Denny Mill

Illus: Extract from the 1861 Ordnance Survey Map (National Library of Scotland).

Denny Mill stood on the south side of the River Carron almost opposite to Herbertshire Castle.  As such it lay just upstream from the early fording point of the river and only a little further away from Denny Bridge.  A weir across the river was securely anchored on the rocky bed and sides of the river and the lead had to be partly cut through this material.

James Sandilands, Lord and Baron of the barony of Torphichen, granted to Thomas Inglis, portioner of Auldliston, his chamberlain, in 1577, the feu ferm victual that was payable to him by the tenants of the Barony of Denny, for the rents of the Denny Mill.  This was the baronial mill of Denny or Temple Denny; a dependant holding of the Preceptory of Torphichen.  Thomas Inglis must have possessed the mill in feu for when his son, also Thomas, succeeded him he received a charter from Lord Torphichen of :

all and hail his mill of the barony of Denny, with the shielhill, dam and aqueduct or lead, with all houses, yards and astricted multures and sequells thereof, paid by the tenants of the said barony proportionally and according to use and wont, extending in the whole to thirty-eight bolls farm meal, to be holden of the granter and his successors” . 

(Reid 2004, 71)

The barony came with “mill, mill-lands, millhill, sucken and knaveship thereof.”  Despite its early date the mill is not shown on either Pont’s map of the 1580s or Roy’s of 1755.

Thomas Inglis’ son, also Thomas, sold the mill to his brother, James who was Provost of Glasgow.  He in turn sold it in 1619 to John, Earl of Wigtown.  The Herbertshire Estate, with the mill, was purchased in September 1835 by William Forbes of Callendar.  The New Statistical Account of 1841 notes that the:

Lowest [mill] on the river in this parish, is Denny corn and pot-barley-mill, belonging to the estate of Herbertshire, which has a large thirlage astricted to it.”  

A few years later, in 1860, the Ordnance Surveyors described it as

A corn mill and dwellinghouse, both of which are one storey in height, slated and in good repair”.

Charles Morrison recounted that in the late 1820s, as a ten-year old, he took cart loads of coal from Camelon Pit to Denny Mill (Falkirk Herald 1 January 1916).  Presumably this was for drying the grain before milling.

Joseph Baillie from Slamannan took up the occupancy of the mill around 1846 and it was to remain in the family until it closed.  His name appears on a list of millers, bakers and grain merchants who signed a petition in 1855 to have beans weighed at the Falkirk Corn Exchange in the same way as grain was.  The river provided ample water for the corn and barely mill as well as for a series of paper mills downstream.  When the Denny and Larbert Water Trust was formed in 1882 the mill owners fought to ensure their rights to the water and ensure that the “compensation water” was sufficient for them to continue in production.  Joseph Baillie, grain merchant and miller, was thrown from his carriage when passing through Camelon in September 1886 and died shortly afterwards aged 70 years.  As he did not have children of his own, it was probably his nephew, William Baillie who took over at the mill.  He specialised in producing pot barley early in the year and getting it to the markets in Glasgow before his competitors.  It is probable that his barley mill was designed by J & J Fletcher of Denny who specialised in “self-acting” barley mills.  Teenage boys were hired to help with its operation.

Illus 2: Old Denny Mill Road branches off Duke Street with the Mill in the middle distance and Herbertshire Castle beyond, looking north, c1910. The photograph was taken from the top of a pit bing.

By the end of the 19th century such mills were no longer profitable and in 1899 William Baillie established a Trust to administer his affairs.  Callendar Estate put the mill up for let:

DENNY MILL, as presently occupied by Mr William Baillie, situated on the River Carron about half a mile west of Denny.  The Mill commands a wide district, and a large grinding business has always been carried on, in addition to which there is a ready market for all kinds of feeding stuffs.  The Lands attached to the Mill extend to 7 Imperial Acres.

Mr Baillie, who is retiring, will not be an offerer…”

(Falkirk Herald 14 October 1899, 1).

Naturally there was no taker for the mill, but the house and mill lands were occupied.  The empty building was used for a number of years for an annual barn dance.  However, by 1916 the mill was dilapidated and unsafe (Falkirk Herald 1 January 1916).

In the early 1920s housing for the Carrongrove Paper Mill was built along the road to Denny Mill and it was renamed Grove Street.  By 1933 the deserted mill was being used as a playground for the local children and concern was expressed for their safety.  That year the Burgh Surveyor arranged for the area to be fenced off and a year or two later the buildings were demolished.

Illus 3: Grove Street looking north to the old Mill buildings, c1930. The mound on the right is the garden terrace for Number 16.
1621Thomas Young
1694William Cowburgh
1709William Bruce
1846Joseph Baillie
1886William Baillie1899

Sites and Monuments Record

Denny Old MillSMR 1178(NS 8040 8300)

G.B. Bailey, 2022