NS3975 : View to Broadmeadow Industrial Estate

near to Dumbarton, West Dunbartonshire, Great Britain

View to Broadmeadow Industrial Estate
View to Broadmeadow Industrial Estate
The Pont/Blaeu map of the Lennox (based on surveys carried out in the 1580s-90s) shows the town of Dumbarton surrounded on three sides by water. This was no mistake on the part of the mapmakers; the Broad Meadow, an extensive area that is located to the north of the town, and which is now occupied by a large industrial estate and a golf course, was formerly known as the "Drowned Lands", because the area was flooded twice daily by the River Leven, which is tidal here in its lower reaches.

Early in the sixteenth century, a dyke known as the Bishop's water-gang was built to contain the flow, but that dyke fell into disrepair later that century, and the river burst its banks. The result was, as the book "Historic Dumbarton the Scottish burgh survey" (Dennison/Coleman, 1999) notes, that "some housing was lost, the road to Bonhill disappeared, and Townend became separated from the rest of Dumbarton. Tobias Smollett, a pupil at Dumbarton Grammar School in the 1730s, would recall feeling cobble or paving stones under the water as he paddled the old pathway from the collegiate church to Townend" (for more on Smollett, a local author, see NS3878 : Latin inscription on the Smollett Monument and NS3977 : The former site of Dalquhurn House).

[A 1609 charter by King James VI refers, in connection with the burgh of Dumbarton, to "the old dyke and water-gang formerly made by umquhile the Bishop of Orkney, and head of the Collegiate Church of said burgh of the time"; this is thought to be a reference to Robert Maxwell of Pollok, who was appointed provost of the Collegiate Church (for which, see NS3975 : The College Bow) in c.1523, and Bishop of Orkney in c.1526. The "dyke and water-gang" was also sometimes referred to as the Bishop's Cast.]

The land would not again be reclaimed until much later. As the work just cited notes, "in the 1850s, the reclaiming of land by the railway company for the Bowling to Balloch Line would mean the draining and embanking of the Broad Meadow".

As this photograph shows, in a view from the other side of the River Leven, Broadmeadow Industrial Estate was later built on the southern part of the meadow, while the northern part was developed into a golf course (see LinkExternal link for images).

However, the land had not gone entirely unused in the long interval before reclamation in the 1850s. It had been the venue for some sporting events. The book "Dumbarton through the Centuries" (I.M.M.MacPhail, 1972) mentions an advertisement that appeared in the Glasgow Mercury in 1781, for "a horse race to be run on the sands at the Broad Meadow in Dumbarton for a purse of five guineas". The same book also mentions annual regattas at Dumbarton which began in 1830; originally, "the races were rowed round the flooded Broad Meadow at high tide, the finish being opposite the College Bow, where the Central Railway Station now stands". (NS3975 : The College Bow was later moved, more than once.)

The meadow had also been used by drovers; John Mitchell, in an article in issue 76 of the journal "Scottish Local History", mentions that "until the mid-nineteenth century, when the low-lying ground now occupied by the course was embanked against flooding, the drovers brought their animals to the Sands Cattle Fair held on the town's tidal Broad Meadow". As the same author had noted in another article (in issue 61), the Sands Cattle Fair was the successor of the Lammas Cattle Fair that had long been held in the Townhead area; compare NS3778 : Enclosure at Carman: southern side.
Broadmeadow Industrial Estate
The area on which the industrial estate now stands was known as the Broad Meadow; it used to be flooded twice daily by the River Leven, which is tidal here. Towards the end of the sixteenth century, bulwarks that had been built to protect the Townend area of Dumbarton from the River Leven failed. The inundated area soon came to be called the Drowned Lands, and later efforts to reinstate the flood defences met with only temporary success. Most of the Broad Meadow would not be permanently reclaimed until 1859.
River Leven (Dunbartonshire)
The River Leven (Uisge Leamhna in Gaelic) is a stretch of water in West Dunbartonshire, Scotland, flowing from Loch Lomond in the North to the River Clyde in the South. The total length of the river is approximately 6 miles.
Creative Commons Licence [Some Rights Reserved]   © Copyright Lairich Rig and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.
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NS3975, 349 images   (more nearby )
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Date Taken
Sunday, 15 August, 2010   (more nearby)
Wednesday, 18 August, 2010
Geographical Context
Industry  Rivers, Streams, Drainage 
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Industrial estate   (more nearby)
Subject Location
OSGB36: geotagged! NS 3949 7592 [10m precision]
WGS84: 55:56.9653N 4:34.3242W
Photographer Location
OSGB36: geotagged! NS 3934 7590
View Direction
EAST (about 90 degrees)
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Industrial Estate  Broadmeadow Industrial Estate 

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