GREENOCK, a sea-port, burgh, and market-town, in the Lower ward of the county of Renfrew, 17 miles (W. N. W.) from Renfrew, 22 (W. N. W.) from Glasgow, and 65 (W.) from Edinburgh; comprising the parishes of East, Middle, and West Greenock, and containing 36,936 inhabitants. This place is said by some to have derived its name, in the Gaelic language Grian-chnoc, from the site of its ancient baronial castle on a hill unsheltered by any intervening object from the rays of the sun. It originally consisted partly of the lands of Easter Greenock, in which is the suburb of Cartsdyke, or, as it is also called, Crawfordsyke, so named from the erection of a small quay by its proprietor, Thomas Crawfurd, Esq.; and partly of the small village of Greenock, belonging to Sir John Shaw, owner of the barony of Wester Greenock, and who, in 1669, purchased from Margaret Crawfurd, lady of Kilberny, the barony of Easter Greenock, with the exception of the lands of Crawfurdsdyke, which are now the property of William Crawfurd, Esq. On the decease of Sir J. Shaw, the last of that name, in 1752, John Shaw Stewart, Esq., afterwards Sir John Shaw Stewart, succeeded to the lands of Easter and Wester Greenock, in right of his mother; and on his death in 1812, they passed to his nephew, Sir Michael Shaw Stewart, from whom they descended to Sir Michael Robert Shaw Stewart, the present proprietor.
   The villages both of Wester Greenock and Crawfurdsdyke at first consisted only of a few thatched huts, stretching along the bay, and inhabited by fishermen; but they gradually increased, and in 1670, Sir John, son of the former Sir John Shaw, obtained from Charles II. a charter annexing the lands of Finnart, of which he had become proprietor, to the barony of Wester Greenock, and erecting both into one barony, under the designation of the barony of Greenock. The inhabitants appear to have pursued the fishery with success; they had some shipping, and carried on a considerable coasting, and a small foreign, trade, chiefly in herrings, of which, in 1674, they sent 20,000 barrels to Rochelle, exclusively of other quantities to Sweden and the Baltic. The two places had each a harbour capable of receiving vessels of large burthen; and from that of Crawfurdsdyke, a part of the expedition to Darien was fitted out, in 1697. The union of the two kingdoms opened to the inhabitants new channels of commerce; and in 1719, they fitted out the first vessel employed in the American trade, which they afterwards prosecuted with singular success, bringing home great quantities of tobacco, which they exported for the supply of the continent. The rapidly-increasing importance of Greenock was, in fact, such that it excited the jealousy of the ports of London, Bristol, and Liverpool; but the breaking out of the American war greatly obstructed its chief source of prosperity, and the loss of the American trade for some time impeded the commercial interests of the port. It was, however, soon counterbalanced by an enlarged traffic with South America and the East and West India colonies; the trade of the port revived; and it has continued to increase till the present time, the place now ranking as one of the principal sea-ports of the country. The town, extending in every direction for the accommodation of its growing population, has become the residence of numerous merchants and shipowners; the seat of various thriving manufactures, which put it nearly on a part with the most flourishing commercial and manufacturing towns in the kingdom; and more recently, a parliamentary borough.
   The town is beautifully situated on the south shore of the Frith of Clyde, which is here four and a half miles broad; and extends for almost a mile along the margin of the united bays of Greenock and Crawfurdsdyke. The buildings occupy a narrow site of level land, bounded on the south by a ridge of hills which rises abruptly to an elevation of nearly 600 feet immediately above the town, commanding a richly-diversified view of the Frith and the coast of Dumbarton, on the north, and much variety of interesting scenery on the east and west. The place is for the most part very irregularly built, consisting, in the older portion, of various narrow and ill-formed streets, and in that of more modern date, of several spacious and handsome streets, with numerous pleasant villas, especially towards the west, in which direction chiefly the houses are increasing. It is paved, lighted with gas, and amply supplied with water from the vicinity, passed through filters previously to its being distributed through the town, the necessary works having been constructed by a company incorporated by act of parliament, in 1825, chiefly for providing water-power for giving motion to the machinery of mills and factories. For this latter purpose, an enterprize of vast magnitude has been completed under the direction of Mr. Thorm, civil engineer, and proprietor of the Rothesay cotton-works, at the suggestion of Sir Michael Shaw Stewart, from whom the undertaking is called the Shaw's-water works. These works, which are mostly situated at a distance of about three miles, on the south-west side of the ridge of hills that overlooks the town, consist partly of a spacious reservoir formed by strong embankments, inclosing an area of 295 acres, and containing 284,678,550 cubic feet of water, conveyed by an aqueduct six miles in length from numerous streams; and there is also a compensation reservoir of forty acres, containing 14,465,898 cubic feet. From the principal reservoir, which has an elevation of 500 feet above the town, the water descends by a gradual declivity, and in its course towards Greenock forms, at convenient intervals, many falls of greater or less height, from which it is diverted to the several factories that have been erected near it, supplying to each 1200 cubic feet per minute for twelve hours daily. The aggregate power of these different falls, which vary in depth, according to the wants of each factory, is estimated as equivalent to that of 1782 horses. This important undertaking was successfully completed in 1829, at an expense of £31,000, including the purchase of the ground.
