The rise of Broughty Ferry from a small fishing hamlet to a modern, fashionable and well-appointed town began in the first half of the nineteenth century, and was due originally to visitors and holidaymakers, who came during the summer season for the healthy benefits of sea bathing.
With the opening of the Dundee and Arbroath Railway in 1838 the development of Broughty Ferry became very rapid and many people with businesses in Dundee found it far more healthier and desirable to live in Broughty Ferry than in Dundee with its many factory chimneys belching smoke. Although Broughty had no industries of outstanding importance, except for the fishing boats, the village had by the year 1863 become so populous (3500), that the community considered that the time had come to form it into an independent burgh under the " General Police and Improvement (Scotland) Act, 1862."
After much opposition from parties within and without the district, the first boundaries were fixed on 4th June 1863, and after a poll, at which great excitement prevailed, certain clauses of the Act were adopted on 12th February 1864, and in the next month the following Members of Commission were elected to manage the affairs of the new burgh:—
Matthew Deas, cabinetmaker;
Henry Back, residenter;
Captain John Rodger;
W. W. Kenny, merchant;
George Lindsay, grocer;
George Gilroy, merchant;
Wm. Gray, brewer;
George Hair Newall, proprietor;
Robert Kidd, flesher;
Daniel Walker, sub-inspector of factories;
W. G. Don, merchant;
Wm. Stewart, seedsman.
This Commission (in which Mr. G. H. Newall was chosen first Chief Magistrate) soon found that, without adopting the whole Act, proper sanitary and other improvements could not be effectively carried out and by a resolution in June 1864, confirmed by the Sheriff on 15th June 1864, the whole act was adopted.
An epidemic of cholera swept the country in 1866 and resulted in a high number of deaths from the disease in the fishing community of Broughty Ferry, this was attributed to the water, drawn from wells. This led the Commission to take the matter of a purer water-supply into hand.
They experienced much opposition, but successfully overcame it, and in 1869 water was authorised to be supplied to Broughty Ferry under the Dundee Water Act.
The lighting of Broughty was originally supplied by the Broughty Ferry Gaslight Company, which was formed in about 1853, and in 1870 the burgh took over the gasworks at the rate of 6 per cent, on the capital stock.
The allowed the Council within a couple of years to lower the price of the gas from 6s. 8d. to 5s. 5d. per 1000 cubic feet. By about 1910 the price was 2s. 9d. per 1000 cubic feet. In addition to its gas supply, electric lighting was installed on 27th September 1902, under the" Broughty Ferry Electric Lighting Order of 1900."
In 1868 Reres Hill, extending to about 6½ acres, was obtained from Lord Dalhousie, by the town for a public park, at a feu-duty of £26 a year, the cost of laying out walks and making other improvements being met by the sale of wood in the necessary thinning of the trees.
A low tumble-down wall which enclosed this hill on the south was removed in Queen Victoria’s Jubilee year of 1887, and replaced by the present strongly built wall and surrounded by artistic ironwork (later taken during the second World War).
At the same time the archways designed by Mr. T. S. Robertson, architect, were erected, the main one having over the top a bas-relief sculpture of the head of Queen Victoria, while above the left of the arch the Scottish, and above the right the Imperial, coats-of-arms were carved.
This improvement was effected by Provost James Guthrie Orchar, who defrayed the cost, which amounted to about £1000.
The park known as the Orchar Park, extending also to about 6½ acres, was named in honour of Provost Orchar. The reversion of the lease of this piece of ground was purchased in 1887 for £309. 15s., and feued in 1890 by the Commissioners.
The wall and railing which surrounded the park was also a gift of Provost Orchar.
At Claypotts, the skating pond, over 2½ acres in area, was acquired by the Commissioners in 1885 at an annual feu of £11; the grassy beach at West Ferry, extending to about 2¾ acres above high-water mark, and over 5 acres below, was in 1901 secured by the Council at an annual feu of £25.
