Poem my town.htm
town has seen many changes over the
years - the slums that crowded around
the Ironworks have long gone, as have
the ironworks themselves. Coal is no
longer deep-mined in the area , but
Coatbridge has moved on from being a
depressed ex- industrial area to a
thriving town once more.
Up until 1975,
Coatbridge had its own Burgh Council.
Between 1975 and 1996, Coatbridge was
part of Monklands District Council. It
is now part of North Lanarkshire
, (From: http://www.british-history.ac.uk) a village, in the
late quoad sacra parish of Gartsherrie,
parish of Old Monkland, Middle ward of
county Lanark, 1 mile (N. W.) from
Airdrie; containing 1599 inhabitants.
This is a very thriving place, which has
more than doubled in extent and
population within the last fifteen
years, owing to the extension of the
iron trade in the district, and to its
being in the vicinity of valuable
coal-mines; the Dundyvan and Summerlee
iron-works in the neighbourhood are
conducted on a large scale, and afford
employment to a great part of the
population. The village is on the road
from Airdrie to Glasgow; and the
Monkland canal also affords facilities
of communication with the adjacent
towns. A post-office has been
established here, and there is a place
of worship for members of the Free
At the turn of the last century
Coatbridge was the eight largest town in Scotland. It was during the
last years of the 18th century that the
area developed from a loose collection
of hamlets into the town of Coatbridge.
The town's development and growth have
been intimately connected with the
technological advances of the industrial
revolution, and in particular with the
hot blast process.
Coatbridge was a major
Scottish centre for iron works and coal
mining during the 19th century and in
this period was described as 'the
industrial heartland of Scotland' and
the 'Iron Burgh. It was formed by the
amalgamation of a number of local
villages: Old Monkland
and Kirkshaws, Coatbridge, Coatdyke, Dundyvan,
The area around
Coatbridge was described in the 1799
Statistical Account as an "immense
garden" and it was not until the 1830s
that the character of the district began
to change from a rural landscape of
small hamlets and farmhouses to a
crowded industrial town.
The industry which
transformed Coatbridge was the iron
industry. In 1811 Old Monkland
parish, which included Coatbridge, was
recorded as having less than 6000
inhabitants. By the mid 1800's the Iron
industry was predominant in the town and
when it achieved Burgh status in 1885 it
was known as "the Iron Burgh" and its
population had increased to around
25,000. As it grew, its landscape
changed from a country area to a crowded
industrial town. Today, the population
is now estimated at over 48,000.
The present-day street layout of the
town centre was largely influenced by
the planning of the Baird family, owners
of one of the town's largest ironworks.
Coatbridge was the eighth largest town
in Scotland in 1911.
Old Monkland Parish as described in Pigot's
& co's national commercial directory
This is perhaps
one of the most productive and
beautiful parishes in Lanarkshire.
It is well enclosed, cultivated and
finely planted with forests and
fruit trees and to a stranger the
resemblance is that of an immense
garden, embellished with numerous
seats and villas principally
belonging to the merchants of
A description of Coatbridge is given
in a book on the industries of Scotland
by Bremner in 1869: 25 years later!
"Though Coatbridge is a most
interesting seat of industry, it is
anything but beautiful. Dense clouds of
smoke roll over it incessantly, and
impart to all the buildings a peculiarly
A coat of black dust
overlies everything, and in a few hours
the visitor finds his complexion
considerably deteriorated by the flakes
of soot which fill the air, and settle
on his face. To appreciate Coatbridge,
it must be visited at night, when it
presents a most extraordinary and when
seen for the first time startling
From the steeple of the
parish church, which stands on a
considerable eminence, the flames of no
fewer than fifty blast furnaces may be
seen. In the daytime these flames are
pale and unimpressive; but when night
comes on, they appear to burn more
fiercely, and gradually there is
developed in the sky a lurid glow
similar to that which hangs over a city
when a great conflagration is in
For half-a-mile round each
group of furnaces, the country is as
well illumined as during full moon, and
the good folks of Coatbridge have their
streets lighted without tax or trouble.
There is something grand in even a
distant view of the furnaces but the
effect is much enhanced when they are
approached to within a hundred yards or
so. The flames then have a positively
fascinating effect. No production of the pyrotechnist can match their wild
gyrations. Their form is ever changing,
and the variety of their movements is
Now they shoot far upward, and
breaking short off, expire among the
smoke; again spreading outward, they
curl over the lips of the furnace, and
dart through the doorways, as if
determined to annihilate the bounds
within which they are confined; then
they sink low into the crater, and come
forth with renewed strength in the shape
of great tongues of fire, which sway
backward and forward, as if seeking with
a fierce eagerness something to devour".
