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The Mock Burgh
It has been said that "coming events cast their shadows before."
In this respect Coatbridge for several
years had the shadow of civic
dignitaries, and consequently an annual
election of Provost, Magistrates, and
Council meetings were held in the "Inn,"
(Coatbridge Inn) where the affairs of
town and state were duly
discussed in regular
with a convivial spirit worthy of the
realities of an actual burgh.
As an example of how business could once
be done in former years, the election
for 1845, as issued officially for that
year, is herewith given:-
As this election went the rounds of the Glasgow press as from a bona fide burgh, it was taken for granted that such existed; and not long afterwards, a minister from the west of Scotland, having occasion to officiate in the Gartsherrie Church, the congregation was both astonished and no doubt not a little amused to hear the rev. gentleman's special prayer for the Provost, Magistrates, and Town Council of Coatbridge. The worthy man had taken it for granted that such officials did exist, and was very much surprised when enlightened on the subject.
Pro Burgh Movement
Around 1866 the Pro Burgh movement - led by Col David Buchannan who set up a committee of middle class citizens to help him fight the cause.
This was opposed by the Ironmasters, the main objectors being the Bairds of Gartsherrie who felt that an elected Burgh council would place controls on their industrial progress.
The first attempt failed. It had attempted in 1866-1867 without success to adopt the General Police and Improvement (Scotland) Act 1862 (25 & 26 Vict., c.101).
However the demand for Burgh status did not die with the 1866 campaign. Coatbridge was finally erected into a police burgh by the (private) Coatbridge Burgh Act 1885 (48 & 49 Vict., ch. xli), having by then grown into what was said to be 'the largest village in Scotland'.
Its population was 24,812 in 1881. The 1885 Act granted it all the privileges of a non-parliamentary Royal Burgh. The town's fortunes were based on employment provided by ironworks (including the huge Gartsherrie Ironworks) and collieries.