Fullarton's Topographical, Statistical and Historical Gazetteer of Scotland, 1842
FORGAN, a parish in Fifeshire, anciently called St. Phillan's, from the church having been dedicated to that saint. It lies on the south side of the Tay, between that river and the parishes of Leuchars and Logie. It is of an oblong figure of rather irregular shape, about 5 miles in length from east to west, at its southern boundary ; but only 3.5 miles on its northern boundary next the Tay. Its breadth, from north to south, is from 1 to 2 miles. On the south the parish is bounded by the parishes of Kilmany, Logie, and Leuchars ; on the east by Ferry-port-on-Craig ; on the north by the estuary of the Tay ; and on the west, by the parish of Balmerino.
The surface presents a succession of heights and intervening hollows which give it a pleasing aspect; and in several places, such as St. Fort and Tayfield, where it is ornamented with a great deal of fine wood, it is exceedingly beautiful and picturesque. At St. Fort, and at Newton, are the highest hills in the parish, which rise about 300 feet above the Tay. In general, the coast along the Tay is bold and rocky, rising from 30 to 50 feet above the beach ; and along the brow of these rocks, for some way both east and west from Newport, a number of elegant marine villas have been erected, which, with their gardens and shrubberies, add greatly to the interest of this portion of the landscape. The villas have chiefly been erected by merchants and others belonging to Dundee, for the benefit of sea-bathing during the summer. From this rocky coast, and from the summit of the ridge of hills which descend from the south towards the Tay, are fine views of Dundee, and of the opposite shire of Forfar.
The soil is generally fertile. The greater part is black loam and clayey earth; but other portions are light and gravelly. The parish altogether contains about 5,000 acres; of which nearly 4,000 are under regular cultivation, 370 acres in grass, 360 in wood, and 250 unarable.
The rent of ground is from £1 to £3 per acre ; but some parks near the Tay rent as high as £4 per acre. The valued rent of the parish is £5,145 6s. 8d. Scots. The real rent, in 1794, was £2,873 sterling ; and in 1815, the annual value of property assessed, was £6,064 sterling. There are several salmon-fishings in the parish, carried on by the net and coble, which altogether, however, do not rent far above £150 per annum. The salmon are either sold in the neighbourhood or in Dundee, or are packed in ice, and sent by the Dundee ships to London.
There is a brewery at Woodhaven ; and about 20 individuals are employed in weaving linen for the manufacturers of Dundee. Besides the ferry-harbour*, there are other two harbours in the parish - one at Newport, the property of Mr. Berry of Tayfield, and the other at Woodhaven, the property of Mr. Stewart of St. Fort. They admit vessels of from 100 to 150 tons, and are both used for exporting the produce of the surrounding country, and for importing coals, lime, wood, and other necessary articles.
The nearest market-town is Dundee, which is only separated by the Tay ; and the market-town of Cupar and St. Andrews are about 11 miles distant from the most distant part of the parish. The coaches between Edinburgh and the north, and from Cupar to Dundee, as well as that from St. Andrews to Dundee, pass through the parish.
The population, in 1755, was 751; in 1801, 916; in 1831, 1090. Houses, in 1831, 211. This parish is in the presbytery, of St. Andrews, and synod of Fife. Patron, the Crown. Stipend £230 19s. 8d. ; glebe 9 acres. The church of Forgan, which anciently belonged to the priory of St. Andrews, is beautifully situated at the south-east extremity of the parish. It is an old building, seated for about 350; but it is in contemplation to erect a new building more in accordance with the extent of the population, and in a more central site than the present one. There is a small Independent meeting-house near Newport. Schoolmaster's salary £34 4s.
The parish-school is situated on the farm of Nether-Friarton, and is attended by about 120 pupils. There is also a small school near Woodhaven, at which about 30 children are taught.
*Previous to 1822, there were two ferries across the Tay, one at Newport, and one at Woodhaven, about a mile to the west ; and from 1790, when a new turnpike-road was made to the latter place, till 1808, it was the ferry chiefly resorted to. Another turnpike having been constructed in that year to Newport, which rendered it the most convenient point for passengers from the south, that place became in time the principal resort, and the ferry at Woodhaven became much less frequented. Up to this time, the boats used were small and inconvenient, and the ferry was not always accomplished without considerable danger.
In 1819, an act of parliament was obtained, by which trustees connected with the two counties of Fife and Forfar were appointed, with authority to erect new piers, and to procure boats better fitted for the passage, and otherwise to improve and emulate the ferry. In 1822 a steam-boat was placed upon the ferry, which at first plied alternately between Woodhaven and Newport ; but, in 1822, the passage to Woodhaven was discontinued ; after which the intercourse at the ferry began rapidly to increase.
A new act of parliament was rendered necessary to entitle the trustees to substitute one landing-place, and erect the necessary piers at Newport and at Dundee. Ferry-harbours were accordingly formed at these places, and new and improved steam-boats have since been placed upon the station ; so that this ferry, from being one of the worst and most dangerous, has now become one of the most safe and convenient in the kingdom. The steam-boat, however, only plies through the day ; but for the convenience of the public, the trustees maintain a large sail-boat, a pinnace, and a yawl, with proper crews, which may be freighted at hours when the steam-boat does not ply. Since the improvements have been introduced, the number of passengers have been increased by 20,000, and the revenue has doubled.
The revenue for the year ending 31st December, 1834, was £4,844 5s. 5d, and it has since considerably increased.
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