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Airdrie owes its existence to its location on the "Hogs Back" - the ridge of land running from East to West. The Monks of Newbattle had numerous establishments throughout the area including a farm grange at Drumpellier, a Court House at Kipps, a Chapel in the area of Chapelhall and a number of corn mills - one being the original Airdrie Meal mill. The Monks were also expert in the construction of roads. In the 12th century they established the original Glasgow to Edinburgh road via Airdrie and Bathgate, to link up with their lands in Newbattle in East Lothian.
In those days travelling was lonely and dangerous. Horses were still very rare and could only be afforded by the rich. Low lying ground was usually extremely difficult to navigate because of the numerous bogs, forests and burns - not to mention the possibility of ambush by a footpad or robber. Hence, it became much more practical to travel on the high ground (the "High Way") where one could avoid the mud and be able to see any robbers and thus avoid an ambush. These roads (tracks) became known as the Kings Highway. (Most roads are still called highways).
The old Monks road was via Cliftonhill, Airdrie House (Manor Drive/ Monkscourt Avenue), Aitchison Street, High Street, Hallcraig, Flowerhill and Colliertree. It was along this road that the first houses in Airdrie were built. (It is thought that there was another road/track joining Drumpelier to Kipps Farm and on to Monkscourt Avenue).
Airdrie is first referred to by name in 1605 but it was not until the end of the 17th century that the foundation of its future prosperity was laid when in 1695 an Act of Parliament made Airdrie a market town with a weekly market and four Fairs each year. Mr Robert Hamilton was credited with being the real founder of the modern Airdrie. He was the owner of most of the land around Airdrie and was the "Laird" of Airdrie House. He led Airdrie's transition from being a "Ferm Toon" to the more prestigious country village. After obtaining the Act in 1695 he continued to foster and encourage the development of his native place until he died in 1705 at the age of 55. "He truly lived for others"
The part of Airdrie that was first built was mainly along Aitchison Street and High Street.- still referred to as the "Aul Toon". By the year 1795 Airdrie had a population of nearly 2000 people and the old town had been extended to cover East High Street, North Bridge Street, Chapel Street, South Bridge Street, Hallcraig Street, Wellwynd, Bell Street (Finnies Lane), Wilson Street (Pump Lane). The majority of the house owners in the old town were hand-loom weavers.
The statistical account for the Parish of New Monkland for 1793 tellsus that the population of Airdrie had increased from 300 in 1760 to 1,762 at the time of the account. The chief occupation at this time was farming but the mineral wealth of the area was also reflected in the statement that coal and ironstone could be found at almost every farm. Airdrie's other claim to fame by the middle of the 18th century was as a weaving community.
Flax was grown on many local farms and the town became a well-established centre of woollen and linen fabrics. The population of the town continued to grow from 2,745 in 1801 to 4,860 in 1821 which was the year Airdrie was created an Independent Burgh. The expansion of the coal and iron industries led to a demand for machinery and tools and Airdrie became important for engineering works and the population climbed to13,488 in 1871.The growth in population was not due to high birthrate, but instead due to an influx of residents from the Highlands and predominantly Ireland. This followed the potato famine of the mid 1840s and also reflected the change from cottage industry to heavy industry in the area. Most of the Irish immigrant population were involved with mining and labouring. This led to an increase in ironwork foundries around the area. Because of this explosion in industry, railway links were soon established (circa 1830) and by 1862, the Airdrie and Bathgate Junction Railway provided a direct link to Edinburgh with Airdrie South Station providing the starting point for trains to Glasgow.
In August the Public Libraries Act (Scotland) 1853 was passed, and in November Airdrie Public Library was the first in Scotland.
Wellwynd was originally the path that led to Eppy Jacks well at the foot of the Wynd. Another well was located at the foot of Pump Lane (Wilson Street). This is an extract from a poem by Wm. McHutcheson the Airdrie poet who also wrote "The Auld North Burn" which featured Maggie Ramsay.
I mind when Airdrie Toon was sma'
And me a wee bit wean
Aft wi' a can, a perfect man
I climbed the Auld Pump Lane
When winter cam' and frost was keen
Aft like a railway train
We laddies then at ithers en'
Slade doon the Auld Pump Lane
Click on the small map to view a larger map.
(You can return to this page if you click on the large map).
Commonhead c1910 - the Weavers Cottages on the left have since been demolished - as has most of the street - There was a Weavers Cottage Museumlocated in Wellwynd but this has now been closed.
The Airdrie House estatewas owned and occupied by the Hamilton family for nearly 300 years. The Hamilton reign came to an end in 1749. In 1769 the Aitchisons bought the estate for 5,400 that the Alexanders later inherited. In 1887 Sir John Wilson bought the estate and it was to be the home of the Wilsons until it became the local maternity hospital in 1919.
This closed in 1962 and was demolished in 1964 to make way for Monklands General Hospitalthat opened in 1977 .
A view looking south from Manor Drive - through the entrance gate to Airdrie House C1945 Note: the war memorial in the centre Centenary Avenue is on the right of the gate
(From a painting by Andrew Muir)
In 1821 Airdrie was created an independent Burgh by an Act of Parliament. In the 1830s coal was needed to feed the furnaces of Coatbridge and coal mining was becoming the staple industry. In turn the mining industry attracted engineering companies and Airdrie began a rapid growth. By 1841 the population was nearly 12,500 and was on its way to 20,000 by the end of the century.
