Stuart Nisbet on the second mill to bare the Dawsholm name
As we saw in the last edition of FORK, two separate mill sites on the Kelvin bore the ‘Dawsholm’ name. Here we look at the upstream site, ‘upper’ Dawsholm. Both upper and lower Dawsholm first appear as mill sites in the 1750s, although they are quite possibly much older.
One of the earliest references to upper Dawsholm appeared in an advert in the Glasgow press in February 1755, placed there by the trustees of the deceased James Graham of Dawsholm. The lower Dawsholm in this reference indicated the seventy acre lands of Dawsholm, including the houses, mills and machinery of two snuff mills and a paper mill, all in working order. Roy’s military map, from around the same date, shows the mills and denotes the lade.
This mill was situated at the west end of the old four- arched sandstone bridge where Dawsholm Road (now pedestrian access only) crosses the Kelvin. A string of buildings stretched down the riverbank below the bridge, some built out into the river on columns. Little of this now survives apart from some of the foundations.
Dawsholm is a good example of one mill site having various uses; all powered from the same lade. The earliest known use of the site was as a snuff mill, in about 1745. A paper mill was also operating soon after. The combination of paper and snuff mills is curious as there is no obvious link between the processes, although both paper and snuff mills were common in the Glasgow area. Dawsholm was still operating as both types of mills in 1795. There are also references to a grain or barely mill in the eighteenth century.
The paper mill at Dawsholm was the longest lasting and largest mill on the site. For at least three generations from the 1780s the mill was worked by the McArthur family, who had a warehouse in Glassford Street in Glasgow. The mill continued operating through the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, finally closing in 1970.
At first glance, very little remains on the site, compared with surviving photos of the mill. However, by walking upstream from the bridge, the large dam or weir and the start of the lade are evident. The lade provided water power for the machinery and drove the pulping mill. However the Kelvin was often too brown and silty to be used in the actual paper making process. A string of settling ponds was created above and west of the site, fed by a small burn. The ponds also survive.