Part of Bridge of Weir's Main Street
|Population||4,820 (mid-2016 est.)|
|OS grid reference|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|Post town||BRIDGE OF WEIR|
Lying within the Gryffe Valley, Bridge of Weir owes its name to the historic crossing point that it provided over the River Gryffe. The village was initially formed around industries such as cotton and leather, reliant on the power of the river. These industries brought about its expansion in the 18th century in land attached to the 15th century Ranfurly Castle situated between the two established parishes of Kilbarchan and Houston and Killellan. A rail connection, as part of the Glasgow and South Western Railway, in the 1860s, significantly supported the village's development.
Today Bridge of Weir serves largely as a dormitory settlement for nearby Glasgow and Paisley, maintaining a commercial centre of its own and some light industry and agriculture. It remains well known for its leather production, which has continued since the first industry emerged.
The name of Bridge of Weir (Scots: Brig o Weir) is first recorded in the early 18th century before a significant settlement was constructed in the area. The 'weir' is a reference to a salmon weir which used to be located on the Gryffe. An older name provided for the village is "Port o'Weir", implying a river crossing; this name remained in some use even after the current name had been adopted.
Bridge of Weir was historically a rural area divided between the parishes of neighbouring Houston and Killellan and Kilbarchan on either side of the River Gryffe. Growing out of the lands of the 15th century Ranfurly Castle, the village emerged later than its neighbours among a number of small farms that occupied the area.
The earliest economy of the village was centred on the Renfrewshire cotton industry. From the late 18th century, the River Gryffe was exploited to power cotton mills. The bridge at Bridge of Weir was constructed at Burngill around 1770 and was considerably upgraded and widened in 1892 to allow for two-way traffic. It was finally demolished in 1964, with a more modern structure created. The bridge owes its construction to being on the route between the significant towns of Greenock and Paisley, with a Great Road constructed between the two in 1794.
Leather also emerged as a local product, with the village supporting three tanneries. The leather industry survives to this day, now on a single site, in the form of a highly successful, modern facility with five Queen's Awards for International Business.
The Glasgow, Paisley and Johnstone Canal provided an initial link for Renfrewshire industry to its wider urban centres. The former canal provided a route for the later expansion of the railway to nearby settlements. From 1864, the Bridge of Weir Railway provided a rail link to Johnstone through the Bridge of Weir railway station in the village. From 1869, the line was incorporated into the wider Greenock and Ayrshire Railway, extending to Kilmacolm and beyond to Greenock. This railway substantially altered the character of the village and contributed to its forthcoming affluence. The railway closed on 10 January 1983 and now forms part of the Clyde to Forth cycle route (National Cycle Route 75).
Bridge of Weir is surrounded by agricultural lands, with traditional industries being cotton milling and leather tanning. The earliest cotton mills were built in the late 18th and early 19th centuries on the banks on the River Gryffe. Today, the town's golf courses and fishing attract visitors and there the village has a commercial centre with retail stores, restaurants and public houses.
From the 18th century, the waulking mill was used in the production of leather with the Burngill Mill having been recorded in 1770. It was purchased by Andrew Muirhead in 1870 whose family had been in the leather industry in Glasgow for several generations. In 1905, Arthur Muirhead set up a further leather mill at the Laigh Mill (renamed the Clydesdale Works) and founded the Bridge of Weir Leather Company. Despite having several premises in the past, since the beginning of the 21st century, the company's business has been consolidated at the Lochar and Baltic Works.
The leather works continue to serve as a large employer in the area and trade their goods across the world. Some notable customers include:
Bridge of Weir is part of the council area of Renfrewshire, as well the historic county of Renfrewshire which has wider boundaries and retains some official functions, for example as a registration county and lieutenancy area.
For elections to Renfrewshire Council, Bridge of Weir is part of ward 10, named 'Bishopton, Bridge of Weir and Langbank', which elects three of Renfrewshire's forty councillors. The ward results in the most recent election are:
|Conservative||James MacLaren (incumbent)||45.47||2,552|
|Liberal Democrats||Elliot Harrison||3.78||212||537.68||578.49||733.70|
|Electorate: TBC Valid: 5,613 Spoilt: 44 Quota: 1,404 Turnout: 5,657 (55.1%)|
Bisected by the River Gryffe, angling is available within the village. The river hosts brown trout, grayling and occasionally Atlantic salmon. Numerous outdoor pursuits are available at the nearby Clyde Muirshiel Regional Park. National Cycle Route 75 runs through the village.
The village is also known for its golf history. At one point there were five golf courses in the vicinity; today there are two remaining: the Old Course Ranfurly and the Ranfurly Castle golf clubs. There was a thriving ice hockey team from around 1895 and in 1935 were Scottish National League Champions.