Lennoxtown is the largest village in the Parish of Campsie. It was originally called Newtown-of-Campsie, but around the 1790's it became so closely associated with the old Lennox corn mill and Lennox mill Calico Print Works, that it eventually became known as Lennox Town.
The ancient parish of Campsie was larger than the present. It extended 11 miles from Garrel Hill in the east to Craigmaddie Muir in the west. To the south it was bounded by a marshland which flanked the course of the river Kelvin and was impassible in winter, and on the west its boundary extended from Earls Seat to Cadder House. This created a very sequestered district which formed the eastern division of the ancient thanedom of Lennox.
Because of its uniquely sheltered position, the parish escaped the turmoil and disasters from war and public agitation which troubled other parts of the country, and also, because of its seclusion, it retained old customs longer than most other districts.
For example, the powers of feudal barons in the parish were exercised so late as 1639, when Lord Kilsyth hanged one of his servants in Gallow Hill in the barony of Bencloich, and until around 1744 blackmail was being paid by Campsie farmers to Macgregor of Glengyle for protection against Highland marauders.
The parish of today was reduced to its present dimensions, approximately 7 miles long and 6 miles wide, by the annexation of its easterly extremity to Kilsyth, and its southern extremity to Baldernock in 1649.
To the north it is bounded by Fintry; to the west by Baldernock and Strathblane; by Cadder and Kirkintilloch to the south, and to the east by Kilsyth.
Other villages in the parish are: Clachan of Campsie, Haughhead, Torrance of Campsie, Milton of Campsie, and Birdston of Campsie.
The winding appearance of the strath in general, and the glens in particular gave rise to the name Campsie or Camsi, which in the Celtic language signifies crooked strath or glen.
ennoxtown is situated on the left bank of the river Glazert 33/4 miles from Kirkintilloch and within easy reach of Glasgow some 10 miles away. It nestles snugly in the strath between the stark and rugged Campsie Fells to the north, and the fertile, undulating South Braes, and consists principally of one long Main street, running roughly east to west.
It came into being, when in 1786, a Glasgow company, Lindsay, Smith & Co., leased 30 acres of land for a period of 99 years, at a rental of £3 per acre.
They proposed to establish a Calico print works on the land which was adjacent to the old Lennox corn mill, where tenants of Wood head estate came to grind their corn. Although there were several mills in the parish, Lennoxmill was the busiest and possibly the most important. It was situated on the site of the now demolished Kali Nail Works. This area was considered ideal for the proposed printing works, since it had an abundant supply of water in all seasons, had level fields around which were well suited for bleaching, and it had a plentiful supply of coal nearby.
By the end of the 1780's the Calico Printing Mill Works was set up. At first it was called Westerfield, but in due course it also took on the name of the old Lennox corn mill, and from then on was known as Lennoxmill Works (or field). As a result of the new mill being built, the village began to evolve.
Lennoxtown, or Newton-of-Campsie, as it was called then, rapidly sprang up and developed into a thriving village. With the inception of the new mill and the subsequent demand for workers, families moved in from other districts to take advantage of the new employment opportunities. This influx of people in itself caused new demands. The need for houses brought builders, and the massing of people in the area brought shopkeepers. As the village grew, streets of houses were planned and built according to a prescribed plan, until eventually, by the 19th Century, it became the most densely populated area in the parish. Houses were filled as soon as they were completed, and additional shops opened to cater to the needs of the growing numbers of villagers.
The transformation of the area, was so astonishing that at first it was something of an irritant to locals. Into their parish, where agriculture and handloom weaving had been the local industries - the factory had come. The quiet, secluded valley with its Lairds, farmers, its millers, weavers, and cottars, was suddenly, and somewhat reluctantly, caught up in the energy of a bustling industrial centre .
By 1790, the print works was flourishing and contained 20 printing tables and 6 flat presses.
