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CONTACTS AND SOURCES FOR THE VALE OF LEVEN WEBSITE
You can contact us through the email link below. You can also use this to contribute content to the website or request to join the email list.
As with any local web site, there are a variety of sources available to anyone looking for information or background about the Vale and surrounding area. These sources come in many forms - books, newspapers, films, people's recollections both written and oral, and increasingly from other web sites, although it has to be said that is still, with a few honourable exceptions, a pretty meagre source, otherwise there'd be no need for this web site. Many of these sources have been used in preparing entries for this web site, and in the few cases where wording has been directly copied, attribution has been made - it is certainly not the intention to plagiarise or infringe copyright without acknowledgement. Most of the sources used are listed below, with our personal views on their strengths, and where appropriate, weaknesses. The comments are meant to be helpful to users of this web site, not critical of the efforts of others.
Note that some of these local books and DVDs are available from the local newsagents shop in Main Street Alexandria town centre.
This has started as the biggest single source, and divides into two groupings, books written about the locality, and ones with a wider national and beyond interest.
While it is heartening to see the number of books about the various aspects of the Vale and the surrounding area written in the last few years, the last general history of the Vale was written in 1980 by Arthur Jones and Graham Hopner, and that followed on soon after John Agnew's The Story of the Vale of Leven of 1975. To date these are the only two general histories of the Vale. However, there has recently been something of a boom in informative and enjoyable books on many more specific subjects within the locality. We shouldn't be surprised that these books have been written in the main by people who are not professional historians and have never written a book in their lives before, but who have retired and now have the time as well as the knowledge and inclination to record their chosen subjects for posterity - the growth of home PC's has undoubtedly helped. We owe a debt of gratitude to these local historians. Their books are included below and are strongly recommended to everyone with an interest in the area. The local books which have been used as a source for the website include:
Agnew, John, The Story of the Vale of Leven (1975). This is a shortish general history, which is a very useful introduction, written by a local. Its actually the first history to cover the whole of the Vale of Leven, and it does seem surprising that it was 1975 before the first one appeared.
Aitken, Archie, Jamestown and Balloch as I remember them (2003). This was the first of the “modern” group of books about specific areas or subjects in the Vale, and is written by a lifetime resident of Balloch and Jamestown whose memory goes back to the 1920's. It is an excellent template for how to write local history - very strong on maps, photos and diagrams of the 1920's and 30's. It will not be bettered on the Terraces at Jamestown and is required reading for any native of Balloch or Jamestown with an interest or a query.
Averell, Brian, 1979, Farewell to the Seventies (2006). Brian is a local photographer and the book is a collection of photos from the events of 1979 in the Vale, Dumbarton and Helensburgh. Definitely worth a look.
Barr, James, 1892-1893 Balloch and Around. Originally published as a series of 17 articles in the Lennox Herald between November 18 1892 and March 1893. Barr was born at the hamlet of Dalvait in 1816, so he was writing these reminiscences of the 1820's and 30's when he was 76 - 77 years old. They are the most complete picture we have of things like the Balloch Fair, the first Rowing Regatta on the Loch, Balloch Ferry & Inn, and the arrival of steamers on the river and Loch.
Bisland & Lobban, Behind the Silken Veil - the BSD, Balloch (2004). This is something of a departure in the Vale - the first book about a specific factory - the former Silk Factory at Balloch. Strong on facts, contains lists of employees by department, and has a number of photos. Well worth a read even if you didn't work there.
Calder & Lindsay, The Islands of Loch Lomond (2002). This 80-page paper back is an OK introduction to the islands of the Loch, which covers most of the usual ground.
Currie,W, An Historical Description of Tarbet, Loch Lomond and District (1970s). The title is potentially misleading until you realise that this is just a 9-page brochure, and refers to Tarbet and district rather than Loch Lomond and district. Even at that, you might feel that you haven't found out much about Tarbet, although you would have learned a few things about the McMurrichs.