The following was said about Coatbridge
in the latter part of the 19thcentury:
"There is no worse place out of hell
than that neighbourhood. At night
groups of blast furnaces on all sides
might be imagined to be blazing
volcanoes at most of which smelting is
continued on Sundays and weekdays,
day and night - without intermission"
fountain is dedicated to Alexander
Whitelaw, industrialist and
partner in the local firm of Gartsherrie
Iron, who in 1872 organised the
relocation of the railway line away from
the main street to create a civic space.
The original location of the fountain
was in front of the Royal Hotel (now
Airdrie Savings Bank) at the
point of the removed railway
approximately 100 yards to the W of
where it stands today (c1890); it was
apparently moved due to incidents with
Inscriptions to the granite panels read:
`This fountain stands on the site of the
level crossing of the Monkland and
Kirkintilloch railway which was removed
`Created by subscription in honour of
Alexander Whitelaw Esq (MP') In
recognition of the many valuable
services rendered by him in the
Inaugurated 10th August 1875' When fully
working the fountain had metal drinking
cups attached to each basin (now
infilled) on a chain with constantly
flowing drinking water for the public.
Fountain - as it was in 1950s -The Fire
Station is on the right.
If you place the mouse on the pic you
can see a photo of the fountain taken in
December 2009 by Ray Devlin
. The fountain has
been moved (again) to the right corner of main
Street - it isn't very conspicuous.
Fountain - as it was in early 1900s -
The fountain has moved a few times since
then - it is now located near to the
right of the picture - it may
note the Baxters bus just coming into
TODAYToday the older, heavy industries have
almost disappeared and newer light
industries are taking their place.
Coatbridge has a number of attractions,
including Summerlee Heritage Park -
"Scotland's noisiest museum" and the
Time Capsule leisure complex. It has a
public baths, five railway stations -
Coatdyke, Sunnyside, Blairhill, Central,
& Whifflet. It has many public
parks including the very popular
Drumpellier Country Park with it's Peace
Garden, two golf courses, one cricket
club, an indoor and outdoor sports
centre, an indoor bowling centre, a ten
pin bowling club, six industrial estates
and a modern shopping centre.
Coatbridge Tinplate work c1890
To quote the latest
North Lanarkshire Official Guide: "This
vibrant town now boasts unrivalled
leisure and entertainment facilities as
well as ample shopping opportunities in
the town centre precinct and retail
This view is
taken from the bottom of the hill at
Kirkstyle cottages. These cottages
were named as such because of the
proximity to the church Gate - Kirkstyle!
C1860. These cottages
are no longer there and the right side
of the picture is now occupied by Forsyths Fruit & Veg Merchants.
-The Old Monkland Cemetery is on the
left.- note the old greenhouse. Directly opposite the
Old Monkland Church Gate is a more
modern row of 4 Cottages (c1904) - also
formally named Kirkstyle Cottages.
Recent photo 2008 -
the Church is hidden by trees - note the
cars at the entrance.
show a traffic jam in Baird Street as it
was in the early 1900's
- the carts are loading (or unloading?)
water and the kids seem to be enjoying
The church at the top of the hill is Garsherrie Church- now known as St. Andrews
This is a view of Coatbridge looking
towards the Whifflet - The Front Row of
the infamous Rosehall Rows is on the
Rosehall Rows looking
North towards Whifflet
along Back Row
"The rows are the
property of Addie & Company, coalmasters.
They are a wilderness of single- and
double-(mostly single-) roomed houses.
They cannot be described justly, and to
do so unjustly would flatter the owners.
They consist of four long parallel rows
of single-storey hovels; most of them
have not even rhones to carry the rain
from the roofs. Rain-water simply runs
down the roof and then runs down the
walls, or falls off as chance or the
wind decides. There are no coal-cellars;
coals are kept below the beds. There are
no washhouses. Water is supplied from
stands in the alleys. The closet
accommodation is hideous. The
closets outside are not used by the
women. In some of the rows 7 or 8 people
occupy a single room. The sanitary
are in a
state of revolting filth.
A number of
these hovels are built back to back.
ents for single apartment, 3s. 9d. per
fortnight, deducted at the office of the
colliery. The whole place is an eyesore,
and positively disgraceful. Surely the
Commission can find time to see this
place." [Extract from evidence presented
to Royal Commission, 25th March 1914]
They were eventually
cleared in the
and replaced by the current housing
between Coathill Street and Whiffiet
The Rosehall Rows were built for the
workforce of Rosehall colliery, which
was owned by Robert Addie and Sons. In
1938 their registered office was at 36
Robertson Street, Glasgow. Rosehall was
one of the largest collieries in
Lanarkshire and just before the Great
War had over 1300 underground workers.
