Stirling - did you know

  •  HRH Queen Elizabeth II officially declared Stirling Scotland's newest city on 24th May 2002. Stirling was chosen to mark the Queen's Golden Jubilee.
  • Scotland's first National Park, The Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park, was opened by HRH The Princess Royal on 24th July 2002.
  • Over half of Scotland's population lives within an hour of the city of Stirling and 80% within two hours.
  • In a recent visitor survey, 22% of Stirling visitors said that Stirling Castle was the main reason for coming to Stirling. Most of the Castle seen today was built in the early to mid 16th century. Mary Queen of Scots was crowned at the castle in 1543.
  • Stirling University is ranked 1st in the UK for widening access to Higher Education. It also ranks 1st in Scotland for Communications and Media Studies and 2nd in Scotland for Environmental Science.
  • Famous Graduates from Stirling University include Iain Banks (novelist) and Jack McConnell MSP (former First Minister)
  • The Old Stirling Bridge was built in the late 15th century, it was the site where previously William Wallace had defeated the English army in 1297. The remains of the original 13th century wooden bridge were discovered in 1990.
  • From 1888 to 1935, Stirling’s Old Town Jail was a military prison, the only one in Scotland.
  • The three most common Surnames in the Stirling area are Stewart, Campbell and Wilson.
  • Stirling Moss was named after Stirling, his mother’s home town.
  • The ubiquitous chewing-gum removal machine, used in towns throughout the UK, was invented in Stirling.
  • Hay grown on the Stirling carse is the best quality hay in the UK and fed to thoroughbred race horses
  • In the 19th century Stirling had the biggest oil refinery in the UK, situated at the Forthbank works near Cambuskenneth.
  • Robert Burns once visited Stirling and penned the Stirling lines here.
  • The Back Walk beside the Castle is the oldest publicly maintained road in Scotland.
  • Billy Bremner was born here in Stirling.
  • Stirling was a major embarkation and demobilisation point for soldiers and equipment during the 2 World Wars.
  • Stirling started Scotland’s first Sustainable Communities Project and first Food Futures Project.
  • The elite S.A.S. unit was founded by James Stirling of that famous Stirling family.
  • The Stirling Jug was the liquid measure by which all other Scottish measures were standardised. It was instituted in 1457 and was not superseded until Imperial measures were introduced in 1707.
  • In 1507, John Damion, a Italian known as "The Leech", attempted to fly to France using wings of feathers. When he plunged from the battlements of Stirling Castle and broke his thigh he claimed that if had used eagle feathers instead of hens’ feathers, all would have been well.
  • RAF Squadron 43 was founded in Stirling in 1916. A month later, 150 men from the Royal Flying Corps detachment was stationed in Stirling. They were quickly made to feel at home and were provided with a "sumptuous tea, served by the young ladies of the congregation, which was followed by an excellent concert programme". Subsequently, the Stirling Observer was proffering the "whirring flying machines" as tourist attractions for visitors from districts where flying machines are seldom or never seen. At the end of the Great War, Stirling became the Headquarters of the Royal Airforce in Scotland and based in the Station Hotel. Stirling was eventually deemed to have no future as a RAF airfield. According to Sir Alan Cobham "the disadvantages of Stirling are concerned with the high land that surrounds it – in other words the Castle Rock is in the way."
  • The pioneering aviator brothers Frank and Harold Barnwell from Stirling designed the World War 2 Blenheim and Beaufort bombers. The Blenheim, one of the main bombers in the early days of World War 2, has become the most celebrated of British aircraft. The Blenheim could reach speeds of more than 300mph when fighter planes' top speed was closer to 200mph. Its design led to the development of the Beaufighter which – radar equipped – was instrumental in combating the Luftwaffe’s night bombing raids.
  • In 1911 the brothers were also the first to design, construct and fly a Scottish built aircraft over a half mile course in Scotland
  • The film ‘Kidnapped’, starring Michael Caine as Alan Breck, was partly shot in Stirling.
  • James Muir Mathieson the famous musical director (1911-75) whose conducting, arranging and composing contributed towards hundreds of British films from the 1930’s onwards, came from Stirling. Such films included "Brief Encounter", "Henry V", and "The Wooden Horse". He also commissioned such eminent composers as Richard Rodney Bennet and Vaughan Williams to write music for his films.
  • John Grierson , the ‘father’ of the British Documentary Film movement, came from Stirling. His work, in the 1930’s, is recognised as having made a distinctive contribution to British cinema, his famous film ‘Drifters’ being a noteworthy example. He later established the National Film Board of Canada, and was Director of Mass Communications at UNESCO in Paris, as well as being a visiting professor at McGill University in Montreal.
  • The British currency term ‘sterling’ is derived from the town of Stirling. Originally, a mint in the town produced coins using silver from mines in the Ochils.
  • John Wright, the man who destabilised the Stirling Bridge during the 1297 battle against the English by pulling out a series of pins, causing the bridge to collapse during the battle, was thereafter known a ‘Pin Wright’. The first-born of the Wright family was thereafter given the nickname ’Pin’ thereafter, and the last Pin Wright died in 1900, the family having kept alive the tradition for over 600 years.
  • William Jaffray, the humanitarian Weaver who personally inoculated over 13,000 children against smallpox and other diseases. Appalled by the number and youth of those who fell victim to these diseases, he refused to be deflected by his lack of medical knowledge and set about acquiring the information, skills and equipment that he needed for his vaccinations. In his native village of Cambusbarron, near Stirling, the only deaths from smallpox occurred in the two cottages – both at either end of the village – where the vaccinations had been refused.
  • The Black Boy fountain - 1369: Plague decimates over 30% of Stirling's population Although people did not realize it at the time, ordinary fleas spread the Plague. The fleas were transported by rats that were a common sight in the cities and towns. Living off garbage and sewerage, the rats spread the fleas - and diseases - to man. Ironically, the Plague did not affect the flea: when a rat died the flea just moved on to a new victim - be it man or beast. When the flea bit a new victim it regurgitated some of the blood in its stomach and therefore spread the disease. It is thought that plague spread into Scotland Plague earned the nickname 'The Black Death" because of the discoloration of the skin and black tumours which appeared on the second day of contracting the disease.
    The 'Black Boy' fountain in the centre of Stirling commemorates those who died in the city from this terrible disease.