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The Annals of Penicuik
Chapter VI - Agriculture and Other Industries


PAST AND PRESENT.

AN agricultural map of Midlothian, published in 1795, represents the fertile lands in Penicuik parish as a narrow strip, extending along the low grounds from their boundary with Glencorse parish to a point a short distance south of the present village. Westwards from that strip up to the foot of the hills, and continuing up to Carlops, it is shown as moor-like land in a state of send-cultivation. The same quality of ground continue(] to the east of the parish as far as Rosebery, and the whole land southwards to the borders of Peeblesshire was covered with heath or in a state of nature.

At this period some efforts had already been made toward its improvement, so %e may readily believe that in its original condition our district must have presented a most desolate aspect. The first indication of any substantial change in its agricultural conditions took place about the middle of last century when Baron Sir John Clerk was owner of the Penicuik barony. This enlightened man was indeed the very first who ever attempted to carry out a system of field enclosure, and that often in direct opposition to the wishes of the tenants. About the year 1728, for instance, the lands of Penicuik town, which would include much of the site of the present village, as well as the various parks now farmed by Mr. Robert Henderson, Mr. Hay, Mr. Paterson, and others, were in the hands of only three tenants, but divided into twenty-seven different parts, or what is known as run-rig, a kind of mixing up of land only now to be seen in certain parts of Ireland. The Baron desired to remedy this bad condition of farming, but it was with the greatest difficulty that he could get these three men to consent to a regular division and enclosure of their lands. This system was also carried out by him on the farms of Roads and Cuicken by double dikes of turf taken from the ditch on each side from which they were dug, and planted on the top with thorns and oak trees about fifteen yards apart. The Baron likewise erected a substantial dwelling-house upon the farm of Eastfield and Mains of Penicuik two stories high, with slated roofs. 'These would be an immense improvement upon the farm-houses which then existed in other parts of the parish, for, according to a contemporary account, they were of the plainest and most primitive kind. The farm mains then consisted, as a rule, of a set of low buildings in the form of a square, one side occupied by the farmer and his family, their home being composed of two or three dismal apartments with earthen floors, low ceilings, and small windows. The chimney was commonly erected against the gable-wall, and, while intended to give free passage to the smoke, served more as a means for admitting the outer elements, to the discomfort of the occupants. The other sides of the square were occupied by the labourers' houses, stables, byres, and other farm buildings, all of which were usually built of turf and stone, while the roof was thatched or turfed over. Owing to scarcity of wood these roofs were often supported by stone couples. The old Marfield farm-steading, which was replaced by the present one early in the century, was done in this way; rows of rough stone arches springing at equal distances from the side walls between the corresponding gables. One of the old louses at Spittal was at the same period entirely covered with a solid roof of stone. While Sir John Clerk vas introducing his improvements upon the two farms mentioned above, his enlightened neighbour, Mr. Forbes of Newhall, was also beginning to shelter his fields in the vicinity of the mansion-house by belts of planting and Hedgerows, while also introducing new methods of agriculture upon his estate. In the second volume of the Transactions of the Highland Society Dr. Walker writes: The potato forms one of the most useful and profitable crops that can be raised in pure peat earth. Though this was long known in Ireland, the first trial of the kind in this country, so far as is known, was made in the year 1750, at Newhall in Midlothian. The experiment was made in an enclosure of about four acres, consisting of such soft wet peat soil as to be incapable of bearing a horse, and which had been ploughed with men. Having lain some years in grass it was planted in lazy beds with potatoes. The crop turned out so abundant both in the size and quality of the roots as to be a matter of surprise to all in the neighbourhood.'