   The public library, established in the year 1783, and for many years held in the Freemasons' Hall, in Hamilton-street, has been removed into a building in Unionstreet, towards the erection of which Mr. James Watt contributed £3000, as a suitable place for the reception of a marble statue, by Chantrey, in honour of his father, the celebrated improver of the steam-engine, which statue had been voted at a public meeting of the inhabitants of Greenock, the native place of Watt. The building, which is in the early English style of architecture, consists of a centre, containing the library, and two wings, one of which forms a reading-room, and the other a house for the librarian; the library consists of above 10,000 volumes, and is supported by annual subscriptions of thirteen shillings and £1. 1. A mechanics' institution was established in 1836; and a handsome building has been erected for its use at an expense of more than £1300, raised by subscription. The ground-floor contains a library of 2000 volumes, a readingroom, and an apartment for mechanical and philosophical apparatus; above which is a hall sixty-two feet long, and thirty-nine feet wide, for the delivery of lectures on chemistry, mechanics, and other subjects. There is also a mechanics' library at Crawfurdsdyke, containing nearly 1500 volumes; and three circulating libraries have collections varying from 500 to 1500 volumes. Two public newsrooms are likewise supported, in one of which, in Cathcart-square, is a portrait of Sir John Shaw, who is justly regarded as the founder of the commercial prosperity of the town. Assemblies are held in the Exchange buildings, in which are elegant rooms; and a theatre, erected by Stephen Kemble, is opened occasionally. The Tontine hotel, in the principal street, is a spacious building, erected at an expense of £10,000, and contains some handsome apartments, and every requisite accommodation for families.
   Manufactures of almost every kind are carried on here to a very considerable extent; and there are numerous large establishments for refining sugar, breweries, distilleries, tanneries, foundries, and forges. The manufacture of woollen cloth and yarn is pursued in two factories, in one of which 25,000 stones of wool are annually consumed in the production of tartans, twilled cloths, and yarn; and the other, of recent establishment, is still more extensive. A very large cotton factory has lately been opened, of which the machinery is propelled by the Shaw's water: the building, which is of stone, is 263 feet in length, sixty feet in breadth, and three stories in height. In those parts where the process carried on is most in danger of fire, the building is fire-proof; and in case of need, the pipes by which it is heated with steam can be rendered available as a fireengine. The water-wheel that drives the machinery is seventy feet in diameter, and wholly of iron, weighing about 180 tons. The number of people employed is generally 400, of whom the greater number are females. There are eleven large establishments for the refining of sugar, affording occupation to 350 persons; one of these is wholly engaged in refining for exportation, and the aggregate quantity is about 14,000 tons annually. Three breweries employ about forty-five persons, and do business to the amount of £30,000 per annum; and there is a distillery producing whisky annually to the amount of £50,000, and paying duties to the excise of £21,000. Connected with the distillery is a dairy of fifty cows. The manufacture of sail-cloth gives employment to nearly 300 persons, and consumes annually about 600 tons of raw material: attached to the premises, is an extensive rope-walk, in which large quantities of cordage are annually made, averaging 700 tons. There are also three other rope-walks, in the aggregate, affording employment to eighty persons. Four tanneries employ together about fifty hands, and do business to the amount of £18,000 annually; and two potteries, in which 200 people are constantly engaged, make on the average 100,000 dozens of white and printed earthenware. The paper manufacture provides occupation to about forty persons, of whom a considerable number are females, and produces annually 300 tons of packing and coloured papers. There are also some extensive cooperages, together employing about 500 men and boys. The strawplat manufacture of Greenock occupies generally about seventy persons on the premises, and affords employment to 150 who work at their own dwellings in the town, and to 1500 in the islands of Orkney. There are three extensive iron-foundries and forges for all kinds of castings, and for the manufacture of steam-engines and boilers, and various sorts of machinery, together affording employment to more than 1000 persons. In these establishments, steam-engines of the aggregate power of nearly 3000 horses are annually manufactured; and numerous English-built steamers have been supplied with engines and machinery from the works. Two manufactories for chain-cables and anchors, also, employ above 110 persons; and there is a work for the making of bar-iron, in which a considerable number are engaged. Four large mills for grinding grain, yield upwards of 50,000 bolls annually: one of them was also supplied with machinery for freeing rice imported into this country from the husk, but this was found to be attended without any of the expected benefit, and has been discontinued.
