The monument consists of the remains of a cotton mill and associated structures. The mill is the most visible surviving building. It is a four-storey five bay structure with a projecting bay at its south end.
The mill was built between 1792 and 1794 by the Balnoe Company in cooperation with the George Dempster, the owner of Skibo estate. Dempster and the partners of the Balnoe Company, including David Dale, realised that the ongoing Highland Clearances and the resulting emigration were driven by economic circumstances. The foundation of the village at Spinningdale and, subsequently the mill, was intended to provide employment and prosperity to the inhabitants of this part of Sutherland to help stem the flow of emigration.
As well as being a small, but significant, experiment in social engineering, the mill was a technical pioneer, being steam powered and heated throughout. However it was never a commercial success and, after the business faltered, the mill was gutted by fire in 1806.
The area to be scheduled includes the mill, associated structures and an area of ground which may contain archaeological evidence of the construction and use of the site. The area is defined to the W and S by a line 20m out from the walls of the mill, to the E by the high water mark and to the N by the line of the 20th-century lade. The area measures approximately 80m N-S by 80m at its greatest extents and is marked in red on the accompanying map extract.
Statement of National Importance
This monument is of national importance because it is the remains of a rare industrial venture in the Highlands during the height of the Highland Clearances. It represents an enlightened and benevolent, though possibly over-optimistic, response to the problems facing the inhabitants of Sutherland at the time.
The mill building itself, once described as 'a palace mill' is a building of some architectural sophistication. Its reliance purely on steam power makes it a pioneering venture in the history of the Industrial Revolution. It has been ruined since 1806 and now has great appeal as an attractive landmark on the South Sutherland Coast.