The report in the last FORK news was written at the end of March so this one covers the months from April until August.
April saw the return of the warblers – Blackcap and Chiffchaff in the Botanic Gardens, and Willow Warbler further upstream at Dawsholm. Sand Martins are one of the earliest migrants to arrive, usually reaching central Scotland in late March. At least eight of the Sand Martin nests were occupied this spring – if you stand on the Benalder Street bridge and look downstream towards the Clyde you will get a good view of the nest sites, which are in the wall that bounds the right bank of the Kelvin. By 20 June the nests were empty Sand Martins were still present, feeding above the river. About a quarter of the pairs may attempt a second brood. Sadly there seemed to be very few Swifts again this year – I saw no more than four together at any one time throughout the entire summer.
Many of our small birds must have survived the long spell of bitterly cold winter weather as there were plenty of Wrens with territories along both banks of the river, and good numbers of Blue Tits. However my impression is that numbers of Long-tailed Tits were down and I saw fewer Goldcrest than usual. There were also fewer sightings of Greenfinch, which may have been due not to the winter weather the prevalence of trichomonosis, a disease caused by a parasite. Transmission is most likely to occur through contaminated food or water, so those of us who feed our garden birds should be careful to clean and disinfect feeders regularly and move them to different sites of the garden every so often. More detailed information is available from www.ufaw.org.uk/gbhi.php.
In May there were two broods of Mallards by Kelvinbridge, and Blue Tits were bringing caterpillars to their young in a nest in the wall by the Big Blue. After a dry spell the water level was so low that Dippers were able to feed on the face of the weir below Queen Margaret Bridge.
In the second half of June Song Thrushes were feeding fledglings opposite the arboretum and there were families of Blue Tits, Great Tits and Long-tailed Tits between the Ha’penny Bridge and Kelvingrove Park. A young Great Spotted Woodpecker was observed at Dawsholm. Kingfishers have been seen throughout the summer along the stretch of the river from the Ha’penny Bridge to Kelvinbridge I do not know of any nests.
Each year a few of the Goosanders stay on during the breeding season, and on 16 July a female was keeping a watchful eye on a brood of six well-grown youngsters who were diving for food along the riverbank by the arboretum bridge. On 16 August a large flock of Blue Tits, Long-tailed Tits and Goldcrest were foraging in the tree canopy – a sure sign that autumn is on the way.
Bullfinches were seen in the arboretum throughout the summer. These beautiful birds are quite secretive and can be hard to spot when the trees are in full leaf often their soft distinctive ‘peu peu’ call gives them away.
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.
Stuart Nisbet gives us his next portrait in the Lost Mills of the Kelvin series
Many mill sites supported two or more mills, all of which were powered by the same dam on the Kelvin. Dawsholm (or Dalsholm) had two entirely separate mill sites, both sharing the Dawsholm name, but each with their own dam and lade. In this issue we look at the lower site, which we will call Lower Dawsholm.
The story starts at the earliest bleachfield in Scotland, at Dalquhurn on the River Leven, near Dumbarton, established in 1715. In 1728 this bleachfield was purchased by William Stirling. In 1750 Stirling’s nephew, also William Stirling, started a printfield at Dawsholm on the Kelvin. The printfield works washed, bleached and printed linen and calico textiles, particularly handkerchiefs. The lade from the river was used to power machinery, including the wash mill. Water for processing may also have come from the Kelvin. However the river water was often too brown and silty for this. The water therefore had first to be settled in a reservoir. The water for processing might also have come from a local spring.
Dawsholm Printfield was advertised many times in the Glasgow press from the 1760s onwards. In 1770 William Stirling moved back to the River Leven, where he started another printworks at Cordale. As a result there was some interaction and engagement between management and workforce across the two sites, and this facilitated a movement of labour from one to another as the market changed. The Stirlings were succeeded by William Robb, a calico printer from Partick. In the early 1790s Dawsholm was acquired by Richard, son of William Gillespie of South
By the 1870s Dawsholm Printworks was redundant and the site was purchased by Glasgow Corporation in order to build a new gasworks. As part of this redevelopment, the general ground level of the site was raised appreciably, right to the riverbank. The higher level makes it quite difficult to envisage now how the site supported a water mill, as today it seems to be too high above the Kelvin.
