Jaw Mill

Along with Lady’s Mill and Larbert Mill this was one of the three baronial mills of Callendar.  Jaw served the southern portion of the barony and was located to the south-west of Ellrig Loch, which provided the water supply for the wheel.  Ellrig Loch was a natural sheet of water which occupied some fifty acres, surrounded on three sides by moss, and stretched from East to West between Gardrum and Darnrigg.  The stream from the loch to the mill was known as the Mill Burn.  After the mill it continued southward and issued into the River Avon. In 1642 John Gray in Blackfaulds was fined for taking his produce there instead of to Carmuirs Mill to which he was thirled. William Donaldsone was miller at Jaw Mill in 1677.  When Thomas Russell of Elridge sold his lands to William Coubrough in 1737, the charter included a passage confirming that John Aitkenhead of Jaw had

the right of servitude which the said John Aitkenhead and his predecessors have enjoyed of bringing water from the said Thomas Russel his Loch of Elridge to the Miln of Jaw and of building and upholding a dam and dam dike at the west end of the said Loch for the better securing the said Miln of Jaw with water from the said Loch“.  

The dam at the west end of the loch, with a sluice, raised the level of the water and provided a better head of water at the mill.

Illus 1: 1860 Ordnance Survey Map showing Loch Ellrig and the mill at Easter Jaw.

Unusually, what was probably a baronial mill for Abbotskerse lay on the opposite bank of the burn from Jaw Mill and was known as the Miln of Elridge – the stream was the boundary between the two baronies.  It was described as ruinous in 1737 and does not appear to have been rebuilt.  Its function was combined with that of Jaw Mill and in 1767 both of the mills and their rights were for sale together:

“To be sold by public voluntary roup… All and Haill the Town and Lands of EASTER JAW, with the Mill and Mill-lands thereof.  As also the Mill of Elrig, and sucken of both the said mills, together with certain superiorities of part of the lands of Jaw, all lying within the parish of Slamannan late regality of Callendar, and shire of Stirling.  The lands hold of a subject superior for payment of ten merks of feu.  They have mostly been in the proprietor’s possession for many years’ past, are of considerable extent, and will admit of great improvements; there is a good going coal in the grounds, besides lime stone and moss.” (Caledonian Mercury 16 February 1767).

They were also advertised in 1771, 1779 and 1785.  It is evident that the possessor of the mills was to supplement their income from the mill by farming the adjoining land.  Whilst this was not unusual, the extent of the land attached to the mill echoes the relatively low usage made of the mill in an area dominated by pasture and moss:

 “To be SOLD by public voluntary roup, within the Exchange Coffeehouse, Edinburgh, on Wednesday the 3d day of march 1779.  The Lands of EASTER JAW, with the Mill and astricted multures thereof, and of the mill of Elrig, lying within the parish of Slamannan and shore of Stirling, within three miles of Falkirk.

Illus 2: Jaw Mill looking west with the Mill Burn on the left.

These lands are presently out of lease; they hold of a subject, for payment of ten merks Scots of feu-duty and, besides 50 acres of moss they consist of above 100 acres of arable land, inclining south, with a gradual descent to the water of Avon.  The soil in general is a rich loam, with a fertile clay bottom, very capable of improvement,  There is also a valuable coal in the grounds already opened.  The whole is presently possessed by one tenant, at a yearly rent of 80l Sterling.

As it is resolved to sell the lands, they are to be exposed at the upset price of 1600 l Sterling, being only twenty years purchase of the present rent”

(Caledonian Mercury 8 February 1779, 4).

The 1793 Statistical Account for the parish notes that the loch supplied a corn mill with water.  Its remote location meant that trade was slack and it closed in the early 19th century.  Around 1825 a distillery was erected on the site.  The buildings were quite substantial and consisted of two and one storeys ranged around a large courtyard.  It is said that the water from the loch was not conducive to the production of good whisky – though this may have been to do with them being muddied by mining operations.  In any case, the distillery was short-lived and the buildings were converted into a brewery.  This fared little better and machinery was inserted to allow it to function as a flax mill.  A flax kiln can still be seen to the east of the buildings.  Sometime around 1853 the buildings were converted for use as a corn and barley mill with lofts and granaries (Falkirk Herald 24 February 1853).  The Carron Company acquired the site for the underlying minerals and the buildings seem not to have been used for milling. 

