NS4075 : Gruggies Burn

taken 11 years ago, near to Dumbarton, West Dunbartonshire, Great Britain

Gruggies Burn
Gruggies Burn
The photograph was taken from the northern side of Glasgow Road, just a few metres from Dumbarton's NS4075 : East End Park - the southern entrance; the park can be seen to the left of the burn. On the right are some houses and back gardens in Park Avenue.

At the photographer's position, the burn is directed below Glasgow Road, but it reappears at the other side: NS4075 : Stream flowing to the Clyde.

Gruggies Burn, so called on OS maps from the first-edition (surveyed in 1860) onwards, arises from the confluence of NS4176 : The Garshake Burn and the NS4477 : Overtoun Burn, which meet at NS41807596.

According to I.M.M.MacPhail's "Dumbarton Through the Centuries" (1972), the same John Brown (NS3975 : The gravestone of John Brown) who built NS3975 : Dumbarton Bridge in 1765 "later built the bridge over Gruggie's Burn in the east of the town". The bridge would have been at the point from which my photograph was taken, but no remnants of any old bridge are now apparent there; there is simply a modern bridge taking Glasgow Road over the burn: see NS4075 : Glasgow Road crossing Gruggies Burn for a view of that spot, which was the site of the old bridges, and from which the present photograph was taken.

Other sources reveal that John Brown's stone bridge over Gruggies Burn was built in 1768. Dumbarton's Burgh Records for that year include the following entry: "April 10 Gruggie's Bridge agreed to be built according to Mr Brown's plan and estimates" [that entry is reproduced in the appendix of John Glen's book "History of the Town and Castle of Dumbarton" (1847)]. In addition, page 3 of Fergus Robert's pamphlet "The Tolbooth of Dumbarton" (1938) says of John Brown that "he built Dumbarton Bridge in 1765 and in 1768 he designed and built Gruggie's Bridge, the latter costing 55 5s 6d".

This was by no means the first bridge at this spot. Roy's Military Survey of Scotland (1747-55) does not label the burn itself, but does show a bridge named after it: "Grugiesbrigg" (this pre-dates John Brown's bridge, and is probably the earlier stone bridge that is described next).

The Dumbarton Burgh Records contain an entry for July 1, 1663 (I have, in square brackets, interpreted a few of the less familiar expressions), "the quhilk [which] day it is statut and ordained that in respect of the manifold charges this burgh has been at in upholding the timber briggs at Gruggies Burn thir dyvers yeirs bygane [this past several years], and which charges might have built a stane brig, Thairfor to the effect ane stane brig may be built with ane pen [one arch] on the said burn, for the better and mare safe passage of the liedges [loyal subjects] to and from this burgh".

James Thorne, master of works, was entrusted with overseeing the construction of the new stone bridge, in which task he was to be assisted by William McK[a]y. The new bridge was "to be built all of hewne stane in the pens and above, and ... stanes may conveniently be had out of the colledge", a reference to the Collegiate Church (see NS3975 : The College Bow), which had largely been torn down in the turmoil of the Reformation, and which often served thereafter as a convenient source of stone.

The previous wooden bridges, whose maintenance had proved so costly, probably dated from 1628 or later: an entry in the Burgh Records, dated April 22, 1628, reads: "Item, to lay the tries alang ower Grugie's Burn"; "tries" (trees) here has the sense of timbers or beams. The results were perhaps unsatisfactory, since, in an entry made on September 8 of the same year, it was resolved "to cause mak a brig ouer Gruggies Burn", presumably a sturdier wooden structure. (There may have been earlier bridges here, but the surviving burgh records do not extend back before April of 1627.)

[At least in the seventeenth century, Grugie was a local surname; for example, in an entry for April 15, 1651, in the Dumbarton Burgh Records, a list of names includes a certain James Grugie. Further, it seems that the surname was particularly associated with the Dumbarton area: for example, the Commissariot Record of Glasgow, Register of Testaments (1547-1800), covers a considerable part of Scotland, but includes only three people with the surname Grugie, namely, Cuthbert/Cudbert, Jonet, and James, all of whom were from Dumbarton (in fact, they were from the part of Dumbarton where this bridge would be built). This local surname seems to be the most likely explanation for the origin of the burn's name. See LinkExternal link (at Canmore), which comes a similar conclusion; the location to which that Canmore record refers is the point from which my photograph was taken. For the Silverton Hill Farm mentioned there (certain elements of the farmhouse survive), see my comments at NS4075 : Silverton Avenue.]
Gruggies Burn

This burn in Dumbarton arises from the confluence of the Garshake and Overtoun Burns. In the past, some have linked its name to Bishop William Scroggie, but it is far more likely that it takes its name from the Grugie family who, in the 17th century, lived near the point where the turnpike road (on the line of what is now Dumbarton Road) crossed the burn by means of a bridge that was shown as "Grugiesbrigg" on Roy's Military Survey; the family name is now associated with the burn as a whole. The burn flows into the Clyde a little to the east of Dumbarton Rock. The prominent deep channel there on the shore was dredged by Blackburn Aircraft, who had a factory nearby, and who transported their completed machines across the Clyde by barge.

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Grid Square
NS4075, 156 images   (more nearby search)
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Date Taken
Friday, 21 January, 2011   (more nearby)
Saturday, 5 February, 2011
Geographical Context
Rivers, Streams, Drainage 
Burn   (more nearby)
Subject Location
OSGB36: geotagged! NS 4067 7509 [10m precision]
WGS84: 55:56.5419N 4:33.1622W
Camera Location
OSGB36: geotagged! NS 4065 7503
View Direction
North-northeast (about 22 degrees)
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Toponymy  Gruggies Burn 

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