July 28, 2022

Scottish Towns-Cities. Cambuslang.

Cambuslang /ˈkæmbəsˈlæŋ/ (

listen) (Scots: Cammuslang, from Scottish Gaelic: Camas Lang) is a town on the south-eastern outskirts of Glasgow, Scotland. With approximately 30,000 residents, it is the 27th largest town in Scotland by population, although, never having had a town hall, it may also be considered the largest village in Scotland. It is within the local authority area of South Lanarkshire and directly borders the town of Rutherglen to the west. Historically, it was a large civil parish incorporating the nearby hamlets of Newton, Flemington, Westburn and Halfway.


Cambuslang is located just south of the River Clyde and about six miles (ten kilometres) southeast of the centre of Glasgow. It has a long history of coal mining, from at least 1490, iron and steel making, and ancillary engineering works, most recently The Hoover Company (in the town from 1946 to 2005). The Clydebridge Steelworks and other smaller manufacturing businesses continue but most employment in the area comes from the distribution or service industries. The headquarters of the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service is in Cambuslang.

The local geography of Cambuslang explains a great deal of its history. It has been very prosperous over time, depending first upon its agricultural land, (supplying food, then wool, then linen), then the mineral resources under its soil (limestone and coal, and, to some extent, iron).These were jealously guarded by the medieval Church, and later by the local aristocracy, particularly the Duke of Hamilton (previously Barons of Cadzow and Earls of Arran).

Because of its relative prosperity, Cambuslang has been intimately concerned in the politics of the country (through the Hamilton connection) and of the local Church. Bishop John Cameron of Glasgow, and Cardinal Beaton, were both Rectors of Cambuslang. This importance continued following the Protestant Reformation. From then until the Glorious Revolution a stream of Ministers of Cambuslang came, were expelled, or were re-instated, according to whether supporters of the King, Covenanters, or Oliver Cromwell were in power. The religious movements of the 18th century, including the Cambuslang Wark, were directly linked to similar movements in North America. The Scottish Enlightenment was well represented in the person of Rev Dr James Meek, the Minister. His troubles with his parishioners foreshadowed the split in the Church of Scotland during the 19th century.

The manufacturing industries that grew up from the agricultural and mineral resources attracted immigrants from all over Scotland and Ireland and other European countries. Cambuslang benefited at all times from its closeness to the burgeoning city of Glasgow, brought closer in the 18th century by a turnpike road then, in the 19th century, by a railway. In the 21st century, it continues to derive benefit from its proximity to Glasgow and to wider communication networks, particularly via the M74 motorway system. Its increasing (and increasingly diverse) population posed problems, over the centuries, of employment and housing as well as of schooling and health, not all of which have been solved;  in this regard, it is fairly typical of most Scottish towns.

In sport, Cambuslang F.C. were founder members of the Scottish Football League whose most notable achievement was being the runners-up in the 1887–88 Scottish Cup. They folded by the early 20th century, as did Scottish Junior Cup winners Cambuslang Hibernian, but a new team Cambuslang Rangers F.C. was established and continues to this day – they enjoyed great success in the 1970s.

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Scottish Architecture. Vernacular.

Scottish Vernacular Architecture refers to the smaller, traditional buildings which were built to accommodate the local needs and circumstances of their inhabitants. Their form was dictated not only by the availability of building materials but also by the traditional construction techniques that developed in response to the topography of the area, the climate, and cultural and economic factors. First and foremost, these buildings were functional—shaped for purpose. They grew out of the environment, rather than adapting the environment to provide the status and show of later “polite” architecture created by the fledgling profession of architects.

The single-storey cottage that comes to mind when you think of the wide-open, rural spaces of Scotland might be considered as the starting point from which other vernacular buildings developed. On Orkney, excavations at Knap of Howar have exposed two buildings dating as far back as 3,500-3,100 BC which demonstrate the specialised  building techniques adopted for houses built in cold and exposed settings. Their walls are several feet thick and consist of two skins of stone separated by an inner core. At Orkney this cavity is packed with midden (garbage) to insulate and consolidate them, but in the Black Houses, common in the Highlands and Hebrides, dry earth or sand mixed with stone serves the same purpose. This double core construction also aided waterproofing, as water was able to penetrate the first wall but not the second. 

Castle Combe Cotswolds E1627569291417

Openings were limited in exposed climates, and windows, where they did exist, were small and deeply recessed in the thick walls. Roofs tended to be steep in areas with high snow or rainfall to encourage water to drain off but were low pitched in windy areas to prevent them being blown off, weighted down by ropes or old fishing nets in coastal areas. In windy settings, houses were often built into the slopes of hillsides and corners were rounded, as in the Knap of Howar buildings and the Brochs of the Iron Age, offering further protection from the wind.

Another characteristic of Scottish vernacular architecture, still in use today, is a thick coat of harl on the exterior walls to provide protection against frost penetration.  Usually this consisted of a mixture of lime, grit, and water; but in coastal areas, sea sand and seashells were incorporated, giving it a white colour. In Cramond, outside Edinburgh, the sand was mixed with oil from the seashore giving a black harl, while in Portsoy on the north-east coast, the local sandstone was powdered and added to the harl turning it a red colour. In later centuries pigments were added to form distinctive colours, the most famous being the Royal Gold on display at Culross Palace and the Great Hall of Stirling Castle.

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