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Balfron Church and War Memorial.jpg
The church and war memorial in Balfron
Grid reference: NS546890
Location: 56°4’18"N, 4°20’14"W
Population: 1,707
Post town: Glasgow
Postcode: G63
Dialling code: 01360
Local Government
Council: Stirling

Balfron, is a village in northern Stirlingshire adjacent to the border with Perthshire. It is situated near Endrick Water on the A875 road, 18 miles west of Stirling and 16 miles north of Glasgow. Although a rural settlement, it lies within commuting distance of Glasgow, and serves as a dormitory village. To the north is the parish of Kippen, part of the boundary of which also forms the county border. To the east is Gargunnock, to the south-east Fintry, to the south Killearn and to the north-west Drymen.


The name means 'village of mourning' in Gaelic. This originates from a legend that the village was attacked by wolves, which stole children out of their homes. The first documented evidence of a settlement at the site dates from 1303, when it was referred to as "Buthbren".[1]

Balfron has an ancient oak – The Clachan Oak – where William Wallace is said to have rested and later Rob Roy is supposed to have hidden. Rob Roy's sons abducted young widow-heiress Jean Key from nearby Edinbellie and forced her to marry Robin Oig MacGregor who was hanged for the crime.

In 1789, when Robert Dunmore built Ballindalloch Cotton Works he expanded the settlement from a hamlet of around 50 people to a bustling Industrial Revolution planned village with a population of almost 1,000 within a year.[1]

As the cotton boom began to fail, the arrival of the Forth and Clyde Junction Railway transformed Balfron into a popular holiday resort. Testament to this was the presence of the Tontine Hotel, which stood at the corner of Buchanan Street and Cotton Street. The plethora of no longer required ex-army vehicles after World War I began the village's connection with buses which still survives today.[1]

In 1967, the notable Balfron Tower in London was named after the village.


Balfron has shops, a health centre, a village hall and a secondary school (Balfron High School). The village also contains a fire station, garage, ambulance depot, police station, primary school, bowling green and an 18 hole golf course. There is a Bank of Scotland. The residential special school Ballikinrain is also located in Balfron and caters to intervening for boys with special needs from all over Scotland. Its future is, however, in doubt as a result of Church of Scotland funding problems. Doyles cafe is also situated in Balfron.

The game of golf is not a new tradition in Balfron. There had been a 9 hole course at the top of the village for many years until, in 1939, Balfron Golf Club was dissolved and the land given up for agricultural use during the 2nd World War. In 1991 Balfron Golf Society was formed to re-create a nine hole course on the site of the original one. A 9 hole course opened in 1994 and in 2001 was extended to 18 holes.

Balfron Church is situated in the settlement and shares a minister with the neighbouring parish of Fintry. The catholic community is served by St Anthony's, which shares a priest with St Kessog's, in Strathblane. Strathendrick Baptist Church is also based in Balfron and meets at McLintock Hall.

There are eight listed buildings in Balfron, and a further fifteen in the area around the village.[2]

Many youth groups work in the village including Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme, scouts and guides.


Balfron railway station, on the line between Kirkintilloch and Aberfoyle, was opened to serve the village in 1856. It closed in 1951.[3]

People from Balfron

Balfron is the birthplace of the architect Alexander 'Greek' Thomson (1817 – 1875), whose father was a bookkeeper at Ballindalloch Mill. He became an eminent Glaswegian architect and architectural theorist and a pioneer in sustainable building.[4]

  • His brother, George Thomson (1819 – 1878), was born in Balfron, and after an early career as an architect became a baptist missionary in Limbe, Cameroon (then known as "Victoria"),[5] where he combined his religious activities with a passion for botany. An epiphytic orchid of the Pachystoma genus was named Pachystoma thomsonianum in his honour.[6]

Also from Balfron were the Barnwell Brothers, Harold and Frank, who began their love affair with gliders and planes in the grounds of Elcho House, Balfron and after a subsequent trip to meet the Wright Brothers in America they returned to Scotland and began building innovative designs in Bridge of Allan.[7]

Sir William Bilsland (1847–1921) was born at Ballat, near Balfron, of forebears who had been for several centuries farmers in the neighbouring parish of Kilmaronock. He joined his brother, James, who ran a small family bakery in Anderston, Glasgow. He acquired 12 vans, as well as horse and carts to distribute. Bilslands bread all over Scotland. He later acquired other firms including Gray and Dunn biscuit manufacturers in 1912. William later became Lord Provost of Glasgow and was created a baronet in 1907.[8]

Sir Robert Muir, FRS, FRSE, FRCP, FRCPE, RFPSG (5 July 1864 – 30 March 1959) was a physician and pathologist who carried out pioneering work in immunology, and was one of the leading figures in medical research in Glasgow in the early 20th century.[9] Born in Balfron, he was the son of a minister.[8]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Balfron's history Balfron Heritage Group
  2. Listed Buildings in Balfron, Stirling, Scotland
  3. Thomas, John; Turnock, David (1989). A Regional History of the Railways of Great Britain: The north of Scotland. Atlantic Transport Publishers. p. 35. ISBN 0-946537-03-8. 
  4. Alexander "Greek" Thomson Balfron Heritage Group
  5. Ray Desmond & Christine Ellwood (1994). Dictionary of British and Irish Botanists and Horticulturists. CRC Press. pp. 681. ISBN 0-85066-843-3. 
  6. James Herbert Veitch (2006). Hortus Veitchii (reprint ed.). Caradoc Doy. pp. 70. ISBN 0-9553515-0-2. 
  7. The Balfron Heritage, Second Edition by Jim Thomson ISBN 0-9517785-1-X
  8. 8.0 8.1 "Balfron Personalities". Retrieved 4 December 2014. 
  9. Robert Muir. Glasgow University (multitab page)

Outside links

("Wikimedia Commons" has material
about Balfron)