Randolph Hill Woollen Mill

Archibald Napier of St Kitts in the West Indies bought Gateside near Denny, and in 1801 and changed its name to Randolph Hill.  Napier had money to invest and improved the house and grounds.  Within a year he feued part of the ground for the establishment of the Randolph Hill Woollen Mills.  The mill used the same lade as that cut in 1801 for Tamaree Mill, as did Herbertshire Paper Mill.  It was located on the south side of the common road to Tamaree.

Such mills had mixed fortunes at this period and in 1811 the woollen mill at Randolph Hill was up for sale.  At that time it contained “one Teazer, three sets of Cards, for Billies, sixteen Jeannies, Reels, & c; and the second, one Teazer, six sets of Cards, three Billies, Reals, & c.” and was water powered (Caledonian Mercury 9 November 1811, 4).  A few acres of land were attached to the mill.

By 1831 Randolph Hill Woollen Mill was in the hands of John Gilchrist, with Forbes of Callendar as the feudal superior.  In 1835 Robert Weir bought the woollen mill as well as Tamaree Meal Mill and cottage in order to control the water supply to Herbertshire Mill.  The estates of John Gilchrist, woolspinner, were sequestered in 1837 and his assets sold off to pay his creditors.

The woollen mill was rebuilt in 1850 and the following year Thomas Dodds is listed as wool-spinner, Randolph Hill.  Just six years later it was for sale:

“The Whole MACHINERY in RANDOLPH HILL WOOL MILL, situated at Denny, in the county of Stirling, consisting of 3 Sets Carding Engines, 2 Piecing Machines (Melrose’s); 2 90 Spindle Billies; 1 60 do,; 2 pairs Mule Jennies, 640 spindles each; 1 Self-Acting do., 320; 2 Teasers, raising; Gig; Brushing Mill; Spiral  Cutting Knife; Hot Press and Plates; Waulk Mill and Washing Machine; Squeezors; Tenters, iron and Wood; Bobbin-Winding Machine; Hand Looms; Dyehouse Utensils, & c, & c; and Whole PLANT necessary for carrying on the Wool Spinning and Manufacturing Business.

To a Party desirous to commence the Woollen Trade, such an opportunity of getting a First-class Going Work seldom offers.

The Mill was built in 1850, at which time most of the Machinery was fitted up new.  The dimensions are 80 feet x 45, Three Flats.  A Railway, giving easy access in all directions, is expected to pass within 100 yards of the Work.  A Purchaser can have a Lease of the Mill and Water Power on moderate terms.  If not Sold in cumulo, it will be offered by public competition prior to Whitsunday…”

(Glasgow Herald 18 January 1856, 8).

The next tenant of Weir’s woollen mill appears to have been George Battye, woollen manufacturer.  He died in January 1864 at Randolph Hill aged 52 and his son of the same name continued the business.  The company obtained wool from the country around Denny, cleaned it, spun it and made it into blankets, druggets, stocking yarn and cloth.  Smaller quantities of Scotch and Brussels carpeting, rugs, bed covers and crumb-cloths were also manufactured.  The mill was sometimes referred to as the “large wool mill” to distinguish it from the two neighbouring woollen mills at Stoneywood. After the death of Robert Weir the wool mill was sold in September 1867.  It was bought by John Miller Ltd which had also acquired the Carrongrove Paper Mill to allow for expansion of the paper works.  The building was incorporated into the new set up and survived into the 21st century.  George Battye moved to the Abbey Wool Mills in Stirling but six years later was declared bankrupt.

National Grid Reference

Randolph Hill Woolen MillNS 7946 8300

G.B. Bailey, 2022