Dalbeattie Town Hall
|Council:||Dumfries and Galloway|
|Dumfries and Galloway|
Dalbeattie is a town in Kirkcudbrightshire. It name is believed to be from the Irish Gaelic of the Gall-Gaidel; Dail Bheithe meaning "Valley of the Birch Trees".
Dalbeattie is situated in a wooded valley on the Urr Water four miles east of Castle Douglas. The town is famed for its granite industry and for being the home town of William McMaster Murdoch First Officer of the RMS Titanic.
Dalbeattie is situated in the Urr valley of which most of the east side is covered by forest. The River Urr flows from the north southwards to the Solway Firth and passes by the west side of the town. The town has an abundance of distinctive grey granite.
There are indications from Court Records that a settlement existed on the site as early as 1658 and it is further mentioned in 1747. There is also evidence from Presbytery Records which indicate there was a School Master in Dalbeattie in 1751.
The formal beginnings of Dalbeattie originate in 1781 when George Maxwell of Munches and Alexander Copeland of Kingsgrange (or Colliston) decided to encourage the development of the town by feuing their property. The Maxwells owned the land on the north side of the burn and the Copelands owned the land on the South side. Every feu consisted of a piece of land, fronting a street, large enough to build a house and grow vegetables and keep chickens and pigs. Each feu also had the right to cut turves (peat) from Aucheninnes Moss. This was important as fuel was scarce in Galloway, coal was expensive and there were very few trees. The feu duties brought in an income for the landowners and gave security for the tenants.
The building of the bridge over the River Urr at Craignair in 1797 and the rapid expansion of the Granite Industry in Dalbeattie attracted more people to settle in the town. By 1810 work in the quarries was plentiful and over the next 30 years a lot of tradesmen settled and founded businesses in Dalbeattie. However the expanded population brought other problems, high incidents of sickness, including Cholera and Typhoid, and Law and Order issues.
The town today has a greatly reduced industry and most residents commute to the nearby town of Dumfries for employment. The town is frequented by tourists as its position is well situated for access to the Solway coast.
Formerly granite quarrying was an important part of the Dalbeattie economy. The most prominent of which is the characteristic Craignair quarry which is clearly visible to the west of the town. Dalbeattie Granite works was established in 1820 and was situated in Craignair Street, following a direct route from Craignair quarry. The industry died down locally around 1883 due to cheaper imports from Denmark. Many of the workers immigrated to other parts of the world in order to find work, a number immigrated to America to work at a sister quarry in Westerly, Rhode Island.Granite exported from Dalbeattie went into the Mersey Docks in Liverpool, the Thames Embankment in London, various British lighthouses, even as far as the lighthouse at the southern tip of Ceylon. Its most famous use was probably the Eddystone Lighthouse off Devon and Cornwall.
Dalbeattie is credited with developing the technique of polishing granite stone to form a shiny surface. This technique was exported throughout the world by the skilled workers of Dalbeattie as they travelled.
The town has a large sawmill "Howie Forest Products" which employs around 120 people. It is also home to a prospering souvenir factory, Thistle Products, which distributes kitch souvenirs across Scotland and beyond, most famously the "See You Jimmy Hat" and more recently the "Instakilt Beach Towel".
Most of the residents commute to nearby Dumfries for employment.
The town is accessible by roads from Dumfries, Castle Douglas, and is on the Solway coastal road. A regular bus service based in Dumfries travels though Dalbeattie and Casle Douglas to the west of the region and back. The town also acts as a minor hub for bus routes across the Solway coast. The town previously had access to the rail network however this was removed in the 1960s as it was deemed unprofitable.
Museums and Galleries
Dalbeattie Museum, recently enlarged, is devoted to the history of the town and surrounding area. There is also a small art gallery, the Nail Factory which hosts temporary exhibitions, usually of work by local artists.