Black Cart 8: The Candren Burn

Concluding the eight-part journey down the Black Cart

Just before the Black Cart joins the Gryfe at Blackstoun, the last of its burns, the Candren, falls into the river. Along with the Espedair Burn, which falls into the White Cart opposite Paisley Abbey, the Candren Burn powered and provided process water for two dozen bleachfields south of Paisley, around half of which were on the Candren.

The plethora of high quality textiles produced in and around Paisley from the 1740s created a demand for high quality bleaching and finishing. Textile manufactories or weaving shops in the town, such as the Paisley Stocking Factory ‘put out’ work to most of these bleachfields.

The highest bleachfield on the Candren Burn was at Foxbar, followed by two at Causewayend, a mill and bleachfield at Lounsdale, then further bleachfields at Hillfoot, Bredisland, and two at Meiklerigs. Much of the burn is now culverted among Paisley suburbia, forgotten until heavy rain causes it to rise and flood property.

The burn then passes under the Johnstone Canal, where the poet Tannahill drowned, then through the site of Ferguslie Cotton Mills, to Millarston Bleachfield. Finally, it crossed Paisley Moss. After the burn passes under what is now the Johnstone Bypass (A737), it enters the Black Cart below Candren itself, near Blackstoun. Candren Bleachfield, was one of the earliest in the county, established by 1752.

By the 1780s each field on the burn covered at least two acres, though Causewayend (East) and Lounsdale, both owned by John Craig, were already three times this size. As well as using the burn for process water, most of the bleachfields had water powered wash mills, and latterly added other power driven machinery. Several small reservoirs were built along the burn to store water. The largest survives as Durrockstock Pond. The workers cottages for the bleachfields were the core of the settlements which now form Paisley’s southern suburbs.

In conclusion:
The Black Cart from its source to Clyde has powered at least 50 mills and water driven industries. Some of the traditional grain and waulk mills lasted for centuries, others only a few decades. Some remain to be rediscovered.

 

Outlet from turbine at Johnstone Old Cotton Mill

The days of water power are far from past. Some of the bigger mills, including Johnstone Old Cotton Mill, latterly installed turbines to generate electricity from their lades. Other old mill sites on the Black Cart and its burns are now attracting interest for the small-scale generation of electricity.

© 2017 Stuart  Nisbet, Renfrewshire Local History Forum

Black Cart Mills 7: Johnstone to Linwood

A short distance downstream from Johnstone, the Old Patrick Water enters the Cart. This burn powered Elderslie Cotton Mill, two grain mills (Elderslie and Mackies Mill), a paper mill, printworks (Patrickbank), and a distillery at Glenpatrick.

On the Black Cart itself, one of the oldest mills on the river was the Mill of Cart, a medieval grain mill. Its rubble dam still survives just downstream of where the cycle path crosses the Cart. The dam was later, via an extended lade, used to power Linwood Cotton Mill.

 

                                                                    Mill of Cart Dam

Linwood Cotton Mill was built in 1792 by James Dunlop, who already owned Gateside Cotton Mill in Neilston Parish. Linwood Mill was, for a time, the largest mill in Britain. From the 1790s, the parish records document children born to the mill workers. Apart from the cotton spinners documented in the records, occupations at the mill included clockmakers, turners, brassfounders and wrights, all of whom built and maintained the mill machinery

Like many cotton mills, Linwood mill was burned down, and was later rebuilt. In an 1804 advert, only one of its six stories remained standing, plus a large water wheel, 14 feet diameter and 12 feet wide. The mill was then rebuilt. At this point on the Black Cart, so far down the river, the bottom of the waterwheel could be swamped at high tide, and a smaller, higher water wheel had to be used.
Beside the big cotton mill there was also a small thread bleachfield. Further down the river at Middleton there was a much bigger thread bleachfield, started by James Smith by 1782.

Less well known is Linwood’s second cotton mill. Henderson’s Mill was built shortly after the big mill, but with only a tenth of the big mill’s 400 workers. Both mills latterly changed to paper making.

© 2017 Stuart Nisbet, Renfrewshire Local History Forum

Black Cart Mills 6: Kilbarchan Mills

Continuing our journey down the Black Cart.

Opposite the site of Johnstone Old Cotton Mill, is an arch in the high stone retaining wall supporting the former railway (now the cycle path). This marks the entry of the Kilbarchan Burn into the Cart.