Danielewski, John, Loch Lomond in Old Picture Postcards (1987). The title says it all. Has some marvellous photos of the late 19th / early 20th century, particularly of Balloch. One of Balloch Fair justified the price of the book. Some of the dates need to be treated with care, but the story is in the pictures. It is one of a series done by Danielewski about various localities in the UK.
Dilke & Templeton, Third Statistical Account - Dunbarton (1959). This was the 1950s version of a national survey of Scotland, started in the 1790's, conducted on a county-by-county basis. It is generally academic in approach, except for the reports of each parish, which were written by the Church of Scotland minister for the parish. This is the greatest weakness in the Accounts generally, but the entry for Cardross parish amply demonstrates even in the 1950's of the ignorance of Renton in the Parish of Cardross.
Dunbarton Joint Police Committee, Dunbartonshire Constabulary 1858 - 1958 (1958). Written to commemorate 100 years of an organised constabulary in the area. Has some nuggets, such as the advice given to the Chief Constable organising public hangings in Dumbarton (a Valeman was the last to be publicly hanged there).
Eyre-Todd & Haslehurst, Loch Lomond & Trossachs (1920s). Written by George Eyre-Todd, who was himself a noted artist, and illustrated by EW Haslehurst, this shortish history (65 pages) contains a number of beautiful illustrations of Lochside scenes. Eyre-Todd lived at Caldarvan and was the leading campaigner to keep the Stirling line open for passenger traffic. He has a very strong affinity for the area, and is very good on Sir Walter Scott, and the east side of the Loch.
Ferguson & Temple, Epilogue to the Old Vale and its Memories (1929). This is the follow up to the very successful Old Vale & Its Memories and consists largely of responses to the original book from Vale folk all over the world. Many new anecdotes appear in it. The success of the Old Vale prompted James Ferguson to commission a painting of the Vale by Alexander Jamieson. It is painted from a site just below the old filter beds on Cardross Road Renton, looking northeast. Self-evidently it excludes Renton. Its unveiling and donation to the new Vale of Leven District Council coincided with the publication of the Epilogue, and is a very fitting adjunct to it. It hangs in what are now the Library and Council Offices in the Gilmour Institute, Gilmour Street, Alexandria.
Ferguson & Temple, Old Vale & its Memories (1927). The authors, James Ferguson and James Graham Temple (usually referred to as “JG”), were Valemen from well-known Vale families. The book is strong on wide ranging anecdotes and personalities from the late Victorian era, and its “specialist subject” would have to be the Old Vale Team. Rentonians might justifiably feel a wee bit under-represented, but that apart, it does an excellent job of capturing the flavour of a bygone era
Irving, Joseph, The Book of Dumbartonshire Volumes 1-3 (1879). This is the first heavyweight history of Dunbartonshire to be published. While it is written in a typical Victorian style that is no longer popular - strong on the local gentry, ecclesiastical matters, and medieval charters - it is the standard source for the early history of the area.
Jones & Hopner, On Leven's Banks (1980). This book by two local librarians, Arthur Jones and Graham Hopner, is subtitled, An illustrated social history of the Vale of Leven. It, too, is a standard for the late Victorian period and the twentieth century up to 1980. It is the first history in which Renton is well represented, and every part of the Vale is well covered too. It includes three early maps, which show early place names, and how the urbanisation of the Vale developed. The only complaint you could make about it is that no further editions have appeared to update their story. The book stops just as the redevelopment of the Vale was drawing to a close, and its destructive impact was not yet fully apparent.
Lamond, Henry, Loch Lomond, A Study in its Angling Conditions (1931). This unsung classic book about Loch Lomond and the Leven Valley is more than just a history of fishing in the area, although it is that par excellence. Lamond was the Secretary of the Loch Lomond Angling Improvement Association, which still “governs” fishing on the Loch and its associated rivers. He was also the author of a number of books on fishing. His concerns with water quality brought him into conflict not only with the factory owners, but also the old Parish Council who stubbornly resisted attempts to stop them dumping raw sewage into the Leven. He also had a keen eye for the social conditions in the Vale, and a wee bit more sympathy for the small-time poacher than might have been expected from the head of the water bailiff force.
