Really there was little to attract people to become farmers around Bonnybridge - the land was either too marshy or to scrubby - not worth the effort. A few sheep or cattle were grazed, but not much else!
However changes were being made! It was discovered that the addition of LIME (not the fruit, the white powder made from limestone!) made the soil less acid (more fertile) and so crops such as potatoes and turnips could be grown.
These were mainly fed to cattle and so more cattle could be kept. More cattle meant there was more manure and this could be spread on the soil so that it became even more fertile.
There were special occasions in Bonnybridge when there would have been LOTS of manure available. At these times thousands of cattle were driven from the Highlands of Scotland to Bonnybridge to be sold to the highest bidder. The drovers and their catlle could walk for hundreds of miles to Bonnybridge to take part in the 'CATTLE TRYSTS' as they were called - many of them came down the Drove Loan beside the bowling green and made their way up to beside Rough Castle where the Tryst was held. These were great days locally because, as well as the cattle, there were stalls and tents where people could buy other items from peddlars (and perhaps snacks and a wee 'refreshment'!) It was a great 'fair' - an old-time Gala Day. Sadly the building of the Forth and Clyde Canal blocked the route to Rough Castle (it was too difficult to get so many cattle through the Radical Pend) and the Tryst and the fair moved to Stenhousemuir.
So by the end of the 18th Century local farmers were growing:-
Notice that oats have a single seed heads on each stalk - almost like a flower head. (They used to say that everyone in Europe fed oats only to the animals - only the Scots fed it to people! But now we know it is a very healthy food.) Click on the word 'oats' to find out more about this wonder food!
Barley seeds are stuck very close together. The heads have very long whiskers
Pease pudding was made from dried peas. It was food for the poorest people and could be kept for a long time. See the link above to read a nursery rhyme about pease pudding
Beans are very healthy foods, and when they are dried they keep for a long time. This was very important in a time when food could become scarce and people go hungry.
Potatoes are easy to grow and produce a lot of food from small amounts of land. They could also be fed to animals to keep them alive during winter.
Sometimes called 'neeps' in Scotland ('turneeps' - get it?) - or 'tumshies'. These were very important for feeding cattle and sheep in winter. People eat them too - click on the link to learn more and get some recipes. The big turnips we have in Scotland are also called swedes. At halloween Scottish children cut off the top (to use as a lid), hollowed out the centre, cut out nose, mouth and eyes from the side and put a candle inside to form a turnip lantern.
Flax was not grown for food. It was one of the earliest plants that were used to make threads and cloth. Click the link to find out more. The plant with its beautiful blue flowers more important nowadays for the linseed oil that is extracted from its seeds. Making linen was one of earliest 'agricultural industries'. (See map below)
Clover is grown with grass to feed cattle and sheep. It is very good for the soil as it adds food to the soil (nitrogen) as it grows.
This is often grown along with clover to make great feeding for sheep and cattle. (It is also used in garden lawns because it is tough and can stand up to lots of people trampling on it!)
With all this farming going on various industries were needed to support the farming community - industries to help produce the crops such as blacksmiths and sawmills for equipment; industries to make use of the crops after harvest like grain mills, distilleries, transport. Bonnybridge had many of these.
