Alternative Tourist Experience: Research into the Old Mills (3/5)
After stepping back and looking at our project from a different perspective and looking into more of the history of the Water of Leith. We felt that our project needed a more alternative aspect added to it, so we decided to research into the old mills which used to run along the Water of Leith. One of the most noticeable features is how the milling industries along the river provide the materials needed for book making and trade. Looking at our route (Colinton to Stockbridge), there were alot of mills along the side of the Water of Leith.
We then Decided to create our route into a more historical and researched experience by transforming it into a route of old mills and adding the sites of old mills onto the map. After going back to our route and trying to find the different old mills, we realised that alot of them are now houses. So, after finding the locations of the various Mills, we then researched into them all and found 4 which still have aspects of the mill that can be seen.
Researching the old Mills:
To help our research into the various Mills, we listened to audio tour and watched a video on them to understand the history behind them.
Audio tour by Water of Leith: http://www.waterofleith.org.uk/audio-trail/
BBC Video on Industrial Water of Leith: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/articles/3Rjh9tfr3dB40kSKpTVcxXC/the-water-of-leith-a-journey-along-edinburgh-s-industrial-river
Redhall Mill Weir
Before Redhall Mill and the Redhall cottages. Weir’s are used to help control and regulate the flow of water. They were used greatly in the milling days to help keep control of the Mills and water.
Kate’s Mill, after Redhall Mill, inbetween Colinton and Slateford, was developed on a former waulk mill site. A waulk mill was used for fulling cloth, which involved cleansing the cloth. In 1787 it was converted into paper making and was named after Kate Cant, the wife of John Balfour who lived then at Bog’s Mill. The Mill employed many children and people. It is believed that after a day of work it turned into some form of school. Remains of the perimeter wall may be seen today but the return lade (A channel constructed to carry the swift current of water that drives a mill wheel) is clearly visible from the wooden bridge nearby.
Bog’s (Boag’s) Mill
While researching and revisiting Redhall house in Colinton, we came across ‘Bog’s Mill’ Bridge which dates back to the old “Bog’s Mill’. Although, the Mill now stands as a house, it used to make the paper exclusively for Bank of Scotland 20 shilling notes. While there, we we discovered the long indentation in the grass running from the pathway towards the house. After researching, we discovered that this was the original lade to the mill which ran two large waterwheels, one undershot, the other a breast wheel.
Bell’s mill is the oldest milling site on the river dating back to the 11th century. Today, the Mill owners house and the granary survive. It was one of the last mills to operate under the power of water. In 1972 it exploded when it was grinding wood flour to make linoleum, destroying the mill. The Granary now houses 24 new apartments.
Damhead Mill Weir
An impressive Vertical Weir (a barrier across the horizontal width of a river that alters the flow characteristics of the water) which powered all Mills to the north side of the river. Found in Dean Village.