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1-12 Thomson’s Mill, excluding interior, boundary walls, archway and two-storey building (Skene Works) to west, Skene Street, Strathmiglo

A Category C Listed Building in Strathmiglo, Fife

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Coordinates

Latitude: 56.2753 / 56°16'31"N

Longitude: -3.2703 / 3°16'13"W

OS Eastings: 321436

OS Northings: 709927

OS Grid: NO214099

Mapcode National: GBR 25.8P7V

Mapcode Global: WH6R0.QJXN

Entry Name: 1-12 Thomson’s Mill, excluding interior, boundary walls, archway and two-storey building (Skene Works) to west, Skene Street, Strathmiglo

Listing Date: 24 January 2020

Category: C

Source: Historic Scotland

Source ID: 407303

Historic Scotland Designation Reference: LB52540

Building Class: Cultural

Location: Strathmiglo

County: Fife

Parish: Strathmiglo

Traditional County: Fife

Description

Thomson's Mill is a three-storey, twelve-bay former weaving mill, built in 1847 and converted to housing in 1999. It is the main surviving structure of a former steam-powered linen factory, located to the north side of Skene Street in the village of Strathmiglo, Fife. It is constructed of red/pink sandstone rubble with droved dressing stones and raised cills. There is a full-height outshot at the southwest corner angle (forming an L-plan) with a hoist opening (now a window) at the third floor. The roof is pitched with a grey slate covering. Windows are double-glazed units with a matching glazing pattern.

In accordance with Section 1 (4A) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997 the following are excluded from the listing: interior, boundary walls, archway and two-storey building (Skene Works) to west.

Historical development

Skene Street is named as Town Feus of Strathmiglo on the 1832 map of the village by David Miller. The steam-powered linen factory was built in 1847 by local businessman Alexander Troup, initially having 64 weaving looms (Fife Herald, 1866). The footprint of the three-storey, L-plan mill building is shown on the First Edition Ordnance Survey map (surveyed 1854). A pencil sketch of the building dated 25 March 1858 shows that the external form of the former mill has altered little since that time.

The linen factory was increased in size in 1870 and by 1871 had 193 looms and 230 workers, many of whom lived in Skene Street (Dundee Advertiser, 1871). The factory was bought by Alexander Thomson in 1894 (Dundee Courier, 1938). The enlarged works are shown on the second Edition Ordnance Survey map (revised 1894).

The engine-house, industrial chimney stalk and sawtooth-roofed weaving sheds were demolished around the middle of the 20th century, after the works had closed. The mill was converted to housing (as 1-12 Thomson's Mill) in around 1999.

Statement of Interest

1-12 Thomson's Mill, excluding interior, boundary walls, archway and two-storey building (Skene Works) to west, meets the criteria of special architectural or historic interest for the following reasons:

· As the earliest known survival of a power-loom factory mill in Fife.

· For its uncommon three-storey exterior form.

· For the significance of its setting as the dominant building in a street of former weavers' cottages of similar date.

· For its social and economic historic interest, as evidence of the transition from hand weaving to large-scale industrial linen manufacture in central Fife during the 19th century.

In accordance with Section 1 (4A) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997 the following are excluded from the listing: interior, boundary walls, archway and two-storey building (Skene Works) to west.

Architectural interest

Design

Thomson's Mill is an early example of a three-storey former linen mill in Scotland. Mill buildings of the mid-19th century were typically one or two stories in height. A distinctive part of its plan-form is the full-height outshot which allowed weaving materials to be hoisted up and down between the warping loft and the roadside.

It is constructed of a reddish sandstone like other buildings of a similar date in Strathmiglo, and in this part of Fife generally, probably sourced from a local quarry. While no machinery, fixtures or fittings relating to its former use survive, the exterior of the building has been altered relatively little since 1847 and can still be read as a former mill.

Setting

The buildings surrounding the mill reflect Strathmiglo's development as a centre of weaving industry during the 19th century in this part of Fife. Skene Street is fronted by rows of former weavers' cottages, several of which retain a characteristic double-window to allow additional light into the weaving room. Some of these cottages have been altered, with later dormers and non-traditional doors and windows.

The site is no longer a complete example of a 19th century steam-powered linen works because of loss of the engine-house, chimney stalk and weaving sheds to the rear of the mill. However, the cottages and the detached workshop building (Skene Works) contribute to the setting of the three-storey mill, which is the dominant building within the street.

Historic interest

Age and rarity

The Skene Street factory, established in 1847, was one of the first steam-powered linen works in Fife (Dundee Advertiser, 1871). The earliest, at Abbotshall, Kirkcaldy, (1821) has been demolished.

The earliest known power-loom mill in Scotland was the former East Mill, Guthrie Street, Dundee of 1799 (listed category B, LB25007). The town of Montrose had four power-loom factories by 1834, but there were still relatively few in the country by 1850. Large-scale introduction of steam-powered mills throughout the linen producing centres of Scotland took place mainly during the 1850s and 1860s.

In Fife, 12 steam-powered linen factories had been built along the Eden valley by 1871 including examples at Auchtermuchty, Freuchie, Falkland, Ladybank, Leslie and two in Strathmiglo (Fife Herald, 1871). This indicates the healthy state of the linen trade during the mid-19th century in this part of the country. Many of these factories have since been partially or completely demolished. The former Eden Valley Linen Works at Freuchie (Listed category B, LB49305) is a classically proportioned survival, built around 1860.

In terms of rarity, three-storey linen mills are less common than two-storey examples. A small number of three-storey former linen mills survive in Scotland including the former Manor Works Mill of 1867 in Forfar (LB31561) and a handful of others in Dundee, Kirkcaldy and Glasgow (2019).

Thomson's Mill is the only surviving part of the Skene Street linen factory that dates from 1847. It is one of the earliest surviving examples of a steam-powered linen mill in the country and may be the oldest in Fife.

Social historical interest

Social historical interest is the way a building contributes to our understanding of how people lived in the past, and how our social and economic history is shown in a building and/or in its setting.

Linen manufacture was the principal trade for many settlements along Fife's Eden Valley during the 18th and 19th century. By 1867 around 12000 people in Fife were employed in the linen industry.

The Skene Street development significantly increased the number of skilled weavers in Strathmiglo, with around 230 working in the factory by 1871 (Dundee Advertiser, 1871). The village also has the former East Bank linen works, built around 1865. Thomson's Mill, Skene Street is tangible evidence of the changes taking place in the weaving industry in Fife during the mid-19th century, the historic development of Strathmiglo, and the transition from hand weaving to large-scale industrial manufacture.

Association with people or events of national importance

There is no association with a person or event of national importance.

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