Abernethy, Aberargie and Dron News

Last date for submissions

31st October 2019

Date of publication

1st December 2019


After watching a very interesting BBC documentary about  the history of a house in Newcastle, I thought it would be a great idea for a new, hopefully long running, article for the Crier. What is the history behind your  house.

Just to get it started………………………………………………………………


The first entry on the title deeds of Ivy Cottage was on the 15th June 1843 when the land, then owned by James Davidson, was sold to my Great Great Uncle Thomas Greenhill for £40 sterling. The land on the South and the East of this piece of land was also owned by Mr Davidson.

I reckon, reading between the lines along with various other documents, the house and weaver’s shop was built between 1843 and 1855. The Valuation Roll gives Thomas as occupying the property in 1855. As you can see, externally, it hasn’t changed that much, a few extensions.

Thomas was a cotton and wool weaver and a net fisher during the fishing season. As mentioned before part of the house was a weaver’s shop. I can only assume they mean a shop as we know it or was it a building containing a loom stand where he wove garments for sale from his house, who knows? Weaving and salmon fishing were very important industries in Abernethy at that time. You can see how important it was from the fish on top of the flagpole on the Tower. That’s how important it was.

Thomas Greenhill was born in Abernethy in 1795 and in 1830 was wed to Euphemia Duncan and they had seven bairns. Knowing Ivy Cottage very well, having lived here since I was a bairn, the cottage of my childhood probably hadn’t changed much from Thomas’s time, one bedroom, a living room, a kitchen and an outside toilet and of course the shop cum loom stand.

In 1868 Thomas died leaving his property to his daughters Helen and Barbara Greenhill. However, the Valuation Roll of 1875/76 shows the house and weaver’s shop is occupied by their brother Thomas Jnr, occupation Salmon fisher. Is he now running the business or just living there?

Is he now running the business or just living there?…………

To put it all into context, when Thomas Snr was born in 1795 it was not even 50 years after the Battle of Culloden.W hat would Abernethy have been like then? In the book “Traditions of Perth” written in 1836 by George Penny, he says of Abernethy “It consists of thatched houses and is more irregular and dirty than almost any inland town of Scotland”. On a cauld winters day it must have been a fairly depressing kind o’ a place

.In 1868 Abernethy would be noisy with hand looms rattling away in many small cottages like Ivy Cottage. The weavers worked out of their own homes or in a loom shed attached to or in the garden of their cottage. In 1605 handloom weavers were brought over from the Low Countries to Abernethy to improve the skills of the  local operators. It was one of the main occupations in the village during the winter months. David Greenhill my great great, great grandfather, one of Thomas’s relations, was  the last handloom weaver in Abernethy. He died in 1915.

When Thomas Jnr lived in the cottage it would most  probably have two rooms, a living room cum kitchen  and a bedroom, with a dry toilet at the top of the garden.  As a small child over 60 years ago the cottage had changed little: a living room, one bedroom, where my parents, along with myself and my sister slept, a very basic kitchen and a toilet with running water. No bathroom.

Thomas Jnr worked at the salmon fishing during the  spring and summer months. He also had a small garden to grow veg and keep a few hens. His sisters who owned the cottage lived nearby in the building locally known as the Bank Buildings, the present day location of Pandora’s box.

Thomas didn’t last long at the weaving and fishing as he was attracted by the bright lights of Stirling. He had  changed jobs and according to the 1871 census he was a railway porter. He was now married to Ann Kiddie from Newburgh and they had four bairns, Jean, Euphemia, Thomas and James Kinnear. Jean and Euphemia were born in Newburgh and reading between the lines, I wonder if he started his railway career at Newburgh or maybe Abernethy stations?

Thomas quickly moved up in the railway company ladder and by 1881 he was Railway Wagon Ticketer, but now living at 47 Commercial Street, Dundee. The family had also grown by two, James and Elizabeth.

Enough of Thomas and his family, lets get back to Ivy Cottage.

The year is now 1912. Unknown to all then there was to be a world war in a few years. However, life goes on in Abernethy.

Barbara has decided to sell the cottage to her nieces Ann and Margaret Greenhill for the princely some of £150. To let you understand Ivy Cottage consists of two cottages, as it still is today, so they were buying two houses for £150. Interestingly, one of the witnesses to the sale was James Wishart, Linen manufacturer Abernethy and Kirkcaldy.

James was an industrialist and philanthropist and was born in Muckly Cottage, Perth Road, Abernethy, it is said the cottage had been built almost entirely from the ruins of the Castle on Castle law. James was a partner in the firm Ireland and Wishart, Linen and Woollen Manufacturers Kirkcaldy and Abernethy. That will mean absolutely nothing to most of you but the  company was one of the biggest employers in Abernethy at the time, employing around 100 people, mostly women.o On its power looms the factory produced linen, cotton and wool fabrics (mainly bed linen, table cloths and other domestic wares). The factory started production in 1873 and ceased production in 1930. This was the demise of the hand looms, the looms Thomas and family worked. What’s left of the building is occupied by Abernethy Motorcycles and A & B Motors, next to Branston.

The First World War is coming….…….…….….….…….….…….….

(to be continued)