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Medieval Meal Mills

As you look at the various types of waterwheel, you will also see that they tend to have characteristic bucket shapes. The overshot wheel normally having straight buckets set tangentially to the wheel, the breast-shot wheel having heavily curved buckets, and the undershot wheel simply having straight paddles sticking out from the rim.

There are 4 main types of water wheel - The 'overshot' on which water enters the buckets at the top on the down-running side; The 'undershot' where water flows underneath the wheel which is more like a large paddle; The 'breastshot' where water enters the buckets at about the middle of the wheel, and The 'pitchback' on which the water enters the buckets at the rear of the wheel beneath the pentrough

Overshot and Pitchback wheels are more efficient than the other type because they are driven both by the weight of water (1 cubic foot (28 litres) weighs 62 Ibs (28 kg)) and by the force or pressure of water directed into the buckets by the 'pentrough'. Both types of wheel require a good "head of water" that is the difference between the height of water in the Mill pond and the tailrace

The power, and to some extent the speed of the wheel are determined by the amount of water flowing onto it, that is, by flow (mass per unit time) and fall. The flow is controlled by the 'penstock' (a sluice gate) located in the pentrough, which is raised and lowered by a rack and pinion turned by a lever on the stone floor behind the left hand pair of stones. The higher the penstock, the greater the flow (mass) of water. The fall is given by the head of water mentioned above. It has been calculated that such wheels could generate about 10 hp.

Medieval Mills

Maple Durham Mill C1440

Allerford,Piles Mill 1931,SomersetBraemar,Mill on the Cluny 1890,Grampian
The First City Mill
It has been already mentioned that in the "Book of St George's-in-the-West" there is an account of the finding of the traces of a Mill in the south end of the block of houses between
Broad Street and Guestrow. There is no record of this Mill, and the presumption is that it had ceased to work before 1398, the date when the Town's records begin.  It had been driven by the Spital Burn, augmented by the Westburn from Mastrick. 

James Gordon - Map of Aberdeen 1661

The Aberdeen Upper and Nether Mills are figured in Gordon's Map of Aberdeen, 1661. They are very small buildings,  but perhaps they are merely conventional representations of houses. We have, however, in "Antiquities of the Shires of Aberdeen and Banff" (III. 109,) a copy of "The Set of the Mylne of Newburgh" in 1512, which furnishes a minute description of the working parts of a meal mill at that time.  The chaplain and agent of the proprietor had written to advise that the Mill required to have a new stool for the mill-stone and a new house, which it fell to the proprietor to provide. This he agreed to do, and the tack or lease says :-

I for my pairt sail mak and uphald the haill stule, the spout and the troich alanerly ; and the myllar sail mak and uphald for his pairt all uther graith and gaugaiid geir that pertenis to the said mylne, guid, stark and sufficient, batht quhelys, stanis, trynnillis, irne and tymmyr ganis for the ganging of the said mylne, and sal! uphald the samyn all the tyme that he is wytht the said mylne. And forthir 1 for my pairt sail causs the sukkyne of all the barony to cum to the said mylne. And alsua sail causs the sukkyne till uphald the hoppar, to draw stane and tre, and to big the mylne houss and dur tharof, and red the dame as it nedis. And thir thingis above written the said men of the barony sail do that all sukkyne [do] gif it be the use of the cuntre and thar det till do of lawe. And in the meyntym the myllar sail big apone my cost the said mylne stule and all vther thingis that pertenis to my pairt. And na tre to be put in the said stule hot new aik, a large fute of the squar quhen it is dychtit. And alsua he sail big a mylne houss of new timyr, twa cuppillis xxiiii. fute lang and xvi. fute wyid, of the quhilk houss I sail mak the first cost quhill I get pament fra the men of the sukkyne and siclik I sail bring hame the stanis on their expenssis. And quhat cost the said myllar makis in any thing that pertenis to my pairt or thar pairt that aw the sukkyne I sail allow that till him and his male (rent).

Besides the house, the stool, the water wheel, and other driving parts, there were, we see, only 2 Millstones to grind the corn, a spout to catch the meal, and a trough to receive it, out of which it was taken by the sifters. The sukkyne, or sucken, was the area from which the dusty Miller drew his business. He was entitled to have the Milling of all the corn grown on his sucken, except what was required for sowing the next crop.

