Document of the Month - October

The King Street Cobbles

If you have ever driven, cycled or walked up to King Street in Stirling, one feature you will no doubt noticed is the distinctive cobbled road.

We don’t know when the original cobbles were laid, but thanks to the Stirling Town Council minutes and accounts we trace the ones you see today back to the 1830s.

Talks first began to how to improve King Street on 15th December 1834. The Town Council had arranged a meeting with residents to ascertain whether they are willing to subscribe to macadamising the street. This would mean removing the cobbles and instead create a road where stone layers of small angular stones were placed in shallow lifts and compacted thoroughly.

At the same time, the Bank of Scotland had taken over the Saracens Head Inn and were looking to widen the road where the Athenaeum and Friars Street meet.

Proposals took a different turn when two residents, James Henderson and Alexander Mouat, refused to pay a subscription for widening the street at the new bank in May 1835.

Instead, a new petition on 23 rd November 1835 was raised by proprietors ‘praying the Council to take the necessary measures for levelling and causewaying King Street and Friars Wynd’ in a similar manner to the recent improvements undertaken at Baker Street.

A ‘proper pavement’ in front of their respective properties would also be laid and residents were asked to contribute to assist in defraying the expense. The man in charge of undertaking the majority of the work was Alexander Brunton. The Town Council accounts show his first expense for ‘paving King St. and Friar Street’ on 28th Jan 1836. The work appears to have lasted over a year and Alexander received his final payment on the completion of his contract on 20th December 1836. A payment of £79 13s and 5p was made.

A glass negative of 53-59 King Street shows the new cobbles and pavement in 1896.

One observation you may also have noticed at King Street is that cobbles stop at the entrance to Corn Exchange Road. Macadamising streets was proving very popular with the Town Council but not so much with local residents.

A proposal to macadamise the Corn Exchange was met with disagreement in on 17 th June 1837. Locals wanted ‘blocks’ similar to those installed in the recent King Street improvements. A vote was undertaken by the Town Council with an 11-4 win for those in favour of macadamising the road.

The Town Council shows a payment made to Alexander Brunton on 19th October 1837 for ‘quarrying out rock at the entrance the Corn Market’ on 19 October 1837.

9 Mar 1833 - Bank of Scotland had purchased the Saracens Head Inn and were keen to widen the road from the Athenaeum and down to Friars Wynd as they wan to build a new bank
15 Dec 1834 – Meeting arranged with inhabitants of King Street to ascertain whether they are willing to subscribe to macadamising the street
31 Mar 1835 – Bank of Scotland has a new building at Friars Wynd/King Street and proposed widening of the street is discussed
6 May 1835 – James Henderson and Alexander Mouat refuse to pay a subscription for widening the street at the new bank
23 Nov 1835 – Petition from a number of properties asking for King Street and Friars Wynd to be Causewayhead in a similar manner to Baker St, proprietors and residents will contribute to assisting in defraying the expense.
28 Jan 1836 – Accounts – Alexander Brunton to account of paving King St and Friars Wynd
26 July 1836 – Friars Street ready to be paved
17 May 1837 – Macadamise or blocks for. Confirms blocks in King Street.