Lappin, A. Graham, Old Alexandria, Bonhill & Renton (1999). Written by a former Bonhill man, now a professor at Notre Dame University in the USA, this is a short pictorial history of the Vale, as part of the Stenlake Publishing series. It has good turn of the 19th century pictures of the three towns and villages, some excellent pictures of the building of the Argyll Motor Works, and one of the very few pictures of The Huts to have survived in the readily accessible public domain.
Lewis, Jeremy, Tobias Smollett, a biography (2003). This is the first biography of Smollett in over 50 years, and as such it's the best source of information on the novelist. In fact, Smollett's novels were largely biographical anyway, and Lewis quotes at great length from them.
Liddell, Colin, Memoirs of the Vale 1940 - 50s (1994). The author is perhaps better known for his pictures, and particularly his videos, of the Vale. This is a collection of pictures from all over the Vale, and extends into the redevelopment period with a number of pictures of the work in progress. Also, at the end of the book there is a list of the videos in the Archive Film Memories series produced by Colin Liddell.
Lobban, Malcolm, A Close Community, Life in an Alexandria Tenement (2006). This is one of the new generation of Vale histories and reminiscences by Vale people, which have made a very welcome appearance in some numbers in the last few years. Although centred on Argyll Street from the 1930's to the 1960's, it covers a lot of the social life in the Vale at that time. Although now an ex-pat in South Australia, Malcolm's affection for his roots remains undimmed.
MacLeod, Donald, Dumbarton Vale of Leven Loch Lomond (1884). MacLeod was a successful local historian of his time producing a number of books about Dunbartonshire. This one includes chapters on the Vale and Loch Lomond which although light on general information, do add some specific details.
MacPhail IMM, A Short History of Dumbartonshire (1962). Dr Iain MacPhail was the 20th century historian of Dunbartonshire. His forebears were originally from Lewis, although Iain was a Valeman in origin. He went to Dumbarton Academy and spent his whole adult life in Dumbarton, apart from bomb disposal work during the war. He was a professional historian by training and occupation, with degrees and a Ph D on the subject from not only Glasgow but also Prague Universities. From 1949 –69 he was the head of the History department at Clydebank High School. He wrote many books, and this one remains the best short history of the county, although it is now over 40 years since it was written. As he always admitted himself, it was not particularly strong on the Vale, a matter he meant to remedy, but never quite got round to.
MacPhail, IMM, The Clydebank Blitz (2000). This book was first published in 1974, and has gone through a number of reprints, remaining widely available 18 years after MacPhail's death in 1990. He knew his subject well, having been bombed out of his own house in Dumbarton in the same raids, and having then become a bomb-disposal officer. This is the definitive work on these raids, and the Vale's peripheral role is covered.
MacPhail, IMM, Rowing on Loch Lomond (1963). This is a history of Loch Lomond Rowing Club of which MacPhail had been a member since his youth - he also wrote the Club song.
MacPhail, IMM, Off the Main Road, a guide to walks in West Dumbartonshire (1976). This is a gem, especially as walking has grown so much in popularity in recent years. It was a product of the Quality of Life Experiment of the mid-1970's. Although some of the walks have been affected by house building, most are still accessible in the way in which MacPhail describes them in the book. There is also a list of Rights of Way in the area on the last 2 pages of the book. This is another book which would justify a reprint.
McAllistair & Jones, The Sons of the Rock (1991). The definitive history of Dumbarton FC up until 1990. Even for a Valeman it's a very good read.
Mitchell, John, The Sheilings & Drove Ways of Loch Lomondside (2000). This is an excellent short history of the sheilings and drove roads around Loch Lomond. It is based on a paper prepared for the Drymen & District Local History Society, which has produced a lot of useful material relating to the east side of the Loch, and much of it is available from Drymen Library.
