Timber Trade

It is reported that the figure head from one of the larger boats involved in the trade " The Bruce" which was owned by James Moffat came in from the St Laurance river in Canada, stood for a long time at the Bowling Green of Birkmyre Park.
The figure was of Robert the Bruce and was positioned in such a way that is was looking directly over to Cardross. This is where the real Bruce was born.
Unfortunately it is thought that during a fire which caused quite a bit of damage at the green the Bruce was either thrown out by accident or in no condition to be retained.

Port Glasgow was the principal port on the Clyde for the importation of North American timber. It was also brought in from Norway, Canada and the Baltic States.
In 1825 it amounted to 19,650 tons, and increased in 1834 to 27,975 tons. Timber had been arriving since the sixteenth century from Norway and the Baltic in deals, but by the nineteenth century it began to come in as logs the whole length of the trees, which were squared. They were discharged through portholes in the bluff bows of the ships into the harbour. At first winches worked by hand were used, and then steam driven ones, which were bolted down to the decks of pontoons.

Timber measuring was an extensive and for long a lucrative business. Many people working with local census reports during family tree research will find "rafter" listed as occupation. The measurers rented the ponds which stretched from Port Glasgow to Langbank. As the logs were hauled out of the ship their dimensions were noted and each had a number cut into it. Iron holdfasts called dogs were driven in and chains passed through the rings. Rafts of the logs were thus formed, and were towed up to the ponds and kept there till required by the various shipyards and sawmills on the river. This business was rather speculative. Occasionally in winter, if there was a high south west wind and unusually high tide, the logs would break loose and scatter all over the river, which resulted in a heavy loss to the measurer.

Saw milling became a large business. It and measuring gradually decreased after 1890, when the custom of importing timber in deals came into fashion again.

This page last modified on Friday, February 04, 2011

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