Predominantly earlier to mid and later 19th century, apparently incorporating fabric from 1810. Rare survival of imposing irregular terrace of industrial buildings creating distinctive unified streetscape fronting Guardbridge's Main Street. Original core Seggie whisky distillery (building 4) circa 1810, with some fine polychromatic brick ranges (buildings 2, 3, 17 and 26) probably 1860s, grouped around inner yard to rear of building No 3. All early structures incorporated into 1873 paper mill. Paper mill additions adopted pilastered and mutuled theme of original ranges unusually creating continuity of design rarely associated with early industrial development. Painted rubble and brick, multi-pane glazing patterns and some top-hopper openings to Main Street elevations. Grey slates and cast-iron rainwater goods.
WEST (MAIN STREET) ELEVATIONS: ranges run from S to N in continuous, irregular terrace.
MILL BUILDING 1 (RAW MATERIALS AND FINISHED GOODS STORE; FORMER NO 3 MACHINE HOUSE AND MILL): 1887. Single storey, 14-bay street elevation range with vehicular gate adjoining at S and opening irregular terrace to N. Whitewashed brick. Comprising alternate segmental-headed window and blank bays, all mutuled, and dividing pilasters (some with iron tie plates). Stepped, piended roof, steeply pitched to accommodate equipment for extraction process. Interior retains queen-post roof and travelling crane.
Inner rear (E) elevation with similar windows, gabled dormer housing fan and small lean-to projection to advanced bays at right under higher roofline.
MILL BUILDING 2 (MOTOR HOUSE; FORMER ENGINE HOUSE): tall single storey, 2-bay, piend-roofed, rectangular-plan street elevation range. Whitewashed brick with 2 tall round-headed windows.
Polychrome inner rear (E) elevation with full-height transomed tripartite opening, boarded timber outer lights flank glazed centre. Left return (SE) with steps up to part-glazed timber door below full-height window.
MILL BUILDING 3 (PLANT HOUSE; FORMER BEATER HOUSE AND CHEMICAL PREPARATION): tall 2-storey, 7-bay street range extending at rear into mill buildings 3A and 26 (see below). Whitewashed brick with regular fenestration to mutuled and pilastered bays. Later slate-hung dormer type ventilator housing left of centre.
Interior with cast-iron columns and timber-lined kingpost type roof.
MILL BUILDING 3A (BROKE STORE): piend-roofed, brick inner range (possibly later than mill buildings 3, 17 and 26) oversailing cartway between rear (E) elevation of building 3 and W elevations of buildings 26 and 17.
MILL BUILDING 17 (CHEMICAL DYE MAKE-UP SYSTEMS; POSSIBLY FORMER SEGGIE DISTILLERY COFFEY-STILL HOUSE): exceptionally tall, 5-bay, piend-roofed, polychromatic brick inner range with almost full-width horizontal rooflights to E and W.
MILL BUILDING 26 (DYE HOUSE; FORMER DRIVE AREA FOR PAPER MACHINE 1): small piend-roofed, polychromatic brick, single and 2-storey inner range running N-S. Segmental-headed windows to W and 1st floor S. 2-storey block has 2 distinctive rectangular-plan timber ridge ventilators and fine cast-iron spiral stair with barley twist balusters to interior.
MILL BUILDING 4 (BLEACHING PROCESS MAKE-UP PLANT; PROBABLY FORMER SEGGIE 1810 DISTILLERY BUILDING):
3-storey, 6-bay, rectangular-plan street elevation range with blocked pedestrian and vehicular openings at ground; gabled brick screens project above roof pitch at N and S. Whitewashed snecked rubble. Bays mutuled with dividing pilasters. 1st floor with top-hopper opening windows to 3 bays at right of centre, window to each bay at 2nd floor.
Evidence of variety of build dates at E (rear) elevation which is blank apart from vehicular door at outer left adjacent to whitewashed brick projection over cartway (N elevation of building 3A).
MILL BUILDINGS 6, 7 AND 8 (PAPER STORE, CARTWAY AND OIL STORE; FORMER PULP, RAG, STRAW AND BROKE STORES): tall 2-storey, 11-bay, whitewashed rubble street elevation range with sliding timber door to cartway entrance below 'GUARDBRIDGE MILL' bracketed clock at centre; further blocked vehicular entrance at right and 4 windows at left. Regular fenestration to 1st floor. 3 distinctive circular ridge ventilators.