The burn rises in bogland on Marshall Moor. Above the village, it passes through Glentyan Estate, where it has been dammed to create a large pond and high level lade, passing over ornamental cascades. This pond was party to store water to drive Glentyan Mill. However it also seems to have been diverted south of Bank Brae to the bleachfields in the centre of the village (see below).Glentyan Mill was a traditional grain mill of which ruins survive.

Although famed for its weaving industry, Kilbarchan is one of the only Renfrewshire villages not to have a big cotton mill. The nearest cotton mill to the village was at Cartside. A relatively late proposal to erect a large steam powered cotton mill nearer the village in 1825 never emerged.

However Kilbarchan did make innovative use of its water resources. Just downstream from Glentyan mill was a water powered thread mill in a converted house built over the burn by James Alexander in 1756. The previous year Alexander had invented a machine ‘to go by water for twining thread’ and received a grant of twenty pounds from The Board of Trustees for Manufacture. Alexander’s house is shown on Roy’s map of 1755, situated west of the kirkyard directly on the Kilbarchan Burn. This linen thread mill can lay claim to being the first water-powered thread mill in Scotland.In the heart of the village in the 1780s were at least six bleachfields which bleached the fine textiles which had been hand woven in the village. These bleachfields were located in the Bog Park, although only scant evidence remains today.

Downstream of the village there is a tradition of another mill in the Victorian period. Beyond this, the lower parts of the burn pass through Milliken Estate, where the burn was straightened and passed over cascades supplying ponds, before entering the Black Cart at Johnstone.

© 2017, Stuart Nisbet, Renfrewshire Local History Forum

 

Black Cart Mills 5: Johnstone’s Water-powered Cotton Mills

On the Black Cart, just below Milliken and Cochrane Mills is a low dam. From this dam a wide lade continues, under a purpose built arch in the bridge over the Cart, to Cartside Cotton Mill (now a paper mill). The mill was built in 1792 by the owners of Calderpark Cotton Mill at Lochwinnoch. Cartside was one of six Johnstone mills built between 1782 and 1796. Their owners are well known, and our interest here is in how the mills were powered.

From Cartside Mill, the lade continues downstream for more than 2.5km, partly in a brick-arched tunnel, to drive three other big cotton mills: Hag (1794), Johnstone Old (1782) and Johnstone Laigh (1783). Two small mills, Milliken waulk mill and a lint mill were both still operating in the 1790s. They stood on the opposite side of the river from Hag Mill, which was demolished in the 1920s.

Further downstream, Johnstone Old Cotton Mill was built beside the old Johnstone grain mill, at Johnstone Bridge. The Old Cotton Mill was the oldest surviving cotton mill in Scotland, until it was destroyed by fire in 2010.

The remains of Johnstone Old Mill, 2010

From the Johnstone Old Cotton Mill the lade continued through a special arch under Johnstone Bridge, then through the town’s old bleaching green to Johnstone’s fourth big cotton mill, the Laigh Cotton Mill. Below Laigh Mill the tailrace continued downstream for 500 metres to a point not far above the dam for Linwood Cotton Mills.

Slightly further downstream, the Peockland Burn enters the Black Cart below Linwood Dam. This burn is the confluence of the Craigbog and Floors burns. Despite its modest size, at one time the burn powered a number of mills, and also drained the Quarrelton Coal Mines via a water powered engine. Two smaller water powered cotton mills, Bank Top (1792) and Montgomeries Mill (1796), were built on the burn. However, when a planned expansion of their reservoirs threatened to flood the town, these mills were soon converted to steam power.

Johnstone had numerous other textile factories, though none were water powered. However, according to the late Sylvia Clark, Johnstone had a seventh water powered cotton mill, the Adelphi Mill in Graham Street, fed from the Peockland Burn. When the Catholic Church was being built, an underground lade and a wheelpit were discovered on the site.

© 2016, Stuart Nisbet, Renfrewshire Local History Forum

Black Cart Mills 4: Castle Semple Loch to Corseford

Apart from the Calder Water, several smaller burns feed Castle Semple Loch. On the north side, the Blackditch Burn was diverted by a small dam, to supply the ornamental fish ponds and cascades behind Castle Semple House.

black-cart-4-castle-semple-cascade

Casacde at Fish Ponds

At the north end of the loch, the Brides Burn enters the loch under Fancy Bridge at the beginning of the Black Cart. A short distance upstream was Brides Mill, a traditional grain mill.

Over the centuries, many schemes were devised to dam Castle Semple Loch at the beginning of the Black Cart. The earliest was in the medieval period, to power Auchendinan Mill. Later attempts to drain the loch deepened its outlet, leaving the mill high and dry. Today the flow in the Black Cart is controlled by a weir near the Elliston Burn, operated by Scottish Water.