While treating of the agricultural improvements of that early period, it may interest my readers to hear of the rents then paid by tenants for their holdings as compared with present times. I have been favoured with the perusal of the rent-book of Mr. Benjamin Wilson, who, during last century, occupied several well-known farms in the neighbourhood. Time following figures taken from it will convey at a glance the great difference in the value of land then and now. In the year 1752 Mr. Wilson paid 26 sterling of annual rent for the farm of Eastfield, which to-day is let at 313, 7s. 8d. In time same year lie paid for Herbershaw 18, it being now 117, 15s. 6d. For Cuicken and Eastfield held together lie paid in 1771 the sum of 86, 8s., 4d.; the combined rental, according to the valuation roll, at the present time is 533, 7s. 5d. Of course the poor condition of the soil and the meagre returns from the sales of produce made higher rents in those old days a matter of impossibility. The ultimate commencement of general improvements upon almost every farm on the Penicuik Barony was, says Mr. Jackson, owing to the enlightened policy of the curators of the late Sir George Clerk, and to his own unremitting attention to the development of his property after lie came of age. The Rev. M`Courty, minister of the parish, writing of a time one hundred years back, says that oats, barley, peas, turnips, and potatoes, succeed well in the parish, but grass was the most profitable crop. Upon the best low Grounds the following rotation was adopted—1st, fallow turnips and potatoes; 2nd, barley with clover and rye-grass; 3d, hay, one crop only, as the clover generally fails the second crop; 4th, oats. The two-horse chain plough, with the curved mould-board, was, he says, used for improved ground, and the old Scotch wooden plough for that which was unimproved.

Another gentleman, writing at a (late about ten years after Mr. M`Courty's notes were embodied in the Statistical Account of Scotland, states that nearly every farmer in this neighbourhood had then a threshing-mill driven by horse- or water-power, and fanners for clearing the grain of its chaff. But while our agriculturists of those days were being more comfortably Housed, and had obtained the use of many labour-saving appliances, the sending of their produce to market was very difficult of accomplishment. The roads were so bad that such -rain as they had to dispose of they took to Edinburgh in loll sacks hung over' their horses' hacks, giving each other mutual assistance when there was an unusually large quantity to carry. This primitive means of conveyance continued until the end of last century, and is referred to both by Mr. Jackson and Mr. Niven in their pamphlets upon Penicuik.`

Mr. M`Courty gives a series of interesting statistics as to the numbers of cattle and sheep, and the rates of wages in 1793, which may be of interest to my agricultural readers. There were then, he says, 44 ploughs, 74 carts, 80 horses, 636 black cattle, and 8000 sued) in the parish of Penicuik. Time common wages of men-servants were from 5 to 7 per annum, with bed, board and washing women-servants 3, with similar perquisites; day-labourers were paid one shilling without, and eightpence with, victuals, and in harvest women (rot sevenpence and men eightpence to ninepence per day with victuals. From other sources I learn that in 1801 there were 497 people employed in agricultural service in the parish. No doubt time grouping of farms, and time great improvement in labour-saving machinery, will account for time fact that, roughly speaking, little more than a third of that number are now constantly occupied in that way.

As already indicated, great improvements were made during the early years of the century by Sir George Clerk, both in regard to buildings, plantations, enclosures, and draining. Other proprietors were not slow to follow his example. On the farm of Springfield, for instance, which extends to about 500 acres, Mr. Carstairs, its owner, transformed a portion of time bleakest moorland in Midlothian into fairly good and cultivable soil. He intersected the level moss with tramways and canals, and transported the peat for sale as fuel, while he utilised the surplus water which flowed from the moss for the purpose of turning a mill for the manufactory of combs, a business which he had engaged in before he purchased time property. Allusion will be found elsewhere to this enterprising gentleman's laudable efforts to provide a regular coach service to the metropolis. It is also worthy of mention that he received a gold medal from the Highland Society for his essay describing the improvements which he had made at Springfield. In 1839, a few years after Mr. Jackson wrote his pamphlet describing the agriculture of the district, the Rev. AST. Scott Moncrieff, minister of the parish, also }prepared a short article on Penicuik for the New Statistical Account of Edinburghshire. Both these gentlemen state that the waste land in the parish was then yearly diminishing. Drainage of a sort had been carried on extensively with the happiest results; regular furrow drainage was, however, being introduced but slowly, while that by tiles, which had proved so successful in the west, had not yet been attempted. The fields were enclosed by dry-stone dikes and hedges of beech and thorn, and the soil was so improved by judicious liming and manuring that an astonishing difference was visible in the yield of crops.

