Dunmore Windmill

Peat from Dunmore Moss was used extensively by distilleries in the area during the period from the 1820s to the 1840s.  These included those near Alloa such as Carsebridge.  The construction of the road across Dunmore Moss from Alloa to Glasgow which opened in 1824 increased sales to the west.  The land was leased from the Earl of Dunmore and prices were such that it allowed money to be invested in the construction of a windmill to cope with the water that accumulated in the extracted areas.  Large banks of undug moss were left in situ so that the water could be efficiently managed.  The rectangular enclosures within these banks could be dug in sequence.  The banks effectively created water tanks, and sluices meant that water could be drained from one to another.  As long as the enclosures adjacent to the windmill were lower than the others it could be used to raise the water into drains along the top of the banks which were graded to take it to the north.

The exact date of the windmill is uncertain but an unlabelled circle on Grassam’s map of 1817 suggests that it was a little before that.  The tapering stone tower was 9.1m tall and 4.4m in diameter at the base.  The walls are 0.8m thick and despite the shrinkage of the moss the tower is still perfectly upright.  The ground level inside the tower is about 1m below that outside of it which may be a result of the manner in which it was built rather than the need for additional space inside the building.  The main door is in the south-east quadrant and is 2m off the ground level meaning that it must have been reached by wooden steps.  These steps continued inside the building and the floor was a little above the base of the doorway which consequently has no sill.  This not only kept the floor dry but meant that some of the machinery could be kept under the floor, out of the way.  Three wooden floors above this helped to brace the vertical drive shaft – the central two being very closely spaced.  The hard freestone is made of random rubble, except for the upper three layers which are coursed to take the cap.

To the right of the entrance door is a narrow window which reaches down below the floor level suggesting that its function was to take a geared rod towards the water.  The base of this aperture has been built up slightly hinting that its level was important.  A second door occurs on the upper floor on the south side.  This would have allowed an inspection of the sails.  A recessed window opposite it may have been for the brake.  The only other features are two external putlog holes on the west on a level with the base of the lower door.  They seem to be rather shallow for a reefing balcony.  Just how the pumping mechanism worked is difficult to say.  It does not appear to have been by way of a vertical bore hole using the type of cylinder pump that is found in mines.  Rather it appears to have been a wheel set at a short distance to the east.  The height it was required to lift the water was not much.

Illus: Dunmore Windmill looking west.

As the distilleries closed the trade from Dunmore Moss declined and by the time that the first edition Ordnance Survey map was surveyed in 1860 the windmill was disused.  Moss extraction began again at the beginning of the 20th century, but after just over a decade finally came to an end.  Ironically part of the reason for that was that in the summer months the moss dried out and ash from passing steam engines on the Alloa Railway set the peat on fire every few years.  Today the windmill is gutted and capless but the walls are in pretty good order.  The once open moss is now populated by innumerable saplings.

Illus: Elevation and Plans of Dunmore Windmill (after Douglas 1983).

Sites & Monuments Record

Dunmore WindmillSMR 716NS 862 894

G.B. Bailey, 2022