David Dale

Blantyre's Ain Website

Blantyre, Lanarkshire, Scotland

Blantyre Folk

David Dale

1739 – 1806

Worker's VillageDavid Dale is not given enough credit for what he achieved with the Workers Village in Blantyre.

Not only did he create over 3,000 jobs overnight, he created housing for the homeless and orphans of the Parish.
A son of a grocer in Stewarton, Ayrshire, he took a weaving apprenticeship in Paisley before moving to Glasgow at the age of 24.

He set up a business as a textile manufacturer and was so successful that he became a noted member of the Scottish Financial Community and was appointed the first Glasgow Agent for the Royal Bank of Scotland in 1783. He married the daughter of one of the Bank’s directors.

Having met Richard Arkwright, an Englishman, who had pioneered industrial spinning, and built cotton mills across Scotland, Dale opened Mills in Blantyre, Catrine (Ayrshire), Newton Stewart (Dumfries and Galloway) Oban (Argyll and Bute), Stanley (Perth and Kinross) and Spinningdale (Sutherland) and the most famous, New Lanark.

With his son-in-law, Robert Owen (1771 – 1858), who became the utopian pioneer of the co-operative movement, as a partner, they ran his most famous mill at New Lanark, the new-town experiment in social engineering which Dale created in 1785.
Old Independent Church Dale also became a preacher and having disagreements with the established church, founded his own, the ‘Old Independent‘.

At 60 years of age, Dale bought the estate of Rosebank near Cambuslang (Where the Hoover factory was), and began to sell his mills, with Owen purchasing New Lanark.

Dale died at Rosebank in 1806 and lies buried in the kirkyard of the Ramshorn Church in Glasgow which is now a Theatre.  David Dale Headstone
Ramshorn Church Ramshorn Church is now a Theatre and has quite interesting carvings in the forefront of the entrance.
Ramshorn Pavement Etchings

Eighteen granite slabs outside entrance to Ramshorn Theatre,
Ingram Street,
Glasgow City Centre

 Ramshorn Street

ramshorn layout

The Compass

The Ramshorn lands used to be at the north western edge of the city.  In the western corner of the pavement drawings, is a compass. Around this are the words ‘terras de Ramnishorene’, and North West Parish, two of the earliest names for the land dating back to the thirteenth century.

Ram’s Head
There is a story that a thief stole a sheep from the bishop whose animals grazed on the lands where the church stands; the sheep’s head turned to stone and stuck to the thief’s hand; he was only released when he had been granted forgiveness from Saint Mungo. The ram’s horn also signifies a shofar, a horn blown to symbolize New Moons and feasts.

The Skeleton

The skeleton is holding coins and a chain, under a crescent moon and stars. The skeleton could be one of the ‘Strangers’ who are buried in graves in the churchyard. The chain could relate to the idea of slavery; it also links to the chains further on in the drawings. The coins could refer to the ‘Resurrectionists’ who stole bodies from the graves to sell for anatomical study. The idea of gold is also used later on.

 Ramshorn Detail

Genesis in the Retort

The illustration of the retort is in reference to John Anderson – or Jolly Jack Phosphorus – Professor of Natural Philosophy and founder of the University of Strathclyde, who is buried in the church. The image is adapted from a book by a professor of chemistry printed in 1718 called Elementa chemicae. It shows the process of making the Philosopher’s Stone.  The ascending bird (which could be a lark or a dove) symbolizes the distillation of mercury.

Other motifs include:

The Trees

In 1818, two trees were removed for the widening of the road. The pavement trees – a stylized yew tree and a laburnum tree – are in honor of the missing trees. Yew trees are often associated with churchyards. The laburnum, or ‘golden chain’ tree, symbolizes the building’s current use.

The Yew Tree

The candle below the yew tree refers to the ‘Caunnel Kirk’ established by David Dale, the philanthropist, who is buried in the Ramshorn. The book with the initials refers to the Foulis Press, which was founded in 1742 by the Foulis Brothers, both of whom are buried near the Ramshorn. The wheat beside the tree refers to the church and to the early rural nature of the land. Angels blow trumpets, or horns, around the top of the tree.

The Laburnum Tree

Laburnums are sometimes called golden chain trees because of their chains of yellow flowers. The pavement tree symbolizes the link between the old and the new story of the building. To the left of the tree is a vine, referring to the church. To the right, a chain links it to modern times. More angels blow their trumpets around the crown of the tree.

The Church Silhouettes

The original church – St David’s – was built 1719-24 through public subscription. According to a contemporary report it was surrounded by orchards of cherry and apple trees, gooseberry and currant bushes, kail, leeks and herbs. Early in the nineteenth century, the church was demolished. Thomas Rickman, a Quaker from Maidenhead, was employed to design the new building in the Gothic style, completed in 1824.

Circle of Angels

This is inspired by the circular stained glass window above the stairs to the Ramshorn. It shows a central angel flanked by five others, flying out in different directions.

The Ladder

The ladder with flame, light and clouds refers to a disaster in Cheapside Street, Anderston, in 1960. A warehouse exploded killing nineteen firemen. Some of the firemen were laid out in the Ramshorn before being taken in a long procession to be buried in the Necropolis. The image itself is inspired by a picture from Utriusque Cosmi, a book by Robert Fludd printed in 1619.

Titania and Bottom

This picture shows an audience watching a scene from Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, in which the queen of the mystical world is bewitched into loving a foolish mortal dressed as an ass. Connections have been made between this play and The Golden Ass by Apuleius. This continues the theme of gold, begun with the skeleton’s coins and continued in the laburnum tree.

Spiral of Words

The last words of the spiral refer to the date that the church became a theatre: 1992. It begins with two of the earliest productions by Strathclyde Theatre Group, founded in 1971. The first play was Everyman. The Golden City was a promenade performance, and returns the idea of gold into the city itself.

Blantyre, Lanarkshire, Scotland

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