This all points to enterprise on the part of tenants as well as landlords, and no one can doubt that we have reason to be proud of many of the agriculturists of a past generation. Not only in matters pertaining to their own industry did they show their intelligence, but also in their public-spirited interest in matters concerning the common weal. A Ion; time prior to the constitution of any responsible village or local authority, a society had been initiated by the farmers in the district for the purpose of detecting and punishing crime. It continued to do good service in this direction until it was superseded by the institution of the rural police, and the erection in the village of a police station. In December 1847 this society resolved to direct its influence to carrying out objects having a tendency towards the improvement of agriculture, and from that date it became known as the Penicuik Farmers' or Agricultural Society. Its constitution was remodelled in 1853, and the members then resolved to offer prizes for the exhibition of stock. The result of this was that the first cattle-show which ever took place in the parish was held in the August of that year. These shows continued year by year under the auspices of the society, but after a somewhat chequered career they finally ceased in the year 1868. At a meeting convened in July 1569 it was resolved that, on account of the Highland and Agricultural Society's show being to take place in Edinburgh, that year the Penicuik one should not be held. This was the last act of its history, for since that time the society has been practically defunct.

Mr. Jackson commends the farmers of the parish for their general enterprise, but complains of their inattention to the breeding of dairy cattle. This neglect, he says, is the more astonishing, as, from their proximity to Edinburgh, where dairy produce is mostly sent in a fresh state, both in butter and buttermilk, strong inducements, it might be presumed, would be held out on this account for the improvement of the dairy stock of the farm. Had lie been spared until the present time, lie would have seen that this matter has received very particular attention. During the last thirty years a new race of agriculturists have entered upon the occupancy of most of the land, not more than two or three of the families who were tenants in Mr. Jackson's time being now left upon any of the farms in the parish. As lease after lease expired since the period referred to, they have been taken up by farmers from the vest country, and the great majority of these gentlemen have devoted their energies to the development of dairy farming with a consequent improvement in the breeding of cattle adapted to that purpose. During times of recent very great agricultural depression, when in some of the most fertile parts of Scotland hundreds of farmers had to give up their holdings, those in our parish have, almost to a man, been able to struggle through. This has been very much the result of arduous toil, on the part not only of the tenants themselves, but of their wives and families. In many instances the sweet milk is sent daily to Edinburgh, and, as an evidence of the extent to which this business is carried on, I may here mention that from the farm of Fallhills, which, when it was taken by Mr. George Paterson about sixteen years ago, was a wild and moorland one, lie now sends daily the produce of seventy cows to be consumed in the metropolis. A large outlet for the proceeds of the dairy is also found in the village of Penicuik. Formerly its inhabitants used to send to the various farms for such supplies as could not be obtained from the local dairies, but about twenty years ago the late Mr. William Thomson, tenant in Cornbank, with commendable enterprise commenced running; vans into the town on the morning and evening of every lawful clay With supplies of milk and butter, which were delivered at the houses of the consumers. This was the beginning of that which has now developed into a large and apparently profitable business. As inane as fourteen or fifteen vans selling the produce of an equal number of farms are now sent daily into the village, and find a ready market.

Most of the arable land in the parish is now worked on the five-course rotation, and is taken on nineteen years' lease, although in several recent cases mutual breaks at shorter periods have been inserted in them. On all the larger farms the most improved labour-saving implements and machines have been introduced. The first combined reaper and binder in the parish was purchased about two years ago by Mr. James Granger, and is now used upon his farm at :Mount Lothian. Double ploughs were in considerable use some years ago, but have in most instances been set aside as too heavy and cumbersome. The American single plough and others, formed upon a similar model, have latterly been much in favour for certain kinds of land. The reaping-machine has itself been a source of immense comfort and convenience to our farmers. In the early part of the century bands of crofters used to come to the south country for employment in the harvest-field. In more recent times their place was taken by troops of labourers from Ireland, and the housing; and feeding of those temporary hands often sorely tried the administrative powers of the farmer's good-wife. Oftentimes these denizens of the Emerald Isle came into the village after their work was clone, and became very noisy and bellicose, causing discomfort and not unfrequently alarm to the peace-loving citizens. On more than one occasion were they known to use their sharp reaping-hooks for offensive and defensive purposes, and fingers and ears were not unfrequently chopped off in their drunken orgies.

