The village is entirely the product of Dumfries's need for a harbour to handle the larger craft that could not negotiate the River Nith
as far as the town centre. The quay here was initially developed in the 1740s. The first commercial cargo to be landed,
on board the aptly named Success, was tobacco from Maryland in north America.
The harbour underwent improvements around 1840. Money continued to be spent on the facility even after the railways were starting
to take business away from the sea-going transporters. Writing in the 1870s, the Dumfries historian William McDowall adds to his usual
scholarly detachment a piquant dose of taxpayer's disgruntlement:
The latest work of an extensive kind undertaken by the Nith Commissioners was the construction of a huge sea-dyke below
Glencaple Quay, which cost no less a sum than £6,000; and though it has had the desired effects of deepening and straightening
the channel at that place, it is a matter of question whether these advantages have not been secured at too great an expense,
considering how much the revenue has been reduced by the railways and the difficulty which the shipping of the port have in
competing with 'the steeds of steam', which carry on the traffic of the district with a speed and regularity that cannot otherwise be rivalled.
All the money hitherto spent in improving the Nith has failed to make it a good navigable river.
McDowall favoured a rail link between Glencaple and the mainline at Dumfries but nothing came of that.
Though today the quay is largely redundant, the village continues to provide the townsfolk of Dumfries with a
breath of seaside air at the end of a brisk walk down the riverside.
The house known as Kirkconnel Lea was built around 1870 for Sir James Anderson (1824-1893), a Dumfries bookseller's son who,
as a senior officer with the Cunard shipping line, was at the head of the first successful operation to lay a telegraph cable
across the Atlantic.
Various attempts had been made during the 1850s - all failures. The project was revived a decade later.
This time the Brunel-designed steamship Great Eastern - launched in 1858 as the world's biggest vessel - was employed and
Anderson was its captain.
There were horrendous problems, particularly the breaking of the cable. The first voyage in 1865
had to be abandoned. But when they had another go in the following year, they had double success: not only was a new
cable laid from Ireland to Newfoundland but also the earlier lost cable was recovered and completed.
To the north of the village, the nineteenth-century mansion Conheath has an unusual feature in its grounds:
its very own private chapel, designed in part by one of the great Scottish architects of Edwardian times,
Sir Robert Lorimer.
Though first planned in 1909, the chapel was not actually built until 1928, by which time Lorimer had finished
working on one of his best known commissions, the Scottish National War Memorial at Edinburgh Castle.