Straddling the A803, the road between Bonnybridge and Kilsyth, is a group of settlements: Dennyloanhead, Longcroft, Haggs, Banknock and Bankier. In the feudal period they all lay in the baronial lands of South Herbertshire although from at least 1450 these lands were feued to the Fleming family of Cumbernauld who were to become the Earls of Wigton. At that time Banknock and Bankier still retained their ancient Gaelic name forms as Ballinknock and Ballinkeir. Dennyloanhead is mentioned in 1666 as Lonehead of Seamores, Longcroft in 1702 and Haggs in 1738 when it is given as Haggs of Bankier. Ballinknock translates as ‘township of the hillock’. Bankier is ‘township of the fort’: it was the site of an imposing prehistoric earthwork from which its name derives. Dennyloanhead lies at the ‘head’ of the road to Denny where it joins with the Bonnybridge-Kilsyth road. No doubt it was this significant location that caused it to have an inn there from at least 1788 as well as a turnpike toll-bar. Haggs takes its name from peat haggs which were formerly worked in that area. Longcroft is a descriptive name for a parcel of arable land in the days when runrig farming was practiced. Although the names of these places have long histories the communities as they exist today arose as coal-mining villages. The mines lay at the foot of the southern slope of the Denny Hills and were the main reason for the Kilsyth and Bonnybridge railway line, opened in 1882, which ran through the villages. A large whisky distillery operated for many years at Banknock.
The villages were originally in the parish of Falkirk prior to the creation of Denny parish in 1618. Since the mid-nineteenth century they have lain within the quoad sacra parish of Haggs. Of some historical and architectural interest is Dennyloanhead Church, albeit it no longer serves as a church. It was built in 1743 for a congregation that had broken away from Denny Parish Church and in 1770 was described simply as “Meeting House at Loanhead”. The church was rebuilt in 1815 and substantially renovated in 1932.
Haggs Parish Church
At Haggs the Parish Church is a handsome red sandstone Victorian Building. Between the two churches, at Longcroft, is the parish War Memorial with the names of the fallen in Great War inscribed below the obelisk. Bronze plaques have been added with the names of those who died in service in World War 2. Among these are two brothers, Malcolm and Ian Maclachlan who were killed at the Battle of El Alamein. Malcolm was pipe major of the Allandale Pipe Band and Ian a piper in the band. Their parents lived in Longcroft at that time.
Masonic Arms, Longcroft
Three public houses are noteworthy: the Railway Inn and Crown Hotel in Dennyloanhead and the Masonic Arms in Longcroft. The Crown Hotel is an eighteenth century building in a vernacular style with an attractive facade. An interesting feature is an internal winding staircase. Presumably, the Railway Inn belongs to the following century and is to be associated with the opening of the Kilsyth & Bonnybridge railway line. It is constructed of ashlar with thatch stones in the chimney heads which form somewhat archaic features for that period. Probably belonging to that same era, the original part of the Masonic Arms is a handsome building having classical proportions.
John Reid (2005)