The minor Elliston (or Linnister or Bowfield) Burn is spanned by Elliston Bridge, but the bridge’s name dates from a much larger bridge, which spanned the Black Cart. This old bridge was demolished in the 1780s and replaced by Garthland Bridge. Up in the headwaters of the Elliston Burn a large printfield was built at Bowfield in the 1780s. Further down, near Elliston Castle, was a Victorian sawmill.

Continuing down the Black Cart, old mill sites continue to be rediscovered. A 1730s survey shows a Waulk Mill for dressing woollen goods at Thirdpart.  Apart from burns, the river is still fed by ‘levels’ (underground tunnels) which drain old coal and lime workings in the Corseford area. At Corseford the Swinetrees Burn was diverted in the 1770s to turn a waterwheel to drain lime workings. By the Victorian period, this water wheel drove Corseford grain mill. A large reservoir was built in the burn’s headwaters at Whittlemuir (now drained), below the Iron Age fort at Walls Hill. Along with the lesser Skiff Burn to the west, this stored water for Midtown Bleachfield, which had a large water wheel 11 metres in diameter, supplied by a long lade cutting across the hillside.

Further down the Cart a pair of traditional mills stood on either side of the river at Milliken Bridge. Milliken grain mill stood on the north side and, Cochrane Mill, which became a bleachfield in 1796 and later a threshing mill, stood on the south.

© 2016, Stuart  Nisbet

Black Cart Mills 3: Lochwinnoch

The site of the old village of Lochwinnoch was round the old graveyard where Auld Simon, the gable of an old church, now stands. In the eighteenth century, Lochwinnoch already had a number of old textile ventures. Not all of these were water-powered, and included several hand-powered weaving “factories” where a number of weavers worked together.

In 1788 William McDowall of Castle Semple laid out a new planned village as a westward expansion. He also built a large cotton mill, Calderpark Mill, on the western edge of the new village to attract new tenants.

The ‘Old’ or Calderpark Mill (1788) was the first cotton mill in the village, and McDowall’s partners would soon be owners of another cotton mill at Johnstone (Cartside). Calderpark was supplied with water power from the spectacular semi-circular dam on the Calder above Bridgend, which provided a fall of 24 feet. The flow of the Calder was supplemented by two dams constructed high up on the moors, at Queenside Loch and Calder Dam (now drained), with the option to build a third.

A second big cotton mill, the ‘New’ or Calderhaugh Mill, followed the year after Calderpark, further down its lade. A deep tailrace was also cut to Castle Semple Loch, to heighten the fall of the mill’s waterwheel. Calderhaugh was established by a trio of Paisley textile merchants, including Robert Fulton, son of a pioneer of Paisley’s silk manufacture. By 1813 it had 10,000 spindles and it was later converted to spinning flax, then silk.

black-cart-3-calderhaugh-cotton-mill

A third cotton mill was built two years later on the Cloak Burn at Boghead, on the site of an old grain and woollen mill. The owners already had a weaving mill in Factory Street in the village. Boghead Mill was four stories high and powered by dams at Boghead and Kaim. Like most early rural cotton mills, with their timber floors and roofs, all were lost or damaged by fires. Boghead Mill was destroyed by fire in 1812. Calderpark Mill burned down in 1874, after lightning struck the roof. Four years later, part of the Calderhaugh Mill was damaged by fire, but the remainder survives, converted to flats in the 1980s.

 

© 2016, Stuart Nisbet

 

Black Cart Mills 2: Millbank Burn and the Calder

Minor Mills on Millbank Burn and the Calder

Several burns flow into Barr Loch on the way to the Black Cart. The largest of these burns is Millbank Burn which powered Millbank Mill, a traditional grain mill. Until about a decade ago the mill’s grinding stones and large water wheel were still intact.

millbank-mill

Millbank Mill gearing – between water wheel and grindstones

Between the burn and Barr Castle, water was collected from a copious spring to turn another waterwheel to pump water out of the then drained Barr Loch (discussed in a previous Advertizer article).

The main watercourse in the headwaters of the Black Cart is the Calder which falls into Castle Semple Loch at Lochwinnoch. The Calder falls 400 metres from Queenside Loch down to Castle Semple Loch. The stream and its smaller feeder burns, particularly the Cloak Burn, powered numerous mills which ranged in size from the humblest grain mills to the biggest cotton mills.