Dawsholm Mill lade commenced at a dam nearby, 200 metres upstream from the double railway viaducts over the Kelvin (a brick and stone viaduct built side by side) which serve Maryhill station. The dam on the river is mostly ruined, and can be difficult to see, especially when the
Kelvin is in spate. When the river is low, a few courses of the dam are visible on the north bank, as well as the general slight fall in the river.
On the north bank of the river the remnant of the lade leads to one of the aches in the railway viaduct. Beyond the viaduct the ground level of the former gasworks now rises dramatically. The lade originally continued for a further 200 metres to the site of the printworks, stretching down to what is currently Skaethorn Road.
The use of the ‘Dawsholm’ name for this site and the next site upstream often makes it hard to differentiate the two mill sites in written sources. The next mill, Dawsholm Paper Mill, will be covered in the next issue.
The Lost Mills of The Kelvin is taken from the Spring 20010 edition of FORK News
The big story this winter was the exceptionally severe weather that began in late December and continued until the middle of January. Night-time temperatures in Glasgow fell to minus 10 degrees C and by 8 January large stretches of the Kelvin had frozen over. Mallards, Goosanders, Moorhen and Little Grebe gathered in the remaining patches of open water. Snow fell overnight, and the next day numerous fox tracks could be seen across the ice alongwside the distinctive prints left by Moorhen.
The freezing weather made it hard for birds to find enough food and there was a dramatic increase in the number of birds – and species – coming into the city. Redwing in particular were present in large numbers with a flock of 30 or more in the Botanic Gardens on 27 and 28 December. Fieldfare, Redwing, Mistle Thrush, Song Thrush and Bullfinches were regular visitors at garden
feeding stations. My most unusual sighting was of a Woodcock seen on the 8th of January flying low with rapid wingbeats along Kew Terrace towards Byres Road.
Other bird recorders reported seeing a Woodcock, apparently flushed by a fox, in the Arboretum on 3 January, and on 7 January there were sightings in Glasgow University campus and on the banks of the Kelvin in Kelvingrove Park. Woodcock are normally difficult birds to observe as they are secretive and mainly nocturnal in habit. These large waders have short legs, a long straight bill and large eyes. Their beautifully marked plumage, reddish-brown above with dark barring on buff under parts, provides the perfect camouflage for forest floors. They feed on invertebrates such as worms, beetles, spiders and small snails that they find by probing leaf litter and damp soil with their long bills.
It will be some time before we know how well our resident birds along the Kelvin have survived the harsh winter. Small birds such as Goldcrest and Wren that rely on insects for food are likely to have been hard hit, and Kingfishers and Heron may also have suffered when the river and canal froze over. Extreme weather highlights the important role that garden feeding plays in bird conservation, and keeping reliable records is the key to understanding how weather impacts bird populations.
If you are interested in contributing to a year-round recording programme you might consider joining the British Trust for Ornithology’s Garden BirdWatch. The BTO organisers are actively looking for more recorders in Scotland as there are fewer than 1000 at the moment.
As I write the breeding season is well underway with Blue Tits and Great Tits inspecting nest boxes and Magpies and Long-tailed Tits already building their nests. The Goosanders have returned to their summer breeding grounds and Sand Martins are on their way back, with sightings already confirmed at Baron’s Haugh south of
Glasgow on the Clyde. Last newsletter’s species list is already out of date, as we need to add Tawny Owl, heard calling along the banks of the Kelvin in January, Black-headed Gull, on the river at Wyndford, Fieldfare and Woodcock, bringing the new total to 52.
FORK Bird Report taken from the Spring 2010 edition of FORK News
See more photos in the River Kelvin group
In the summer there were several Mallard broods on the river and Song Thrushes were seen feeding young opposite the Arboretum and downstream near the new extension to Glasgow Academy. Robins, Blue Tits, Great Tits, Wrens and Long-tailed Tits all bred successfully but the Sparrowhawks did not return to last year’s nest site near Belmont Street bridge. In July a Heron at the fish ladder beside the weir was seen feeding on a plentiful supply of eels, swallowing them after a rather undignified struggle. A nearby Herring Gull was not so lucky, losing the fight when the eel succeeded in wriggling free and dropping back into the river. Cormorants, Moorhen and Dipper are also present, and sightings of Kingfisher have been more frequent in the Kelvinbridge/Kelvingrove Park area. Grey Wagtails were observed at Dawsholm, in the Arboretum and near Belmont Street bridge.