Another industry which was important to the development of Lennoxtown was soon established, when in 1797, Charles Mackintosh (1766-1843) and his associates, set up chemical Alum Works near Lennoxmill. The principal products of his works was Alum, a chemical used in the textile industry. Shale and and Alum schist, the basic ingredients required in the chemical processes, were mined in the area. Because of the need to keep his industrial processes secret, these works were referred to as the 'Secret Works'. The owner of the works, Charles Mackintosh, was famous because of his development of a waterproof fabric used to make clothing, but he, together with Charles Tennant, also devised a revolutionary bleaching powder.
Despite making good progress, Lindsay, Smith and Co., closed the Lennoxmill Calico print works in the early 1800's owing to 'commercial embarrassments' , which were thought to be financial. The closure caused great hardship for many villagers who had to look elsewhere for employment. This often meant they had to leave the village to live in other areas. Houses, recently erected and occupied, were left empty and fell into disrepair, giving the village a bleak and deserted appearance.
However, the works were re-opened in 1805, when Robert Dalglish, Falconer & Co., the new tenants of the mill, leased the works and 33 acres of land. The mill was considerably enlarged when they took over, containing 50 tables and 8 presses.
The first surface cylinder-printing machine was installed in Lennoxmill 1810. This machine which was invented by Mr. Bell, of Glasgow and caused a revolution in the trade. The tedious process of painting designs by hand was immediately superseded by the use of block printing. Block printing was done by hand, either by cutting a relief in the block, or by inserting copper wire in the block, then filing and polishing it. This type of printing was one of the leading skilled handicrafts in connection with the Calico printing industry.
Almost every description of printing was performed at Lennoxmill, and nearly every fabric of cloth printed, from the finest muslin or challis (light plain weave cotton) worn by ladies of the time, to the coarsest calico worn by the Pariahs (outcasts) of India.
With the introduction of other industries into the parish, for example, Kincaid Field in Milton-of-Campsie, for the bleaching and printing of cotton fabrics, started in 1785, the Alum Works in 1806, Glenmill bleachfield, and Lillyburn printfield, for the printing of Calico handkerchiefs, in 1831, the population of Campsie parish rose steeply. (See: Population)
Wages Top of page
The heating and dyeing in the print works were all done by steam, and the daily consumption of coal to provide the steam, was upwards of 30 tons. In 1837 the selling price of coal was 6 shillings and 8 pence per ton, and dross was 3 shillings and 9 pence per ton, with reductions given for cash sales. At its height that year, the works gave employment to 245 men; 135 women; 169 boys; and 140 girls, making a total of 689.
Lennoxmill, eventually contained 7 printing cylinders and 200 tables and became such a major industry that between 800-1000 people were employed there. Those employees comprised skilled and unskilled workers.
At a re-union in Glasgow for natives of Campsie, Mr. Millar a former block-printer, said as he was reminiscing about his time in Lennoxmill, "There is more skilled labour required in a print-work than in any other kind of manufacture I know of. There is to begin with, the designer, who designs the pattern; the engraver who cuts this out on steel and copper; or the block-cutter, who indents it in copper, or brings it out in relief on wood. Then the chemist and colour-maker, who prepare colours in endless variety of shades; the printer, who applies them to the cloth; then the bleachers, dyers, finishers, mechanics, blacksmiths, joiners, tinsmiths, plumbers, masons, and a great variety of unskilled labour, men, women, boys, and girls, to say nothing of clerks, salesmen, Etc., All these may be seen every day in a print-work, forming a busy hive of human industry, the product of whose labour go to every quarter of the world, and decorate the persons of women of every clime and colour."