Sir John Wilson gifted 1000 to be spent on laying out the Public Park to commemorate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria. The park was laid out and a Band Stand erected - and was opened in 1897. In 1908 Sir John Wilson also laid out the West End Park
Site of old Town Hall - Airdrie
In 1910 Sir John made a free gift of 10,000 to the community for the purpose of building a new town hall. In 1912 the Sir John Wilson Town Hall was formally opened.
The Sir John Wilson Town Hall(c1950s) is on the left - and is still used for all type of functions. - The Public Baths on the right have been replaced with the very modern John Smith Pool- part of the frontage was retained.
In1921 Airdrie had become an industrial town. This time it owed its growth to growing iron and steel business in Coatbridge.
In September 1921 Airdrie celebrated the centenary of the Burgh
Bank Street Airdrie
In 1971 Airdrie celebrated the 150th anniversary of the Burgh
Victoria Bowling green
Some of the principal industries around the townincluded:
Albert Works - G.Inglis & Co
Chapel Street Works - Wm Martyn & Sons
Chapelside Works - Martyn Brothers
Boiler Works - Shiels & McNicol
Ironfounders - Robert Maitlands & Sons
Ironfounders - Smith & Hamilton
Rochsolloch Works - Scottish Iron & Steel Co
Victoria Works - Sir Wm. Beardmore & Co Ltd
Calderbank Works - James Dunlop & Co Ltd
Northburn Steel Works - The Scottish Iron & Steel Co Ltd
The Imperial, The Climax - Stewarts & Lloyds (Tube Works)
North West Rivet, Bolt & Nut Factory
Wm McGregor, Corundum Ltd, Diamond Steel Manufacturing Co Ltd (Grit Works)
Caledonian Wire Rope Co
John Spence & Sons (Brassfounders)
Airdrie Cotton Works - Thomas Goldie & Co
Moffat Mills, Caldercruix Mills - Robert Craig & Sons (Paper Mills)
Calico Print Works - John Glen & Sons, Glengowan
Airdrie Grain Mills - Waddell & Henderson
Sweethill Works - James Ritchie (Confectionery)
Rawyards Brick Works, Drombathie Brickworks - Alex Frew & Co
: Wheatholm -James Taylor
Golden Sheaf - J. Marshall & Sons
Caledonia _ J & J McFarlane
Groveside - Wm Sword & Co
Airdrie Cross c1940s
Those were the days- Note the policeman wondering where all the traffic is coming from!
At the end of the First World War, Airdrie was hard hit with many casualties from the war and also many inhabitants emigrated. The population rose by 3% to around 26,000 by 1931. The depression years had made a great impact on the town and several well known manufacturers ceased to exist and few replaced them. It was reported that 50% of the registered population were unemployed. The Church groups tried to provide some comfort for the poor folk in the area and set up educational and work experience projects to help and by 1936 the Airdrie Churches Council had attracted national interest through their work culminating in a building in Graham Street being provided for them Conditions in the town did not really improve until well after the Second World War. In 1949 a major pharmaceutical company (Boots Pure Drug Co. Ltd) and Banner Textiles Ltd were attracted to the town (between them employing 1200). With this impetus, new companies began to consider Airdrie as a viable option for business and in 1958 Pye Scottish Communications Ltd opened employing over 1000 people. A well known building in the town is Airdrie Arts Centre - opened in 1967, it is still a popular venue for concerts and plays.
Today, Airdrie is a large town and encompasses the former villages of Clarkston and Rawyards. It has an Arts Centre, library, two railway stations (with frequent electric trains to Glasgow), public baths, a sports centre, a modern shopping centre, 16 churches, many public parks, a golf course and five industrial estates.
Airdrie town centre has changed much in the last few years with a new road scheme and a shift in emphasis with the type of shopping it offers. Graham Street, the main pedestrianised street, has recently been refurbished and has had the pedestrian precinct area upgraded. New housing complexes are being built around this suitably situated commuter town and notably in Chapelhall, Rochsoles and Glenmavis and the former Boots factory site in Rawyards.
Airdrie United F.C. has a new stadium called New Broomfield, formerly Shyberry Excelsior on land adjacent to Carlisle Road and the Petersburn area of the town.
In Chapelhall, the EuroCentral link for Europe allows direct links with Europe by rail and road connecting to London and onto France. Albert Bartlett & Sons have expanded their fresh produce operations to a new site on the Stirling Road towards Cumbernauld which vastly increases their presence in the town.
Below is an image and comments supplied by Carrick Watson that should interest you, it shows most of Airdrie Town Centre as it used to be in the 1950's
Amazing just how many buildings have now been demolished that you can see in this photo
You can see the old (New !) Police Station, the Old Court Building, Gasometer, Airdrie High School, Airdrieonians Football Club
Scott the Ironmongers, remember the old Red Sandstone CO-OP building next to the Garage? and all the houses on High Street?
Richardsons on High Street and down South Bridge Street etc - How many names can you remember ??
The houses down North Bridge Street are interesting, showing the old garden layout. How many Folk remember Nelly McAleese who used to live in the house on the left of the Garage in High Street just at the lane?
Now there was a Lady you did not mess with !! Remember Paddy who used to work for her? He had a hard time !!
You could spend a lot of time looking at this one ( at least I could !!) Note the lack of traffic compared to today.