Ballenbriech Lint Mill

Illus 1: 1863/66 Ordnance Survey Map (National Library of Scotland).

In 1749 Thomas Burn, a wright in Denny, purchased a portion of the lands of Ballenbriech to build a lint mill. He entered into an agreement with John and William Robert of Strath Mill in West Lothian :

for furder conveniency of water thereto to allow him and his heirs or assignees to build his dambhead so as to hold two foot of watter above the ordinary course of low water.”

Strath Mill was a corn mill just 250m to the west and sat high up on the south bank of the River Avon meaning that its operation was not impacted by this rise in river level.  The lint mill was also known as the East Mill of Ballenbreich to distinguish it from Waugh’s Mill at Avonbridge. It appears as Ballenbreich Lint Mill on the Valuation of the Parish in the Muiravonside Kirk Session records. The Ordnance Survey Name Book of the 1860s describes Ballenbriech as :

A group of buildings consisting of a farmsteading, cothouses, and a lint mill, the whole one storey, partly slated and partly thatched, the machinery of the mill propelled by water, the farmsteading is the property of Andrew Bryce Esq, Blackstone  by Avonbridge,  the mill and cothouses that of Miss Georgina C.  Waddell, Balquhatstone, Slamannan.”   

The map shows a complex series of lint ponds and sluices on the low ground beside the river to the west of the mill building.  These would have been used to steep the flax before treatment and had mostly disappeared before the 1897 map was surveyed.

Illus 2: 1896/97 Ordnance Survey Map (National Library of Scotland).
Illus 3: Ballenbriech Lint Mill looking south, c1950.

Today the building is ruinous and is being colonised by trees.  The breakdown of the drainage means that this is one of the boggiest stretches of the Avon Walkway which can be seen in the accompanying photograph.

Ballenbriech Lint Mill appears as “Lint Mill” on the third edition Ordnance Survey map but by then the mill had ceased operation and it was merely a place name.  In the 1930s it was occupied by the Johnson family who had a smallholding here, but the mill was not operational. The east wing had already been demolished when the adjoining photograph was taken.  The main block was aligned north/south and had crow-stepped gables at either end.

Illus 4: The Ruins of Ballenbreich Lint Mill beside the River Avon, looking east.

Sites and Monuments Record

Ballenbreich Lint MillSMR 868NS 9301 7255

G.B. Bailey, 2022