Industrial Mills on
of the Urr Valley
The Port of
|Dalbeattie Businesses||Kippford History|
The village of Palnackie has one public house and a Post Office-cum-shop, but it is much more than these. Down one lane from its crossroads is the Port Basin, along another, the extensive business of Niven's, hauliers. Up to 1965 it was the fairly successful outport of Dalbeattie and Castle Douglas, with now the prospect of more landings from the Solway cockling trade. The village has a popular annual event that must be the muddiest in the area, - visitors try and catch local flatfish by 'trampling' in the mud and catching the fish with their toes.
The area around Palnackie is possibly the most attractive landscape (as against seascape) in the lower Urr Valley. Screel, Doach Wood and Orchardton, are well-wooded with flat land, hills and small streams. Farming and forestry are both important, but there is a developing tourist industry.
The Parish of Buittle once had its main ports at Palnackie and Auchencairn, rather than Dalbeattie. Sailing ships going farther than Kippford could not easily navigate the meanders of the Urr, so were usual towed upriver by horse-teams on the riverbank. The river at Palnackie is on the outside, deepwater, part of the meander, deeply incised into the sediments. Garden Creek flows into the Urr near the centre of this meander a quarter of a mile from the Palnackie Basin; its channel forms a natural Y-shaped tidal basin for small fishing-vessels and coastal craft. Garden Creek was enough for the Parish for several hundred years, but now only a few timbers survive of the old wharf. A narrow, steep road from inland runs beside Garden Creek as far as the cottage; it offered a route past Buittle Church towards Castle Douglas. At Palnackie itself there appear to have been few buildings other than a corn mill, some fishermens' cottages and a public house.
Castle Douglas and Dalbeattie merchants wished to bring in larger vessels than could make use of Garden Creek. There was even a proposal to build a canal with locks between Orchardton Bay on the Urr and the Carlingwark Loch at Castle Douglas, but this was ultimately considered to be uneconomic. Palnackie remained as the outlet for Castle Douglas's exports until the railway reached the town.
Palnackie (Barlochan) Basin is now the only commercially-operating part of the Port of Dalbeattie. Efforts were made in the 1800s to excavate the present basin where the mouth of a stream entered the Urr, at a point where the Urr River might be expected to scour out the basin. Vessels of 350 tons could load and unload cargo, although silting up has significantly reduced the depth available at present. During the 1940s and 1950s, ammunition barges would unload at Palnackie to send their cargoes by road to Edingham Depot for storage. As late as 1965, the Port Mill unloaded fertiliser there, but a proposed increase in port tolls in 1965 lead them to switch to rail and then to road transport. Since then, cockling and fishing vessels have called at Palnackie, with occasional pleasure craft. The Urr Navigation Trust still administers the Barlochan Basin.
Palnackie Basin in 1932
The basin has silted up and been dredged at various dates, but is now tidal and cannot offer a deep mooring to visiting vessels. However, there is a large warehouse adjacent to the basin, dating from the same period, though now in use for a craft centre. Part of it was originally the harbourmaster's office. An information-board and seats have been provided by the wharf by the Dumfries and Galloway Council.
In the winter of 1998 there were serious proposals to licence the cockle-fishery in the Solway and to open a cockle-preparation factory either in Palnackie or in Dalbeattie. Time will tell whether this happens, but it would make use of Palnackie Basin to a far greater extent.
This haulage firm set up in Palnackie in 1926, transporting lime and other cargo from and to the boats. Since the port declined, they have gone into long-distance road haulage and goods storage but are still based in Palnackie. Probably the largest employer in Palnackie, their operations look set to expand in the future.
As with Kippford and Dalbeattie, the leisure industry is now of increasing importance. There is a caravan site on the outskirts of the village and various bed and breakfast guest houses.
North Glen Gallery is possibly one of the more unusual businesses, manufacturing decorative glassware and even constructing genuine North American tepees. Their works are on a road beyond the Post Office and are a significant tourist attraction.
The Post Office has this year (1999) diversified into 'The Crow's Nest', its own tearoom and craftshop, with a nautical theme. Pictures by local artists and other craft souvenirs can be bought at the tearoom.
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Site commenced 29th December 1997,
last updated 14thJanuary 1999.