Kinneil Mill

The mill stood on the north side of the River Avon adjacent to the group of farm buildings which still bear the name.  Next to the mill is a bridge over the river taking a minor road from Kinneil to Linlithgow.  Until the late nineteenth century this was a timber bridge but has now been replaced with a steel one.  The weir for the mill is at NS 9815 7828 and is still visible. From there the lade ran parallel with the river and was only removed in 1995.

As the name suggests, the mill belonged to the Kinneil Estate of the Duke of Hamilton.  It appears on the damaged margin of one of Pont’s maps in the 1580s and on Roy’s Great map of 1755.  Perhaps its most famous resident was the father of Henry Bell who built the Comet steamship.

Improvements were carried out to the mill in 1845.  In February 1852 the farm suffered from the great flood, two pits of potatoes containing about 8 tons were cleared out, and their contents carried down the river (Falkirk Herald 12 February 1852).  In 1858 the Ordnance Surveyors described the mill as:

A large range of buildings on the side of the River Avon, consisting of flour, oats & barley mills, kiln, malt lofts, stores & c.  The mills are worked by two water wheels, each 16 feet by 4.  The dwelling house, which is two storeys high, very neat and in good repair, with a long low range of out offices stand a little apart from the mills.  There is a small flower garden and a large vegetable garden attached.  It is occupied by Mr Fleming.”

Illus 2: Extract from the 1897 Ordnance Survey Map (National Library of Scotland).

That other great risk for mills – fire – occurred just over ten years after the flood.  About 4 o’clock one Saturday morning in November 1865 fire was discovered by the miller’s wife.  The mill stood at some distance from the house. Very soon after the alarm was given the roof fell in, and in a short time the whole mill, with the exception of the outer walls, was burned to the ground.  The fire engine at Linlithgow was sent for and was able to save a considerable amount of grain and prevented the fire from extending to the west end of the range of buildings.  In two lofts there were five hundred bolls of wheat stored, and about two-thirds of this were saved without any damage.  There was also a pretty large quantity of half-burned grain.  It was supposed that the fire had been burning for some hours before it was discovered, but nothing is known as to how it originated.  The damage was estimated at about £1,800, which was only partially covered by insurance (Glasgow Morning Journal 6 November 1865, 3; Scotsman 13 November 1865, 7).

Most of the grain belonged to the mill’s customers and some of them had insured it separately.  Just five weeks after the fire Mr A. R. Roberts, draper, the Falkirk agent for the Provincial Insurance Company, paid to William Sword, baker, the sum of £100, being the full amount for which the wheat which he had lying in Kinneil Mills at the time of the fire was insured.  This fact was used to promote the company in the local newspaper (Falkirk Herald 14 December 1865, 2).  The mill was rebuilt by tradesmen from Bo’ness.

Illus 3: Kinneil Mill House with standing stone in the foreground looking south-east, 2020.
1801George Meek?
18–Archibald Hardie1838
1846James Fleming
18–Alexander Fleming1867
1867David Smellie
1872Robert Brownlee
1883Robert Brownlee

As time went on the mill became less and less important compared to the farming activities and the acreage of the farm was increased.  In 1804 it had been 57 acres and in 1867 it was 168 acres.  Nevertheless, milling operations at Kinneil Mill continued into the 1890s.  In March 1889 during an inquiry concerning the provision of water to Linlithgow William Jackson of Kinneil Mills and John Wilson of Jinkabout Mills certified that they required all the available supply of the Avon water in the summer months, and any water taken away would interfere with their work as already they had to store the water before commencing grinding operations.  By 1905 the mill had closed and in September that year the District Committee served notice on the trustees of the late Duke of Hamilton with regard to the foul condition of the mill lade there (Linlithgowshire Gazette 15 September 1905).

Sites and Monuments Record

Kinneil MillSMR 856NS 9779 7834

G.B. Bailey, 2022