'I'lie farms situated on the Pentland slopes are nearly all pastoral, and the sheep stocks, for the greater part, are of the blackfaced breed. Some of the flocks are known throughout the country as of excellent quality. For many' years the rains bred by Mr. Thomas Murray on Eastside and Westside fetched the highest prices at the Edinburgh ram sales, and carried off' the leading honours at the highland and Agricultural Society's shows. In the south-east side of the parish, '1r. Thomas Stevenson, late tenant of Mount Lothian, also reached the topmost place in the breeding of Cheviot stock, and generally carried off' first prizes whenever he elected to compete at any of the principal exhibitions of cattle throughout the kingdom. At the present time there is a resident stock of about 11,000 sleep and 400 much cows in the parish. A few of our farmers also rear and fatten cattle for the market, but the number of these is inconsiderable.

OTHER INDUSTRIES.

Penicuik is known throughout our own and other lands as a principal seat of the important industry of paper-snaking. No history of our parish would therefore be complete that did not give some account of the origin and development of the extensive establishments at Valleyfield and Esk Mills, which at present send out to home and foreign markets close upon 200 tons weekly of writing; and printing papers. Before entering upon this subject, however, it may interest my readers to learn a little about other industries which have been carried on from time to time within the parish.

Next to the practice of agriculture, the oldest of these were milling and brewing. In early times the staple food of the humbler classes was made from peas, barley, oat flour, and meal, while ale was their favourite beverage. Consequently, to every village there was attached a corn-mill, and often several brew-houses or breweries. At the end of last century there were three corn-mills and one barley mill in the parish. The sites of two of these are not now known. The third was down on the left side of the present Valleyfield road, but at the time referred to was no longer a going concern. The last was on the banks of the Esk below the bridge, and was purchased by Messrs. Cowan in the year 1804, to form part of what is known as Bank Mill. I can find no trace of any brewery existing later than that which, in the year 1789, stood near to the present office-houses of the Royal Hotel. Prior to the time indicated, however, there were other breweries outside the village. The two most important of these were situated at Silverburn and Howgate. In the year 1659 the owner of the former, by name Robert Adamson, was severely dealt with by the Session for selling his ale upon the Sabbath-day. This fact is interesting as showing that in those early times there existed much of that spirit which has prompted more recent Iegislation on Sunday trafficking in excisable liquors. From 1771 on to near the close of the century, the Howgate brewery was carried on by an individual bearing the same name and surname as the present owner of the little 1iowgate property.

Perhaps the next oldest industry to those already mentioned is that of coal-mining. From the middle of the seventeenth to close of the eighteenth century coal was worked on a small scale in the western part of the parish. The coal pits at Brunstane were opened, or rather re-opened, in 1838, and closed again a few years ago ; but farther up the water, between Whitbank and Marfield, two pits were worked prior to 1770, and from these such coal as was used in the district would likely he obtained. Towards the close of last century, however, they cannot have been in operation, for I find in the Statistical Account that no coal was then worked in the parish at all. The villagers at that time obtained their supplies from Carlops, Loanhead, Whitehill, and Hawthornden, at a cost at the pit-head of 5d., 6d., and 7d. per two cwt., according to quality. Peat was at that time to a large extent the fuel used by the working classes. Of that article there was an abundant supply, and several of the parishioners earned a modest livelihood by driving peat to Edinburgh for consumption there.

The western section of the parish, which is now one of its quietest and most sparsely populated parts, was at the beginning of this century full of hustle and enterprise.

The little village of Carlops, in Peeblesshire, was then occupied by busy wearers. Below its bridge, but situated in Penicuik parish, was a woollen mill in full operation. On the edge of the Esk at Marfield, was a flax mill, and, farther up, a fulling mill and dyehouse. At Gladsheugh was a bleachfield, which, up to the year 1832, kept over six persons in constant employment. Not far from Marfield was a gunpowder mill. It was unfortunately blown up in the year 1830, and several of the workers killed.

Between the years 1773 and 1777, the first cotton mill in Scotland was erected by a company of gentlemen at Esk Mills, in Penicuik parish. Under the able management of a Mr. Brotherston it continued for a number of years to be a most successful undertaking. In the year 1794 this mill gave steady employment to over 500 people. Its cotton yarn was at first only used for weft, but a weaver in the village having tried the dressing of it on a new plan, he succeeded, to the satisfaction of the proprietors, in preparing it for warp also. By degrees the quality of its cotton became famous, and the extensive demand which set in from all parts speedily gave an impetus to the trade in Scotland, which resulted in the building of other mills at Lanark and elsewhere upon new and improved plans. Whether resulting from excessive competition, or from want of enterprise in adopting the necessary machinery, Esk Mills gradually fell behind in the race. In 1811 the business was finally given up, and the premises sold to Government. They were converted into barracks for the accommodation of 1500 soldiers, whose duty it was to guard the French prisoners of war at Valleyfield.

