This was a period of unprecedented difficulty in the agricultural and fishing industries throughout Britain. The long recession in agriculture had a severe impact on remote areas, such as the Highlands and south-west Scotland, forcing many people to leave the land and find work in towns such as Glasgow. Farms near the city on the whole remained relatively prosperous supplying milk, meat and cheese and provender for horses, vital to the transport system. Unlike in some parts of Britain, Glaswegians did not take to frozen meat when it began to be imported in the 1880s and the only threat to local husbandry was the import of live cattle from America through the Merkland Street Lairage. For much of the period dung from the city streets and human waste was collected and used to fertilise neighbouring fields. Industry did not pass farming by, new sheds were often built with corrugated iron roofs supplied by A & J Main of Glasgow and from the 1880s machinery was increasingly used at the harvest.
Relentlessly much of the agricultural land within the city's boundaries was swallowed up by development and, towards the end of the period, by golf courses. With the decline in rents due to the recession and increasing taxation, many estates were broken up in the decade before the First World War. Tenants bought their farms often at knock-down prices. Responsible now for the cost of maintenance, many farm buildings were neglected.
Fishing was much more problematic. Industrial pollution put an end to the centuries of salmon fishing in the Clyde and tributaries. In the waters of the firth, herring continued to be caught and cured in large quantities. Sail replaced oars and at the turn of the century was replaced by steam. In some years the herring failed to appear and the West Coast fishermen had to search further afield. A new fish market to sell their catch was built in Bridgegate in 1872.
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