The coal mine clearly had a long life
surviving well into the 20
Century. In 1938 the workforce had
declined to 232 with 168 working below
The pits closed in 1945.
These pits were run by Robert Addie &
sons - most of the miners who worked
there lived in the Rosehall Rows.
The Iron Burgh by
Coatbridge was famed
as the "iron Burgh". The nineteenth
century boom in iron was made possible
by David Mushets (1801) discovery of
blackband ironstone in the bed of North
Calder Water and James Beaumont
Neilsons invention of the hot Blast
furnace in 1828. These breakthroughs,
together with the ample supply of coal
and the benefit of the Monkland Canal
for transport led to a rapid
industrialisation of the area from 1830
By the 1860s there
were 8 ironworks producing pig iron from
banks of large blast furnaces and 12
malleable iron works producing iron
rails and plate for engineering firms in
Airdrie and Glasgow.
industrialisation was mirrored by a
dramatic increase in population. In the
20 years from 1831 to 1951 the
population nearly tripled from 10,000 to
just fewer than 30,000. The pressure on
housing and living conditions became
particularly acute during these years.
Over time local supplies of coal
ironstone ran out and new technology
made steel cheaper to produce. By the
1920s most of the ironworks had either
closed down or switched to rolling steel
or tube making. Today only one rolling
mill and one tube works remain.
Steelworksand Waverley Ironworks
closed in 1967
cooling tower c1966
Gasboard House in
Burnbank St c1960
Drumpellier Country Park
The Park was gifted to the town by DWR
Carrick Buchanan in 1919. The
Drumpellier estate can be traced back to
1161 and was the site of the original
Grange built by the monks of Newbattle
Abbey. The farming Grange,
which stood on the ridge near the site
of Drumpellier House, was probably built
from wood with a thatched roof.
The monks cleared part
of the extensive forest which covered
the area at the time they cultivated the
land extensively and by the 16th
century had leased most of the lands to
farmers. After the reformation the monks
land was sold to the Hamilton family.
In 1739 Andrew Buchanan
purchased the Drumpellier Estate from
the Colquhoun family of Langloan.
In 1741 he built Drumpellier House, a
Georgian mansion on the estate.
The mansion was demolished in the late
The park soon became popular with the
townspeople of Coatbridge.
During the 1920's and 30's large groups
of people from Glasgow arrived by tram
and spent their weekends camping by the
lochs. In 1984 Drumpellier was officially
designated as a Country Park and a
visitor centre was opened by the then
Provost Cairns of Monklands District
Council The park is popular for
a number of recreational activities
including: an adventure playground,
guided walks, Jogging, dog walking,
picnic areas, water - based activities
such as boating, and angling.
Nowadays the park is popular with
passers-by and day trippers from all
over, who arrive by car to take
part in the most popular activity by
far, feeding the multitude of swans,
geese and other birds (strictly against
the rules) - or just sitting
and watching them.
Gartgill Houses c1955!
Drumpellier Home Farm - as it was c1980
Photo by Ray Devlin
The old railway station - converted to
Watermans restaurant -
(F.H. Groome, Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland
a town of Old Monkland parish, Lanarkshire. It stands, at 300 feet above sea-level, on the Monkland Canal, and in the midst of a perfect network of railways, being 2 miles W by S of Airdrie, 8 E of Glasgow, and 34 W by S of Edinburgh - Fifty years since it was only a village; and its rapid extension is due to its position in the centre of Scotland's chief mineral field.
The Airdrie and Coatbridge district comprises 21 active collieries; and in or about the town are 5 establishments for the pig-iron manufacture-Calder, Carnbroe, Gartsherrie, Langloan, and Summerlee-of whose 41 furnaces 29 were in blast in 1879, when 8 malleable iron-works had 113 puddling furnaces and 19 rolling mills. Nor are these the only industries; boilers, tubes, tinplate, firebrick and fireclay, bricks and tiles, oakum, and railway waggons being also manufactured.
Coatbridge, in its growth, has absorbed, or is still absorbing, a number of outlying suburbs-Langloan, Gartsherrie, High Sunnyside, Coats, Clifton, Drumpellier, Dundyvan, Summerlee, Whifflet, Coatdyke, etc.; and the appearance of the whole, redeemed though it is by some good architectural features, is far more curious than pleasing. Fire, smoke, and soot, with the roar and rattle of machinery, are its leading characteristics; the flames of its furnaces cast on the midnight sky a glow as if of some vast conflagration.
