Denny and Dunipace

In 1877 the villages of Denny and Dunipace were joined to form a single burgh and have remained linked ever since.  However for many centuries they were quite separate communities lying on opposite banks of the River Carron.   The original settlement of Dunipace lay near the mounds known as the ‘Hills of Dunipace’. Near here, in the medieval period, stood a little chapel.   Tradition says that in the late 13th century the priest was the uncle of William Wallace and that the great man made many visits to the area.  In June 1329 the body of Robert the Bruce rested here overnight on its way from to Dunfermline for burial.  At this period the more prominent of the two remaining Hills of Dunipace probably had a ‘motte’ or castle on top with a ‘bailey’ or enclosing circular ditch near the bottom.  An 18th century house known as the Place of Dunipace stood nearby but was destroyed by fire in the 1890s. The construction of a stone bridge over the Carron in 1825 promoted closer links with Denny. By the middle  of the 19thcentury the original settlement of Dunipace had declined and the present village, known at first as Milltown of Dunipace, had grown up opposite Denny at the north end of the old bridge (rebuilt in 1828).   The medieval castle of Herbertshire which stood nearby on the Dunipace side of the river was damaged by fire in 1914 but survived as a ruin until 1950. 

Denny was little more than a small village until the middle of the 19th century but has a long history dating back to the mediaeval period when the de Moreham family were important players in the Wars of Independence, and the celebrated Templar and Hospitaller Knights held some of the lands of Dryburgh, a connection preserved in the name Temple Denny.  There were a number of cornmills and the majority of the scattered population on both sides of the river were engaged in agricultural work of one kind or another. Until 1601 Denny was part of the parish of Falkirk but in that year a new Parish of Denny was created. The present church was built in 1813 to serve a growing population which like much of central Scotland was being transformed by industrialisation.  Even the new activities were related to the land with linen production and calico printing which attracted workers to the area beginning the process of population increase that continued well into the 20th century. When new technology brought about decline and closure entrepreneurs turned to the mining of blackband ironstone to feed the iron industry in the Falkirk area. Later it was coal mining, iron founding and brickworks, and the chemical works at Custonhall in Stripeside, which had supplied dyes to the calico printers, turned instead to making lacquers and enamels for the iron industry.  

The most successful new ventures were the paper mills using the soft water of the Carron to create an industry which remained important until very recently. Mills at Carrongrove, Stoneywood, Headswood and Vale employed hundreds of men and women and made Denny one of the country?s most important paper making centres.  In 1858-9 the railway age arrived and this further encouraged new industry which brought wealth and fine new public buildings like Westpark Church (1898), St Alexander’s (1890), the Town House (1930) and the Town Hall in Glasgow Road, lost to fire in 1937.  Denny and Dunipace remained as a burgh until the reorganisation in 1975 when they became part of Falkirk council area. In the 1960s much of the centre of Denny was demolished and replaced by a modern development of flats and shops along the one side of Stirling Road and Duke Street.

Ian Scott (2005)