. At one time there was a weekly market and a very flourishing cattle market was held in May. A fair was held every year in August. The population of the town was about 2,227 in 1831. By the middle of the nineteenth century the village was starting to decline commercially, hastened by the industrial revolution and the failure of the City of Glasgow Bank in 1878.
As has already been said, the principal industry was hand-loom weaving, almost every house having its own apparatus. The clack of flying shuttles must have been heard from one end of the village to the other. the output was mostly blankets, of a distinctive chequered pattern, well-known over most of the Lowland belt of Scotland. Later, a small weaving factory was established in Smithyends. Nowadays there is not a loom left in the district. Another activity was the excavation and burning of lime; the pits from which it was won may be seen north-east of Cumbernauld House and are responsible for the part destruction of the Old Comyn Motte. The kiln in which the lime was burned is still visible in the Vault Glen. However, the oldest industry of all is still being practised in the vicinity and that it fire clay works. The Romans are said to have been the first to discover the potential of the great beds of clay underlying the area and to have burned their own tiles from it.
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