The PeaceHavens Project

Copyright 2022 Ged Dodd

 aka PeaceHavens Project

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Largo and Silverburn

 

   LARGO and Silverburn. Suggested by Project member John Bannd as a good prospect of finding Russian flax bale seals. Reference https://lundinlinks.weebly.com/blog/largos-flax-spinning-mill-part-1  and John Band.

The mill was situated on the south coast overlooking the Firth Of Forth, at Lower Largo (later converted to an oil and cake mill). The map below shows it location, close to the where the Keil Burn drains into Largo Harbour.

   A large and handsomely built spinning mill on the bank of the Keil Burn which was built in 1798 by Largo estate. A little above the village of Lower Largo. It was built for and was used as a spinning mill for flax. About 60 persons male and female are constantly employed in it. It was worked partly by water and partly by steam power. It was the property of Mrs. D.Dundas of Largo and was rented by Mr Swan of Kirkcaldy and worked by him and adjoining it is offices and a dwelling house and garden, all in good repair and occupied by the manager Mr George Crabbe who was a native of Montrose - born in 1819. He arrived in Largo around 1846. Five of his children were born in Largo between 1846 and 1853. He was noted as 'Mill Manager' in the 1851 census. However, the Largo spinning mill was advertised for sale early in 1854 and Mr Crabbe moved to Kirkcaldy to manage a flax spinning mill there. The mill he left at Largo would remain out of use for a number of years while the East of Fife railway extension was constructed through the area. It reopened around 1860 under the new guise of an oil and cake mill and continued as such for a few decades. It is clearly in operation at the time of the photograph, above left - note the man in the doorway and the barrels in front of him. The barrels would certainly have been for filling with either linseed or cottonseed oil produced through the pressing of the seed crushed at the mill. The oil is recorded as being shipped to Leith, Glasgow , Dunbar and Kirkcaldy from Largo Mill. Craig & Rose paint manufacturers, Edinburgh were supplied with linseed oil from Largo along with Nairn & Co. linoleum manufacturers, Kirkcaldy. Largo Mill is recorded as the first oil mill in Scotland if not Britain to produce oil fit for human consumption through a filtering patent taken out by David Russell in 1861.

The struggling Largo spinning mill was advertised for sale or let with suggestions for alternative uses in 1849 by the lessee from Largo estate Mr James Leslie the famous civil engineer, born in Largo 1801.James's father Alexander, Largo architect & builder and uncle James Leslie, Largo farmer and flax grower were lessees of the mill from as early as an advert for a tenant in 1814 and it was these two gents who along with their landlord Durham of Largo estate rebuilt the old lint mill in 1798 into a flax spinning mill taking advantage of grants paid by The Commissioners & Trustees for Fisheries, Manufacture & Improvements in Scotland. Swan Brothers who had large mills in Kirkcaldy & Kinghorn are recorded as tenants from 1849.With Swan Brothers being the biggest spinners in the east of Scotland the economies of scale they had at hand including their own ships to transport raw flax from the Baltic and elsewhere was probably the main reason why the very small Largo spinning mill survived in a very competitive market alongside the huge mills in Leven, Kirkland, Kirkcaldy, Kinghorn and Dundee. Swan Brothers opened a new mill in Kirkcaldy in July 1856 to where George Crabbe moved to as manager until he emigrated to France in 1866.This was the final nail in the coffin for Largo spinning mill with it being advertised for sale by private roup in October 1859 , apply to James Leslie C.E. Edinburgh and again in July 1860 when the mill is described as formerly occupied as a spinning mill, apply Mr Richardson, overseer Largo estate. During its history there was a failed attempt to burn down the mill in 1842 when the then tenant David Leslie {no known relation to the lessee James Leslie) left all the gas on one night and tried to light a trail of gunpowder and tow (small pieces of flax straw). David Leslie was arrested, declared bankrupt but disappeared before standing trial at Perth.  The final tenants were Messrs Swan brothers the very large mill spinners based in Kirkcaldy and Kinghorn further along the coast to the west who had their own ships which traded with the ports of Riga and Archangel.

 

     **** Many of the fields around Lower Largo, especially those which belonged to the mill,  may contain undiscovered Russian flax bale seals. Most of the fields closest to the mill have now been developed but there are many more within 3 miles of the mill still under agricultural use. Permission should be sought. Largo estate is under the ownership of the Makgill Crichton family who stay at Monzie Castle, Crieff, Scotland, all of the farms are tenanted, however there is several acres of grassland adjoining the Kielburn housing estate which is now common land, the remains of the 17 acre field adjacent to the Largo Mill's former Mill Lade.  ****

   Personally ... Ged would be scouring the river bed in front of the Heckling House ..  see the map and photo.

 

 

    Addendum. An advert for Largo Spinning Mill, adjacent to the Heckling House, in 1801 mentions the waterwheel as of the "overshot type, 18ft. diameter and 3ft wide. It drove the machinery via a large rim gear on the circumference of the wheel. The wheel pit when excavated in 1983 revealed it was for running some form of guide rollers fixed to the side of the wheel in order to maintain full "meshing of the rim & driveshaft gears. The waterwheel is recorded as generating 14 horse power, The steam engine and its house was added at some point between an advert in 1814 (no mention) & an advert in 1828 (first mention). The is driven by water, assisted by steam in the dry season.

 

  SILVERBURN FLAX MILL,  Scoonie, Leven is 3 miles west of Largo.

  David Russell, who resided at Silverburn and at one time grew flax there which was sent to the Largo Oil and Cake Mill to be crushed. David Russell (1831-1906) had taken on Silverburn in the Parish of Scoonie (adjoining Largo Parish) in 1854 at the age of 23. He set about redeveloping the property and created a flax mill and retting facilities. Evidence of this can still be seen at the Silverburn Estate today. Above is a view of the flax mill. He was the gentleman who converted Largo Flax Spinning Mill to seed crushing to produce oils and cattle cake in 1860.

  

Copyright 2022 Ged Dodd

 aka PeaceHavens Project

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

https://www.facebook.com/groups/PeaceHavensProject/

 

LINKS TO EVERYTHING ELSE