There was excellent remuneration at piece-work rates for such skilled labour, and they could easily make what were considered to be very good wages. The scale of wages gives an indication of their means of living. Labourers earned 7shillings per week; the women got 5-6 shillings; millwrights 10 shillings; masons 11 shillings; copper plate printers, from 17-20 shillings; and the best paid of all were the block printers, who, if industrious, could earn 21 shillings per week. Many of the women in the works were employed to pencil colour on to the fabric. They were called 'colourers', a job which was given only to women. To safeguard their own interests, the employees formed a union. (See: Strike)
The people were concerned about obtaining fair wages for their work, and a tendency to take active steps regarding this showed itself in several parts of the country; but the legislature came to the assistance of the wealthier classes, and , in 1799, passed the Combination laws, which made it a punishable offence for workers to combine to press their employers for either better wages or shorter hours. As a result, trade unions were effectively made illegal. If they advocated a change in the Constitution, the threat of transportation hung over them, and they were liable to imprisonment if they tried to improve their wages. The only course open to them, short of rebellion, was to take some organized steps to obtain the best possible return for their wages. The legislation remained in force until it was repealed in 1824. This was followed by an outbreak of strikes. (see: Strike)
The increasing importance of Lennoxtown as the centre of Campsie parish, was underlined with the transfer of the Parish Church from the Clachan to the 'New Town' in the 1829. David Hamilton, a well known Glasgow architect prepared the plans for the new church, which was built on Quarry Brae in Lennoxtown. (see: Churches)
Lennox mill closed for good in 1829, and again the loss of employment caused great hardship to the workers. Most families had a least one member who worked there. In addition to the general industrial decline caused by the works closure, cultural activities also suffered. Many of those, like the amateur Dramatic Society dating from 1834, the choirs, and the Campsie Brass Band which was formed in 1850, had all evolved due to worker initiative.
[When Lennox mill was erected in 1785-86, the price of cotton yarn, 100 hanks to the lb was 38s per lb, yet when Dalglish, Falconer and Co., restarted the mill in 1805, the price of had fallen to 7s10d per lb.]
Lindsay, Smith & Co., is a name that few in Lennoxtown have ever heard of, yet they were the pioneers of the industry which brought Lennoxtown into being.
As well as the employment provided by the print fields, secret works and other industries, there was a considerable amount of handloom weaving being carried on in the village, and when Lindsay, Smith & Co., closed the mill, the villagers had recourse to this as an alternative means of earning a living.
The weavers worked in two ways. The first was for customer trade, and the second was trading with manufactures. Customer trade was when they used wool which they had spun on a spinning wheel at home to make blankets and cloth, a variety of which was known as Campsie Grey, or secondly, working for manufacturers in Glasgow who supplied the materials and paid for the workmanship.
On Wednesday and Saturdays, the local carter, called Auld Jamie Maitland, took the finished products to Glasgow, and brought out the money paid for the labour, and also the materials needed for the new work.
At the end of 1810 there were approximately 400 weavers in the parish, even though weaving had partly died out in favour of more lucrative employment available at the mill.
There were a few other minor industries such as the old class 'Cork' tailors and shoemakers who flourished in the 1830's, but these had disappeared by the 1880's, and were replaced by a Boot and Shoe Factory which, for a time, gave employment to 'a good number of hands.'
The answer to the above question was supplied by: Peter Kincaid, Fredericton, NB, Canada who has a copy of the photograph which includes names of the people. They were employees of Lennoxmill Print Works living in 1909 that had an excess of 50 years service with the company. They are from left to right - with their years of service:
Jessie McIntyre (72 years), James Kincaid (70 years, retired), Andrew Robertson (77 years), Eliz Brown (67 years, retired), Maggie McIntyre (70 years).
Alex McIntyre (54 years), John Hunter (65 years, retired), R.M. McLintock (54 years), William Moore (57 years), George McKay (61 years), Jerry Morrison (58 years), and James Britton (61 years).
Sincere thanks to Mr. Kincaid
Kali Nail Works Top of page
J & W Somerville first set up business as nail-makers in Stirling in 1838, where they stayed for 102 years.
Initially the directors called their premises The Caledonian Nail Works, then decided to shorten it to 'Caley' Nail Works. However, when they discovered the trade name 'Caley' was already in use they changed it to 'Kali' Nail Works. Later, in 1941, when the firm took over the site of the former Lennoxmill print works and set up additional premises in Lennoxtown, the name was retained. (Some think the name was derived from Calico, but there is no evidence to support this).