Murphy, Jim, Renton Between the Wars 1914 - 18 and 1939 - 45 (2007). Jim Murphy, a resident of Renton who was by then in his 80's, published this book in September 2007. He died in April 2008. Many have speculated that having completed his magnus opus, he called it a day. Well it is certainly a fitting work to be remembered by, being the latest of the local books by interested amateur historians. It is a very thorough book, full of the sort of argument-settling information that everyone needs in every locality. It is also well written and from an entrenched Renton point of view - you'd never mistake Jim for a Dumbartonian or indeed from further north in the Vale. With Archie Aitken's book about Jamestown and Balloch, both ends of the Valley are now well covered by the oldies. Its just Alexandria and Bonhill that await a historian.
Napier, Mark, History of the Partition of the Lennox (1835). Certainly not for the casual reader, it is an analysis of the legal battles surrounding the Partition of the Earldom of the Lennox. However, it provides a usual checklist of medieval names of local farms and localities.
Neill, John, Records & Reminiscences of Bonhill Parish (1912, reprinted in 1979). This is the standard history of the Bonhill Parish part of the Vale from earliest times (really the late 18th century) until the early 1900's. A great source of information and a “must read” for anyone interested in the history of the Vale.
Noble, Stewart, By the Banks of Loch Lomond (2003). A better than average cross-over book between natural sciences and history, which has the benefit of pretty well bringing the story up to date. Is the best readily available source of information on crannogs and is well illustrated.
Osborne, Brian D, The ingenious Mr Bell (1995). This biography of Henry Bell, of the steamship Comet fame, by Helensburgh librarian and author Brain Osborne, tells of Bell's local activities helping to rebuild Dalmonach Works, and also his designs for a River Leven canal. Brian died in June 2008.
Pearson, Joan, Loch Lomond, The Maid and The Loch (the late 1970s). This short booklet, produced by the Publishers, Famedram, of Gartocharn who also produced John Agnew's The Story of the Vale, is a sort of cross between a travel guide and short history to places encountered during a sail on the Maid of the Loch. Most of the interest in it now centres on the adverts for local businesses of the time.
Ransom, PJG, Loch Lomond & Trossachs in History & Legend (2004). If you want to buy just one book about the history of the Loch and surrounding area, this is the one. Ransom has written many book about rail and canal transport on which subjects he is expert. That expertise is now extended to boats on the Loch, the influence of the railway on the Loch, and the exploits of Lochside residents, among many other subjects. A mine of information and a pleasure to read, even if you disagree with ideas like the Leven Canal.
Ransom, PJG, Steamers of Loch Lomond (2007). This is another pictorial history from the Stenlake Publishing series. While there are other pictures of all of the steamers shown, many of the pictures in the book are rare indeed, including some of the Leven and one of the steamer slipway at Luss.
Renton History Project, Renton Oor Ain History (1980's). This book was written by a group of Rentonians giving their views on where they came from and how the village developed. It includes a section on people telling their own stories from the 1930's to the 70's.
Stirling, TB, The History of the Vale of Leven Co-operative Society Limited 1862 - 1912 (1915). This is the history of the Vale Co-Op written for its golden jubilee. It is a very useful source of dating buildings and streets, and also sheds some light on a number of economic and social issues (basically, if the Co-op is doing well that means that the factories are busy).
Scottish Women's Rural Institute, History of Arden, Loch Lomond (1967). Thank goodness for the Golden Jubilee of the SWRI in 1967, because it seems to have prompted every branch to write a local history. This one about Arden is a bit light-weight in comparison with the one about Croftamie and District, (below), but its still a useful source of information and a reminder of the social deference in rural Scotland well within living memory.
Scottish Women's Rural Institute, History of Croftamie and District (1967). This is an altogether more substantial history than that of Arden, although Croftamie had maybe more material to work with from the 1850's onwards. It also contains a photograph of a train actually moving on the Balloch-Stirling line - in most photos of the line the train is standing at a station. A very competent short local history with excellent photos.
