Lennoxtown

Lennoxtown local history

The focus of the Lennoxtown area, in former times, was the busy Lennox Mill, where tenants of the Woodhead estate brought their corn to be ground. There were several corn mills in Campsie Parish, but this was arguably the most important. Lennox Mill was located near the site of the recently demolished Kali Nail Works.

A significant event in the history of the locality was the opening, during the late 1780s, of the calico printing works at Lennoxmill, on a site adjacent to the old corn mill. Calico is a type of cotton cloth, and the printing of cotton cloth was soon established as a major industry in the area, also at Milton of Campsie. It was to provide accommodation for the block makers and other cotton printing workers that the village of Lennoxtown was established, during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Streets of houses were planned and built according to a formal plan. Lennoxtown was at first known as ‘Newtown of Campsie’, to distinguish it from the ‘Kirktown’ or ‘Clachan’ of Campsie, at the foot of Campsie Glen.

During the nineteenth century Lennoxtown grew to be the largest centre of population in Campsie Parish. Another important industry was soon established, namely a chemical works, by Charles Macintosh (of waterproof clothing fame) and his associates. At first the principal product was alum, a chemical employed in the textile industry. Alum schist, the basic ingredient in the process, was mined in the area. The works came to be known as the ‘Secret Works’, presumably because of the need to keep the industrial processes secret.

During the 1790s many of the Lennoxmill workers supported Thomas Muir of Huntershill in his campaigns to establish democracy in Scotland, and a Reform Society was set up in Campsie in 1792. However, the parish minister, the Rev. James Lapslie, saw to it that there was also some opposition to Muir’s ideas in the area. An important milestone in the drive towards democratization was the establishment of a local co-operative society, the Lennoxtown Friendly Victualling Society, one of the earliest of its kind in Scotland, in 1812.

The growing importance of Lennoxtown was underlined by the removal of the Parish Church from the Clachan to the ‘New Town’ during the 1820s. Plans for the new church were prepared by David Hamilton, a well-known Glasgow architect. A Roman Catholic Church was erected in 1846 (originally St Paul’s, later renamed St Machan’s), one of the earliest post-Reformation Catholic churches in Scotland, apart from those in cities and large towns.

The decline of the industries that flourished during the nineteenth century, and also the later nail-making industry (and indeed the famous Victualling Society) has left Lennoxtown in a kind of post-industrial limbo, from which it has been difficult to escape. However, progress continues to be made, and many people have found the foothills of the Campsies at Lennoxtown an attractive location to set up home.