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