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Prior to the Burgh Act being passed, Coatbridge had the unenviable notoriety of being the largest and dirtiest village in Scotland. As a village Coatbridge was indifferently paved and its principal streets were like country roads. There were no gas lamps. The sanitary arrangements were by no means perfect. But this feature has been removed. All these improvements were carried out. The sanitary affairs of the Burgh have been placed upon a most satisfactory footing, gas lamps have been set up over the greater part of the town.
Coatbridge has been transformed into an attractive, business-like and prosperous town with an earnest and public spirited Magistry and Council who have erected public buildings of a very high class wherin to discharge the many duties pertaining to the municipality of such a populous and rapidly increasing centre of the great iron industry.
When the Burgh was at its infancy the greatest question was regarding the building of a Town Hall.
The first Town Council found a temporary home in the Parochial Chambers in Ross Street and afterwards, more recently, in the County Police Buildings in Dunbeth Road. The Council viewed a number of site plans by Mr A McGregor Mitchell, the then master of Works. After various alterations and additions a set showing a Town Hall incorporating a suite of offices and rooms for officials and police establishment were proceeded with upon a free site presented to the town by Mr Weir of Kildonan.
The buildings were upwards of 3 years in construction. During construction many improvements to the plan and extensions to the original contract took place.
On completion the "Iron Burgh" may well boast of "marble halls" second to none in Scotland outside Glasgow.
The town officials and police establishment took place before the opening ceremony. The opening was an event worthy of the magnificence of the hall itself and of the municipal dignitaries under whose zealous hand the handsome pile of buildings have attained completion.
Coatbridge was a product of the Industrial Revolution that transformed Scotland between 1760 and 1830. It appears on General Roy's map of 1755 as a bridge over the Gartsherrie Burn and by the Census of 1831 the village of Coatbridge had 741 people and 107 houses.
In 1885, when it became a burgh, it had a population of 25,000. This was brought about by the rapid development of the Iron Industry and other ancillary industries, but together with this went social deprivation and a lack of public health that may not have existed if Coatbridge had achieved burgh status much earlier.
Forrest's map of the Coats and
Drumpellier Estates made in 1801
shows a villas of above twelve
houses clustered around the Fountain
area and along
Road. However, his map of
Lanarkshire in 1816 shows the linear
development of what was
become a town encompassing
Coatbridge, Dundyvan and Langloan,
spread along the new turnpike road
that had been built in 1795 between
Glasgow and Edinburgh. Further along
that road, built in 1795, was Mr
Creelman's Pottery and stables at
the foot where Jackson Street
exists; horses we kept here for
working on the Monkland Canal. To the west of the village
stood Neil McBrayne
Alexander was elected the first
Provost and the first council
meeting was held in the Parochial
Board Room in Bank Street on 4th
November 1885. The Baillies were
Pettigrew, Gilchrist, Bannen and
Addie. Mr Alston was appointed Town
Clerk on 12th November at which
meeting the Burgh
In 1934 James Knox, the Airdrie historian, writing a foreword for a book written by ex-Provost Lavelle of Coatbridge, entitled 'Looking Back' had this to say:
"The first council of the newly-formed Burgh in
had a 'Herculean' task. We at this time of day can hardly imagine
a community of over 25,000 people
without representative Local Government and all that this implies in the
matter of ordinary communal
Alexander McGregor Mitchell (1842-1904) spent his early years on the Rosehall estate where his father was factor and was educated at Dundyvan Academy. His earliest known employment in building was at the Deaf and Dumb Institute in Glasgow in 1866-68, presumably as James Salmon's clerk of works. Thereafter he worked for William Shanks of Airdrie. Appointment as Master of Works to the Buchanans of Drumpelier and Coatbridge Burgh Council and then architect to the Colts of Gartsherrie enabled him to open his own office in Coatbridge and obtain the appointment of burgh engineer.
Eventually he became architect and surveyor to most of the estates and trusts in the Coatbridge area - including that of Mr Peddie Waddell of Balquhatston, Slamannan. In 1894, by which date the quality of the practice's work was markedly improved, Mitchell was joined by his son Alexander McGregor Mitchell Junior (born 1878) as an apprentice. He was given responsibility for the planning of tenements and small villas, and in 1899 he became chief assistant. He took full charge of the office in 1900.