A nod to Alloa

By Sophie 1 years ago 907 Views No comments

The Alloa Half Marathon is more than just a running event. For 35 years, it has provided it's runners an outlet to raise money for charities close to their hearts and to achieve personal running goals. Encouraged by the organisers, runners can tell their stories, enriching other racers. Take a look on the Alloa Half Marathon facebook page for some heartwarming and inspiring stories.

"Every year in our race we see so many examples of the human spirit at its finest. We hear of so many stories of courage, endeavor and charity. This human interest part of our race is so important to us" - Alloa Half Marathon Facebook

The picture above shows the 13 miles runners must face as they complete the half marathon. Interested? Why not set yourself a goal to train and run in next year's half marathon? For a personal fitness goal or worthy charity, put your running shoes to the test in Alloa!

As if this wasn't enough reason to visit this picturesque Scottish town, we've compiled a short selection of interesting facts about Alloa throughout history.

Alloa or Alamhagh, which comes from the Scottish Gaelic meaning 'rock plain' is a small lowland Scottish town situated in Clackmannanshire, on the north bank of the Firth of Forth. Other interpretations of the town name state that the most likely derivative comes from 'Aull Waeg' which means 'the way to the sea' or 'sea-way'.

Alloa's economy relied heavily on trading through its port with mainland Europe, however competition from modern ports in 1970 meant that the port was eventually closed. Once reliant on breweries and glass makers, Alloa's current economy has slowly become focused on retail and leisure instead. The town has only one surviving brewery and glass maker today.

History of Alloa

The lands of Alloa were first granted to Sir Robert Erskine in 1368 for his services to King David II. Erskine and his descendants were good, innovative stewards who developed the estates over time.

In the 18th Century, the Earl of Mar owned many coal mines. A mining engineer local to Alloa, called Robert Bald, was contracted to provide water power from Gartmorn Dam to operate the mines and other industries for the Earl. As the careslands provided good water supplies and a readily available stock of barely, George Younger made the decision to set up a brewery in the 1760s. Soon followed by others, who had learnt of his success, Alloa quickly became one of Scotland's premier brewing centers.

In 1715, the running and repair of many important industries in Alloa fell into uncertainty after the 6th Earl of Mar was forced to flee the country. After his disastrous backing of the Jacobite cause, he could no longer stay to oversee far-reaching developments including harbour improvements, a customs house and the building of the Gartmorn Dam. He was forced to forfeit his lands, which threw the future of Alloa into uncertainty. Allowed to purchase the Earl's lands, his brother ensured the continuation of creative industries, opening a glass-works in 1750 and laying one of Scotland's earliest railways (a Waggonway) in 1766.

Traces of the Waggonway and Gartmorn Dam can still be found today. Although the damn is no longer used for energy production, or water supply, it is well used for fishing and other leisure purposes. Alloa also boasts The Clackmannanshire Library, which was founded in 1797, and contained upwards of 1500 volumes

After improvements to the harbour in the 18th century, Alloa thrived as a river port, through which products manufactured in Glasgow were exported to Europe. This was a change from neighbouring towns, where the main industry north and east of Allloa was coal mining.

Another industry that brought economical gain to the area was wool production. With wool being plentiful in the Alloa area, a small yarn-spinning business was set up by John Paton in the 19th Century. This business later became the established Kilncraigs Mill. Merging with J. & J. Baldwin of Halifax in 1924, the mill became the world-famous Paton & Baldwins Ltd.

Throughout the centuries, Alloa has made it's economical success in it's harbour, breweries and creative industries, however with declines to these areas over the years, the town currently makes it's economical success in mainly retail and leisure.

Notable Landmarks to Visit

If you're making the visit to Alloa, then make sure you check out the following landmarks:

The most famous landmark in Alloa is the 15th Century Alloa Tower, which is a surviving part of the ancestral medieval residence of the Erskine Family, the Earls of Mar. Although there have been extensive alterations to both the external and internal tower, the structure retains it's original medieval wooden roof and battlements, as well as some internal features. It is notable because it is one of the largest and earliest of Scottish tower houses.

Another place worth a visit is Alloa's Town Hall and Library which was designed by architect Alfred Waterhouse. Built in 1886-9 at a cost of 18,008 pound sterling, this building is worth checking out. Alfred Waterhouse was an architect who was particularly associated with Victorian Gothic Revival architecture and his style is evident in the Town Hall.

Other notable sights include the war memorial (1925) by Sir Robert Lorimer, with a sculpture by Pilkington Jackson, as well as some historic architecture including Tobias Bauchop's House (1695), Inglewood House, Gean House and Greenfield House.

Famous people from Alloa

The following is just a short list of the many inspiring individuals brought to the world from Alloa:

David Allan, the 18th century painter and illustrator.

George Brown, the Canadian politician and founder of the Globe and Mail newspaper.

John Crawford Buchan, the recipient of the Victoria Cross.

John Ferguson, a famous chemist.

Robert Fyfe, the actor.

Dr James Arthur Hewitt, the FRSE physiologist.

Andrew Norman Meldrum, the scientist.

Lord Charles Forte, the hotelier and caterer.

Have we convinced you to make a visit to Alloa by now? It is amazing just how much history this small town holds, from industrial change to the arts, Alloa truly is an inspiring place with lots to offer it's tourists and locals alike.

We wish all the runners in today's Half Marathon good luck!