The King Street cobbles, 1834 – 1837

If you have ever driven, cycled or walked up 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 subscription for widening the street at the new bank in May 1835.

Instead, a new petition on 23rd 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.

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 17th June 1837. Locals wanted ‘blocks’ similar to those installed in the recent King Street improvements. A vote was undertaken by the Town Council with a 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.

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

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