The Ordnance Survey Name Book of 1860 describes Easter Jaw as :

A large farmsteading, dwellinghouse, two storeys,   offices one, all slated and in very good repair.   Property of the Carron Company, Carron Iron Works, Falkirk.   This building was erected for a distillery, and used as such for several years.”

With the completion of the Slamannan Railway in 1840 the surrounding area was opened up for coal mining and over the next decades the population of the parish of Slamannan soared.  Together with improvements in agriculture – notably sub-surface drainage – this led to an increased demand for a mill and so Robert Martin, the new occupant of Jaw, decided to re-commission the grain mill.   An experienced miller, Mr Wallace, agreed to take a lease of the mill, and Messrs Oliphant of Denny were commissioned to undertake the conversion work.  The new mill was officially opened in July 1868 (Falkirk Herald 2 July 1868, 4).

Illus 3: The southern end of the Main Courtyard Buildings.

Wallace may only ever have intended to get the mill up and running; in any case it was up for let just over a year later:

“MEAL AND BARLEY MILL TO LET. To be Let, for any number of years which may be agreed upon, not exceeding fifteen, THE JAW MILL, in the Parish of Falkirk and County of Stirling, situated within half a mile of a Siding on the Slamannan Railway. The Mill is driven by water power, has three pairs of stones, and a barley mill, with extensive granary and loft accommodation, and miller’s dwelling house.

Entry at Whitsunday next.  For particulars apply to Mr Robert Martin, Easter Jaw, by Falkirk; or Mr James Neilson, auctioneer, & c, Falkirk.”

(Falkirk Herald 26 February 1870).

Trade was steady but slow.  The railway that brought about the increased population also meant that grain could be easily transported for processing elsewhere and flour brought in.  In 1890 a drastic change occurred that meant that the mill could no longer be operational – Ellrig Loch was deliberately and permanently removed by the Redding Colliery Company in order to allow its workings to be extended.  The outlet was deepened and the water drained off.  The following Ordnance Survey maps show that it disappeared totally (though remarkably it was reinstated some fifty or so years later).

Jaw Mill closed and the fittings were sold off:

“SALE OF MILL MACHINERY, At EASTER JAW MILL, On SATURDAY, 20 MAY. THOMAS BINNIE begs to intimate that he is instructed to Sell by Public Auction, at Easter Jaw Mill, near Slamannan, on Saturday 20th May, 1803, the MACHINERY of the Mill, consisting of 3 pairs mill stones with cases, 1 barley mill, elevators, hoists, fanners, shafting, and other machinery, kiln plates and bearers, & c.”

(Falkirk Herald 13 May 1893).

The buildings once again reverted to agricultural use.  The farm was a welcoming one and the tenant hosted many balls and social gatherings.  It was renowned for its barn dances.  This too, however, was destined to be short-lived.  The underground operations of the colliery rendered the house uninhabitable and the buildings were demolished some time before 1913.

Illus 5: Easter Jaw Flax Kiln looking south.

1677William Donaldson
1690John Donaldson
1868Mr Wallace
William Gardner
1885William Graham
1886John Graham

Easter Jaw Flax Kiln: The remains of this flax kiln may be seen from the road between Slamannan and Shieldhill. The attribution is shown on the 1st edition  Ordnance Survey map.  It has a recessed brick arch suggesting that it has been rebuilt in the late 19th century. It may have been used latterly as a drying kiln associated with the adjacent distillery.

Sites and Monuments Record

Jaw MillSMR 507NS 8727 7458
Easter Jaw KilnSMR 86NS 8745 7460

G.B. Bailey, 2022