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Duchal Castle, on the outskirts of Kilmacolm, was constructed by Ralph de l’Isle (later Anglicised to Lyle) and remained in the family until purchased by the Porterfields in 1544 who remained there until 1710 when much of it was deconstructed and the stone used to build a new home further down the River Gryffe. The name 'duchal' means 'between two rivers' and this indeed is reflected in the Castle's position, set between Green Water and its tributary, the Blacketty Water.

Most significant in the Castle's history was its siege by King James IV of Scotland, following the Lyle's support of an insurrection against him. According to accounts, the inhabitants of the Castle surrendered immediately on the sight of the famous Mons Meg cannon being rolled into position against them.

The Porterfields were staunch Covenanters and Duchal was widely seen as a refuge when the profession of such sympathies was criminalised and conventicles were held on the natural amphitheatre which is positioned within the present-day 14th hole of the Kilmacolm Golf Club. The estated was sequestered in 1684 and the men of the Porterfield family arrested; it was however returned following the Glorious Revolution.

The new Duchal is now known as Duchal House and occupied by the Rt Hon The Lord Maclay, who serves as the Deputy Lord Lieutenant for the village. [5]

The castle is currently abandoned and ruined, and is accessible by a small farm road.

[edit] Rail connection & early expansion

With the arrival of the Greenock and Ayrshire railway in 1869, which ran from Greenock to the terminus of the Glasgow and South Western Railway at Bridge of Weir, Kilmacolm became a desirable dormitory settlement for Glasgow. As a result many attractive Victorian villas were constructed, and a significant spa hotel (the Hydropathic) was erected. Stopping passenger services from Glasgow St Enoch station ceased beyond Kilmacolm in 1959 and Kilmacolm became the western terminus of the Paisley Canal Railway line in 1966. The line from Glasgow was closed completely in 1983, although it has been reopened from Glasgow Central station to Paisley Canal Station. The track has been converted into a cycle path, and is now part of the Clyde to Forth cycle route (National Cycle Route 75).

[edit] Churches

St Columba's Church, the spire of which dominates the skyline of the village centre.
St Columba's Church, the spire of which dominates the skyline of the village centre.
Kilmacolm Parish Church, the "Old Kirk".
Kilmacolm Parish Church, the "Old Kirk".

Religion has had a significant impact in Kilmacolm's history. It was the site where John Knox performed what was possibly the first Protestant communion in Scotland, a centre for Covenanters and a home for numerous historic religious festivals - often accompanied by drinking and 'riotous behaviour'.[6]

The Parish Church, known as the "Old Kirk", is ancient in origin. It's chancel dates back to the 13th century and is incorporated into the modern structure, built in 1830 as a replacement for a structurally unsound 16th century main building, as the Murray Chapel.[7]. As the village evolved, a number of more recent additions to the religious life of Kilmacolm have come and often gone.

In 1858, a number of the Parish's inhabitants broke away to form a United Presbyterian church in what had until recently been the abandoned Reformed Presbyterian Church. In 1868 the Church of St James was constructed on the site which now houses the Royal Bank of Scotland branch and lends its name to the town's main shopping terrace.

Again in 1900 that a new church was planned, being completed in 1903 - formerly St James Church, now the presently standing St Columba's Church, which dominates the village's skyline. The church, by various unions, has now become part of the Church of Scotland, alongside the Old Kirk.

Another St Columba's Church existed in the village due to another schism in the parish in the 1870s. The church stood on Bridge of Weir Road, and is recorded as standing in 1907 although the date of its construction is unknown. The magnificent spire and much of the church was demolished in the 1960s, but the main hall still remains and serves as the Kilmacolm Masonic Temple facing onto Glebe Road. The slates from the roof of the old church were used on the roof of "The Glen" being built at that time in Glencairn Road. When the church was demolished, the name St Columba's church passed to the former St James Church.

In the modern day, there are a number of other smaller but notable churches in the village. Kilmacolm forms part of the Episcopalian (Anglican) Diocese of Glasgow and Galloway and is served by St Fillan's Church. It also falls within the Roman Catholic Diocese of Paisley and was formerly associated with the Parish of Bishopton. Since the construction of its first church, St Colm's, in 1945 it has become an independent parish.

[edit] The village today

Kilmacolm remains a dormitory settlement, although it has expanded less in recent years than many similar small towns and villages. As of the 2001 Census, it has a population of 4,000.

