Ballindalloch Cotton Works

The village of Balfron developed in the 19th Century, during the Industrial Revolution, a cotton mill. The Ballindalloch Cotton Works was built on the River Endrick and a planned village was constructed on both sides of the main road between the river and the Clachan to accommodate mill workers.

A bleachfield was created and on the other side of the river in the Parish of Killearn, Endrickfield Printworks was built by John Monteith & Co., in co-partnership with Robert Dunmore, for the printing of calico. Although the works were in Killearn Parish, the workers lived in Balfron, in that part of the village which still retains the name Printers Row.

In about 1861, the Rev. Alexander* Niven describes Ballindalloch Cotton Works:
An extensive Cotton work on the banks of the Endrick Water, the building varies from one to six storeys in height and was erected in 1789. The machinery is propelled by water of about 30 horse power. This work employs about 250 persons when in full operation, chiefly females. Property of W. and A. Jeffrey, Balfron.

He also describes the school:
A two storey building in the village of Balfron, used as a School for the education of the children employed at Ballindalloch Mill, the ground floor constitutes the School Room, the upper Storey as the Teacher’s residence, the number of pupils depends on the number in employment at the Mill. The Teacher receives his support from the Mill Owner, the education afforded consists of Reading, Writing and Arithmetic.

The Works were described in 1844 in the following terms:
“Ballindalloch Cotton Works, situate in the Parish of Balfron, and the county of Stirling, 19 miles distant from Glasgow, containing 10752 mule spindles, of which 1248 are self-acting (Smith & Orr’s patent), with the necessary preparation, driven by a water wheel 28 feet diameter, calculated to be equal to 35 horse-power, with a steam engine to assist in dry seasons of 16 horse-power, the supply of water being obtained from the river Endrick and from a reservoir covering 30 imperial acres … The total extent of land, including site of works, dwelling houses, &c., is about 77 imperial acres …”
The 77 acres were divided into two areas, 35 for the works, etc., and 42 acres further down stream which were used for many years as a printfield. Finally there was one other acre belonging to the works which had a large school house with a dwelling above it.

Extract from The New Statistical Account of Scotland: Dunbarton, Stirling, Clackmannan

Previous to the year 1780, this parish was, strictly speaking, rural. Agricultural pursuits occupied the population, if a population could be really said to be occupied, who were of necessity compelled, from the low state of agricultural pursuits, to pass fully the half of their time in idleness. But in the year 1780 a very material change took place in the parish, by the establishment of an agency for manufacturing calicoes, under the influence and patronage of a very enterprising and intelligent man,— the late Mr Dunmore of Ballindalloch and Ballikinrain, in whom were united the activity of the country gentleman and the liberality of the merchant; and to whom this part of the country is indebted lor many valuable improvements, of which certainly not the least are its high-roads. The calico establishment, however, did not turn out very satisfactorily; Mr. Dunmore, therefore, formed a connection with the Buchanans of Carstone in Killearn parish, who had just then built the Deanston Cotton Works, near Doune, in Perthshire; and with these gentlemen, in the year 1789, he built the cotton-mill in this parish, known in trade by the Ballindalloch Cotton Works. Mr. Archibald Buchanan, the younger of the two enterprising and ingenious brothers, the partners of Mr. Dunmore, had been taught the practical parts of cotton-spinning at Cromford in Derby, under the well known Arkwright, the original inventor of cotton-spinning by means of machinery. In the year 1789, cotton-spinning was, under this company, introduced into this parish, and from that time, down to the year 1793, was successfully carried on by them. But in the year 1783 (?), Messrs James and Archibald Buchanan transferred the property to Messrs James Finlay and Company, merchants, Glasgow, who still (1845) continue to be proprietors, and who, at their several works at Deanston, Catrine, and Balfron, give constant employment to 2500 hands. The works at Balfron are driven by a stream from the Endrick, which, in dry seasons, is kept nearly uniform by water from a reservoir of 33 Scotch acres, constructed about thirty years ago, in Dundaft* Moor, one of the oldest estates of the Montrose family, and contiguous to the ruins of the castle of Sir John De Graham, the friend of Wallace. This stream falls on a water wheel of almost 30 horse power, which drives 12,000 mule spindles with their preparations. Two hundred and fifty-eight hands or thereby, and these chiefly females, are now employed at the works. It is understood to be the first cotton work in Scotland at least, in which female spinners were exclusively employed.