Through the public-spirited action of their clerk, the late fishings, at the same moderate price which he had paid for them. The Castle Links, measuring about 3 acres, were in 1869 acquired by the Commissioners from the Caledonian Railway Company on very favourable terms, the annual feu-duty paid for this piece of ground being £19, 16s. 9d. These links, close to which stood the old windmill used for wood-turning, were a valuable acquisition to the community for recreation purposes, but in 1901 the War Department, after arbitration, acquired the ground and fishings at the price of £6259. 6s. 7d.
The Esplanade, a favourite promenade, stretching for nearly a mile along the shore, was made by the Commissioners in 1894 at a cost of £2495.
In March 1900 Broughty Ferry was divided into four wards:—Ward I., occupying the north-west corner of the burgh ; Ward II., extending south of the railway and west of Fort Street; Ward III., east of Fort Street and south of Brook Street; Ward IV., east of Forthill Eoad and north of Brook Street.
The Commission of Broughty Ferry was, in terms of the " Town Councils (Scotland) Act, 1900," superseded by the Town Council, which was constituted in January 1901 as follows:—
Bailies—J. R. Christie, Geo. J. Gilchrist.
Councillors—Wm. Anderson, James Gillies, Jas. A. Kidd, Jas. S. Peddie, Peter Sim, David Stratton, A. W. Sturrock, Thomas O. Thomson, George Watt.
Town Clerk—Edward Cowan.
Town Chamberlain—E. Morrison.
Burgh Surveyor—Douglas Winning.
Chief Constable—James Brechin.
Gas Manager—Forbes Waddell.
Medical Officer—Dr. J. F. Sturrock.
Veterinary Surgeon—Jas. Peddie.
The coat-of-arms is a pictorial representation of Broughty Castle.
Since its erection as a burgh, Broughty Ferry has had ten Chief Magistrates, the last three, by the Burgh Police (Scotland) Act, 1892, receiving the designation Provost.
|George Hair Newall||1864-1866|
|Wm. Warden Rennie||1866-1870.|
|Wm. Hynd Norrie||1873-1876.|
|James Guthrie Orchar||1886-1898.|
The excellence of the work performed throughout by the local authority is shown in. the fact that the total valuation of the burgh, in 1864 £14,000, has in 1910 reached the sum of £76,215, 16s. 2d., while the present population, estimated at over 11,000, is three times greater than the population in 1864. Since its incorporation as a burgh Broughty Ferry has had its boundaries extended five times, and its area is now 1454 acres. With well-laid-out streets, good sanitation, and an abundant water-supply, the town, with its favourable situation, its beach, parks, and links, has commended itself to the moneyed classes as a residential locality, as is evidenced by the many mansion-houses within its boundaries.
Broughty Ferry is well provided with benevolent and useful associations and institutions. For the benefit of the fishing community there is a branch of the East Coast Fishermen’s Association, and there is also the Fishermen’s Benevolent Society. Other benevolent institutions are – the Broughty Ferry Benevolent Trust, instituted in 1897; the Beach Mission and Free Nursing of Sick Poor Society; St Margaret’s Cottage Home; and, under the management of the Directors of the Dundee Royal Infirmary, the Convalescent Home at Barnhill, founded in 1876 by the late Sir David Baxter, Baronet of Kilmaron. The Merchants, the Associated Carpenters and Joiners, the Operative Bakers, have their societies. A Masonic Lodge, and Lodges of Free Gardeners, Ancient Shepherds, Good Templars, Rechabites, and Foresters, and a Yearly Society, have all a standing in Brought}7, and in their respective ways are instrumentally of benefit to their members. Other societies, political, ecclesiastical, for building, for horticulture, for cage birds, all in their diverse ways appeal to various sections of the community.
Sport of various kinds has its votaries. The members of a bathing club, " Ye Amphibious Ancients," prosecute their favourite pastime the whole year through, and on New Year's Day, undeterred by wintriest weather, hold gala in the water. There are yachting and rowing clubs, angling, bowling, curling, and football clubs, and cricket is represented by the Forfarshire Eleven at Forthill, one of the leading teams in Scotland.