   The trade of the port, which, after it had recovered from the depression it suffered during the American war, had greatly increased, has recently sustained some diminution from the deepening of the Clyde and the introduction of steam towing-boats, by which ships that previously landed their cargoes here are now enabled to reach Glasgow. The exports are chiefly linen, woollen, and silk manufactures, cotton-yarn, hardware, earthenware, glass, refined sugar, iron and machinery, copper, and lead. The imports are, cotton-wool, sugar, molasses, coffee, cocoa, pepper, tobacco, corn, wine, oil, spirits, timber, deals, mahogany, dye-woods, brimstone, and numerous other goods. The quantity of cotton-yarn exported in a recent year was valued at more than £1,000,000; and the quantity of cotton-wool imported was 11,597,653 lb. The number of vessels that entered inwards during 1843 was, 206 from British ports, of the aggregate burthen of 60,269 tons; and six from foreign ports, of the aggregate burthen of 2583 tons. The number that cleared outwards in 1838 was, 235 British vessels, of 63,582 tons; and nine foreign vessels, of 3411 tons. In the coasting trade, during the same year, 911 vessels entered inwards, of the burthen of 99,430 tons; and 1222 cleared outwards, of 128,017 tons' burthen. The amount of duty paid at the customhouse in 1843 was £347,869: the number of vessels registered as belonging to the port is 451, of 86,942 tons' aggregate burthen; and the number of seamen is 3365.
   The harbour was commenced in 1707, by the inhabitants, to whom the lord of the manor. Sir John Shaw, conveyed the ground on which it is formed, together with his right, as superior of the barony, to levy anchorage dues; and in order to raise funds for its completion, they voluntarily imposed an assessment of 1s. 4d. on every sack of malt brewed into ale within the burgh. The harbour thus formed being found, however, totally inadequate to the rapid increase of the trade, an extension including the bay of Crawfurdsdyke was carried into effect, at an expense of £20,000; and the subsequent erection of dry-docks and other works requisite to render it complete, including warehouses, bonding-yards for timber, and other accommodations, have in the whole amounted to £119,000. The outer harbour, which is accessible to the largest vessels, has sufficient depth of water, and good anchorage; but the roadstead is contracted by a considerable sand-bank, which extends from Port-Glasgow towards Dumbarton. The entrance to the inner harbour is 105 feet wide, and the depth great enough to allow vessels of any burthen to approach the quays. The Custom-house quay is 1035 feet in length, the East quay 531, and the West quay 425 feet, forming together a line of very nearly 2000 feet, replete with every facility for the loading and landing of cargoes, with spacious warehouses and stores. Ship-building is carried on to a great extent, for which purpose there are seven dockyards belonging to different companies, affording employment to 1200 men, with dry-docks, and three patent-slips for repairing vessels, one of which is capable of receiving ships of 400 tons. The number of vessels annually launched averages about twenty, of the aggregate burthen of from 6000 to 7000 tons. Boat-building is also carried on, by companies confined to that object, who employ about forty workmen, and launch annually about 800 tons of all descriptions. The improvement of the harbour has greatly tended to increase the trade of the port as well as its revenue, which amounted in a recent year to as large a sum as £12,079.