The last Swifts were seen in mid-August but numbers seemed low this year. By the end of October there were five Goosanders by the Botanic Gardens footbridge – four females and a juvenile male. A week later two males had joined
the group. On 16 November a male Blackcap was eating rowanberries – normally insectivorous, Blackcaps, like other
species such as Dunnocks, Robins, Blackbirds and thrushes, change their diet in autumn to take advantage of the abundant supply of fruits. The Blackcap is about the size of a Great Tit but a more slender build, with a medium-sized blue-grey beak and grey legs. The black cap of the male gives the species its name – in females and young birds the cap is a russet brown. Scotland has about 56,000 breeding pairs but in winter the population drops to somewhere between 150 and 1,000 birds. These are not breeding birds who have stayed behind to overwinter here – it is believed that Scottish breeding birds are all migrants, leaving their breeding sites in August and September to spend the winter in Africa, north of the Sahara. Our winter Blackcaps are likely to be migrants from central and northern Europe.
To end this report I have included a species list, compiled over the last few years, of birds seen along the Kelvin from Dawsholm down to Benalder Street bridge. At present the total stands at 48 species but I am sure readers will be able to add to this from their own observations. How lucky we are to have to have such amazing diversity on our doorstep. Please do get in touch with any additional species. I would be delighted to hear from you.
|Great Spotted Woodpecker
This FORK Bird Report is taken from the Winter 2009-10 edition of FORK News
Stuart Nisbet goes in search of an early paper mill
Balgray Mill was located on the west bank of the Kelvin upstream of Kelvindale Road and was probably the site of an ancient grain mill. By the mid-eighteenth century several other mills were added on the same site. The most important and longest-lasting was a paper mill.
The fortunes of all the Kelvin mills varied over the years and paper mills were no exception. They waxed and waned, depending on the whims of their owners, the flow in the river and the paper market.
As early as the 1720s James Duncan started a paper mill at Balgray. In 1746 he had been joined by Edward Collins, whose family would dominate paper making in the wider area for generations. However, they initially had problems with the water supply at Balgray. Edward branched out to a second mill, at Dalmuir on the Duntocher Burn, which operated until the 1970s. Edward’s son Richard continued to work at both Balgray and Dalmuir and his other son, Edward Junior, worked a third paper mill at Denny in Stirlingshire, another hub of Scottish paper making.
At Balgray they solved their water problems with a bigger dam on the Kelvin and two further mills were added. The first was an oil mill in the 1740s, which ground seeds such as lintseed to make oil. The second was a snuff mill. Snuff mills were often appended to paper mills, although the connection is unclear, as there is no common link between the processes. Other examples of combined paper and snuff mills in the Glasgow area include Netherlee, Millholm and Cathcart, all on the White Cart south of Glasgow.
By the 1790s Balgray was still making paper, by this time with Collins’s son Richard, and James Duncan was also involved. In 1808 papermaker James Combs was a partner at a trio of paper mills, Balgray, Dalmuir and Millholm at Cathcart. In 1813 Balgray still had a snuff mill appended.
Both the Collins and Duncan families were printers and stationers in Glasgow from the mid-eighteenth century and continued to appear through the history of the site. The Collins family persisted the longest on the site, into the twentieth century.
The site became a very large Victorian paper mill with a railway connection, storage ponds and a string of buildings along the site. In the heart of the site was Kelvindale House. In recent decades, most of the works and its ponds have been infilled and redeveloped with housing.
Although the Balgray Mill appears on early maps, it gradually became better known as Kelvindale Mill. On Roy’s map in the 1750s, the location of Balgray had been clear, directly opposite where the Possil Burn entered the Kelvin. Three Balgray Farms (North, South and Mains) stretched up to what are now Cleveden Road and Great Western Road. Today Balgray is more elusive, swallowed up by Kelvindale. However, the easiest way to trace the early mill sites is by their dams or weirs. One weir could power several mills along its lade, but a single weir on the Kelvin defined the site.
The most prominent surviving feature of Balgray Mill is the distinctive V-shaped weir, probably the most notable on the Kelvin. The other remnants on the edge of the site are the company houses at the bottom of Kelvindale Road.
The Lost Mills of The Kelvin is taken from the Winter 2009-10 edition of FORK News
Stuart Nisbet continues his series on the lost mills of the Kelvin with a look at another flint mill
Garrioch Mill is one of the most elusive mills on the River Kelvin. It appears to date from the 1770s, but could be much older. Like North Woodside, Garrioch Mill is indelibly linked with grinding flint for Glasgow’s celebrated pottery industry.