In the year 1792, Messrs John Monteith and Company, of Glasgow, established and carried on for several years an extensive printing-work; but it was found to be too distant from coal to be conducted with advantage. It was therefore abandoned. The site and property were purchased by the proprietors of the cotton works, Messrs James Finlay and Company, and have not been again turned by them to any manufacturing purpose.

*The Rev. Alexander Niven MA was born on 8th January 1798, the 3rd son of the minister of Dunkeld.
Ed Uni of St Andrews 1817.  Pres by Thomas, Earl of Kinnoul 19th Jul 1824.  
Married 22nd Sept 1829 Eliza Brown, dau of minister of St John’s Glasgow. His 2nd son became minister of Pollockshields; his 3rd son became minister of North Parish, Paisley.
He rebuilt Balfron Church where he was the minister from 1825 until he died on 14th Feb 1872.

War memorial

Balfron war memorial takes the form of a tall cairn with a very attractive bronze memorial tablet set into the face. The memorial stands on a small island in the main street in front of the kirk.

The signing of the peace treaty was celebrated on throughout the County with pageants, children’s galas, torchlight processions and bonfires.

There is no exact figure for First World War dead from Stirlingshire.

Permanent memorials to the dead were paid for by subscriptions and set up in communities during the first half of the 1920s.

W A Robertson (Architect)
Mr Archibald Dawson (Designer)
Messrs Simpson (Mason)

Site cost: £450

Unveiled : 29 Jan 1922, attended by the Duke of Montrose

Adam Hugh Fleming Highland Light Infantry
Battison George Royal Engineers
Battison Peter Argyle & Sutherland Highlanders
Battison Tom Seaforth Highlanders
Craig Frank Australians
Craig Guthrie Australians
Edmond James Highland Light Infantry
Fairweather Andrew Argyle & Sutherland Highlanders
Fyfe James Tait Argyle & Sutherland Highlanders
Horne David Argyle & Sutherland Highlanders
Horne John Argyle & Sutherland Highlanders
Horne Robert Argyle & Sutherland Highlanders
MacDonald Duncan Royal Army Service Corps
MacKinnon Finlay Royal Air Force
McCallum Peter Canadians
McCallum Hugh Gordon Highlanders
McGill James Downs Royal Engineers
McLaggan John Argyle & Sutherland Highlanders
McLaggan William Royal Army Service Corps
McLaren John Royal Scots Fusiliers
McLean John Argyle & Sutherland Highlanders
McLean William Argyle & Sutherland Highlanders
Montgomery Archibald Argyle & Sutherland Highlanders
Montgomery William Scots Guards
Morrison A. Douglas Cameron Highlanders
Paterson William Argyle & Sutherland Highlanders
Shaw James Seaforth Highlanders
Stewart Alexander Argyle & Sutherland Highlanders
Stewart Robert Royal Army Medical Corps
Stewart William Argyle & Sutherland Highlanders
Taylor Robert F. Royal Army Service Corps
Walker Alexander Highland Light Infantry

Hay Alex Argyle & Sutherland Highlanders
Gilliland Samuel Royal Air Force
Gourlay Robert Merchant Navy
McFarlane Charles S.A.S.
Miller David Commandos

The Strathendrick Pipe band arrive at the war memorial for the unveiling

Balfron South Church

South Church
Balfron South Church, c 1905

The South Church, in Spinner Street, was converted into residential accommodation. 

The story of its turbulent beginnings is told in a pamphlet, Balfron Church 1303-2003, by Alexander Primrose. It closed when the last minister, Rev. William Dunbar Allan, retired in 1967.

The South Church was built during Rev. James Lindsay’s ministry, (1871-abt 1909) at a cost of £2,300 and was opened on 7th May 1882. Because of his wise, statesman-like ways, he was known as the ‘Father of the church’.  He was followed by Rev. George Turner MA, who married 9 Sep 1944 Janet McNaught, daughter of John McLintock of Balfron.

