Bridge of Weir
|Bridge of Weir|
|Population||4,635  (2001 census)|
est. 4,650 (2006)
|OS grid reference|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|Post town||BRIDGE OF WEIR|
Bridge of Weir (Scots: Brig o Weir) is a village within the Renfrewshire council area and wider historic county of Renfrewshire in the west central Lowlands of Scotland. Lying within the Gryffe Valley and providing a crossing point for the River Gryffe, the village today serves largely as a dormitory settlement for nearby Glasgow and Paisley although it maintains a commercial centre of its own and some light industry.
Bridge of Weir was historically an area divided between the parishes of neighbouring Houston and Killellan and Kilbarchan on either side of the River Gryffe. Growing out of the lands of the 15th century Ranfurly Castle, mainly occupied by small farms, the name 'Bridge of Weir' is first recorded in the early 18th century before any village was built. The 'weir' is a reference to a salmon weir which used to be located on the Gryffe. An older name provided for the village is 'Port o'Weir', implying a river crossing; this name remained in some use even after the Bridge of Weir name had been adopted.
The bridge at Bridge of Weir was constructed at Burngill c.1770 and was considerably upgraded and widened in 1892 to allow for two-way traffic. It was finally demolished in 1964, with a more modern structure created. The bridge owes its construction to being on the route between the significant towns of Greenock and Paisley, with a Great Road constructed between the two in 1794. Also significant to the infrastructure of the emerging settlement was the construction of the Glasgow, Paisley and Ardrossan canal which, despite its name, was only constructed up to nearby Johnstone. The Johnstone to Bridge of Weir railway route was formalised on the 20 June 1864 and the Bridge of Weir railway station built. The line extended to Kilmacolm and onwards in 1869. This railway substantially altered the character of the village and contributed to its forthcoming affluence. The railway closed on 10 January 1983 and now forms part of the Clyde to Forth cycle route (National Cycle Route 75).
The first semblances of the village came to be with the rise of the West of Scotland cotton industry. From around 1793 the river Gryffe was being used to power numerous cotton spinning and blanket making mills. The most significant industry to emerge in the village was leather. At its productivity peak the small village supported three tanneries. The leather industry survives to this day, now on a single site, in the form of a highly successful, modern facility with five Queen's Awards for International Business.
Bridge of Weir is surrounded by agricultural lands, with traditional industries being cotton milling and leather tanning. The earliest cotton mills were built in the late 18th and early 19th centuries on the banks on the River Gryffe. Today, the town's golf courses and fishing attract visitors and there the village has a commercial centre with retail stores, restaurants and public houses.
From the 18th century, the waulking mill was used in the production of leather with the Burngill Mill having been recorded in 1770. It was purchased by Andrew Muirhead in 1870 whose family had been in the leather industry in Glasgow for several generations. In 1905, Arthur Muirhead set up a further leather mill at the Laigh Mill (renamed the Clydesdale Works) and founded the Bridge of Weir Leather Company. Despite having several premises in the past, since the beginning of the 21st century, the company's business has been consolidated at the Lochar and Baltic Works.
The leather works continue to serve as a large employer in the area and trade their goods across the world. Some notable customers include:
- In 1989, the benches of the British Parliament's House of Commons and House of Lords chambers in Westminster were reupholstered using Bridge of Weir leather.
- Bridge of Weir leather has upholstered many famous ocean liners, including Cunard's Queens Mary, Elizabeth, Elizabeth 2 and Victoria. Azimut Yachts and Sunseeker are also customers of Bridge of Weir Tannery.
- The Old Bailey, and many other notable public buildings around the world feature their leather.
- Several major airlines, including British Airways (including the Concorde), Virgin, Cathay Pacific, KLM, Malaysia Airlines, Singapore Airlines, and Qantas
- Automobile customers of Bridge of Weir leather are Aston Martin, Rolls-Royce, Bentley, Saab, McLaren, Mercedes-Benz, Volvo, Jaguar, Land Rover and Lincoln. Also some of Ford's Model T (that were UK built) were also upholstered with Bridge of Weir leather.
Bridge of Weir is part of the council area of Renfrewshire, as well the historic county of Renfrewshire which has wider boundaries and retains some official functions, for example as a registration county and lieutenancy area.
For elections to Renfrewshire Council, Bridge of Weir is part of ward 10, named 'Bishopton, Bridge of Weir and Langbank', which elects three of Renfrewshire's forty councillors. The ward results in the most recent election are:
|Bishopton, Bridge of Weir and Langbank Ward - (2017 Renfrewshire Council election)|
|Party||Candidate||FPv%||Count 1||Count 2||Count 3||Count 4|
|Conservative||James MacLaren (incumbent)||45.47||2,552|
|Liberal Democrats||Elliot Harrison||3.78||212||537.68||578.49||733.70|
|Scottish Green||Ellen Höfer-Franz||3.03||170||230.72||406.93|
|Electorate: TBC Valid: 5,613 Spoilt: 44 Quota: 1,404 Turnout: 5,657 (55.1%)|
Culture and community
Bisected by the River Gryffe, angling is available within the village. The river hosts brown trout, grayling and occasionally Atlantic salmon. Numerous outdoor pursuits are available at the nearby Clyde Muirshiel Regional Park. National Cycle Route 75 runs through the village.
The village is also known for its golf history. At one point there were five golf courses in the vicinity; today there are two remaining: the Old Course Ranfurly and the Ranfurly Castle golf clubs. There was a thriving ice hockey team from around 1895 and in 1935 were Scottish National League Champions.
- Leslie Green, jurisprudential theorist, was born here.
- William Quarrier Kennedy, geologist, was born here in 1903
- John Lyle, educated here, in 1843 migrated to Wisconsin, where he became a farmer and politician, serving in the Wisconsin State Assembly and as "Chairman" (analogous to mayor) of his township
- Sheila Reid, actress, was born in the town in 1937, but spent much of her youth in England.
- "Comparative Population Profile: Bridge of Weir Locality". Scotland's Census Results Online. 2001-04-29. Archived from the original on 2011-05-19. Retrieved 2008-08-31.
- "Archived Document". Archived from the original on 2009-09-16. Retrieved 2010-08-23.
- "Genuki: Houston, Renfrewshire". www.genuki.org.uk.
- W. Lyle, Bridge of Weir, ISBN 0-9503943-0-0, p.6-7
- Renfrewshire Community Website - Bridge of Weir Archived March 18, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
- "Renfrewshire Community Website - Wards". Renfrewshire Council. Archived from the original on 2009-03-14. Retrieved 2009-06-14.
- "Candidates declared for the Renfrewshire Council election". renfrewshire.gov.uk. Renfrewshire Council. Retrieved 4 April 2017.
- "Renfrewshire Community Website - Community Councils". Renfrewshire Council. Archived from the original on 2009-06-07. Retrieved 2009-06-14.
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