In 1887, John Bartholomew's Gazetteer of the British Isles described Greenock like this:
Greenock, seaport and manufacturing town, parl. burgh, and par., Renfrewshire, on S. side of Firth of Clyde, 22½ miles NW. of Glasgow and 404 NW. of London by rail -- par. (divided into Greenock East par., pop. 6370; Greenock New or middle par., pop. 41,163; and Greenock Old or West par., pop. 21,705), 6021 ac., pop. 69,238; parliamentary and municipal burgh, pop. 65,884; 7 Banks, 3 newspapers. Market-day, Friday. Greenock is the fifth town in Scotland in point of population. ...
It was created a burgh of barony in 1635, but at the Union, in 1707, it was still a mere fishing village; in 1710, when the first harbour was completed, it was made a custom-house port. At the beginning of the 19th century it ranked as the first port in Scotland, but it afterwards suffered severely for a time by the deepening of the Clyde up to Glasgow. It has now dock and quay accommodation amounting to upwards of 105 ac., and extending to a length of nearly 2 miles, and it carries on a large foreign trade, chiefly with the West and East Indies, the United States, Canada, and Australia. (For shipping statistics, see Appendix.) It has also an extensive passenger and goods traffic with Liverpool, Dublin, Belfast, &c., and is the great starting point for tourists to the Western Highlands. Greenock is the chief seat of the sugar refining business in Scotland, and sugar refining and iron shipbuilding are the principal among many important industries. Greenock has 1 distillery and 1 paper mill. James Watt (1736-1819) was a native; and among the public buildings -- which include the Custom House, Wood's Asylum for Mariners, and the New Municipal Buildings (founded 1881) -- are the Watt Institution (containing the Greenock Library) and the Watt Museum and Lecture Hall. Places of public resort, besides the parks, are the Lyle Road, which passes over the heights behind the town, and commands a series of magnificent views, and the Esplanade, which stretches along the margin of the river, and forms a promenade 1¼ mile long. Greenock returns 1 member to Parliament.
A Vision of Britain through Time includes a large library of local statistics for administrative units. For the best overall sense of how the area containing Greenock has changed, please see our redistricted information for the modern district of Inverclyde. More detailed statistical data are available under Units and statistics, which includes both administrative units covering Greenock and units named after it.
GB Historical GIS / University of Portsmouth, History of Greenock, in Inverclyde and Renfrewshire | Map and description, A Vision of Britain through Time.
Date accessed: 20th May 2013
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