Dumfries and Galloway

Town Hall, Annan
©2022 Gazetteer for Scotland

Town Hall, Annan

Situated on the Solway Firth at the mouth of the River Annan in Dumfries and Galloway, the burgh of Annan lies 17 miles (25 km) southeast of Dumfries. Emerging as a burgh of barony in the 12th Century, Annan was the site of a mediaeval hospital and a castle built by the de Brus family. It was elevated to the status of a royal burgh in 1532 but was described by Daniel Defoe in the 1720s as 'in a state of irrevocable decay'. The founding of a cotton mill in 1785 signalled a turn in Annan's fortunes and during the 19th century it developed as a port with shipbuilding, engineering and whisky distilling industries. During the 20th century pharmaceuticals, knitwear, chipboard and food processing industries developed and between 1975 and 1996 Annan was the administrative centre of Annandale and Eskdale District. Buildings of note include the Town Hall (1878), Erskine Church (1835), Old Annan Academy and Annan Bridge, built by Robert Stevenson in 1824-26. Annan's Justice of the Peace Court closed in 2013, with its work transferred to Dumfries. The African explorer Hugh Clapperton and the evangelist Edward Irving were born in Annan and the writer Thomas Carlyle, born in Ecclefechan, was schooled at the Academy.

The Mote of Annan dates from the 12th. century and was home to the de Brus family, who became the Bruces, Lord of Annandale, the best known of whom, Robert the Bruce, was to take the Scottish throne. Bruce's son, the young King David II was involved in the Battle of Annan in 1332, which routed a force under King Edward Balliol.

To the south of Annan was the remarkable Solway Viaduct, which carried the Kirtlebridge, Annan and Brayton Branch of the Caledonian Railway across the Solway Firth. This line and mile-long (1.8 km) viaduct were constructed in 1869 to carry ironstone from mines in Cumberland to ironworks in Ayrshire and Lanarkshire. The cost of maintenance, cheaper imported iron ore from Spain and the closure of the Dalmellington Ironworks brought the end of the line and dismantling of the viaduct in 1921. The trackbed and approach embankments to the viaduct remain.

Chapelcross Nuclear Power Station began operating in 1959, 2 miles / 3 km to the northeast. This generated electricity while also producing plutonium for the British nuclear weapons programme. It closed in 2004 and is currently being dismantled, a process likely to continue until 2090.

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