In June 1939, Mr. C. W. Somerville and Mr. J. B. Webster informed a representative of the Glasgow Herald that they had finally decided to exercise the option they held for the purchase from the Calico Printers' Association, Ltd., Lennoxmill, Lennoxtown, of buildings covering 3 and half acres, and ground extending to 40 acres.
When they eventually opened the Lennoxtown premises in 1941, they brought around 100 skilled workers from their factory in St Ninian's (Stirling), to work and live here. To accommodate this influx of workers and their families, the houses in Winston Crescent were constructed, close by the Nail Works.
The District Council made a plea to the County Council to seriously consider the application for housing, pointing out that the last works providing employment had closed 10 years previously (1931), and since that time, the district had been industrially derelict. It was thought that to lose the new industry because of lack of housing would have been a calamity for the area.
By the time the firm moved to Lennoxtown, they had made considerable progress both in sales and in their methods of production, and in 1919 had become a Ltd., company.
Somerville had relied on India and several other Far East countries as their principal overseas customers, but when these countries gained independence, they set up their own nail making industries. This seriously affected the export trade and production became almost static at the Lennoxtown works since there was little demand from elsewhere for cut steel nails.
In 1953 the Kirkintilloch Herald reported that forty employees were discharged at Lennoxtown Nail Works due to the fall in export orders. Certain departments were still working to capacity, but workers in those affected by the scarcity of orders were on a 4-day, Tuesday - Friday week.
A major milestone in the history of the company was in 1956 when they were acquired by Coltness Industries Ltd., Coltness was a thriving business with history reaching back to 1875, when they were co-founded by Henry H. Houldeworth.
In 1968, Somerville realized the potential for wire nails, particularly for use in modern tools such as nail guns, so they decided to enter the field of specialized nails. It was more or less a new market, which meant installing new plant and re-training employees - upgrading which cost £500,000.
With their new plant resulting in increased productivity and a better product, Somerville's became the largest nail factory in Scotland and the third in the U.K. It is interesting to note that production was increased from 134 tons of nails each week in 1968, to 250 tons per week in 1971.
However, this high level of productivity was short lived, and in 1972, following frequent power cuts - a direct result of the miner's strike, the company was obliged to lay off some 200 employees. Despite attempts to continue working with reduced power, the resultant safety hazards to the workers and threat to the high powered machinery in the factory had become untenable, forcing the decision to dismiss the workers and close the company.
Although the Nail Works closed in 1992 and many workers became unemployed, Lennox Castle Hospital, the largest employer in the area, was still functioning to capacity, and was able to absorb some of those who had lost jobs.
In 1927 William George Peareth Kincaid
Lennox, grandson of John Lennox Kincaid Lennox who commissioned the building of
sold it and 1222 acres of estate, which included woodlands, farms,
plots of land, Lennox Arms Hotel, Lennoxtown tenements, Campsie Golf course and
Lennoxtown bowling and cricket greens to Glasgow Parish Council, later Glasgow
Corporation, for £25,000. Glasgow Parish made the purchase with a view to
opening a hospital within the grounds of the castle.
Lennox Castle Hospital was built by Glasgow
Corporation in 1936. It was a certified institution for mentally deficient
people detained under the terms of the Mental Deficiency and Lunacy (Scotland)
Act of 1913. When it first opened it had 1,200 beds and was the largest mental
deficiency hospital in Britain.
Although it was recognized as the largest and best equipped institution of its kind in the UK, some criticism was leveled at the cost. Whilst recognizing the need to provide humane treatment for the patients, it was pointed out that the £1.25m spent on a 1,200 bed unit was out of all proportion to current spending levels on general hospitals and local authority housing. This criticism disregarded the fact that almost 5000 unemployed labourers had been engaged on land reclamation, afforestation and the construction of a reservoir as part of a relief scheme run concurrently with the construction of the hospital. Some of the men employed as labourers were later housed in Lennox Castle as patients when it was opened.
