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Balfron

Balfron, a village and a parish of W Stirlingshire. The village lies toward the south-western corner of the parish, 2 furlongs from the right bank of the Endrick, and 2 miles E of Balfron station on the Forth and Clyde Junction section of the North British railway, that station, with a telegraph office, being 20 miles WSW of Stirling, and 10¼ ENE of Balloch. From Glasgow Balfron is 19 miles NNW by road, or 24 by the Killearn and Lennoxtown branch of the the North British railway,; but the Strathendrick and Aberfoyle railway (sanctioned June 1880) will bring them into more direct connection. Built on a gentle slope, it looks across the river and the Ballikinrain woods to Earl’s Seat, highest of the Campsie Fells (1894 feet), 3W miles SSE; 11 miles NNW and 14¼ NW rise Ben Venue (2393 feet) and Ben Lomond (3192), with lesser summits of the great Highland wall.

The place itself was founded by Robert Dunmore, Esq. of Ballindalloch, who opened a cotton-mill in 1789; and, neat and regular it prospered greatly for the first fifty years, till handloom-weaving, its staple industry, was superseded by machinery. Now it looks somewhat deserted, but still has a branch bank of the British Linen Co., a post office under Glasgow, with money order and savings’ bank departments, 5 inns, a library, and 1 large factory, the Ballindalloch cotton-splnning works; and fairs are held at it on the last Tuesday of May, July (hiring), and October (horses and cattle). Places of worship are the parish church (1832; 690 sittings), a Free church (for Killearn and Balfron), and a UP, church (320 sittIngs); a public school, with accommodation for 208 children, had (1879) an average attendance of 180, and a grant of £168, 2s. Pop. (1831) 1700, (1861) 1179, (1871) 1085. (1881) 970.

The parish is bounded N by Drymen and Kippen, E by Gargunnock. SE by Fintry, S by Killearn, and NW by Drymen. it has an extreme length from E to W of 75⅝ miles, a width from N to S of from 7 furlongs to 2½  miles, and an area of 7847¾ acres, of which 28 are water, The westward-flowing Endrick roughly traces all the southern border, and the surface along its right bank has an altitude of less than 200 feet above sea-level, but rises northward to 491 feet at Cairnhall, 446 near Edinbellie, 627 on Ballindalloch Muir, and 577 on Balgair Muir,-north-eastward to Stronend (1676 feet), which culminates just beyond the SE frontier; and from Stronend it sinks again north-eastward to 554 feet near the confluence of the Boquhan and Pow Burns, marking the eastern, and part of the northern, boundary. The rocks are mainly eruptive, and the profitable working of abundant limestone has only been hindered by the absence of coal, in 1841 more than two-thirds of the entire area were either pastoral or waste, but great reclamations have been since effected, those of a single proprietor costing, in two years, upwards of £40,000. Mr Gillespie, however in his edition of Nimmo’s Stirlingshire (1880) distributes the area -3420 acres in tillage, 4295 waste, and 105 under wood. In the old heathen days the children of Balfron are said to have all been killed by wolves, whence its name Baile-bhroin (‘ town of mourning ‘); other traditions record how Ballindalloch and Edinbellie were seats, if not the birthplaces, of Alexander Cunningham, the ‘ Good ‘ Earl of Glencairn (d. 1574), and Napier of Merchiston (1550-1617), how at Clockburn Sharpe’s murderers first drew rein, fresh from their bloody work on Magus Moor (1679) Certain, at least, it is that Edinbellie was the scene of the forcible abduction of Jean Key (3 Dec- 1750) by Rob Roy’s sons, for which Robin Oig, the principal, was three years after hanged at Edinburgh; and that Balfron gave birth to the eminent Glasgow architect, Alexander Thomson (1817-75). Ballindalloch, ½ mile W of the village, is now the seat of H. R. Cooper Esq, who divides this parish with 13 more (non-resident) proprietors. It is in the presbytery of Dumbarton and synod of Glasgow and Ayr; the minister’s income is £251. Valuation (1881) £6615,9s. 1d. Pop. (1801) 1634, (1831) 2057, (1851) 1900, (1871) 1502. (1881) 1327.—Ord. Sur., shs. 38 and 39,1871-69.

From Groome's Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland, 1892-96