The recent history of Menmuir
In the more modern period, the history of Menmuir is one of a community occupied mainly in farming, and sometimes in the rural industry dependent on it. The First Statistical Account of Scotland of 1790 reveals that there were 36 farmers in the parish; there were 55 ploughs and 100 carts, and oxen were still in use on some farms; there were 218 horses, 1030 black cattle and 1447 sheep. The main grain crops were oats and bear, though barley was also beginning to be grown. Other crops were turnips, potatoes, red cabbage, and "yams for horses". The soil on some farms was found good for growing flax, and many women made a living at home by dressing and spinning it into thread for the sailcloth industry.

There were also 12 weavers. there was one licensed ale-house, said to be "rather a convenience than a nuisance" (it is now a house at the Kirkton, still referred to as the Old Inn). The bridge over the Cruick at Balrownie bears the inscription, "James Blackinhood mollified 300 marks for building this bridge, the rest by collection, 1751." A similar bridge over the Cruick at Blackhall (on "the great road to Brechin" as it was then) was built in 1787. The handsome workmanship of these bridges suggests a community of some prosperity two and a half centuries ago. The population declined from about 950 in 1800 to 731 in 1841, it then remained fairly steady until 1900, but began to fall again, and was down to 554 in 1964 - mainly due to agricultural mechanisation.

Electricity did not reach the parish until 1949, and only some time later did it become generally available. In the late 1970's, 2,814 acres were ploughed, 1,225 were under rotational grass, 2,390 were permanent grass, and 3,064 were set aside for rough grazing. Dairy farming had partly taken over from beef cattle, and local breeders took prizes for dairy stock at country and national shows. Of the field crops, seed potatoes had become the most profitable; oats and barley were still extensively grown, and turnips had begun to give ground to silage. Flax had disappeared, though it had still been grown at Ledmore and Balnamoon in 1946, and harvested by hand. Tractors had taken over from the horse; by 1977, only one blacksmith was working, at Balrownie, a business which continues.


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