Strathaven (from Gaelic: Strath Aibhne , meaning "valley of the Avon") is a historic market town in South Lanarkshire, Scotland and is the largest settlement in Avondale. The town was granted a Royal Charter in 1450, making the Town of Strathaven a burgh of barony. The town's main industry was weaving in the 19th and early 20th centuries, however this declined when faced by competition from Glasgow. The industrial revolution bypassed the town as it had little to offer in the way of natural resources, and thus has grown into more a commuter settlement, however it is still the main service centre for the surrounding area of Avondale. The current estimated population is 7,500.
Strathaven has a long history as a market town. A Roman road passes close by, on the south side of the Avon Water, which led to the Roman fort at Loudoun Hill near Darvel. The origins of Strathaven Castle are obscure, but it is believed to have been built around 1350 by the Bairds, on a bend of the Powmillon Burn. Today it is a ruin, with a single tower and sections of wall remaining beside the A71.
The Barony of Strathaven was acquired in 1362 by Archibald the Grim, Lord of Galloway, by his marriage to Joanna, daughter to Maurice de Moravia, 1st Earl of Strathearn, great Moray heiress. The settlement within the lands of Strathaven became a Burgh of barony in 1450. It still retains its traditional character despite the growth of more modern housing. The centre of the town is occupied by the market square, formerly a grassed common, and still known as Common Green, or just 'The Green'. Linking the town and the castle is the old 'Boo Backit Brig' ('bow-backed bridge'), a small arched bridge. The Old Parish Church, with its landmark spire, was built in 1772, and was the place of worship of the Duke of Hamilton who maintained a shooting lodge at nearby Dungavel House.
The town prospered in the 18th and 19th centuries as a weaving town, although there were many merchants living here too. The town played a significant part in the Radical War of 1820, when James Wilson led a band of radicals on a march to Glasgow, to join a rumoured general uprising, which never actually happened. Wilson was hanged for treason, and in 1846 a memorial was built in his honour in the town cemetery. The history of Strathaven is now documented in the town's John Hastie Museum.
Its most famous 'modern' resident was Sir Harry Lauder (1870–1950) whose mansion, Lauder Ha', or Hall, was just above the town on the road to Kilmarnock. Sir Harry spent the Second World War years there, and died in February 1950. The family retained the property until Death Duties of 65% forced a sale in the late 1960s. It remains a private residence.
Dungavel House on the outskirts of Strathaven was the location where German Deputy Führer Rudolf Hess originally intended to land on the evening of 10 May 1941 in a misguided attempt to seek peace talks with the Duke of Hamilton. However bad weather and poor navigation resulted in Hess having to land at Floors Farm in Eaglesham.
Dates of Old Parish Registers
Strathaven was a part of Avondale Parish and the Old Parish Registers will be found with others within the parish.
Sources for Old Parish Registers Records, Vital Records and Censuses
Further Sources of Reference
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