From the 1770s agriculture in the west of Scotland experienced profound changes. Land was brought into cultivation and enclosed with dykes (dry stone walls) and later hedges. New farmhouses were constructed, often around a courtyard or square, and new agricultural techniques introduced. These changes came about because of the rapid growth in the population of Glasgow which needed to be fed and because for much of the period imports were disrupted by the war with revolutionary France. Even within the current city boundary signs of these changes can still be detected in regular geometric field patterns and in the neat classical farm buildings, which survive through serving other purposes.
The great majority of these new farms were on estates either of old families, such as the Maxwells of Pollok, or were purchased by Glasgow merchants and industrialists, such as John Glassford, who used their wealth to improve their property. They were typically given over to dairying and animal husbandry. During the Napoleonic wars they were very prosperous and even with the coming of peace in 1815 they did not experience the difficulties of grain growers in the east of the country.
Fish had always been a staple diet of poor families in the west of Scotland. During this period the industry changed as boats hauling drift nets were introduced to replace nets staked out from the shore. Salmon were still plentiful in the Clyde and in the firth herring were in abundance in the season. Nets of increasing size began to be made by machines by such firms as Knox of Kilbirnie in Ayrshire. The fish was brought up the Clyde to Glasgow for sale in the Fishmarket.
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