Notable in the area is the moot-hill (ancient crowning place) near River Gryffe and the ruins of the Norman church of St. Fillan. To the north of the Village, towards Port Glasgow, are the remains of a Roman Fortlet, an outpost on the Antonine Wall. Charles Rennie Mackintosh designed a house in the village (Windyhill).

[edit] Village centre

The former Kilmacolm Public School, now a community centre which is to be largely renovated and extended.
The former Kilmacolm Public School, now a community centre which is to be largely renovated and extended.

The village centre is fairly extensive for a town of Kilmacolm's size and consists mainly of the streets around St James' Terrace and the cross where Lochwinnoch Road (B786) meets Market Place and the Port Glasgow and Bridge of Weir roads (A761) join.

There are a number of small shops, cafes and restaurants and two community centres: the old schoolhouse and the present library. Outside the front of the schoolhouse is a rather odd-looking time capsule.

For many years the village lacked a public house; this was unusual for a village of its size and was due mainly to local regulations preventing the issuing of full alcohol licenses following a poll of villagers taken under the Temperance Act in 1920. This prohibition also contributed to the economic problems of the former Hydropathic Hotel. The site of the former station has now been converted into a public house named the Pullman Tavern while the railway line has now become a cycle path.

There is presently a proposal[8] to create a new community centre out of the old Victorian schoolhouse and surrounding buildings given that the present 19th centre and library building (the former Buchanan Arms Hotel) has become structurally unsound.

[edit] Education

There are at present two schools in Kilmacolm: one state primary and a private school offering both primary and secondary education.

[edit] State schools

The first village schoolhouse was opened in the village in 1858, and the majority of its exists derelict to this day. However with the increase in population and the compulsory education introduced by the parish school board in 1889 under the Education (Scotland) Act 1872 , the small building could no longer cope with demand. As such, in 1888 a larger building was constructed adjacent to the old with accommodation for 600 pupils which is now used as a Village Hall. The state school now remaining in the village is Kilmacolm Primary School which has been moved to a 1960s building.

Historically, a number of small schools have existed within the parish boundaries. Many children were educated within the Orphan Homes which have become Quarrier's Village. A long-lasting dispute arose in the last years of the 19th century over the education of these children; while rates were paid, the children were schooled within the Homes privately. In protest, in 1898 over eight hundred children were marched by William Quarrier to the gates of the parish schoolhouse where he demanded they were enrolled - a quite impossible task. The dispute also was carried out in the courts, with a case going all the way to the House of Lords. Resolution eventually came when state funding was given to the Homes covering most of the educational costs of the children there.

The area falls within the state school catchment area for Port Glasgow High School. However popular schools locally include Greenock Academy, Greenock High School, Gourock High School or Gryffe High School at Houston, or a number of private schools in Glasgow.

[edit] Independent schools

1897 saw the creation of St Columba's, an independent girls' school, in the village. There was also a a separate boys' preparatory school, Dardenne, which no longer exists following St Columba's becoming co-educational in 1982. St Columba's consists of both a junior and senior school.

St Columba's is housed over two sites - Shallott, on Birkmyre Park, is the former residence of the Birkmyre family and houses the junior school; land beside it is used to house St Columba's various sporting facilities. The senior school, for which extensive renovation plans are being drafted, sits on Duchal Road to the south of the village centre, near its astroturf sporting ground.

[edit] Parks and recreation

The Knapps Loch, Kilmacolm. The village is shown in the top right. Most of the surrounding countryside is moorland.
The Knapps Loch, Kilmacolm. The village is shown in the top right. Most of the surrounding countryside is moorland.

The village has two main parks, despite being in an open country setting.

Birkmyre Park is located to the north of the village centre and was donated by Adam Birkmyre (1848-1906), a family owner of the Gourock Ropework Company, on the 7th of June 1890 and has been held in trust by the village (and subsequently the local authority) since 1897 "for the use, benefit, enjoyment and recreation of the public in all time coming." [9] The Park has a number of tennis courts, rugby pitches and a putting green and is home to the Birkmyre Rugby Club. The main area is used for athletics, association football or cricket depending on the season. The present pavillion is being modified to house a gym and cafe and shall be reopened in summer 2008.

A fair is held in Birkmyre Park over one weekend in May at the same time as the agricultural show mentioned below.

The other park is considerably smaller and located on West Glen Road. It formerly had a large pond, but this has recently been filled in as it was unmaintained and considered a hazard.