University of Glasgow, A Natural History of Loch Lomond (1974). This remains the best book on the natural history of the Loch for the general reader. It covers not only the expected subjects such as botany, geography, fish, animals birds etc, but it also touches on history and even includes a count of the islands, which will stand as the definitive view on that much argued-over subject.
Wallace, Eric, Pilot to Loch Lomond (early 1970's). This is actually a brochure / guide for tourists who have chartered a Flat-a-Float or yacht, as we might recognise it, on Loch Lomond. It comes from a time before marinas stacked with static boats, and all the other changes on the Lochside, so for that reason alone its comments and map are of some historical interest.
Weir, John, The Boys from Leven's Winding Shore, a history of Vale of Leven Football Club (1993?). The writer doesn't seem to be a Valeman, and picked up the idea to write this book in the National Library of Scotland in Edinburgh. We're lucky that he did, because he has produced a very informative book about the early years of the Vale of FC, and much information about Dumbarton and Renton FC's as well. Weir's description of the paranoia of the Vale's early committees and their readiness to bite every hand that's trying to feed them almost make you laugh out loud. Read and enjoy.
General Scottish and UK history provides the context in which the Vale operates, and there are far too many books that can be used as general sources to mention more than a very few here. The ones mentioned provided information which was used on the site, and they include:
Devine Tom, The Scottish Nation 1700 - 2000 (1999). This history, by one of Scotland's leading historians, provides a broad sweep by subject.
Donnachie & Hewitt, Collins Dictionary of Scottish History (2003). This is a useful book for quickly checking the better-known dates, biographies etc on the Scottish scene.
Houston & Knox (ed) New Penguin History of Scotland (2001). This provides a very big picture overview by various academics.
Lynch, Michael (ed) The Oxford Companion to Scottish History (2001). This is a subject-by-subject overview, akin to a dictionary, and is highly selective about what it includes, as is the New Penguin History. Although they both contain useful information on some subjects, it's hard to get too enthusiastic about either.
Groome, Francis H (ed), Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland Volumes 1-6 (1882). This appeared in many different editions and all of it is now available on the Internet. An invaluable source of information about places, their derivation and histories.
Nicolaisen, WFH, Scottish Place-Names (2001). This is an academic work, very detailed, explaining in depth the basis and evolution of place names the length and breadth of Scotland. It is probably not for the general reader because it operates at a level below Ross's book, below, and does not set out to produce a comprehensive list of Scottish place-names.
Ross, David, Scottish Place-names (2001). This is a very good practical source of Scottish place-names, containing as it does an alphabetical list of place names in Scotland, and their probable source. If a name is not in here, you're going to have to work hard to arrive at a derivation.
Haldane, ARB, The Drove Roads of Scotland (first edition 1952, second 1973). This is an economic history of the role of the cattle trade in Scotland's growth, rather than a gazetteer of Scotland's drove road network. It is, nonetheless, one of the key Scottish history books.
Cregeen, Eric R, Recollections of an Argyllshire Drover (2004). A very enjoyable book by a historian who latterly was involved in adult education and research in the mid Argyll area. Of particular interest are the reminiscences of an old drover who came through the Vale en route to Falkirk about 100 years ago.
MacEwen, John, Who Owns Scotland? (Mid 1970's). An analysis of landowning in Scotland in the 1970's.
McLean, Iain, The Legend of Red Clydeside (1999). Another attempt to rewrite history by the current generation of historians - this one a Professor at Oxford no less. Only trouble is, he's trying to refute claims that haven't been made. Still, Bonhill Parish council receives an honourable mention.
Robinson, Michael (ed), Football League Tables 1888 - 2006 (2007). A great argument settler, and not just for anoraks. It shows, for instance, how Renton came and went from the Scottish League almost before it got under way.
Evening Times, The Wee Red Book 2007-08 (2008). The perennial classic source of information for all Scottish football fans - cup and league winners, Scottish internationalists etc. A must every year.
