Garth Mill

Located to the south of Garth Farm on the Castlerankine Burn, Garth Mill began life as a flax mill and is shown on an estate plan of 1793 (Reid 2004, 72).  According to the Falkirk Herald it was built by the ancestors of Mrs Gillespie of Denny who died in 1948.  They came from Linlithgow (Falkirk Herald 7 July 1948, 8). 

Illus: Extract from the 1861/62 Ordnance Survey Map (National Library of Scotland).

In common with many such lint mills it went out of use in the 1830s and around 1835 a small printfield was set up there.  It did not succeed and before long the site was acquired by John Gray and Son which operated Stoneywood Mill.  It was altered and extended so that in 1840 it was able:

to provide at once to manufacturers of fancy woollen, cotton, and linsey-woolsey articles, the liquor for the colours desired

(New Statistical Account for Denny). 

It appears on the first edition Ordnance Survey map as “Dyewood Mill.”

The dyewood and drysalting business of John Gray and Son had three partners, John, Thomas and Charles Gray.  Charles died in December 1847 and the business was continued by the other two.  The company imported wood from America and exported some if its products there.  It employed a little over twenty people but 1862 had to discharge a number of them in consequence of the depressed state of trade arising from the prolonged war in America.  Garth Mill was an annexe to the main works at Stoneywood and was closed down.  For a short time it operated as a fleck mill (North British Daily Mail 10 April 1875, 7), presumably making speckled fabric.    This too was short-lived and in May 1874 the mill was advertised for let:

suitable for different kind of Works, having good Spring Water

(North British Daily Mail 11 May 1874, 7). 

Thomas Gray was the sole surviving partner.  The following year it was up for sale:

Garth Mill, situated on the Brouster Burn. There is a water wheel, steam engine, and large grinding stones, with a good fall of water.  There is also a cottage on the Lands attached, which extend to about One Acre, including Buildings, &c”  

(Glasgow Herald 21 October 1876, 7).

Brouster or Brewster Burn was actually the name for the Castlerankine Burn at Stoneywood.  It failed to find a buyer.  In 1880 it was put back on the market at the upset price of £230.  There was just no longer a demand for water mills and two years later the price was reduced to £120 and the property was sold by private bargain.  However, it seems to have remained unoccupied and in 1887 it was for sale again at the same price:

All and Whole that OLD LINT MILL, known as Garth Mill (with COTTAGE adjoining), with the Land, Mill, Dams, Tail Races, and whole Privileges pertaining to said Mill, all as fully described in the Title Deeds

(Stirling Observer 15 September 1887, 8).

Garth Mill was acquired by James Melville, millwright and patternmaker.  The second edition Ordnance Survey map of 1896/97 has Garth Mill for wood turning.  The pond had gone out of use and a large portion of the building complex had been demolished.  By the 1913 Ordnance Survey map the mill was disused.

The site is now overgrown with trees, but part of the two-storey north gable of the mill survives.  This gable housed the water wheel but the central part has collapsed.  Water was brought to it by a stone culvert and then a timber trough – the latter supported by brickwork emanating from the gable. Two large millstones lie to the north of this gable, where they must have been abandoned. They are thick with square edges for use in grinding industrial materials.  A well-constructed stone building to the west was probably the cottage.

Sites and Monuments Record

Garth MillSMR 1211NS 7947 8228

G.B.Bailey, 2022