Dunipace Black Mill

In the early 1860s the whole of the machinery at Dunipace Mills was reconstructed by Messrs T & J Oliphant, engineers, Denny, at a considerable expense on the part of the Carron Company and John Boyd the miller.  A mill for grinding char for the Carron Ironworks formed a small part of the new complex.

Carron Company sold the mill complex to Mr Graham of Larbert House but was still the main recipient of the produce of its blacking mill.  The char mill ground charcoal into a fine dust which was used to line moulds to produce castings with a fine surface finish.  The fine powder produced was very flammable and on the night of 31 December 1889 it was thought that a spark from the grinding process set it on fire.  It was discovered about five o’clock in the morning.  From the combustible nature of the place and its contents, the mill was speedily a total wreck.  The Falkirk fire engine was quickly on the scene and prevented the fire from spreading to the grain mills and so the loss was kept to £300-£400 (Falkirk Herald 4 January 1890, 6).  Knowing the high potential for fire the black mill had been insured by Mr Graham and was immediately rebuilt.  It started to grind coal into dust which presented an even greater risk of fire as well as pulmonary problems for the operators. 

On 25 September 1890, Peter Webster, miller, on his way home from Falkirk in the evening, met Provost Watson, the agent of the Scottish Union and National Insurance Co and asked him to have his stock in the Blacking Mill at Dunipace insured.  The materials and products belonged to him and were not covered by the insurance of the mill building taken out by Mr Graham.  Watson agreed to do so and promised to send a covering note on his getting to the office the next morning.  Watson went to his office at seven o’clock in the morning in order to see after some matters requiring attention, amongst others to send Webster his covering note as promised.  On his way to the office he was informed that the mill had been entirely burnt down at an early hour in the morning.  The covering note was consequently not sent, and no deposit was paid.  Amazingly, just nine months since it had been last raised to the ground, it was again totally destroyed for the fourth time in its history (Falkirk Herald 27 September 1890).  Provost Watson informed the Scottish Union and National Insurance Co of what had passed and equally amazingly the Company at once said that it was morally bound to admit the loss, the risk being undertaken (though only verbally) by the agent.  The following day an assessor adjusted the loss with Mr Webster, and the amount was paid a week later!

It is unclear if the mill was ever rebuilt and it does not seem likely.

National Grid Reference

Dunipace Black MillNS 8336 8170

G.B. Bailey, 2022