Jinkabout Mill

Two of the baronial mills of Kinneil were located on the extreme western border of the barony because the most reliable water supply, River Avon, formed the boundary.  “Ginkabout M.” appears on J Adair’s Map of West Lothian in 1737 and subsequently on both of Roy’s maps of the area.  The name derived from the way in which the river jinks about at this point and the mill lade cuts across the loop.  The weir was located almost on the point at which the Antonine Wall crossed the river in the second century AD and its stonework has sometimes been mistaken for a Roman bridge.  Being on the east bank of the river it was, or course, in West Lothian rather than Stirlingshire.  Unfortunately this area was surveyed by Pont early in his work on the map of Scotland and is less well executed than his later work.  There is an evident gap in information in this locality and so the absence of the mill cannot be taken as proof that the mill was not there in the 16th century.  However, it seems probable that Jinkabout was in fact a replacement for Tod’s Mill which had been another baronial mill in rather close proximity to Kinneil Mill.

Illus 1: Roy’s Map of the Antonine Wall showing the location of Jinkabout Mill.

From notice of the roup of the lease of the mill issued in 1790 we find that the mill or rather mills at Jinkabout consisted of two barley mills and a corn mill.  These would have been housed in the same complex of buildings but were evidently driven by separate water wheels.  We are also told that a flour mill, for wheat, had been recently added:

“to be exposed to roup on the grounds… The LANDS and MILLS of JINKABOUT, viz. a Flour and Corn Mill, and two Barley Mills, all in good repair.  The Flour Mill lately built, and can commode from six to eight hundred bolls grain, and has ever constant supply of water, being situated upon the river Avon, on the road side leading from Bo’ness to Falkirk.  The lands consist of 30 acres the most of which is Kerse.  The advantage that attends the premises, is in being situated in the middle of a fine corn country, only two miles from Grangemouth, and three from Bo’ness.  The river Avon navigably within three hundred yards of the Mills, with a vessel of about sixty tons burden.”

(Caledonian Mercury 21 August 1790, 4).

The mill lands consisted of 33.304 Imperial acres and by 1829 were tenanted by Henry Wilson (Edinburgh Evening Courant 6 April 1829, 1).  In either 1845 or 1846 his eldest son, Henry, moved to Australia where he operated the Albion Mills near Melbourne for almost forty years.  Henry Wilson senior died at Jinkabout on 3 December 1847 and his son John took over.

Illus 2: Jinkabout Mill looking north-west from the bridge.

Being located on a loop of a large river Jinkabout was prone to floods.  Usually, the water did not reach the mill buildings, but on occasion it did so.  February 1852 was a close call:

At Jinkabout, the people engaged about the mill were wading up to the knees for several hours, and the door of the mill had to be covered up to prevent the inside from being flooded

(Falkirk Herald 12 February 1852, 3). 

The flood of August 1877 was even higher.  Many fields in the vicinity were inundated and because of the time of year the crops were lost (Falkirk Herald 23 August 1877).

Illus 3: 1858 Ordnance Survey Map (National Library of Scotland).

The middle decades of the 19th century were profitable ones for the mill, which was able to benefit from economies of scale.  A steam engine was installed to ensure continuous running.  John Wilson decided that the increased rent at Jinkabout was too much and gave up his lease in 1854 to take up a mill at Rockvilla Grain Mills, Port Dundas, Glasgow.  The advert for Jinkabout now stated:

The Machinery of the Mills is in good going order, and driven by water from the river Avon, to aid which, when required, a Steam Engine of about 25-horse power is attached to the Mills.

(Glasgow Herald 25 August 1854).

 The resulting displenishing sale included four beams with scale and weights, three sack barrows, mill picks, chisels, hammers, wire cloth, and so on.

The 1858 Ordnance Survey Name Book describes the mill as:

A large building, two stories high, used as a corn mill, having two large wheels, propelled by water; close adjoining the mill is the dwelling house with offices attached, all in good repair.  There is a vegetable garden and small farm attached.  The whole in the occupation of John Henderson and the property of his Grace the Duke of Hamilton.”

John and William Henderson, farmers, were the new tenants, but do not seem to have been keen millers.  They were unable to make it pay and in 1860 the Sheriff of Linlithgowshire issued a warrant for the sale of their property.  This included a mill cart, a pair of meal sifters, two pairs of fanners and two mill barrows ((Falkirk Herald 8 November 1860, 3).  In 1861 William Wilson returned to the mill where he was brought up and the farm was taken up by James Black of Inveravon Farm, followed a few years later by David McGibbon.