Wholly almost of recent erection, it has stations on the Caledonian and North British railways, a post office, with money order, savings' bank, insurance, and railway telegraph departments, branches of the Clydesdale, National, Royal, and Union banks, 24 insurance agencies, 2 hotels, a literary association, gas-works, a water company conjointly with Airdrie, and a Saturday paper, the Airdrie and Coatbridge Advertiser
(1855). A theatre and music hall, seating 2000 spectators, was opened in 1875; and at Langloan is the West End Park, where in 1880 a red granite fountain, 20 feet high, was erected in memory of Janet Hamilton (17951873), the lowly Coatbridge poetess.
Gartsherrie quoad sacra
church (1839; 1050 sittings) cost over 3300, and is a prominent object, with a spire 136 feet high; and Coats quoad sacra
church (1875; 1000 sittings) is a handsome Gothic edifice, built from endowment by the late George Baird of Stitchell.
Of 4 Free churches-Middle, East, West, and Whifflet-the finest was built in 1875; and other places of worship are a U.P. church (1872), a Congregational church, an Evangelical Union church, a Baptist church, a Wesleyan church (1874), St John's Episcopal church (1843-71), and two Roman Catholic churches, St Patrick's (1848) and St Mary's, Whifflet (1874).
Besides other schools noticed under Old Monkland, Coatbridge public school, Langloan public school, and St Patrick's Roman Catholic school, with respective accommodation for 795,388, and 582 children, had (1880) an average attendance of 751,373, and 456, and grants of 739,10s., 282,14s. 2d., and 347,7s. Pop. (1831) 741, (1841) 1599, (1851) 8564, (1861) 12,006, (1871) 15,802, (1881) 18,425, or, with Whifflet, 20,608. Ord. Sur.,
SOME HISTORY and SOME MEMORIES
by William Willis
From 18th Century hamlet's, our Coatbridge town was born.
Our coal and iron empire, a dynasty was formed.
Our Iron Burgh blasted gave employment and pollution.
Coatbridge were now master's of The Industrial Revolution.
Immigrant's from Ireland did come in search of work.
With raw material's running low, unemployment it did lurk.
Baird's blast furnace's would brighten up our sky.
Miner's dream's now darkening , coal in short supply.
A canopy of toxic plume, engulfed our once green town.
Now it's devil's graveyard smog, has made our good Lord frown.
Our population growth was now going off the scale.
The coal-mines and foundries, were all now doomed to fail.
Coatbridge, it's coat of arms, now shrouded in black dust.
Demi Monks now tearful, all our industries have gone bust.
Filthy, huddled housing, The Great Depression is now here.
Cholera and typhoid's rife, diseases that we fear.
Gartsherrie Foundries bing, stand 'bout twenty storey's high.
Man-made mountain slag-heaps, they now blacken out our sky.
Front page news from town, where sweat and blood are given....
.reads."Gartsherrie Steelwork's has closed down." .....It's 1967.
Regeneration and the 70's, new industries in town.
Electronic's and engineering works, took unemployment down.
R.B.Tennent, Martin Black, still making steel and wire.
And just like the nearby Ravenscraig, their time it did expire.
Coatbridge sports and leisure, Albion Rovers from Cliftonhill.
Townhead's Municipal Course, many teeing-off there still.
The toffs they liked Drumpellier, picturesque and velvet lawns.
Take a stroll down The Daisy, see the water, feed the swans.
Public Houses there are plenty, run the full length of our town.
From Big Owens down to Silky's Bar but many closing down.
Sportsmans Bar and Garfields, Vulcan Bar, Le Club de France.
Scruffy Murphys, Galleria then Electric Gardens for a dance.
Fitba-studs fae Foster Sports, bike parts fae King Fergies.
Food fae Fine Fare, sweets fae Woolies, school stuff fae John Menzies.
Now most shops in Coatbridge Town have gone into decay.
And now there's only pound shops, moneys spent at Faraday.
Take the weans to West End Park or The Heritage Museum.
Locomotives, working railways, children queuing up to see them.
All these memories I remember and the history. It is fact.
So Monklands keep your chin up, keep our heritage intact.
So Coatbridge Town, I'll say goodbye and put away my pen.
I'll maybe write more verses but I really can't say when.
P.S. I forgot to mention, in this poem twists and turns.
A big well done to Boxing Champ. Our one and only Ricky Burns.
Coatbridge today is a thriving bustling
town. The old industries have gone. The air
is clean - the dust has gone.