The church was linked on 30th June 1959 with Fintry.  This linking arrangement terminated on 11th July 1967 to permit the union on the same date with Balfron North under the name of Balfron. Services continued til December 1968 in the South Church under the new minister of Balfron Church, Rev. John Jamieson, whilst an extensive programme of renovation and redecoration took place. The pipe organ was removed to ‘the North Church‘.

The South Church continued in use as a hall for church activities. It was also used by organisations such as the Mothers and Toddlers Group until it was sold in 1991. 

The funds raised from the sale were allocated to the building of the Church Rooms attached to Balfron Church

Note: ‘The ground within the boundaries [of this sketch]…was a sub feu belonging to the managers &c of the UP Church, Balfron up till the 29th March 1859 when the said managers entered into a negotiation with M Robertson Esqr, banker, Balfron, and made an excamb of all the ground except twenty two falls and thirty four ells, scotch measure, being little more than the site of the church, which is marked with a thorn hedge from Laigh Cotton Street, to the foot road leading to Hill-head or Banachs.’

Balfron South Church, December 2009

Tontine Hotel

The Tontine Hotel, which stood at the corner of Buchanan Street and Cotton Street, was on the site of the Black Bull Hotel. The 1865 map shows the Black Bull Hotel on this site.

David Hunter (a coal miner) and his wife Agnes, nee Paterson, ran the "TONTEEN HOTEL" in "BELFRON"

David and Agnes had 2 sons: John and jim, and a daughter, Mary.

A tontine was a type of lottery in which the longest lived participant won the big prize. In this case he possibly bought the pub with it, but it could be it was held as a 'tontine'.

John McLintock Hall

John McLintock Hall
John McLintock Hall

Situated at the corner of Buchannan Street and Dunmore Street, The McLintock Hall – more correctly, the John McLintock Hall, is decribed as the ‘social heart of the community. Given to the village by John McLintock, an investor who made his wealth dealing in stocks and shares, rather than from the family confectionery business. He shared his wealth with the community of Balfron by establishing the Bowling Green, by setting up a grant making charitable trust and by facilitating the building of a new public hall.

Further details can be found in the Mclintock Hall website. The Hall hosts a variety of regular activities, from dancing to embroidery, from Brownies to yoga. Details of these are available in the Hall website.