Craigmarloch Wood lies opposite Leperstone Loch overlooking the Firth of Clyde. A semi-ancient woodland, it has the remains of a Vitrified Iron Age Fort, last surveyed in the early 1960s. Sessile Oak and Scots Pine probably planted in the 1700-1800s with raised bog areas. Serious arson attacks have destroyed some areas and natural regrowth is now encouraged. The Craigmarloch Wood Project, a not for profit organisation, has now been set up to manage the area.

Aside from these, the local Duchal and Milton Woods, and the Knapps Loch are popular locations for similar pursuits. The Knapps is the location of the local agricultural show as well as the Bonfire Night celebrations held by the Kilmacolm & Quarriers Village Conservative & Unionist Party. There is also a Wildlife Reserve to the south east, administered by the Scottish Wildlife Trust[10] and Clyde Muirshiel Regional Park has a Visitors' Centre and camp site located in the country a short distance from the village.

There is also a Kilmacolm Golf Club[11].

[edit] Local government

Kilmacolm and Quarrier's Village are governed as part of the local authority area of Inverclyde. In local council elections, Kilmacolm was a safe Conservative ward and typically elected the only Conservative member to the council.[12] Following the death of Councillor Alex Calvert, a by-election was held in the village on 8 February 2001. Turnout fell to 43.9%, down from 65.3% in the 1999 election, and turned Kilmacolm into a Tory-Liberal Democrat marginal ward, with the Conservatives' - represented by the former councillor's wife, Helen Calvert - lead being slashed 29% to 6%.

In 2003, Liberal Democrat Tom Fyfe was elected by a narrow margin in Kilmacolm, also marking the return of control of Inverclyde Council from Labour to the Lib Dems.

Following the introduction of proportional representation in local council elections, Kilmacolm was joined with Port Glasgow to create a four-member ward known as Inverclyde East in time for the 2007 local elections. The four councillors currently representing the ward are Tom Fyfe (Liberal Democrat), Jim Macleod (Scottish National Party), Stephen McCabe (Labour), and David Wilson (Conservative)[13].

The village also has a community council to represent it. It is now part of the West Renfrewshire Scottish Parliament constituency and the West of Scotland region. For elections to the Parliament of the United Kingdom, it now falls within the Inverclyde constituency having previously been associated with the constituency of Renfrewshire West.

Kilmacolm is also a wider civil parish, covering an area of forty eight square miles, bordering the parishes of Erskine, Greenock, Houston & Killellan, Inverkip, Kilbarchan, Largs, Lochwinnoch and Port Glasgow.[14] Such parishes are little used by modern government, but remain for statistical and some other purposes. The population of the Parish of Kilmacolm is circa 7000.

Quarrier's Village
Quarrier's Village

[edit] Quarrier's Village

Located around a mile and quarter south of the village is the settlement of Quarrier's Village, built by the Glasgow philanthropist William Quarrier as a children's home in several cottage-style settings. The cottages no longer serve this function and are almost entirely private homes. Quarrier's Village falls within the civil parish and community council area of Kilmacolm, and both have in the past shared numerous functions such as school boards. A great deal of residential development has taken place in Quarrier's in the past decade and is ongoing, expanding its size considerably.

[edit] External links

[edit] Notes

Footnotes

  1. , New Page 0
  2. , Scotland's Best Towns: Join the Kilmacolm set - Times Online
  3. , http://www.kilmacolmoldkirk.org.uk/about.html Old Kirk website 'about us' section; http://www.theadvertizer.co.uk/gallery/viewImage.asp?imageID=151&catID=19 - the meeting commemorated in the stained glass windows of the Old Kirk
  4. , Kilmacolm And The Porterfields
  5. , House of Commons Hansard Debates for 22 Jan 1993
  6. , Books: Kilmacolm
  7. , Visitscotland Kilmacolm Old Kirk Kilmalcolm Place of Worship Welcome
  8. , New Page 1
  9. , http://www.portglasgow4u.co.uk/birkmyre/birkmyrepark.html Quoted section of the Birkmyre Trust document
  10. , http://www.swt.org.uk/wildlife/popup_reserves/west/glenmoss.htm Glen Moss Wildlife Reserve
  11. , http://www.kilmacolmgolfclub.com/ Kilmacolm Golf Club website
  12. , Kilmacolm (Inverclyde) 8 th February 2001
  13. , Inverclyde (from The Herald Election Site)
  14. , Overview of Kilmacolm

References


(Source: Wikipedia)
 
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