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- Category: A
- Date Added: 25/11/1991
- Local Authority: Aberdeen
- Planning Authority: Aberdeen
- Parish: Old Machar
National Grid Reference
- NGR: NJ 92570 9602
- Coordinates: 392570, 809602
1793-4. 3-storey and basement, 17-bay flax spinning mill. Squared granite rubble with pinnings. Top 2 storeys and attic removed following a fire in 1900. Adjoining wing mill, engine and wheel house with associated water systems, turbines and pumps.
LONG ELEVATIONS: windows blocked in alternate pairs. Centre bay arched hoist openings over original lade to N elevation. Scar left by demolished chimney stack (circular section brick on tall granite-built plinth) flanked by lavatory towers at centre of S elevation. Slate roof with skylights.
6-stage square tower at E gable. Windows to E elevation within tall semi-circular headed recess. Top stage blocked Diocletian windows to N face. Scar of circa 1830 beam engine house which projected from S elevation. Top cornice and parapet. Domed columned belfry pergola removed 1900 (bells were dated 1803).
Interior of old mill; unique construction of flagstone floors on a grid of I-section cast-iron joists and beams. This probably a circa 1812-26 alteration incorporating the original cast-iron columns with integral saddles that may at first have carried timber cross beams (some of which remain at basement level). Very early cast-iron grid in bell tower to support water tank. Timber roof of little interest.
E WING MILL: (originally heckling, later wool teasing, now the bale opening dept.) added at right angles, 1812, later reduced to 1-storey, 2-storey at S. This flanks the arched lade that runs under the W end of the mill and then turns left into the;
WHEELHOUSE; 1826. Ashlar base. Upper parts squared rubble with pinnings. Water enters and leaves via wide segmental arched openings. Re-roofed in asbestos circa 1930. Low level bridge of cast-iron girders carries pipes and drives to S. Contains Boving and Co double impellor turbines, 19 38, in place of horizontal Hercules turbines by John Turnbull & Sons, Glasgow, 1905. Belt drive to surviving horizontal fire pump, 1905. The original wheel, by Hewes & Wren (via Woodside Works), 25' diameter and 21' wide is now in the Royal Museum of Scotland, Chambers Street, Edinburgh.
External sluices to control overflow probably 1905 ironwork on 1826 masonry.
ENGINE HOUSE: single storey infill between mill, wheelhouse and old dye house. 5-bay S elevation to lade overflow, E elevation formerly adjoined dye house. W elevation 2 arched bays in brick with granite gable, for 120hp steam engine by Douglas & Grant, 1889 (scrapped 1905).
Statement of Special Interest
Leys Masson & Co, amongst the largest flax spinners in Scotland, occupied the site from 1792 -1848 and were succeeded by J & J Crombie Ltd. from 1895 until the present, as the largest vertically integrated tweed mill in Scotland, and with the highest reputation for its products. Production is (1991) in single storey sheds built between 1877 and 11931, divided by street within the works.
The water power amounted to more than 200hp, then considered enormous for one site. The turbines and the pumps now in place are fixtures of interest.
The original building is of exceptional importance as having been amongst the tallest 18th century buildings in Scotland and was operated by one of the country's most ambitious and litigious industrial concerns. The construction of the floors is comparable to that in the Royal Navy Dockyards, rather than any other known textile mill. It is presumed to be an early 19th century alteration. If it proved to be original, it would predate what is thought to be the world's first
iron framed building, also a flax mill, by 4 years.
Information (drawings, photographs and typescript histories) from J & J Crombie Ltd. CROMBIES OF GRANDHOLM AND COTHAL, 1850-1960; John R Allan, 1960.
ANNALS OF WOODSIDE AND NEWHILLS; P Morgan, 1886.
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