During the Second World War a large part of
the hospital was requisitioned under the Emergency Hospital
accommodate the increase in patient numbers, several huts were erected within
the hospital grounds. Although these were meant to provide temporary
accommodation, many huts were still in use 40 years later.
A 120 bedded maternity unit was also opened
between 1941 and 1943. Although initially intended to be a temporary unit, it
received patients until 1964 when it eventually closed.
In any accounts
of Lennox Castle
Hospital, the fact that it also housed a contingent of Juvenile delinquents in
the 1940's and 50's never seems to be mentioned, so I feel duty bound to do so here.
These youths, referred to as 'Borstal boys' were usually admitted to the
hospital via the Glasgow courts. Attempts were made to socialize as many as
120 boys. The boys were easily identified by their red socks and heavy hobnail
boots they wore as part of their uniform. The number of grey circles around the
ankles of the socks helped identify the ward they lived in. The key to
successful rehabilitation was considered to be, 'kindness back up by scientific
Attempts were made to socialize as many as 120 boys. The boys were easily identified by their red socks and heavy hobnail boots they wore as part of their uniform. The number of grey circles around the ankles of the socks helped identify the ward they lived in. The key to successful rehabilitation was considered to be, 'kindness back up by scientific understanding'.
By the early 1970's, the bed complement
peaked at around 1,620, but by 1991 this had fallen to 830.
When the NHS was formed in 1948, a Board of
Management was created to manage Lennox Castle Hospital and other similar
institutions. This was replaced in 1974 by the Northern District of the Greater
Glasgow Health Board. By 1993, the hospital had become the responsibility of the
Greater Glasgow Community and Mental Health Services NHS Trust. In 1998, Greater
Glasgow Health Board agreed to seek Scottish Office approval to close Lennox
Castle Hospital by 2002, and in 1999, a phased closure and planned re-settlement
of residents began, and the hospital finally closed in 2002.
Like the closure of the print mills and fields of an earlier era, the closure of the castle had a devastating effect on villagers, since almost every household in the village had some family member/s employed there. These employees had to be transferred to other areas to work within the National Health Service (N.H.S), or find work outwith the N.H.S.
Possibly because of its geographical location, the Morris Furniture Company is easily overlooked when considering local industries. The small factory is tucked away in a quiet corner of Campsie Glen, out of sight and often out of mind. It is a small offshoot of the main company, but has been in operation for around 53 years. Over that time it has contributed to the local economy by providing employment to a fair number of local workers, and it has never really received the credit for that. Currently there are approximately 40 local workers employed in varying capacities at this site.
The company, which was founded in 1904, is a very progressive company whose success is due in part to their commitment to manufacture only quality furniture. The versatility and functionality of their designs coupled with the use of the highest quality materials and components has resulted in excellent quality furniture which is arguably unparalleled in their sphere. In addition, they have kept abreast of, and indeed are always at the forefront of, continually and rapidly changing technology.
They comprise seven divisions, Morris Office, Morris Furniture, G-Plan, Cabinets, Zone, Relaxateese and Groundforce, and are the leading suppliers of contracts.
Over the years they have often had to diversify, sometimes to respond to market needs. For example, during the war they made Utility change furniture using Government inspired designs, have made juke boxes, radio cabinets, Mosquito jettison tanks, Enfield rifle butts, helicopter blades, but more famously have made furniture for the Gleneagles Hotel, Turnberry Hotel and fitted out numerous liners, namely the Queen Mary in 1934, Queen Elizabeth 1938 and the QE2 in 1967, all launched from Glasgow.
The company now ranks as one of the largest independent furniture manufacturers in the UK, and in February this year, 2006, acquired Cumbernauld based Homestyle Kitchens and Bedrooms in the biggest acquisition in their 102-year history.
