After reading the previous blog, my comrade Loam at arrezafe sent me this poem. It gives a snapshot of life under the outpourings of the Tennant's chemical works. Incidentally, it mentions the street where I was born, Charles Street. However, the story I have heard of Tennant was not one of his "radicalism" but that he built is chemical empire on a stolen formula for bleach, stolen from a friend. Though I have never had this verified.
Thanks Loam for the poem.
The following poem, recited by Hugh Aitken Dow at a St Rollox school reunion in 1875 illustrates the change brought to a once peaceful scene by the chemical works – known by many locals as ‘Dante’s Inferno’!
“A busy, noisy, clam’rous spot
where trees, nor flowers nor fields are seen
where men by day and night are wrought
and holy calm hath rarely been.
Where fragrant zephyrs never blow
but smutty is its atmosphere.
When rains fall dense and winds are low
It’s sulphrous elements appear.
When winds blow south, a cloud by day
it may at once be seen and felt
for smarting eyes then own its sway
through muffled noises then ‘tis smelt.
There fiery pillars, gleam at night
from hooded chimneys, tow’ring high
and cast their vivid, fork’d flames bright
up to the troubled murky sky.
Thus fiery cross like, shineth clear
the cupolas of Charles Street
answering to McAndrew’s near
while Hamilton’s the call repeat.
There Vulcan’s strokes would fail to match
the Glasgow ironworks polka blows
his lurid fires would pace and din
‘fore Tennants countless furnace glows.”