Wood, Emma, The Hydro Boys (2002). The story of building Scotland's Hydro-Electric schemes does justice, almost, (no mention of casualty figures) to the building of Loch Sloy.
Graham, Duncan, Sunset on the Clyde (2005). Sub-titled “The Last Summers on the Water” this is the story of the last years of the Clyde steamers. Of particular interest to us is the summer student job the author had on the Maid of the Loch in the mid 1950's. Also, well worth a read in its entirety
William Hamilton of Gilbertfield, Blind Harry's Wallace (1999). This is the epic poetic biography of William Wallace containing references to Carman.
MacKay, James, A Biography of Robert Burns (2004). It is in this biography by the leading Burns expert, that there is the best description of Burns's sojourn on Loch Lomondside on his return from his ill-fated tour to Inverary.
The Internet is undoubtedly a great boon to anyone trying to collect accurate information for a local website. Search engines such as Google, the multiple search engine Copernic, and free general information sources such as Wikipedia are a great help. However, the Internet is by no means as complete in its coverage or as free in its access, particularly to publicly owned information, as everyone would like it to be. A very useful tool, yes, the complete answer, no.
In the locality, there is no website which provides wide-ranging information about the area, otherwise we wouldn't be producing this one. It is noticeable that most organisations and businesses, including local government and quangos, do little more than cover basic information and functions on their websites. These sites are a sort of replication of a Yellow-Pages entry without the restriction in the number of words, but show little idea of how to effectively use that freedom to provide meaningful additional information.
As on many other subjects, Cordale Housing Association shows the way with how a web site can be comprehensively informative of an organisation's functions and performance. It is well worth a regular look at:
Cordale Housing Association: www.cordalehousing.org.uk
Community sites vary in quality and information. Some of the Lochside villages have very informative sites - Arrochar is a good example - but not all. But as we said, until now the Vale has had nothing, so we're in no position to criticise others.
Local sports clubs are best at producing and maintaining web sites, and whatever your interest, it is probable that you'll find an appropriate site via Google. Some examples include:
Vale Juniors FC: www.valeoflevenfc.co.uk
Vale Bowling Club: www.valebowlingclub.co.uk
Loch Lomond Rugby Club: www.lochlomondrugbyclub.org.uk
Churches seem, surprisingly enough, just about the worst for having a site but not using effectively or even at all. Searching for a subject-related web-site, though, makes you realise how many gaps there now are in the cultural life of the area - no choirs or musical societies, drama clubs, film society, literary group, brass or silver bands, all of which thrived in the area until at least World War 2.
On a wider front, the web has provided a wealth of information on transport subjects, corporate bodies in the UK and USA, some biographies, sport, and national politics - though not local government history - general history and the natural sciences.
Registrar information about people is available by the barrow-load for the whole area and beyond, but that is a service for which you must pay. Similarly, there is much government and quango archive information available on such subjects as listed buildings, and while there is a charge for some of it, a free source will often be found by the use of a multiple search engine such as Copernic.
Unfortunately, newspaper archives aren't the gold mine for information that they should be on the web. Invariably you have to pay for access, only to find that the detailed information you want is not on the web-based archive.
The Vale had to wait until the Coronation Year of 1953 for the first local film to be shot in the area. Admittedly, a lot of good things happened in the Vale that year in addition to the celebration of the Coronation - the Vale won the Junior Cup and Bonhill Pipe Band won the Cowal Championship, which was at the time the effective championship of the world. No wonder the streets were covered in bunting and the Torpedo Factory was floodlit and festooned with banners. Charlie Wingate, the owner of the Strand Cinema in Bank Street, couldn't fail to see the possibilities of such striking visual scenes and he toured the Vale to make a coloured film of the sights. He must have wished that he'd thought of the idea on other occasions, because when the film was shown, it packed out the Strand for weeks. The film still exists, and has been woven into 3 videos produced by Colin Liddell - The Lovely Valley Parts I - III, which cover the period of the 1940's to the 1970's.
