Kirkintilloch (surveyed in 1859)


Kirkintilloch is situated in what is now East Dunbartonshire, but at the time of this survey was Dumbartonshire. It lies near the junction of the Luggie or Logie river and the river Kelvin. The name Kirkintilloch means 'Fort at the head of the hill', from the Brythonic word caer meaning 'fort' and the Scottish Gaelic words cinn meaning 'at the head of' and tulaich meaning 'hill'. It is thought to refer to the remains of a Roman fort on a small hill in the town. Kirkintilloch was created as a burgh of barony by William the Lion in 1184. The barony was held, in succession, by the Comyns, the Flemings and the Earls of Wigton. In 1745 a townsman killed one of the Highlanders in the army of Prince Charles Edward as it marched south from Stirling. There was considerable panic in the town the following year when the army returned north as the townspeople thought, wrongly as it happened, that the Highlanders would take their revenge on the town as a whole. The population of the town in 1851 was 6,342.

Town Planning

The main core of the town at this period lay alongside two roads, the High Street and Cowgate Street, which form a T-junction (sheet 19). The town extended south along the Cowgate to join the suburb of Muirhead, which lay to the south of the Forth-Clyde canal. A railway line extended from north to south, to the east of the main settlement. There was a separate suburb east of the railway.


The survey shows the earthwork remains of a second century Roman fort in the town, which had been part of the Antonine Wall defences. In the nineteenth century, there was considerable interest in Roman remains so they were mapped in considerable detail (sheet 9). There were few buildings of note in the town. A building which included the courthouse and jail was built in 1814.

Trade and Industry

The main industry in the town and its surrounding area was cotton weaving. Many of the goods produced were very fine, patterned muslins and gauzes, which were exported to the East Indies and South America. There was a considerable calico printing industry. There was also an iron foundry and a number of smaller industries, such as a silk hat manufacturer, and several distilleries.


The town lay near both the coalfields and the iron mines. The railway to the east of the town was the Monkland and Kirkintilloch railway, which brought the coal and iron from Monkland to the Forth-Clyde canal at Kirkintilloch. It was not used for passenger traffic. The impact of the Forth-Clyde canal on the town must have been enormous, both in terms of moving industrial and agricultural goods and in terms of passenger movement. The Statistical Account of 1845 states that at that period 23,000 passengers in a year might use the canal from Kirkintilloch alone.

Religious life

The parish church of St Mary was in bad repair at the time of the survey. There were also two Free churches, a United Presbyterian church and a Wesleyan Methodist chapel in the parish.


There were a total of nine schools in the parish.

Culture and Society

There was a subscription library in the town and several associations including an agricultural association and a horticultural society.