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Russian Flax and Hemp Bale Seals from

Gourdon in Aberdeenshire

  GOURDON in Aberdeenshire.

The village of Gourdon is located on the north east coast of Scotland, within Kincardine and Mearns, the most southerly of the six administrative areas of Aberdeenshire. It lies within the Parish of Bervie, 1.5 km to the south of the Royal Burgh of Inverbervie. An historic sea port and fishing village, the settlement grew up on limited flat ground around a natural Harbour. Inland a single access road rises up the steep coastal slope to the A92. This main arterial route links the village to the main towns and villages to the north and south and to its agricultural hinterland.
  The main Harbour was built around 1819 to a design by Thomas Telford and was extended in 1842. The Gutty Harbour to the east was added in 1859. Large granaries and warehouses were built adjacent to the Harbour. A herring fishing station opened in 1830 and resulted in a large number of vessels from other ports visiting the Harbour and in the development of many occupations engaged in the herring industry. Other developments included a clay pit and a brick and tile works in 1844. Further expansion and development occurred in the early part of the twentieth century. In 1908 the Selbie Works were erected and continued in operation until 1997, by which time it had become the last working flax spinning mill on mainland Britain.  The historic heart of the village, the Harbour and the land immediately surrounding it, lie at the base of a steep slope which is characteristic of this part of the east coast, between the estuaries of the Rivers Bervie to the North and the North Esk to the south.
The Selbie Works is a moderately sized textile mill complex situated next to the beach in the village of Gourdon in Kincardineshire. It comprises a main block of predominantly single-storey buildings (mostly with slate roofs), built from mainly pink sandstone. A long single bay forms the main facade of the works onto 'East End', the bulk of the factory being contained in a large north-lit spinning shed to the rear. Other buildings include the brick-built single-story office (also facing onto 'East End'), and some ancillary buildings such as the Boiler House (containing Cochran's of Annan 'Wee Chieftain' 4), and a pair of brick-built raw flax/jute warehouses detached from the factory to the East.
   The mill had previously been owned by William Peters, whose brother James owned a mill at neighbouring Inverbervie. Selbie Works was taken over by Murray Scarlet, in the 1950s, and was converted to produce light jute yarn, allowing for a transition to flax spinning if required (in this instance, 'Tow' which is short-fibre flax). In the post-war years, there was a rejuvenated demand for flax caused by the need for tarpaulins both for rail and road transport. Scarlet also diversified into synthetics (such as Rayon), and into carpets (also using synthetic fibres). His business merged with Jute Industries Limited in the 1970s, eventually becoming Sidlaw Industries. Selbie Works then specialised in flax spinning alone, emerging as the only flax spinner in mainland Britain, producing yarn for a variety of uses, including curtain and upholstery fabrics.
 The surviving elements of Sidlaw Industries became J & F Spinners following a management buyout in 1994-5, the jute business failing in 1996, and the flax at Selbie ceasing in May 1997 after a steep fall in demand, probably caused by the demise of the Laura Ashley chain of shops. Much of the flax machinery has since been sold to Belgian companies (information from works; Murray Reid, Manager, 30 January 1998). To the north is the small town of Inverbervie which boasted the first working flax mill in Scotland around 1790.

The Selbie Works

 

 

   

Gourdon Harbour with fishing boats

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Copyright 2022 Ged Dodd

 aka PeaceHavens Project

 Click here for the terms
of free copy & share &
supporting your Project

 

LINKS TO EVERYTHING ELSE