In an interview with the Scotsman, Robert Morris, Joint Managing Director, called the deal "a marriage made in heaven. This is a huge acquisition for us and we are proud to become the first furniture manufacturer in the UK to take its workforce over 1,000 employees, which will increase over the next year with further jobs."
Mr. Morris took over the company from his father, Neil, in 1973, when the staff totalled 25. Before the acquisition of Homestyle the workforce was around 500. In 2002, he was named Young Scottish Entrepreneur of the year, and under his guidance the company is going from strength to strength.
Morris is enjoying phenomenal success, and appears to have the Midas touch in every sphere in which they operate. Although the 1,000 jobs are spread throughout the UK, this success must surely bring some benefits, possibly more employees, to the Campsie Glen factory. (See: The future Morris update).
In the last few years a new company has sprung up in Lennoxtown, and it has now emerged as one of the main employers in the village.
Greencore Mineral Water is the UK's leading producer of customer brand still and sparkling mineral water. The company commenced production in 1987 on a greenfield area, in high ground on the eastern end of the Campsie Fells, to the north of Lennoxtown.
The catchment area feeding the springs which supply the water, is located on the grounds of the Glorat Estate, which has been preserved and maintained by the Stirling family since 1508. The Company reached a 99 year agreement with a member of the family, Miss Gloriana Elizabeth Stirling in 1984.
The spring water from the Glorat is piped to a plant some 2 miles away, to where Campsie Spring Scotland Limited, has its storage, bottling and distribution plant at Veitch Place, Lennoxtown . The water bottled at this plant is all taken from natural spring wells and from boreholes on the Glorat estate. Some water is bottled right away, and some is stored for bottling later. Campsie Spring Scotland Limited, was initially part of the Hazelwood Food Group, which was bought over by Greencore Mineral Water in 1984.
Including the Lennoxtown plant, there are only six mineral water bottling plants in Scotland. The production of mineral water in Scotland, as elsewhere, requires brands to be linked to specific springs. However, in some places more than one brand is linked to a single spring. This is most notable at Lennoxtown, where
Scottish Mineral water
are all marketed from one source - the Campsie Springs!
The entire area of the Campsie's from where the water is found, is traversed by the Campsie fault, which guides and filters the water through many layers of volcanic rock. The mineral properties acquired via filtration in the volcanic rock strata, produces a particularly fine quality drinking water.
Greencore is the UK's largest provider of customer brand mineral water, packing over 120 million litres a year. As a result of recent investment in blow moulding technology, the Company now blows all its own plastic bottles on site.
Consumption of bottled water in the UK is 26.3 litres per head of population as opposed to 97.5 litres in Continental Europe, making this a business with significant growth potential.
Attempts to gain definitive numbers of employees at the plant and the springs have been slightly thwarted, but a total figure of "approximately 140" was quoted by company representatives in January 2006. Hopefully, these numbers are likely to increase in the foreseeable future. Most of the present employees are Polish settlers who are being assisted to learn English by the Lennoxtown Initiative. Whilst this is praiseworthy in itself, it does little to reduce the numbers of locals unemployed.
There can be little doubt that the most affluent and prosperous years for Lennoxtown were the 'overlap' years, the 1940's to the early 1970's, when Lennox Castle Hospital and the Kali Nail Works were both working to full capacity.
Lennoxtown was once a bustling hive of industry; a burgeoning community which was well served by its many thriving industries, its many shops, and by its railway. However, as these industries began to decline, and shopping in Supermarkets outwith the village became the norm, the community was dragged into a downward spiral from which there seemed to be no way back. This was compounded when the rail link was severed.
As yet, Lennoxtown has not returned to its former glory, but villagers are wakening up to the fact that we can go forward - we can make a new start, by working together we can provide the energy necessary for the regeneration of our village.
Despite the decline, which has left the area in a sort of post-industrial limbo, people continue to find Lennoxtown an attractive place in which to set up home. The backdrop of the Campsie's, and the natural beauty of the area make it appealing and interesting, and it is considered to be far enough away from the madding crowd as to be truly rural.