Another industry which flourished in Penicuik about fifty years ago, was that of silk shawl-weaving. Six looms for the purpose were erected by an English company in the old cavalry barracks, now Mr. Tit's joiners' workshop. They imported their webs and wove them into beautiful ladies' plaids—a great demand for which at that time existed from abroad. This factory continued for about fifteen years, and then closed.

The wearing of coloured cottons, ginghams, and tweeds, also kept many people in employment during the first thirty years of this century. Within the memory of villagers yet amongst us—George Holbrook, James Niven, Donald Brymer, Thomas Dodds, and others, continued to fight a losing battle against the all-conquering power of the steam-looms. In Kirkhill, the Thomsons, Keirs, Simpsons, Mlitchelhills, Philips, and Robertsons were equally industrious, but they too had to give up the fight. Fifty years ago there were altogether eight hand-looms at work in the Parish; now there is not a single one, and no other similar industry of any importance has ever taken root in our district. The weaving of woollen gloves and underclothing was tried at the Foundry for a short time by Mr. John L. Gibson, who for many years carried on it drapery establishment in the village. After a short trial of it, Mr. Gibson found that the business could he more profitably conducted nearer to the centre of the industry. He consequently migrated; along with his workers, to the town of Dumfries, about fifteen years ago.

As this history deals only with matters relating to Penicuik, I can make no more than a passing allusion to the opening of the Ironstone mines in the neighbouring parish of Glencorse, by the Shotts Iron Company. This took place about the year 1875. The village of Shottstown was erected to provide accommodation for the workers, and as the volume of the Company's operations increased, a corresponding benefit was enjoyed by the village in the accession to its business which the increased population provided. A shaft is now being sunk in our own parish, but I must leave it to the historian of the future to chronicle the development of this important industry.

I shall now proceed to give my readers some account of the origin and development of the extensive paper-mills at Valley-field and Esk Mills, to which the village of Penicuik entirely owes its growth and prosperity. First in size and importance is the establishment of Alexander Cowan and Sons (Limited). The nucleus of the Valleyfield Mills was built about the year 1708 by Mr. Andrew Anderson, printer to her Majesty Queen Anne. He did not live long after their completion, and the business was carried on for some time by his widow, Agnes Campbell. The mill then passed into the hands of Mr. Watkins, and continued in the possession of his family until the year 1773, when it was acquired by Mr. Thomas Boswell. This gentleman did not apparently find the trade a particularly profitable one, for he sold it six years afterwards to Mr. Charles Cowan, merchant in Leith, ancestor of the present proprietors. \Ir. Cowan and his two sons, Duncan and Alexander, thereafter carried on a moderately successful business, employing, in these early days, some thirty workpeople, and turning out two to three bolls weekly of excellent hand-made paper. About the year 1804 the firm purchased the Peuicuik corn mill, which stood on the banks of the Esk, and converted it into a paper-mill. For some time they manufactured there the paper for making bank-notes, and that circumstance gave to the mill the name which it has borne ever since. In 1811 Messrs. Cowan sold the Valleyfield mills to the Government, who required them as a convenient depot for the accommodation of French prisoners of war. Napoleon Bonaparte, after many years of brilliant military success, was at that time beginning to experience the bitterness of disaster and defeat. Wellington had delivered Portugal from his hands, and had captured the great frontier fortresses of Ciudad Rodrigo and Badajoz. Salamanca had also been fought and won, and a great number of prisoners had been captured. 'These, with others, who at Martinique and Trafalgar had proved themselves foemen worthy of British steel, were, to the number of 6000, conveyed to Valleyfield and confined there. The change was not a welcome one to the inhabitants of our little village. The place, from which formerly was heard only the hum of busy labour, now rang with the sentry's challenge and the tread of armed men. The shouts and incoherent noises from the prison yards disturbed the quiet valley, even upon the Sabbath-day, when formerly silence reigned supreme. Little wonder then, that at the end of the military occupation in 1818, when the good news spread that Mr. Cowan had re-purchased the mills, there was an illumination of the village, followed by a day of general rejoicing. The only visible token of the enforced residence of these Frenchmen amongst us is the handsome monument in the Valleyfield House grounds, erected by the late Alexander Cowan to the memory of 309 of them, who were destined never again to see the sunny land from which they came. On the stone is inscribed the line from Saimazarius, suggested by Sir Walter Scott :—

'GRATA QUIES PATRIAE, SED ET OMNIS TERRA SEPELCHRUM`.