Moor Road
Moor Road
Copyright: Chris Upson

The following walks were provided via the Balfron Facebook page. Some are combined entries, so have been split. Thanks go to all the contributors.
• We have what we call the loop in Gartocharn. It’s all on the road though unless you use the farm track which shortens it by half a mile. It’s about three miles and is a lovely walk/run. It by passes the entry to Ross Priory and there is a wonderful view of Loch Lomond on route. It’s sign posted. There’s probably is a map but not sure where to find one. From the village shop in Gartocharn, head towards Balloch for 200 yards, turn right and you will see signs for Ross Priory. Follow the road right round (It literally is a loop), and at the end, turn right again back into the village. Just watch last half mile as it’s on main road, that is why I use the farm track.
• Along the Fintry road to Ballikinrain and back round into Balfron. I think going via the Honeyholm and coming back in via Boquhan was about seven miles but I’m not absolutely sure. If you go out towards the Honeyholm and turn right down the White Yett you can run by the river Endrick and come out just before Shearer’s garage. It’s not that far but it’s lovely and off the road mainly.
• Park at the bridge at ‘lama farm’, up to Black Hill crossroads, turn right to Killearn, turn right at tennis courts and down to Drumtian, over river and up to main road, turn right heading for Balfron Station, turn right into Balfron Station and head back to start. 5 miles, hilly, bit off road, bit of track and bit of busy road- fab wee route!
• Varying miles, with longer and shorter loops, but from Killearn run down Gartness Road or Drumbeg onto West Highland Way and follow to the field just past Beech Tree and cross field to Glengoyne Distillery. Cross road. Over wooden stile, then up the steep slope to the water track, turn left and follow back to Killearn. The longer route (from Gartness Rd) is 8 miles.
• Several routes in the Queen Elizabeth Forest park. Maps in some of the parking areas. Try Loch Ard Forest just outside Aberfoyle. Really great walks that go in a loop. There’s a short, medium and long loop. Walks starting at Kinlochard into the forest all on map in car park.
• There’s a variety or routes from Strathblane. From riding stables up past Boards Farm and you have many different routes up to West Highland Way, Mugdock Park, over the Moor, across to Cuilt Brae. A mixture of rough track, forest road, moor path …. or just head through the forest. Lots of lovely loops between Strathblane and Mugdock, mostly/ all off the road and good for walking, running, hiking, etc. Up track to Boards Farm then down to the Cuilt Brae and along the railway track. Along the water track between Blanefield to Dumgoyne and back along the railway track to Blanefield. Loads of great walks!
• Carron valley has some great walks. Take some change if you go to Carron Valley. Is only £3 parking for all day
• Balloch County Park is lovely too and has various trails that can be found via maps. I always get lost in there but you can always go in a circular route
• Balfron walk; by the bowling green, Tunnel Inn*, Yettes Glen, Roman fort back into the village. 45 mins walk.
• Go up to the the David Marshall lodge – they sell a little book of the 40 top walks around the Trossachs. Most of the walks are loops and all mapped out so you can’t get lost.
• Go to Killearn, walk down Drumbeg loan turn left along West Highland Way past Beech Tree Inn , turn left at Path towards distillery , over the road and up at the stile going up toward pipe track road and along to the Branziert or when the Spar road is open down there or through the woods and back to transport.
• From Dalmary water house area and walk towards Aberfoyle but that is there and back.
• In Drymen, it’s straight up Gartness Road, down ‘Millionaires Row’ and then down to Buchanan Smithy back along to Drymen. I think it’s 2.8 miles and it takes about 30-40 mins great views of the conic and the loch
• Jenny Gunn’s Loan, through Carbeth Estate, up Drumtian Road to Killearn and back to Balfron.
• Ballochruin Woods: There are are series of very short walks through the new plantation at the north side of the Ballochruin bridges. Dogs on leads during the breeding season; no dogs in ponds. Walking along the riverbank adds a few minutes to this walk. Best suited to small dogs.
•  Old railway lines:
   • Strathblane to Lennoxtown (tarmac)
   • Cobleland to Abefoyle (tarmac)
   • Buchlyvie to Gartmore
   • Gartness to Croftamie

For walks further afield, many suitable for pushchairs, see Linked Magazine>>>

Turn Lynn
Turn Lynn in 1966
Photo supplied by Jackie Yuill


*Tunnel Inn, probably Turn Lynn, on a bend on the river at the end of the Lade. “The tunnel in – it’s where generations of villagers learned to swim and picnicked in the summer oh! happy days

Your access rights and responsibilities

code logoNot only is Scotland a fantastic country for enjoying the outdoors, we also have world class legislation which provides for public access to most land and water.

These access rights apply widely to Scotland’s countryside and include walking, cycling and other non-motorised activities.

Wherever you go, remember to take some simple steps to take care of the environment and respect the needs of other people working on the land or enjoying the outdoors. There are also some places where these rights do not apply, including houses and gardens and military bases and airfields.

Full details of these rights and responsibilities are provided in the Scottish countryside access code. Tips on how to camp or when to keep your dog on a lead are just some of the topics covered.  The Code also provides specific guidance for Land Managers and Recreation Managers.

See also:
Walks – in 1902

Places of interest

Balfron Relief Church, later United Presbyterian

This congregation originated with some calico printers, previously in connection with the Relief Church, who had come to the area for work from elsewhere in the country. They applied for and obtained a supply of sermons from the Relief Presbytery of Glasgow in 1793. Church built in 1797. This congregation joined the United Presbyterian Church in 1847, as did most Relief congregations. They united with the Holm of Balfron United Presbyterian congregation in 1880.

Source: Annals and Statistics of the United Presbyterian Church, by Rev. William MacKelvie, D.D., pub. 1873

See also:
Places of Worship
Balfron Associate Burgher Church c1798-c1821
Holm of Balfron General Associate Secession, later United Presbyterian Church c1739-c1880