Illus 4: Jinkabout Mill c1910.

Mill carts were used to get imported grain from the station at Polmont or the ports of Bo’ness and Grangemouth.  An incident occurred on 2 October 1862 which illustrates the nature of this transport.  Between six and seven o’clock that evening John Borthwick, carter, Jinkabout Mill, was proceeding along the Grangemouth and Bo’ness road, driving two horses and carts loaded with wheat, when Thomas Darge, a labourer, came up and got upon the hindmost cart which was loaded with wheat weighing 32 cwt.  After travelling some distance, Darge leaned over to do something to the horse, but overbalanced and fell before the wheel, and the heavily loaded cart passed over him, and crushed his chest.  He was taken home and attended by Dr Robert Stewart, who bandaged his wounds, which, though severe, were pronounced not dangerous (Falkirk Herald 9 October 1862).

The nature of the miller had changed and William Wilson might be better described as a grain merchant.  He sold and bought wheat at the Falkirk Corn Exchange – complaining when those running the market tried to save money by closing it at noon, making it difficult for those at a distance to use it.  He employed mill servants to run the mill which concentrated on meal for animal feed.  Usually these were young lads or lasses whose pay was low.  In 1876 an awful incident occurred when one of the servant girls from Bo’ness was on her way the work and was molested by four farm labourers from Rumford.  The young men were arrested and charged with rape but were found guilty of assault with indecent practices!

Illus 5: The 1897 Ordnance Survey Map (National Library of Scotland).

William’s son, John, had worked as an engineer in Glasgow and around 1873 joined his father in Jinkabout.  The mill had fallen into a state of disrepair and with the aid of his engineering experience he was able to put it into proper order.  It now operated as J & W Wilson, grain millers.  On his father’s death, in 1876, John Wilson acquired the business.

Illus 6: Jinkabout Mill with the steel bridge over the river on the right.

J & W Wilson took the North British Railway Company to the Falkirk Court in 1878 for 12s., being the value of a bag of Russian oats which they alleged had been lost in transit between Leith and Polmont.  200 bags had been given to the Company at Leith, which were loaded into three wagons, and when delivery was taken at Polmont the pursuers alleged they had only got 199.  However, Wilsons’ carter, who took delivery of the latter part of the consignment signed as having received 200, and there being no proof of fraud the judge allowed the railway company 10s for witnesses’ fees (Scotsman 2 August 1878).  In 1908 it was the turn of the North British Railway to take J & W Wilson to the Small Debt Court for 4s 8d, being the account for demurrage in respect of a quantity of bags hired by the defender from the pursuers. 

The railway company had a system under which they hired out bags to traders under a printed stipulation or contract that the bags had to be returned within a certain specified period.  When the bags in question were hired the receipt containing the condition was signed by the defender’s carter (Falkirk Herald 6 May 1908).

John Wilson devoted much time to public affairs and served on the Polmont Parish School Board for 27 years, eight as chairman.  He was also at times a member of the Polmont Parochial Board, Grangemouth Parish Council, and the Eastern District of the Stirling County Council.  In March 1889 John Wilson was one of several millers who objected to a water scheme to take water from the Preston Burn, one of the tributaries of the Avon, for public consumption.  He helped oversee the water supply for Polmont and Grangemouth from elsewhere.

From time to time the Wilsons renewed their lease but as the century wore on profit margins were reduced.  John Wilson died on 25 September 1910 and his son, William, took over.  He was unable to run the mill economically and in 1916 gave up milling and farming.  At the displenishing sale he sold the mill cart and three mill barrows.  He continued to trade as a grain merchant but his estate was sequestered in 1921 and he died the following year.  He was the last miller at Jinkabout.  By 1928 the mill was deserted and had already begun to collapse.  For a while it was a playground for children from Grangemouth but in September 1933 the materials of the mill and adjoining buildings were put up for sale and they were demolished in December that year.

1829Henry Wilson
1847John Wilson
1854John Henderson
1861William Wilson           1876
1876John Wilson1910
1910William Wilson           1921
Illus 7: The Demolition of Jinkabout Mill (Falkirk Herald 30 December 1933).

Sites and Monuments Record

Jinkabout MillSMR 820NS 9472 7978

G.B. Bailey, 2022