Tod’s Mill

Illus 1: 1855/56 Ordnance Survey Map (National Library of Scotland).

Tod’s Mill was built for the Duke of Hamilton as a meal mill in the seventeenth century.  The origin of the name is not known but presumably comes from one of the early long-served tenants.  By the early eighteenth century the leases were unusually short and adverts placed in the Caledonian Mercury by William Wilson, the clerk of Bo’ness, in 1735 and 1741 were for leases of only one year:

“The Mills of KINNEIL, and Tods-Mill, are to be SETTE for One Year commencing the First Day of August next, in the Tolbooth of Borrostounness, by publick Roup, on Monday the 28th of July Inst. The Conditions of Roup to be seen in the Hands of WILLIAM WILSON Clerk of Borrostounness”

(Caledonian Mercury 15 July 1735, 3).

For the rest of the century the more usual nineteen year leases were used.  Tod’s Mill was often bundled with Kinneil Mill, both of which had a large sucken, a benefit highlighted in setting the rate of the lease:

“MILLS to be Let on a Lease for 19 Years, Commencing at Martinmas 1775.

The COMPLETE FLOUR MILL OF KINNEIL, finished on the latest construction, with the most convenient Machinery for saving manual labour; together with the CORN MILL of Kinneil, in the best order, as well as the drying Kilns, Barns, Stables, and Dwelling-houses.  There will also be LET with these two mills, a FARM, consisting of about 60 acres of very good land, lying with an easy declivity south to the river of Avon, and inclosed with ditch and hedge.

The Flour, Malt, and Barley Mills, all newly completed to the best construction, called TOD’s MILLS, with Kiln, Barn, Stables, and Dwelling houses.  And there will also be LET with the said mills, a FARM, consisting of about 60 acres of very good land, lying with an easy declivity south to the said river of Avon, and inclosed with ditch and hedge.

These mills are situate on the said river, the latter about a mile’s distance down the water from the former, in a fine corn and populous country, about two miles from Linlithgow, near the same distance from Borrowstounness, about three miles from Falkirk, and about four miles from these opulent works of Carron; and the two farms join one another.

The Kinneil Mills have, besides a large out-town grist, the whole wheat and other grains, the yearly produce of about 27 ploughgates of land, bound to them; and the multure is about a peck per boll.

The Tod’s Mill have, besides out-town grist, the wheat produced on about 12 ploughgates, as well as the whole lamt brewed within the town of Borrowstounness, and barony of Kinniel, bound to it; and the multure is about a peck per boll for wheat and malt; the barley being made at a certain price per boll.

These Mills and Farms will be let jointly or separately, according to the proposals given to John Burrell chamberlain of Kinniel, all lying in the parish of Borrowstounness, sheriffdom of Linlithgow, and dukedom of Hamilton.

N.B.  The tenant inclining for a lease of the Kinniel Mills, besides the 60 acres designed  for the said mills, may have other 60 acres, or 120 acres, of good land, lying on the same declivity, and commodiously adjoining to the 60 acres of mill-land.”  .

(Caledonian Mercury 29 July 1775, 1)

The multures could still be collected in 1789 (Caledonian Mercury 18 April 1789, 1).  According to the Statistical Account of 1841 Tod’s Mill was erected for grinding malt for the brewers in Bo’ness and this may account for its being attached to Kinneil Mill.  In 1790 the mill was leased by John Roebuck junior along with the Kinneil Estate and was converted into a flint mill to serve his pottery in Bo’ness.  The multures were probably transferred to Jinkabout.  The flint dust was used in the clay bodies of the cups to prevent the thermal shock from hot liquids from cracking them.  These flints were imported from East Anglia through the port at Bo’ness.  Presumably a flint kiln was built to heat the stone before it was crushed.  In 1794, the pottery and the mill were taken over by Thomas Cowan.  Alexander Cumming, custom’s officer for Bo’ness, and tenant of Tod’s Mill Farm, bought the pottery works in 1801 and set up James Cumming & Co (James was his nephew).  On 22 June 1827 the company was sequestered and a valuation of the contents included “flint, Raw burnt and ground” as well as “Chirt stones for Mill“.  In March 1828 the Commissioners of the Duke of Hamilton placed a value on the utensils at Tod’s Flint Mill of £9.5s.

Illus 2: 1855/56 Ordnance Survey Map (National Library of Scotland).

The flint mill closed around 1870and the mill stood empty for the next thirty years or so.   In the 1860s the kiln was probably used by Robert Robertson, lime burner, and this area became known as the “Tod’s Mill Limeworks.”  He went on to produce bricks and in 1856 the Ordnance Surveyors noted a brick manufactory 

A building used for the purpose of making bricks situated close to the River Avon; the machinery is worked by a wheel propelled by water. It is presently leased and worked by Mr Robertson of Bo’ness and is the property of the Duke of Hamilton.” 

The firebrick manufactory was latterly operated by Marshall as part of the Bo’ness Pottery and presumably closed with the pottery in 1898.

Stewart Macaulay leased the neighbouring land and used it as a commercial vegetable garden.  It was 1901 before the mill was brought back into use, this time as a wood flour mill to refine sawdust for use in linoleum.  Abram Addison, the tenant at Manuel Mill, took on the buildings and considerably altered and extended them for the purpose.  The Duke of Hamilton agreed to deepen the bed of the river to increase the driving power of the mill.  Tod’s Mill was run by A Addison & Son – being Abram and William.  Abram Addison’s problems with the lease of Manuel Mill drove him to bankruptcy and in 1909 his estate was sequestered.  The stock was sold off, including 18 tons wood flour, 50 bags wood flour, 102 bags sawdust, a number of weights, fire hose, water pails, mill stones, and so on (Falkirk Herald 13 November 1909, 4).  The following year the lease of the mill was advertised along with some of the machinery:

The Mill contains Four Pairs of Stones, with all necessary shafting, bevel gear, elevators, riddles and hoppers, all driven by water power.  There are a store shed, cottage, and siding in connection with the mill

(Falkirk Herald 5 February 1910, 5). 

It was still up for let in June 1915.

This building stands with its gable onto the river Avon and the steel frame of the water wheel is still in situ.

c1800A Galbraithc1818
1901Abram Addison          1909

Sites and Monuments Record

Tod’s MillSMR 857NS 9648 7868

G.B. Bailey, 2022