Colin has also produced a video of the Paddle Steamers of Loch Lomond.
Personal anecdotes and recollections are a fundamental source of information about times gone by in the Vale, and it is expected that this source will provide a steady stream of additions and corrections to this web site in the years to come. Already a host of people have contributed verbal information about shops, streets, factories, pubs, sports activities and schools to name but a few. A couple of examples will suffice for the moment:
- Willie Ronald has provided a list of the shops in Main Street and Bank Street Alexandria in the 1940's and 50's.
- Ernie East has recounted tales from the houseboat community at Balloch in the 1950's and 60's
Only limited use has been made of newspapers so far, with the most used papers being, as would be expected, the Lennox Herald and County Reporter archives which can be accessed at Dumbarton Library. The Glasgow Herald Archive is available at the Mitchell Library in Glasgow, which is probably the best public reference library outside of London and one of the largest in Europe.
Since geography drives so much history and economic and social development, maps are a great source of information. This is especially true in comparing data on maps of different ages. This is a point well made by both Jones & Hopner in On Leven's Banks and Iain MacPhail in A Short History of Dunbartonshire. Jones & Hopner list 3 maps and make the comparisons between them. These are:
- Pont's Map of 1654 of The Confluence of the Leven and the Clyde
- Charles Ross's Map of the Vale of Leven of the late 18th century
- An unattributed map of the Vale of Leven of 1876
MacPhail has a map of the Vale of Leven drawn up by the great military mapmaker Roy about 1850. The early maps are not 100% accurate about location, but they are accurate on farms etc that existed when they were drawn. Spelling was not particularly important to begin with, but the meaning usually comes through loud and clear.
There is an 1847 map of Dumbarton and Surrounding Area printed by AC Black of Edinburgh, who are usually illustrators and map makers of record. In their 1847 map, unfortunately, they have the railway (which in any event was not completed and opened until 1850) coming up the east side of the Vale. That makes you wonder how many other mistakes there might be on the map.
The first Ordnance Survey of the area was conducted in 1855 - 61 to a scale of one inch to the mile, and was published as Sheet 30 of the UK Ordnance Survey. The most readily available copies of that Survey contain revisions made in 1895, while some railways were added in 1903. These changes and additions make it harder to get a picture of what it was like in 1855-61, but we can be pretty confident that the copies it accurately reflect things as they were in 1895. The current most detailed Ordnance Survey maps for the area are Explorer 1:25 000 scale:
- Explorer No 347 Loch Lomond South
- Explorer No 364 Loch Lomond North
Loch Lomond was first charted by the Royal Navy in 1861, and the result was British Admiralty Chart Number 2021. Originals of these are very hard to come by, and even facsimiles are pretty rare, although there are a few about in the Vale. The nearest which is readily available is a Loch Lomond Chart, scale of 2 inches to the mile, originally published by Cuillins Yacht Charters. The chart is based on the 1861 survey, but contains updates, the latest of which is dated 2005. The chart is available from Eric Wallace of Helensburgh and also some Tourist Information centres.
Perhaps the most readily available other source is just keeping your eyes open as you walk about. There is a lot industrial archaeology in the Vale from disused lades on the Levenside to abandoned railway lines and sidings, as well as larger former factory sites such as Cordale. Many of the buildings from the 1850's still survive in Dillichip and the Craft, and are in far better shape than most of the buildings from 100 years later in Strathleven Industrial Estate. Many old road alignments, and even some not so old ones in the middle of Alexandria, are still clearly discernible. If something catches your eye, take a photo.
Finally, just talking about things and keeping oral traditions going is a living source. It doesn't matter if stories or views are contradictory, they could both be right or nearly right. And because something sounds like an urban myth doesn't make it untrue. Some of the most unlikely stories in the Vale turn out to be true. Unfortunately, some of them can't be included on the website for a variety of reasons, but they can be passed on by word of mouth.
We will be delighted to add stories, views and corrections as the site grows.