E (rear) elevation with 4 windows grouped to left over vaulted cartway; bays to right with centre door and flanking windows to each floor.
Statement of Special Interest
B group with Guardbridge Paper Mill, Boiler House (Mill Building 49) and Stalk.
The visual impact of Guardbridge Paper Mill's impressive street elevation tells the story of almost 200 years of industry at the heart of a small Fife village which originally clustered around the 17th century Guard Bridge, which it now largely defines through its presence and the expansion it brought about. The rare survival of core buildings from the Seggie Distillery, preserved and converted for paper mill use, and the later 19th century extensions, represent the growth and prosperity of a community. The legacy of the site's industrial purpose is an outstanding architectural streetscape where varying build dates integrate visually in an unusually sensitive and coherent planning exercise. The site, which is uniquely placed to provide the key element of water for both distilling and papermaking, overlooks the former Harbour of Cupar, and sits beside the River Eden and the Motray Water. With the introduction of the railway, transport by water, road or rail became viable options for the import of raw materials and the export of finished goods.
Scotland's introduction to the paper making industry began in Edinburgh toward the end of 17th century, but until the introduction of the Fourdrinier paper making machine in 1799 expansion was slow. After the 1820s, when mechanisation was becoming more commonplace, demand for raw materials led to the introduction, around 1860-70, of esparto grass and wood pulp into paper making. Esparto grass was imported from Europe and Africa. Its effective treatment as a paper making product was perfected by Mr Routledge of the Eynsham Paper Mills near Oxford, and made popular at the International Exhibition of 1862. The newly registered Guardbridge White Pine Company moved to the production of finished paper in 1873, the site having previously produced only chemical pulp, and soon began to specialise in esparto papers made largely from esparto grass to which is added wood pulp or rags. At this time the paper-making industry was well represented in Fife with five paper mills located along the Leven valley alone. Rothes Mill, the earliest, had been opened in 1806 and the latest was established in 1869 at Strathendry.
The buildings at the former Guardbridge Paper Mill site represent the development, of a highly successful industry noted for producing Scotland's fine quality paper for a worldwide market. Paper production began in 1873 in the modified Seggie Distillery buildings, which has an 1810 core, and continued as such until closure in 2008. Throughout its long history the site expanded to more than 20 acres, much on land reclaimed from the Eden estuary, and boasted its own railway sidings and four monumental industrial stalks of which just one remains (see separate listing). Many of the earlier buildings fronting Main Street remain immediately recognisable from early photographs (the earliest probably dating from 1888).
The Seggie' Distillery was established by William Haig in 1810. Subsequently run by John and Robert Haig, the site was especially significant to the history of whisky distilling in Scotland owing to the early installation in 1845, of a Coffey patent still. However, by 1835 the bank had already taken control of William Haig's Seggie Estate and success was elusive. The plant was mothballed by 1852 and the distillery closed in 1860. W Chalmers & Co ran the site as a chemical pulp mill for some time until 1872 when The Guard Bridge White Pine Company Ltd began production of paper, made from wood pulp, as a finished article. Mr James Weir of Strathendry Mills in Leslie assisted as advisor on the technical aspects of paper making and in supervising the building of a new mill from April 1873. Mr J Galloway, was the first of three managing directors to live at the company's Seggie House (see separate listing), and the company went on to provide housing for the significant workforce throughout much of the 19th and 20th centuries. They also provided a primary school, the Jubilee Hall in 1897, and Memorial Hall to commemorate those lost in the First World War.
From modest beginnings in 1873 producing 15-18 tons of paper per week, the company went on to produce high quality esparto grass paper at the rate of 230 tons per week in 1951. The 1960s was a period of serious modernisation but market and technological changes led to the merger, in 1967, of The Guard Bridge Paper Company Ltd with The Culter Mills Paper Company Ltd to form Culter Guard Bridge Holdings Ltd. By 1988 the company had become GB Papers Limited, a subsidiary of the James River Corporation of Richmond, Virginia, USA, and finally operated as Curtis Fine Papers.
For further information on the history and interest of the site, see separate listing of boiler house and stalk with which the earlier mill buildings are grouped.