Bandstand in Kilsyth
|Population:||10,100 (2004 est)|
| Cumbernauld, Kilsyth|
and Kirkintilloch East
The town's name is Gaelic in origin, believed to derive from Cill Saidhe.
Kilsyth occupies a narrow strip of land between the Kilsyth Hills to the north and the River Kelvin to the south. To the east and west it is bordered by marshland and bogs. The centre of the town is close to the confluence of the Garrell and Ebroch burns.
From earliest recorded times Kilsyth was one of the main routes between Glasgow, Falkirk and Edinburgh, and is very close to the Roman Antonine Wall, the Forth and Clyde Canal and the main Glasgow to Edinburgh railway line, with the nearest railway station at Croy. The main A80/M80 motorway is close by to the south. Formerly two separate stations existed in the town on separate, although linked, railway lines. One went to Glasgow, Maryhill while the other went via Banknock to Falkirk.
The town occupies a sheltered position in the Kelvin Valley, and is bisected by the A803 road between Kirkintilloch and Falkirk. The old drovers' road from Stirling, (the Tak Ma Doon Road), and the route south to Cumbernauld by way of Auchinstarry Bridge, intersect the A803 at Kilsyth.
- Church of Scotland:
- Independent evangelical: Kilsyth Community Church (also hosts the Healing Rooms prayer centre)
- Methodist: Kilsyth Methodist Church
- Pentecostal: Kilsyth Church of God
- Roman Catholic: St Patrick's
History and development
There is archeological evidence of settlement since Neolithic times. The Romans recognised the strategic significance of Kilsyth with forts at Colziumbea (NS 7391 7774) and Castle Hill (NS 7091 7610) as well as the Antonine Wall forts of Bar Hill and Croy Hill which are clearly visible from the present-day town.
In the Middle Ages, Kilsyth held a key strategic position on one of the main routes across the narrowest part of Scotland and was the site of two castles (now destroyed) at Balcastle and Colzium shown in Timothy Pont's map of 1580.
Kilsyth was originally part of the Earldom of Lennox. The parish was called variously Monyabroch, Monaeburgh, or Moniabrocd, but part of the parish was called Kelvesyth by the beginnings of the 13th century. The lands passed through the hands of branches of the Callendar and Livingston families as their fortunes waxed and waned, eventually becoming the property of the Edmonstones. Kilsyth was established as a Burgh of Barony in 1620. A Town Charter was granted in 1826, permitting the holders of plots to elect a Town Council.
The Civil War Battle of Kilsyth took place on hillsides between Kilsyth and Banton in 1645. Kilsyth was later closely associated with the Jacobite rebellions.
The Industrial Revolution came to Kilsyth eagerly, the factiroies drawn by the rich mineral resources of the area, especially coking coal, whinstone, ironstone and limestone. The town economy has shifted over the past three centuries from farming, handloom weaving and mining to light engineering, transport and service industries.
Religion and revivals
Following its foundation as an early monastic settlement, the town has a long tradition of radical Protestantism and was the scene of major revivals under the leadership of James Robe in 1742 and William Chalmers Burns in 1839, part of the "Second Great Awakening". William Irvine (Scottish evangelist and founder of the Two by Twos and Cooneyites sects) was born in Kilsyth in 1863.
The formation of the new Pentecostal Church of God in 1902 led to further outbreaks of revival in 1908.
Less positively, outbreaks of sectarian violence happened after the influx of Roman Catholic immigrant workers from Ireland. At the Duntreath Arms Inn (adjacent to Innsbridge) in 1905 was a secarian riot which followed a mistaken visit by an Orange band which disembarked at Croy and marched to Kilsyth. The Riot Act was read at the ensuing battle.
Kilsyth was one of the two 'dry towns' from the 1920 s to 1960 s when a poll dictated that no alcohol would be sold. This was a result of the amount of drinking by miners and the consequent poverty and violence at home. Sunday walks over the Tak Ma Doon Road to the Carronbridge Hotel were popular.
The town today
Many of the townsfolk of working age now commute to work in nearby Glasgow and other larger towns nearby.
Kilsyth has claims to be the place where the winter sport of curling was first constituted. The town had the world's first curling club which survives to this day. Curling was played on the Curling Pond in the Colzium Estate in the east of the town.
In the 1950s the town had the highest proportion of council housing in Europe as the old miner's rows and other slum accommodation were removed. In recent years a large number of small housing estates have been developed on either end of the town.
Attractions and events
Kilsyth has many of the elements associated with a market town, with a wide range of local and specialist independent shops, attractive parks and gardens at Burngreen and Colzium complete with bandstands, welcoming hostelries and a choice of local restaurants.
The town is easily accessible and ideally located for a day trip, family holiday, or as a base for a walking, golf, fishing or touring holiday, by car, canal boat, horse or bike. Townhead reservoir, known locally as Banton Loch is the site of the Battle of Kilsyth and is the main reservoir for the Forth and Clyde Canal. A marina has been developed at Auchinstarry close to the climbing wall and lakes at the old quarry.
The town is overlooked by Kilsyth Lennox Golf Club which is one of the most picturesque courses in the Central Lowlands, with a panoramic view across the Lowlands from the River Clyde in the west to the River Forth in the east. The original nine hole course was founded in 1899, in the Balmalloch area of the town, but moved in 1905 to the present position north-east of the town. The club completed a new clubhouse in 1995 after a fire, and things continued to improve as time went on. Between 1997 and 2002, the majority of the greens and tees were redesigned by Rocky Roquemore, the renowned American Golf Course architect who has built courses all over the world. The club hosts a Festival of Golf in the first week in July.
Kilsyth also has a public swimming pool, open seven days a week, and a range of recreational facilities, parks and gardens. It is also an accredited Walkers are Welcome town.
Nearby attractions include:
- The Falkirk Wheel, a huge boat lift that connects the Union and Forth and Clyde Canal networks
- The Antonine Wall, marking the northern edge of the Roman Empire.
Kilsyth holds an international carnival (popularly known as KIC) in mid-August. It is held in the grounds of the wooded Colzium estate nearby. Following a two-year break, the carnival was relaunched in mid-August 2010 as a multi-day music, comedy and dance festival under the banner of the BIG KIC.
Civic Week festivities are held in June each year, with the traditional crowning of the Civic Queen. The festival features a variety of cultural and sports activities. A Christmas Festival is held annually supported by The Rotary Club of Kilsyth (meets 6.30 Thursday in The Coachman Hotel).
The town is well represented on the football front, being the home of Kilsyth Rangers FC who are the local junior team, and there are three amateur teams - Kilsyth Church of God, Kilsyth Community Church & Kilsyth Amateurs. There is also the Golden Gloves Boxing Club and many other organisations, including church groups, scouts, guides, senior citizens, blind and disabled groups, cheerleaders, gymnastics, swimming, tae kwan do, Rotaract, athletics, walking and others.
- Dennison, Ewart, Gallagher and Stewart, Historic Kilsyth (Historic Scotland, 2006), 2.
- James Robe
- "Kilsyth Church of God – History". Archived from the original on Nov 04, 2007. http://web.archive.org/web/20071104154659/http://kcog.eu/history.html. Retrieved 2009-03-27.
- ‘’Paperclip’’ site
- Kilsyth Lennox Golf Club
- The BIG KIC