   The custom-house, which is situated in the central portion of the quay, is a spacious and elegant building in the Grecian style, with a stately portico in front, the whole erected in 1818, at an expense of £30,000. The chamber of commerce and manufactures was incorporated by royal charter in 1813, and is under the management of twelve directors, of whom three annually go out of office by rotation. The Exchange buildings, erected in 1814, at a cost of £7000, afford every accommodation for the meeting of merchants and shipowners, and, for the transaction of commercial affairs; they contain also two spacious assembly-rooms, in which, during the season, concerts and card and dancing assemblies are held. The post-office has a good delivery; and in addition to the Greenock and the Clydesdale Banks, there are branches of the Bank of Scotland, the Royal Bank of Scotland, the Glasgow Union Banking Company, and the Western Bank of Scotland. The market, which is on Friday, is abundantly supplied with grain and with provisions of all kinds; and fairs are held on the first Thursday in July and the fourth Thursday in November. Facility of communication is afforded by excellent roads, of which eight miles of turnpike-road pass through the parish, and by steamers, which have nearly superseded travelling by coaches. The Glasgow, Paisley, and Greenock Railway was commenced in 1837, by a company empowered to raise a joint-stock capital of £400,000 in shares, and £133,333 by loan. The length is twenty-two miles and a half, of which seven miles form part of the Glasgow and Ayr railway, whence the Greenock line diverges, to the south of Paisley, crossing the rivers Black Cart and Gryfe, and reaching its summit level on the Bishopton ridge. Thence it is continued by an embankment, running nearly parallel with the river Clyde, to Port-Glasgow, from which, taking a curvilinear direction, it terminates at Greenock, where is a short branch leading to the docks. There are sixty bridges on the whole line, including the viaducts at Greenock and Port-Glasgow; and four ascending and four descending planes, the former of nine miles, and the latter seven and a half, the remainder of the course being level. The line passes along two tunnels at Bishopton ridge, cut through hard rock for above a mile in length, and thirty-seven feet in depth; the embankment near the Clyde is more than a mile long, and twenty-eight feet in height, and there is also one crossing Fulwood moss, four miles long, but averaging only ten feet in height. The railway was completed in June, 1840, at an expense of £498, 142, including one-half the cost of the portion between Glasgow and Paisley, of which the other half was defrayed by the Glasgow and Ayr Railway Company. The present capital is £866,666.
   The town was erected into a burgh of barony by charter of Charles I., granted to Sir John Shaw, its proprietor, in 1635, and confirmed by Charles II. in 1670. In 1741, the then Sir John Shaw, by a charter which was renewed in 1751, conferred upon his tenants in the burgh, the privilege of electing two bailies, a treasurer, and six councillors, with power to hold courts for the admission of burgesses, the good government of the town, and the trial and punishment of delinquents. This charter continued in force till the passing of the Municipal Reform act of the 3rd and 4th of William IV. A provost, four bailies, treasurer, and council are now elected agreeably with the provisions of that measure; and their jurisdiction extends over the whole of the municipal and parliamentary boundaries of the burgh. The magistrates hold courts daily for the trial of criminal causes not extending beyond petty thefts and misdemeanours, all higher matters being referred to the sheriff of the county, who holds a court here for those cases to which the jurisdiction of the magistrates does not extend. The burgh, under the provisions of the general Reform act of the 2nd and 3rd of William IV., returns one member to the imperial parliament: the right of election is vested in the £10 householders, of whom the number is 985. The town-hall was erected in 1765, after a design by the father of the distinguished Watt; it is a neat structure containing the several court-rooms, and other apartments for the transaction of the public business of the magistrates. The town gaol and bridewell, a handsome building in the castellated style, contains thirty-five cells for criminals. The sheriff's court-house, erected in 1834, by subscription, consists of a spacious hall for the courts, with the necessary apartments for the sheriff and his clerk, and rooms for jurymen and witnesses, appropriately fitted up.
   The parish originally formed part of that of Innerkip, from which it was separated by act of parliament, in 1592; and it has since been subdivided into smaller parishes, including the lands of Easter Greenock and Crawfurdsburn, and a considerable portion of the parish of Houston, which were annexed to it by the Court of Teinds in 1650. It extends along the Clyde for nearly five miles, and is bounded on the south by the parish of Houston; on the south-east, by the parishes of Port-Glasgow and Kilmalcolm; and on the west, by Innerkip. The surface is hilly, rising towards the south, by elevated ridges, to a height of 600 feet. The coast is flat and sandy, and is not distinguished by any peculiarity of features, the hill of Binnans, the highest in the ridge, forming the only landmark of importance, and from which is obtained a beautiful view of the Frith. The soil on the shore is chiefly clay, intermixed with sea-shells and gravel; and in the higher grounds, a rich loam, alternated with peat-moss. The estimated number of acres is 8000, of which nearly 3000 are arable, 1150 meadow and pasture, about fifty woodland and plantations, and the remainder moor: there are some quarries of sandstone, but of very inferior quality. The scenery is beautifully diversified, and on the acclivities of the hills are numerous scattered villas, overlooking the Clyde. The mansion-house of Greenock is finely situated on an eminence above the town; the greater portion of it is ancient, but several additions have been made of more modern character. There is some fine old timber on the demesne, and also on that of Crawfurdsburn House, which is likewise an ancient building. The rateable annual value of real property in Greenock is £111,493.
