To research, excavate and protect historic naturally powered mills particularly in South Lanarkshire.

Clydesdale Mills Society


A community charitable organisation founded in 2007 

Hyndford Mills excavation. Tinto Hill rear.

 Photo Gallery contains albums covering the Hyndford Mills project, the mills on or near the River Clyde and all 165 mills in South Lanarkshire have photographic entries in alphabetic order.

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On the edge of the glen, in the how o' the brae,
In a green empty neuk - the auld mill is away
An auld crookit tree by the edge o' the rill
Marks the lane, but loved spot o' Hartree Auld Mill
Anon c1900

Mute Swans on the River Clyde December 26th 2010

 

An account of a visit to an 18th century Scottish water mill

A happy clatter across the river caught my ear, and I saw a mill with its water-wheel spinning beside a dark pool. The drumming of it was good to hear, and I made for the bridge and descended the opposite bank. A Collie dog dashed out of the door and cut friendly circles round me, and I hoped that his warning bark would bring out the miller himself. But the noise inside was so loud that I had to raise my voice to a yell before he appeared. He was a short man with grey eyes that twinkled under his dusty eyebrows, and he invited me in with a friendly gesture. He led the way up a ladder, pausing to shout a warning in my ear not to "bash my croon" on the beams, and I emerged into a dim chamber with dozens of bags set around the walls.
 
The miller's boy was working furiously, staggering across the floor with bags of oats, and fastening them to a chain that came down from above at quick intervals for fresh supplies. "Come and see the kiln" said the miller, opening a door. We stepped into the semi-darkness of a big room, the floor of which was six or eight inches deep in oats , and the heat was terrific. Steam began to settle on my face like a wet mist as the miller stooped and scraped aside the oats. I saw that we were standing on thin wire netting laid across wire beams, and in the chamber beneath I discerned the red glow of an inferno. That sudden glimpse through the wire floor was slightly terrifying, and I thought how that kiln would have made an exquisite torture chamber in the Middle Ages: I pictured a pair of ruthless eyes looking through a slit in the door at prisoners writhing upon the wire grill as the flue was opened in the furnace room underneath and the great crimson mouth of the fire belched up its blinding heat: I would have preferred the thumbikins or the boot any day, and I was glad to get back to the cool air. I tried to pick up the different noises, the swish of the grinding-stone, the thud of the wooden levers, the whirr of spindles, the bang-bang of trap-doors that opened and closed. I was amused at the distance the oats travel before they emerge finally as meal. From the kiln on the second floor they are shovelled into a chute down which they drop to the ground level, to be carried on a tiny elevator to the sifters, from which they fall to the first floor to be cleaned in a riddle; then up they go once more to the roof, to drop to the "sheiling-stone" where the husks are crushed and blown off. Up again they go, and fall through a pipe to the oatmeal-stone, from which the meal itself goes down in a steady stream through the riddles. The stuff that fails to pass makes another journey to the roof to be recrushed, while the perfect oatmeal sets out on its final ascent and then drops down to the waiting bags. An amazing process: a lighthouse keeper's work is a flat crawl compared with the journeys of the oats before they reach the storeroom. As for the miller himself, it was obvious that he loved his job. At each bin, as he raised his voice to explain the process, he scooped up handfulls of the stuff that earned him his living and let it trickle through his fingers with pride as though each oat were a pearl, and the meal itself he tasted and rolled around his tongue like a man savouring a vintage port. "There's no' a healthier job in Scotland," he declared. "D'ye see yon boy that's helping me? Ay, a fine big chap. Aweel, he came here a poor-like thing, but he's off next month to join the police. It's the healthy work and the good porridge that's set him up. Ay, it's a grand life."