Tales Of Kirrie Toon

About The Town

ABOUT THE TOWN - accounts of Kirrie over the centuries


Kirriemuir is a burgh or barony, of which the old Earls of Angus were superiors, and consists of several streets, arranged and mutually connected in a manner similar to the arms and shaft of an anchor. It had undoubtedly been, in early times, a scattered hamlet round the church. In the year 1561 it contained 32 inhabited houses, and the population was 124 — the present population being fully 4000. The Parish Church was the first house in the town covered with blue slate.

Since the middle of the 18th century Kirriemuir has been the seat of an extensive manufacture of brown linen. The years 1816- 17 were peculiarly severe on the weavers in Kirriemuir. The manufacturers were not able to allow them more than five shillings,

And there were instances where even a less sum than this was given and accepted for the weaving of a web of linen 146 yards in length. About this time an event occurred which forms an era in the history of the town. The discovery was made that persons could sell their own manufactured good s in any market town in the kingdom. A trial was made by a few adventurers, who confined the scene of their operations to the neighbouring towns. In the years 1818, 19 and 20, the trade became general, and all who were possessed of capital or credit began to manufacture such fabrics as they expected would suit the home market; and with these they visited most of the towns of England, and the most distant parishes and islands of Scotland.

At the beginning of the last century, low, clay-built houses, with thatched roofs, were general all over the town, and where two-storied houses made their appearance, outside stairs were the medium of ascent. Several of these appendages were to be seen around the High Street, even the front of the Town House was decorated with one of them, from the top of which, on Sundays, the town ’s drummer recapitulated, for the sake of the country people, the novelties of the preceding week.

From a Survey of 1861

To play recording click on triangle on left below

Morning from the Wyvern's nest

‘Hence it behoved, whose piercing view

Might mark at least the fortress and main tower

Of the true city.’

Translated from Dante by Charles Lyell, Laird of Kinnordy who donated the tower

and its gryphon to Kirriemuir in 1790.

Thrums is waking

hear the rattle of boxes and bakery

sounding sweet and sticky

in Bridge‘s coffee house, while

post cards and paintings rustle

in the cool Clova air

whispering down Bank Street.

Lyell’s Wyvern turns to frown

on Bertrum butchers’ beef

as Mac measures clockwork sunlight

in o-o gauge, bleaching through his blinds

on Reform Street.

Up and down Bellies Brae

Peter Pan and Bon Scott

gaze frozen, hold their pose

silent with pipe and mic

as Colin Smith adjusts the picture

of Anywhere-but-Kirrie

in his busy window.

In the anchor square

time remembers;

the wyvern turns north east to 1954,

Albion Stores, billiards at Franchi’s

Kirriemuir’s soda fountain and cinema,

‘a hard seat fur a jeely jar in the fleckers’

and the flap and bell door

of Mrs Robbie’s paper shop.

Cobbled memories and closes of time

thrum morning Doric from the Gairie burn,

while the Ogilvie mill vents wait and wait

for sunlight to tumble down

like cadice to the Den

from the golden wyvern’s nest

and the day begins.

Andy Shanks 2019