The early stage of Glasgow’s industrialisation was a period of constant invention. James Watt was best known for steam engines, but he also dabbled in chemistry and water power. In the 1760s Watt joined Glasgow’s Delftfield pottery company, near Broomielaw, both as an investor and a technical expert. He sought to improve the quality of their wares, to compete with imported varieties. Flint began to be mixed in large quantities with the potter’s clay, to improve strength, and was also used in the making of glazes.
By the 1750s the Delftfield company owned North Woodside colour mill, the next mill downstream from Garrioch Mill (see FORK News no. 49, Spring 2009). In 1772 Watt attended a meeting at Woodside to develop a waterfall for another mill, which was probably the start of Garrioch Mill, at least for a more industrial use. The mill dam was on the site of what is now Kirklee Bridge. The dam was rebuilt and raised in 1788, to power a second mill on the site. The lade ran from there, around the bend in the Kelvin to the mill site, which was directly below Kelvinside House. It is still possible to picture the lade by walking downstream from Kirklee Bridge, where the path follows the lade.
North Woodside Mill was probably the first to grind flint, followed by Garrioch Mill. As with most mills, it was the mundane water-powered stage which brought the overall process to the banks of the Kelvin. The river was used for many such processes, including grinding, chopping, washing, slitting and pulping. The waterwheels pounded away day and night, in this case to grind the flints.
Like North Woodside, Garrioch’s two mills on the one site combined industrial usage with grain milling. The Delftfield Pottery failed in the 1820s, and the Verreville Company took over the mills, continuing to grind flints. Despite the well-known use of the flint for pottery making, the Verreville was also a glassworks. The flint was also used for glass making – particularly ‘flint glass’.
The story of the mills on this stretch of the Kelvin does not end with the grain, colour and flint mills. On the opposite side of the Kelvin were at least two textile bleachfields or printfields. These washed, whitened, printed and pressed textiles to bring them up to a condition ready for sale.
On the west side of Garrioch Mill dam was Kirklee Bleachworks, which was still operating in the 1850s. Opposite North Woodside Mill, high above the Kelvin on the site of Glasgow Academy, was Kelvinhaugh or Kelvinholme Bleachfield. This was used up to the 1780s and beyond by the Inkle Company. It was far too high above the river to utilise its flow, and used spring water.
In the 1850s Garrioch Mill still had flint and flour mills. Unfortunately they declined thereafter, partly due to the residential development of Kelvinside estate, and within a few years Garrioch Mill was gone and the site was landscaped. Fortunately a number of drawings survive which let us picture this elusive mill.
The Lost Mills of The Kelvin is taken from the Summer 2009 edition of FORK News
In early spring the stretch of the river between Belmont Street footbridge and Kelvinbridge was good for sightings of Dippers, Grey Wagtails and Kingfishers. Up to four Mute Swans were present throughout April and into May. The Goosanders disappeared to their summer breeding grounds, though two pairs were still on the Kelvin in April and a solitary male has been seen since. In early April a Great Spotted Woodpecker was heard drumming upstream from Kirklee Bridge.
April brings the pleasure of seeing the first of our summer migrants return to the river. Sand Martins were back at their usual haunt below the Benalder Street bridge – at least eight were seen feeding on 18 April. Chiffchaffs have been calling in the Botanic Gardens along the bank downstream from the Ha’penny Bridge, their repetitive song contrasting with the clear melodic warbling of a male Blackcap nearby. In recent years more of these warblers have been choosing to spend the winter here rather than migrate to Africa, and male and female blackcaps have been seen during the winter months in gardens near the river for several years now. Their numbers in the UK have been increasing, suggesting that this species is benefiting from global warming.
May brought the return of the Swifts, the most truly aerial of birds, feeding, sleeping and mating on the wing. Their nest is made from debris borne on the wind, held together by saliva. When weather is bad adults fly huge distances to find food and may be away for days at a time – swifts in Scotland have been known to fly as far as Germany – while the young survive by going into a state of torpor to conserve energy until the parents can return to feed them. Breeding numbers are difficult to determine and have been estimated at somewhere between 6,000 and 8,000 pairs in Scotland with some evidence that numbers are declining. Modern building methods have reduced the number of potential nesting sites, and Glasgow is one area where swift nest boxes have been put up to try and counter this problem. The Scottish Swifts project website gives lots of information about these fascinating birds and explains how to take part in a survey of swift numbers and nest sites in your local area.
