Dated 1881. Brown trout and salmon hatchery, purpose built for Sir James Maitland. 2-storey, roughly rectangular-plan with stepped E and W elevations. Yellow brick with ashlar window surrounds and quoins. Raised brickwork to upper 3 courses of wallhead with chamfered base and surmounted by slightly overhanging ashlar coping. Flat concrete and asphalt roof. Wallhead steps down from N to S following slope of land.
Entrance at W, reached from footbridge (see separate listing); roll-moulded, architraved ashlar door surround. Regular fenestration to E and W elevations, fixed windows with chamfered stone mullions, some windows 'glazed? with wire mesh. Single 4-pane timber sash and case window to left of door with datestone above. 3 window-less bays to S divided by pilaster-strips. Modern extension to N.
INTERIOR: entrance door opens onto landing with doorway ahead leading to upper floor (white glazed tile door surround, detail also found at lower floor and at Howietoun Fishery), open well stone stair to left. Decorative cast iron balusters to stairs (painted green), timber handrail and moulded ashlar pilaster newel hinting at classical design. Ashlar pilaster also in corner at upper and lower floor of stairwell. Both floors slope downhill from N to S following the gradient of the land. Entire upper floor given over to fibreglass fish tanks, apart from small office room to NE (now used for storage) with moulded ashlar fire surround and plastered walls. Fireplace also in small office room directly below. 2 large rooms to lower floor with larger plastic fish tanks. Both floors supported on cast iron columns and beams. Glazed white tiles to walls divided by ashlar pilaster-strips. Concrete floor to upper floor; remains of original black and red tiles at lower floor. Some original pipework remains including lead pipes (boxed in timber). No original wooden tanks survive.
Statement of Special Interest
A-Group with Milnholm Hatchery Footbridge, Howietoun Fishery and former mill at Sauchiemill. Variations of previous spelling include Millholm, Millnholm, Milneholme and Milnholme. The Milnholm Hatchery is an important building in its own right and also because of its association with the impressive nearby Howietoun fish farm. Built at this location to take advantage of the steady source of water from the Loch Coulter Burn and designed to utilise the slope of the land and thus the gravitational flow of water. This building continues to be used today for its original purpose and with very little modification. Its success as a building and as a hatchery is a testimony to James Maitland and his achievements in discovering and advancing the methods of breeding and transportation of fish. Although a purely functional building, elements of design prevent a wholly industrial appearance, in particular, the use of ashlar both inside and out and also the stairwell, the cast iron balusters of which echo the footbridge of the main approach. The design of the building, i.e. its 2 storeys, sloping floors and the architectural details make this a unique hatchery.
Fisheries were already in existence (the first British commercial fish farm opened in Cumbria in 1868), but Maitland recognised that through scientific experimentation and the application of marketing and business skills, he could create a successful operation. He began experimenting with fish production in the 1870s and built fish ponds at nearby Howietoun. He initially used the gun-room at home (Craigend) as a makeshift hatchery before building a hatchery at Middlethird, then at Howietoun and finally at Milnholm. Maitland's inventiveness extended not only to the breeding, housing, feeding and transportation of salmon and brown trout but also to the equipment necessary, for example, he designed special feeding spoons and transportation tanks. He successfully overcame the difficulties in counting fry, packing and transporting live ova and maintaining the temperature and cleanliness of transport tanks so that by the 1880s millions of ova were being produced and exported to as far afield as Australia and New Zealand, he also contributed to the introduction of brown trout to the USA.
Fortunately Maitland wrote a detailed account of his work which includes illustrations of the hatchery and Howietoun Fishery. The subtitle of his History of Howietoun is 'and the magnificent results already obtained'. The significance of his work was recognised at the time as he received gold medals at the International Fisheries Exhibition in London.
Howietoun and Milnholm were bought by Stirling University in 1979 for the Institute of Aquaculture, for the practical training of students as well as continuing as a commercial enterprise. The University of Stirling holds an extensive archive on Howietoun, which provides a unique resource on the history of aquaculture. Upgraded B to A, September 2003.