Another inscription on the stone states that it was `erected hby certain inhabitants of the parish.' This is one specimen of many of the ways by which good Mr. Cowan tried to prevent his kind deeds being known. To enable him truthfully to say that in this case others shared the cost, he obtained a contribution of five shilling from Mr. Allan the watchmaker. With exception of this small sum, Mr. Cowan bore the entire cost of the chaste and substantial sepulchral stone. His ear and hand were indeed ever open to the cry of distress. It is known that, independently of this, 16,000 which he gave to charitable institutions in Edinburgh, the money which he spent in works of love and kindness exceeded all his other expenses of a personal and family nature. His love for Penicuik was shown in many ways, not the least tangible being his legacy to provide for an abundant supply of pure water being brought into the village from the Silverburn spring at a cost of —3000.

Sir Walter Scott spoke of him on one occasion as a good and able man, and this opinion was shared by all, for truly Mr. Cowan wrote his name in kindness and in love on the hearts of those with whom lie came in contact on his way through life.

Prior to again becoming possessors of Valleyfield Mill, Messrs. Cowan had purchased the small paper-mill known as Low Mill. So far back as the year 1707, the portion of ground upon which it stands was taken by a Mr. David Wilson for the purpose of building a Waulk-mill and planting a kail-yard. After his death in 1749, it was sublet by his son and heir to Mr. Richard Nimmo, stationer, Edinburgh, and by him converted into a paper-mill. It continued to be used as such until its acquisition by Messrs. Cowan. Its business did not suffer by the change of ownership. Although the method of manufacturing paper was then primitive, and its demand limited, the excellence of the firm's products soon became known throughout the kingdom, and they rapidly attained to a front rank in the trade. Before the first quarter of a century had run its course, a great revolution was accomplished at Valleyfield. This was brought about by the introduction of the Fourdrinier machine, along with elaborate apparatus for the rapid drying of the paper. These changes are thus described by a worthy villager who lived at that time: Valleyfield 'hill,' he says, 'has lately got machinery to make paper, which supplies the place of a great number of men; I am informed that one of these will do more in one clay than a dozen of men, and it makes excellent paper. The paper-makers, I fear, will be hurt by this invention; the consequence is already felt, their wages are reduced, and at present there is a general outstand here.' Had the good man been spared to see the present busy hive of industry, wherein are employed between seven and eight hundred workpeople, his dismal views of the future of their predecessors would no doubt have been very considerably modified.

About ten years after the time referred to, the wages of the met) employed in mills were from 2s. to 3s. per day, the women 9d. to 1s. 3d., and children 6d. to 10d. As years rolled on the enterprise and wise judgment of .Messrs. Charles and John Cowan, who now controlled the fortunes of the firth, led to continued success. In 1861 the abolition of the paler-duty, coming soon after the removal of the tax which had so long fettered the newspaper press, gave a further impetus to their trade; about the same time also, a cheaper substitute for rags, in the shape of esparto, was introduced into the manufacture, and this also marked a new era in the rapidly developing business of Messrs. Cowan. The greater pollution of the river, caused by the preparation of the grass, unfortunately proved the cause of costly litigation. In the year 1866, the well-known Esk Pollution case resulted in a verdict of a jury adverse to the paper-makers. This decision caused immense outlay to the firm of Alex, Cowan and Sons. They first erected an establishment near to the mouth of the Esk at Musselburgh, for the treatment of the fibre, but with characteristic enterprise, the place was ere long converted by them into another large paper-mill, which is now managed by their relative, Mr. Robert C. Menzies. The treatment of the esparto was, in consequence, again resumed at Valleyfield, where large settling-ponds, combined with an improvement in the treatment of the residual products, permit of the water used in the mills being returned, in a comparatively pure state, into the river.