In the spring sunshine little dramas played out along the river – on 12 May a pair of Mallards were defending their brood of seven tiny ducklings from a predatory Crow, and the following day I found the remains of a little moss and feather nest in the Arboretum lying among a drift of plucked feathers. Great Tits returned to their nest site in the wall near the Ha’penny Bridge and were feeding young on 20 May – the young fledged soon after, about the same time as last year – and on 7 June Long-tailed Tits were feeding fledglings in the Arboretum. The young have more muted markings and shorter tails than the adults, who continue to feed them for about two weeks after they leave the nest.
Stuart Nisbet explores the colourful history of a mill with which walkers by the Kelvin are familiar – in under a different name
North Woodside is probably the best-known mill on the Kelvin. This is because of the survival of the mill foundations, the dam and the long lade. At the time of writing, the final use of the mill is well illustrated on a display board.
Although the mill is well known, it is also a puzzle. Firstly, it is best known asathe ‘Flint Mill’, which is not a familiar type of watermill. Secondly, some of the remains on the site have very little to do with water power.
For part of its life the mill used water power to process flints, one of the ingredients for pottery making. The process had a number of stages, but the reason for its being situated beside the Kelvin was to apply water power to the grinding stage. The grinding house and its water wheel straddled the lade, just where it disappears under the mill site. The grinding pans were in the rectangular building whose foundation survive to the east of the lade. Grinding was the middle stage of three main processes. The first stage was the burning of the flints in the kiln, whose altered stump survives. The final stage was drying of the wet flint slurry in the drying house, whose foundations also survive.
The reason for locating a mill here was due to the flat site and the ability to create a fall by means of a dam and a long lade. On many nearby parts of the Kelvin, the banks are steep and inaccessible, with no suitable riverside sites to build a mill.
North Woodside is a good illustration of a mill which is indelibly labelled with a single product (flint), yet had numerous uses over the centuries. One of the main snags in unravelling its story is the difficulty of separating the history of North Woodside from South Woodside, the next mill downstream at Kelvin Bridge. Further confusion about the site stems from having two or more completely separate uses at any one time.
North Woodside mill is assumed to have started as a medieval meal mill and by the early eighteenth century was a barley mill. From the 1750s it commenced its long-running connection with pottery making. Initially it was used for grinding coloured dyes, when it had the engaging title of ‘the Colour Mill’. Thus rather than being lumbered with the ‘flint mill’ name, it could just as easily be remembered as the Colour Mill.
At the time, pottery was toughened by adding ground flint, and the mill carried out the grinding process by the end of the eighteenth century, if not earlier. Around this period Garrioch Mill upstream had also started up. We will find out more about Garrioch Mill in the next issue of FORK News.
The barley mill continued in tandem with the wider industrial uses. In 1802 Garrioch and Woodside were advertised jointly as corn, barley and flint mills. By 1810 Woodside was reputedly a gunpowder mill. In 1841 it was burnt down and is shown ruined in contemporary drawings. It was rebuilt as a corn and flour mill by David Jackson, whose name is still applied to the dam.
The site was altered greatly over the years. In the 1840s the lade continued well beyond the mill site, before returning to the river. In the 1860s it was still used for processing colours, reinforcing its brighter image as the Colour Mill. Flint grinding also continued intermittently on the site from the 1750s until 1963, when the mill finally closed. The later owners included the Ferguslie Fireclay Company in Paisley. Rather than making fine pottery, they used the flint for the production of sanitary ware and pipes.
Perhaps the biggest asset of North Woodside is the long lade, leading back to the dam. This provides a vivid impression of the main parts of a water mill, helping us picture other mills on the Kelvin which are long gone. Near the top of the lade can be seen the foundations of a pier of the former Queen Margaret Bridge or ‘Walker’s Bridge’, demolished in 1970.
I would encourage you to visit the site and read more about this fascinating mill, particularly while the signboard survives! Walking up the lade, the long ‘island’ of ground between the lade and the Kelvin was the miller’s garden. In 1934 it was described as being planted with threes and shrubs, and a sanctuary for numerous birds. At the top of the site is Jackson’s dam, which still demonstrates the power of the Kelvin, the source of energy for so many early mills.