This month we look at the Calder’s smaller mills. Up on the moors at Muirshiel, the Calder powered a mill for grinding Barytes (discussed in a previous Advertizer article). Further down the Calder were two lint mills, at Loups and at Bridgend, the latter of which at one time was also a grain mill. Another lint mill sat on the Cloak Burn. There were also several bleachfields on the edge of Lochwinnoch village, for whitening and finishing cloth. One lay beside the Calder at Burnfoot, at the bottom of the minor Garple Burn. Another two, the Old and New Bleachfields, at Calderhaugh, were advertised from 1793.

It took considerable ingenuity to power a variety of mills from such a powerful and unpredictable burn as the Calder. Water rights were a thorny issue and even the mighty Castle Semple owners did not escape disputes. From the 1790s the flow in the Calder in dry spells was controlled by the owners of dams recently built on the Calder at Queenside Loch and on the Cloak Burn at Knockbartnock.

James Adam of Barr owned the Glen Mill on the Cloak Burn, which had been a corn mill for at least 150 years. It had full rights to the mill dams and lades on the Cloak burn, including the Black Linn, Boghead and Kaim dams. However the owners of the new cotton mills had closed the dam sluices for weeks to store up water for dry weather. This stopped the working of Glen Mill. However the traditional water rights were upheld and the cotton mill owners were instructed to provide enough water for Adam to drive his modest grain mill. Cotton mills will be the subject of a future article.)

© 2016, Stuart Nisbet

Black Cart Mills 1: Rowbank Burn

2016-08-15 08.27.04 MAP ROWBANK BURN

This is the first of several articles on the mills on the Black Cart and its tributaries, from its source to the Clyde. The Black Cart flows all the way from Barr Loch, via Johnstone and Linwood, to join the Gryfe and the White Cart, before meeting the Clyde near Renfrew. The Black Cart itself powered at least a dozen mills. It is fed by various lesser burns which rise in the hills between Barr Loch and Kilbirnie Loch and define the Renfrewshire-Ayrshire border. These smaller burns powered another dozen mills

The Rowbank (or Moor) Burn forms the border between Renfrewshire and Ayrshire, between Lochwinnoch Parish and Beith. The burn is not very big, but it makes up for this by falling more than 100 metres, giving the potential to power numerous mills. Most were clustered around the three main bridging points of the burn.

At Clarksbridge, a toll point on the original turnpike road into Ayrshire (now the A737), there were several mills, including a lint mill (for dressing flax before it was spun) and a thread mill (for twisting yarn into sewing thread). Just above the bridge was Loanhead (or Rowbank) bleachfield and printfield, which became quite large. Further downstream in the 1850s, on a minor tributary, was a smaller bleachfield at Grangehill.

The next bridge up the burn from Clerksbridge was at Mill of Beith, an old grain mill on the Ayrshire bank. Just upstream, near Knowes, was a traditional waulk mill for fulling (or softening) cloth, to which was added the larger Knowes cotton mill in the early 1800s. Further up, also on the Ayrshire side of the burn, was another lint mill near Brownmuir.

At the third and final bridge, at the appropriately named Newmill, was another traditional grain mill, with a very long lade. The burn finally petered out on Shutterflat Muir and, via the Muirhead Burn, below Walls Hill.

Today the Rowbank Burn has been changed greatly by the whinstone quarries along its banks, and by Barcraigs reservoir at its headwaters. At its foot, the burn flows via the Dubbs Water, into Barr Loch. On the opposite side of the Dubbs, the Maich Water forms the boundary between Lochwinnoch and Kilbirnie Parishes. Near the foot of the burn was a water powered engine for draining a coal pit at Nervelstone.

The Dubbs Water is the high point of the rivers in the area, often  flowing in both directions, draining the bogland between Kilbirnie Loch, the headwaters of the River Irvine (flowing east), and Barr Loch, which flows into the Black Cart, and begins our journey west towards the sea.

© 2016 Stuart Nisbet

The Reverend Peter Dale – minister Houston and Kilallan Parish, (1843-56)

The Reverend Peter Dale was minister of the joint parishes of Houston and Kilallan from his induction on 5th September1843 until his death on 11th December 1856.

He was born in the parish of Torpichen, West Lothian, on 21st September 1808 to John Dale and Jane Walker and was baptised there on 9th October. Nothing is known of his boyhood education but, according to the Fasti of the Church of Scotland, he was later educated at Edinburgh University.