Up to the year 1888 the active control at Valleyfield had been for a long period in the hands of Mr. James Birrell. This gentleman, when quite a lad, had entered the service of the Messrs. Cowan, and by his great ability and business qualification speedily worked his way tip to the important position of manager of the mills. In the year indicated, however, Mr. Birrell's connection with the firm ceased. Mr. Charles IV. Cowan and his two sons, Messrs. Alexander Cowan and Robert Craig Cowan, have recently carried out great structural alterations; and expensive new machinery, in the shape of a new steam-engine of 800 horse-power, and splendid new beater-engines, has been fitted up at Valleyfield. These, with other improvements, permit of an increased out-put of paper, combined with a considerable reduction in the staff' of workers. The weekly out-put of writing and printing papers at Valleyfield, Bank, and Low Mills at the present time approaches one hundred tons, and in addition to this is the large quantity of printing and enamelled papers made at the Musselburgh Mill. Nor have the operations of the firm been confined to manufacturing alone; their distributive agencies are to be found all over the world. Besides their large establishments in Cannon Street, London, Register Street and Craigside, Edinburgh, and D'Olier Street, Dublin, Messrs. Cowan have business houses in Manchester, Melbourne, Adelaide, Sydney, Dunedin, and Brisbane. By the medium of these and other agencies the products of the Vallevfield Mills are known throughout all parts of the civilised globe. At the various international exhibitions in London, Paris, Dublin, and elsewhere, Messrs. Alexander Cowan and Soils have again and again been awarded honours for the excellence of their papers. Last year (1889) this extensive business was, with the exception of the London house, formed into a limited liability company, but it is understood that the greater portion of the stock is held by members or relatives of the Cowan family.

JAMES BROWN AND CO., LIMITED, ESK MILLS.

I have already related how the mills now owned by James Brown and Co., Limited, were in 1811 sold to the Government for the accommodation of the troops whose duty it was to guard the French prisoners at \"alley field. After the peace they were bought by Messrs. Haig of Lochrin and others, and fitted up with paper-making machinery. The new industry did not prove successful in the hands of this syndicate, the result being that in the year 1821, the whole concern was acquired by Mr. James Brown, to whom they had incurred heavy financial obligations. Under the able management of this gentleman, ultimately assisted by his son-iii-law, Mr. Thomas M'Dougal, the business of the firm of James Brown and Co. developed with wonderful rapidity, and with corresponding financial success. After the death of '\Ir. Brown, which took place on 28th October 1852, Mr. MI'Dougal, with characteristic enterprise and ability, still further enlarged the works, adopting such of the modern appliances and improvements in machinery as were desirable. By this means he ever kept well to the front in a trade which, since the abolition of the tax which had fettered the newspaper press, and the removal of the duty on paper, had advanced with leaps and bounds. Mr. Thomas M'Dougal died on 12th October 1871. He will ever be remembered in this district as a man of kindly heart and upright character. As an employer he was liberal in his dealings with his workpeople. His keen discernment of character was seen in his selection of those whom he asked to serve under him. The result is apparent to all in the numbers of intelligent and highly respectable amen, who have ever been identified with the works at Esk Mills. In many cases the sons and grandsons of the original employes continue to serve the present firm with the same energy and faithfulness that were shown by their predecessors. Mr. M`Dougal was succeeded in the management of the mills by his sons, Mr. Edward M`Dougal, now of Ormiston Hall, and Mr. Thomas M'Dougal of Dalhousie Castle. His youngest son, Mr. James M'Dougal, entered the army, and is now Lieutenant-Colonel commanding Her Majesty's 1st Battalion South Lancashire regiment of foot.

During recent years great structural alterations and enlargements have been carried out at Esk Mills under the active superintendence of Mr. Frederick M'Dougal Williams, Mr. John Jardine, the present working manager, and Mr. John Cranston, cashier. The most recent improvements in machinery have been introduced at enormous cost. The employes number three hundred; and the weekly out-put of high-class printing paper from the four machines is about one hundred tons.

In February 1890 the business was turned into a limited company, but it is understood that the principal shareholders are those who for a number of years have had an active interest in the concern.


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