   The ecclesiastical affairs are under the superintendence of the presbytery of Greenock and synod of Glasgow and Ayr. The original parish, which, since the New or Middle parish was disjoined from it in 1741, has been designated the parish of West Kirk, is about three miles and a half in length and two and three-quarters in breadth. The minister's income is £718, arising from a stipend of £287, an annuity from the corporation of £25, and the rents of the glebe, amounting to £406, with a manse; patron, Sir Michael Robert Shaw Stewart. The old church, a cruciform structure built in 1590, being inconveniently situated, and greatly dilapidated, has been superseded by a new church built on a more commodious site; the present structure, which is of elegant design, contains 1400 sittings. There are places of worship for members of the Free Church, as well as for the United Secession, Baptists, the Relief, Independents, Reformed Presbyterians, and Wesleyans; and an episcopal, and a Roman Catholic chapel. The Middle Kirk parish, created by the Court of Teinds, is about one-third of a mile in length, and a quarter of a mile in breadth, and wholly within the town. The minister's stipend is £200, with £20 for communion elements, and a manse; patrons, the Magistrates and Town Council, the Kirk Session, and the Feuars in the parish. The church, erected in 1747, at an expense of £2388, by subscription, aided by a grant from the corporation, is a handsome structure in the Grecian style, with a portico of the Ionic order, and an elegant spire 145 feet in height, and contains 1497 sittings. A chapel, also, has been recently erected by the Society for Propagating Christian Knowledge, for the use of the mariners frequenting the port; it contains 350 sittings, and divine service is regularly performed on Sunday by a missionary, who has a salary of £26 per annum. The parish of East Kirk was divided from the original parish, also by the Court of Teinds, in 1809; it is about three miles and a half in length and two and a half in breadth. The minister's stipend is £200, with £20 for communion elements, and a manse; patrons, the Magistrates and Council, and a committee named by the Seat-proprietors. The church, erected in 1774 as a chapel of ease, contains 976 sittings. The late quoad sacra parish of North Kirk was separated from the parish of West Kirk by the General Assembly, in 1834, and was about half a mile in length, and less than a quarter of a mile in breadth; patrons, the Congregation. The church, at first a chapel of ease, was built in 1823, at an expense of £600, and contains 1165 sittings. South Kirk quoad sacra parish comprised a small district within the town; patrons, the Proprietors of the church, which was built as a Gaelic chapel of case, in 1791, at a cost of £1300, raised in shares, and is a neat structure with 1300 sittings. The late quoad sacra parish of St. Andrew was also separated from the old parish; patrons, the Trustees. The church was built by subscription, aided by grant from the Church-extension fund, at a cost of £2600; it is a handsome structure in the later English style of architecture, and contains 945 sittings. The late parish of St. Thomas was separated in 1839, from the old parish and the Middle parish: the church was built by private subscription, aided by a grant from the extension fund. Cartsdyke (which see) was separated from the East parish, in the year 1839, but has, like the four preceding districts, ceased to be a quoad sacra parish.
   The old parochial school has been superseded by the establishment of two burgh schools, in one of which the Latin, Greek, and French languages are taught; and in the other, arithmetic, the mathematics, geography, and drawing. They are under the management of two masters, appointed by the corporation, and who have each a salary of £30, with the fees and an allowance of £25 in lieu of house and schoolroom. The Highlanders academy was built in 1837, partly by subscription, and partly by grant from government, on a site given by the late Sir Michael Shaw Stewart; it is a handsome building, containing two schools, and apartments for the masters of an infant and juvenile school, with a large inclosed play-ground. There are also two schools for orphans, built by the corporation, one for the gratuitous instruction of children in the elementary branches of education, and the other for teaching girls to sew and knit, and qualifying them for service; they are both supported by subscription, and partly by the proceeds of the children's work. The Greenock hospital and infirmary was established in 1809, when a building was erected at an expense of £1815, on a site of land given by Sir John Shaw Stewart; it is maintained by subscription. The number of patients averages about 585 annually received into the house, and 200 out-patients. Two wings have been added to the building, which is now adapted for the reception of 100 patients. The institution is under the superintendence of four physicians, two surgeons, and a resident apothecary; the annual expenditure is about £1000. There are numerous friendly and benefit societies; and a savings' bank has been for some time established, in which are deposits to the amount of £63,000. Galt, the novelist, resided at Greenock, where he died in 1839. The town gives the inferior title of Baron to the family of Cathcart, a dignity created in 1807, in the person of the late Earl Cathcart, upon his return from Copenhagen, where he had served as commander-in-chief of the military force employed in the expedition to that place.

A Topographical dictionary of Scotland. . 1856.

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