The Burgh of Maxwelltown

By 1810 the huddle of cottages known as Brigend had grown into the Burgh of Maxwelltown with its own town council, Provost, police force and courthouse. Throughout the Victorian period it was a centre of local industry with saw mills, foundries and woolen mills. It was the second largest town in Dumfries and Galloway when it finally joined its neighbour, Dumfries, in 1929.

Maxwelltown was originally called Brigend, and had a reputation throughout Scotland as a hiding place for criminals. Although it was just accross Devorgilla Bridge from the thriving burgh of Dumfries, it was in a different county, the Stewartry of Kirkcudbright, and the nearest civil authorities were 20 miles away.  In 1810 Marmaduke Constable Maxwell of Terregles obtained a Charter from the Crown making the little village into a free Burgh of Barony, to be called "Maxwelltown".

In 1833 Maxwelltown adopted the Police Act which enabled it to raise money to improve the burgh by such things as paving and cleaning the streets and putting up street lighting. In order for the act to be adopted three quarters of qualified voters had to be in favour. Inhabitants were aslo free to choose which parts of the act to adopt.

These improvements were accompanied by the development of small scale industries such as tanneries, a brewery, iron foundries, weaving shops, a brick and tile works and saw mills. Troqueer and Rosefield Mills were built, new streets were laid out and old lanes were developed with quality housing for the better off.

By 1900 Maxwelltown had grown from a huddle of thatched cottages to one of the biggest burghs in south west Scotland. In the 1920s the town council introduced a radical housing scheme which put the burgh at the forefront of Scottish municipal social welfare.

When union with the burgh of Dumfries was proposed the people of Maxwelltown rejected it in a referendum. Despite continued opposition it was reluctantly accepted when the terms of the Local Government (Scotland) Act of 1929 became clear. Large burghs like Dumfries with a population of 20,000 or more acquired many of the powers previously exercised by the county council, but small burghs like Maxwelltown had to hand over many of their powers to the county council.  Maxwelltown and Dumfries amalgamated on 3 October 1929.


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