|COAL PIT (disused)||This old pit was probably of the type called a Bell Pit - an early (and dangerous!) type of pit used to dig out coal near the surface. Most coal mining in this area took place around Banknock.|
|FLOUR, CORN and BARLEY MILLS||These are all found near rivers because they used watermills to turn the large stones that ground the grain into flour or smaller pieces to feed to cattle. One of the oldest was the Ford Mill near where the Ford Bridge now stands. It was opened in 1754 and did not close until it was destroyed by fire in 1935. The walls were not demolished until 1968. There was another mill at the Pend called Bonnymill which was largely built of stones taken from the old St Helen's Catholic Church in 1739. This too was destroyed by fire in 1922 and what remains is now part of Old Bonnymill Garage.|
|THE SMITHY||The blacksmith was very important in farming villages - he put shoes on all the horses (which were used to pull the ploughs), he made new ploughs and other tools and he repaired any that were broken. There is even a poem about the Blacksmith.|
|SAW MILL & SAW PIT||The farmers needed a good supply of wood to make and repair fences and to build and repair barns and sheds.|
|TILE WORKS||There is a lot of clay around Bonnybridge which was used to make good quality bricks and tiles. The tiles from this factory were used for draining the fields to keep them dry enough to grow crops.|
|DISTILLERY||To make good whisky you need good barley! Farmers mainly used barley to feed cattle, but if your barley was best quality you could sell it to the distillery and get quite a lot of money for it! The Broomhill Distillery (originally the Damhead Distillery) shown on the map had been going for a long time - possibly since about 1815. It had its own dam to supply water and its own land possibly for growing barley. However by 1854 it was sold and became a paper mill. While this put an end to LEGAL whisky making in Bonnybridge. However a fair amount of ILLEGAL distilling was carried on in quiet corners of the district!|
|DYE WORKS||The dye works made colours for cloth so that people could have nicely coloured clothes. At this time dyes were mainly obtained from different plants and so dye works were found in farming areas.|
|FORTH & CLYDE CANAL||Started in 1768 and finished in 1790 - it was mainly used to carry coal to Edinburgh and Glasgow. But it also carried passengers and day trippers.|
Here's a fairly complete list of Bonnybridge industries: (Click on grey print for further information.)
- Broomhill Distillery, Bonnybridge (originally located across the road from Antonine Primary School)
- Bankier Distillery (Based in Banknock - more information here.)
- Illicit distillation (making illegal 'hooch'!)
- Messrs. J Liddell & Co., paper manufacturers. Broomhill Rd on site of old distillery opposite current site of Antonine Primary. More info here.
- Carron Iron Co. mined iron ore
- Clay (eg Roughcastle Fireclay Mine up beside the Roman Camp)
- Alexander Campbell & Co.
- Messrs James Dougall & Sons Ltd.
- Bonnybridge Silica & Fireclay Co. Ltd.
- Bonnybridge Brick and Tile Works, Bonnyside Road
- Dyson Refractories Ltd.
- Messrs. John G. Stein & Co Ltd, Allandale
- Cannerton Brick Co. Ltd
- Broomhill Brickwork
- Messrs. G. Graham & Co
- The Glenyards Fireclay Co. Ltd.
- Greenhill Fireclay Co.
- Bonnyfield Quarry (former farmland, then sand and gravel extraction, now Woodlea Gardens etc)
- Mr James Binnie was the proprietor of a Chemical works
- Robert Miller & Co.
- The Milnquarter Chemical Co.
- Messrs. Bowie & Toung
- Re-Chem International Ltd. (Controversial waste-burning plant - now Craig's haulage site.)
- Greenhill Creosote Works
- The Sprengstoff Werke
- Nobel’s Explosives Co. Ltd (owned by the famous founder of the Nobel Peace Prize and other prizes for distinction in invention etc)
- Michellite Explosives Co.
- Modernised Black Powder Co.
- The British American Tobacco Co. (making cigarettes 1941-1991)
- There have been many old mills in Bonnybridge including saw mills which, over time, have changed use.
- Messrs. David Gillies & Sons
- Rollo Industries (still operating beyond High Bonnybridge.)
- Messrs. E. Dyer (Engineering) Ltd.
- Smith, Wellstood and Ure & Co.
- Campbell Ferguson & Co., later became
- George Mitchell & Sons Ltd.
- Woodlea Foundry
- Broomside Foundry Co. (1922) Ltd (Also known as The Puzzle for its apparently rather haphazard layout.)
- Messrs. Lane & Girvan
- Chattan Stove Works (Bonnyside Road)
- Messrs. E. & R. Moffat
- Dempster, Moore &Co. (Machinery) Ltd., Glasgow
- Banknock Foundry
- Broomridge Foundry