IN the last instalment of this history of Glasgow I focused on the Stirling family and how they built up the dyeing industry which was to prove so important to Glasgow and other parts of west central Scotland such as the Vale of Leven.

In the late 18th century, another citizen of Glasgow brought huge wealth to the city and its surroundings as he grew to dominate the cotton production industry. His name was David Dale, pictured.

Born in Stewarton in Ayrshire in 1739, Dale started his working life as a cattle herder on his father’s farm.

He was apprenticed to a weaver in Paisley and then moved to work as an agent at Hamilton and Cambuslang – he distributed yarn to weavers and then collected and sold the finished cloth – before arriving in Glasgow at the age of 24.

He started in the city as clerk to a textile merchant before he set up in business for himself in 1768.

Importing linen yarns from France and the Netherlands to sell in his High Street premises, Dale was soon very successful and proved to have a genius for entrepreneurship.

He went into partnership with various innovative merchants, and soon expanded into the manufacture of inkle, or linen tape, and then set up a factory for the production of cloth which supplied the city’s dyeing printfields with their basic commodity.

He moved into banking in a circuitous manner, marrying Anne Caroline Campbell, daughter of a director of the Royal Bank of Scotland. Through that connection, Dale opened the first branch of the Royal Bank outside Edinburgh in his shop in the High Street in 1783 – within a few years its accounts were worth £1 million a year, an extraordinary sum in those days.

In that same year he was one of the co-founders of the Glasgow Chamber of Commerce, the oldest institution of its type in the UK.

Dale and Anne would have nine children in their 14 years of marriage, which ended with her premature death.

Their eldest daughter was also called Anne Caroline, and it was through her that, as we shall see, Dale formed his greatest and most memorable partnership.

By now a prominent citizen, Dale was described by one historian as a “prosperous Glasgow merchant who, by virtue of pure force of character and intelligence, had fairly broken down that wall of distinction which once separated him from the great tobacco and sugar lords and could now wear his cocked hat jauntily, display his silver knee buckles showily and take the place of honour on the crown of the causeway with the proudest of them all.”

Dale was also partly responsible for transforming the very look of Glasgow as he had a magnificent house built for his family by the Adam brothers, Robert and James, in Charlotte Street in 1785. Other merchants had ‘Adam’ houses built at the same time, and Glasgow was on its way to becoming a city noted for its architecture.

Just as tobacco importation and the manufacture and export of tobacco products had dominated Glasgow’s economy in the years before the American Revolution, so cotton and linen production and the export of cloth goods dominated the city in the final years of the 18th century, with Dale recognised as the industry’s leading figure in Scotland.

It was some industry – according to his 1932 history of The Industrial Revolution in Scotland, Henry Hamilton calculated that “by the end of the century Scotland consumed 6,500,000lb of cotton and in its manufacture employed 181,753 persons and 312,000 spindles.”

Dale’s greatest project was inspired by the English inventor Richard Arkwright whose revolutionary spinning frame powered by water had transformed the cotton industry in England.

Arkwright came to Glasgow in 1784 and Dale and he joined forces with another cotton manufacturer, George Dempster, to found the giant cotton mills at New Lanark. Arkwright and Dempster left the partnership leaving Dale in charge of a community that soon grew to have 1400 employees living on the site where the River Clyde provided the power to make New Lanark one of the biggest mill operations in the world.

From the outset, Dale insisted that his workers, especially youngsters, were fed and housed properly and that they had access to education.

His deep Christian faith – he left the Church of Scotland to become a preacher in a small church – inspired his charitable works and his outlook on society.

Thousands of people, including fellow entrepreneurs and scientists, flocked to visit this model community in which orphaned children were given education in return for their work, many of them moving on from New Lanark to productive lives elsewhere.

One of the visitors was Robert Owen, a Welsh textile manufacturer who visited New Lanark regularly, so much so that he married Dale’s daughter Anne Caroline.

In a friendly arrangement, Owen bought the New Lanark mills from his father-in-law and installed himself as manager in January 1800.

He was able to introduce his own proto-socialist ideas and New Lanark became even more successful and famous – it is brilliantly preserved and is a ‘must’ for all people who care about Scottish ­history.

Back in Glasgow, David Dale was instrumental in setting up the city’s major insurance company and devoted himself over many years to raising funds for the new Glasgow Royal Infirmary which opened in 1795 and of which Dale was one of the board of managers in its early years.

Also in the city, Dale undertook a very brave campaign.

Much of the raw material for the cotton industry came from slave plantations in the USA, and though it brought him great opprobrium from his fellow merchants, Dale chaired the Glasgow Society for the Abolition of the Slave Trade and spoke out frequently against slavery.

Renowned as both an entrepreneur and philanthropist, David Dale died at his home at 43 Charlotte Street in March 1806.

Huge crowds of his fellow citizens lined the streets as Dale’s body was taken to Ramshorn Cemetery where a simple stone in the wall marks his last resting place.

Next week we’ll see how Glasgow entered the 19th century with a bang.