The first reference to Peter Dale as a minister is in 1841. The 1841 census (taken on 7th June that year) records Peter as living in Bloom Village, Livingston, West Lothian.  His occupation is given as Assistant Minister. However, there is no mention of him as a minister in the Kirk Session Records for Livingston Parish Church, nor is he listed in the Fasti of the Church of Scotland as being a serving minister at that time. It appears that he was associated with a parish library which was established in the village of Livingston about 1839. The library, supported by subscription, is recorded as having nearly 300 books. In the proceedings of the Session Meeting of Livingston Parish in September 1841 Mr Dale is referred to as giving up “his charge of the library”.

The Fasti record that, on 2nd December 1841, he was ordained to Milngavie where a new Presbyterian church had been opened in May that year and Peter served as its first minister. Peter’s ministry in Milngavie lasted less than 2 years. The Scotsman dated 2nd August 1843 records that “The Presbytery of Paisley, on Monday last week, gave a call to the Rev Peter Dale, minister of the quoad sacra church at Milngavie to the church and parish of Houston.” On 5th September 1843 he was inducted as minister of the united parishes of Houston and Killellan.

On 26th October 1843, less than 2 months after his induction to Houston parish, Peter went to Londonderry and there married Margaret Hay of Templemore parish. In their comparatively short married life, the couple had 5 children who were:

  1. George Hay Dale, born 26 August 1844.
  2. Jessie Walker Dale, born 14th April 1846.
  3. John William Dale, born 31st January 1849.
  4. Elizabeth Mary Dale, born 10th June 1851.
  5. Wilhelmina Fleming Dale born 23rd September 1852.   Died 1st October 1853.

As previously mentioned, Peter died on 11th December 1856, and was buried on 18th December 1856 within the old Kilallan Church, where a wall tablet records the event.    The report of his death and funeral service in the Paisley Herald and Renfrewshire Advertiser dated 27th December 1856 records that he “was very acceptable as a preacher; and he had the character of being an affectionate and dutiful pastor, and was kind to the poor.”  Margaret died in Londonderry in 1895, aged 84.

This is a brief summary of the ordinary tale of an ordinary family of their times, but one wonders how Miss Hay of Londonderry and the Reverend Peter Dale of Livingstone, Milngavie and Houston got to know each other. Further research might provide an answer.

© June 2016, Gina Fisher

Robert II, the first Stewart King

When writing the article for the Advertiser last month about the Stewart 700 Conference in Paisley Abbey on Saturday 10 September 2016, I realised that I knew practically nothing about King Robert II, the first of the Stewart dynasty, apart from the fact that he was the son of Marjorie Bruce (only child of Robert the Bruce and his first wife, Isabella of Mar) and Walter, the 6th High Steward of Scotland. So, on the perhaps fanciful grounds that the Stewards/Stewarts could be called Renfrewshire’s local royal dynasty, I thought I’d write another article, this time mainly about Robert himself.

Robert II was born in 1216 in or near Paisley Abbey where his mother died, possibly after a riding accident. At birth, Robert was not in line to the Scottish throne as his mother’s right of succession had been extinguished by entail by the Scottish Parliament in April 1315 in favour of her uncle, Edward Bruce, brother to her father, King Robert the Bruce. (Marjorie had apparently agreed to this.) When Edward, who had been crowned king of Ireland in 1316, was killed at the battle of Dundalk in October 1318 another entail by the Scottish Parliament provided that Robert would become king if Robert the Bruce, his grandfather, died without male heirs.

However, when in 1324 Robert the Bruce and his second wife Elizabeth de Burgh, produced a male heir, David, the Bruce line was secured. After Robert the Bruce died in 1329, Robert the 7th Steward was one of the noblemen who was involved in the regency during the minority of his (half) uncle, who had become David II, and also during David’s imprisonment in England after being captured at the battle of Neville’s Cross in 1346. Robert finally became king, the first Stewart king, in 1371 when he was in his fifties and reigned until his death in 1390 at Dundonald Castle in Ayrshire.

Leaving aside his activities both as hereditary Steward/Stewart and as king, what I find remarkable about Robert II is the number of children he had, both legitimate and illegitimate. With his first wife, Elizabeth Mure of Rowallan, he had 4 sons and 5 daughters. By his second wife, Euphemia Ross, he had 2 sons and 2 daughters. All together he is said to have fathered 21 children, including 8 illegitimate sons.  Some regard his 4 children with Euphemia as his only legitimate children as several of his children with Elizabeth were born before their marriage in 1347. These children were legitimised by Papal dispensation but there was still the issue that he and Elizabeth were considered to be too closely related. However, Robert II was succeeded by his eldest son by Elizabeth, John, Earl of Carrick, who took the regnal name of Robert III.

© 2016 Gina Fisher