Kincorth - From at least 1510 there was a Mill serving the farmers. In that year the Mill was leased to Walter Sinclair, and his son Robert, along with salmon fishing rights and half the revenue from the ferry over the Dee in return for 35 shillings 8 pence and 16 barrels of salmon yearly. From 1527 there was an ‘aylhous’, with a brewery, in Kincorth as well. All of these features point to a developing, thirsty and prosperous settlement!

There were originally 5 corn mills in Aberdeen, C1575 the Over (Upper) Mill in St Nicholas Street area  and , the 2 Justice Mills and one in Buxburn.

The Upper Mill
Before 1394 the Netherkirkgate Mill had given place to another situated in what is now known as Flourmiil Brae, then outside the town. One reason for transferring the Netherkirkgate Mill to a lower site must have been the possibility of bringing to the new place a supply of water from the Denburn by a Mill Lade or Lead branching off along Leadside Road at the old Gilcomston Dam. The water brought by this lade joined the united Spital Burn and Westburn in Maberly Street, and flowed east along Spring Garden into the long dam at the top of what is now Loch Street.   Emerging from the south end of the dam at
the Loch E'e the mill burn flowed along Burn Court and across Upperkirkgate to the Upper Mill in Flourmill Brae. Leaving it the water ran across the lowest part of Netherkirkgate, across St Nicholas Street, St Nicholas Lane, Union Street, East Green, and passed under the Market. Then it crossed Hadden Street diagonally and drove the Nether Mill on the west side of the street, and afterwards entered the Denburn at Trinity Street. Probably there had at first been only one mill on the burn, but in 1525, if not before, the Nether Mill had been erected. Originally the Upper Mill was only a meal mill. Latterly stones for grinding wheat were added, driven by the same wheel as those of the meal mill. The Upper Mill continued to work till 1865.

The Nether Mill
The Nether Mill is shown in Gordon's Map in 1661 and in other old maps of the city. In 1897, in the course of some alterations in the base of No.s 9-11 St Nicholas Street, the channel of the mill burn was found in the house; and when No.s 13-15 was rebuilt a few years later the channel of the mill burn was found partly in the house and partly in the street, coming from the Flour Mill across the end of Netherkirkgate. The site of the Nether Mill was within the block of building bounded by Hadden Street, Exchange Street, Imperial Place, and Stirling Street. It was at first a meal mill, in 1847 it became a malt mill, and lastly a sawmill. It ceased to work at the same  time as the Upper Mill

The Mid Mill
In Gordon's Map, 1661, among the references in the margin is one to the Mid Mill, but its position is not shown on the map itself. Taylor's Map, however, shows the 3 Mills, Upper, Mid, and Lower, all on the same burn. Their positions are indicated by small white circular spots. The Mid Mill must have been on the site of the Commercial Bank in Union Street. It was erected in 1619, as is shown by an entry in the town's records, where there is mention of paying for a pint of wine on the occasion of "taking sasine of John Fraser's house where the Myd Mill is biggit." It was a Meal Mill at 1st and afterwards a Malt Mill. It ceased to work in 1798, when its site was required for the construction of Union Street.

Justice Mills c.1300
Alexander Makysour worked at Justice Mill, one of the 4 oldest known Mills of Aberdeen. The other mills included the Upper and Nether Mills, in what is now the city centre. Corn grown in the burgh had to be milled at the Burgh's mills, controlled by the Council. The Council found the letting of mills to be a useful money-spinner. In 1394, one of the earliest entries in the Council Registers, refers to the letting of the town's mills at £20 Scots. In 1575, the Council paid off a debt of 600 merks through feuing out its mills. The cost of milling led to a number of disputes. In 1546-7 the Blackfriars were before the Baillie Court several times for failing to pay the Miller of Gilcomston Mill, John Brabner.  Indirectly, millers affected the environment considerably as they were an integral part of an industry which used both natural resources and provided a staple food. In turn, that industry would have been seriously affected by changes in weather and climate.

Archaeological excavations have taken place very near to the site of the medieval Upper Mill, where it is possible that a 14th Century circular feature and gullies may have been associated with grain drying. At the site of the most recent Justice Mill, still standing into the 20th century, excavations have not yet found traces of its medieval predecessor.

The Regent Cinema in 1927, by Tommy Scott Sutherland (1899-1963), was built on the site of the Upper Justice Mill, at the Holburn Street end of the ridge.   The Lower Justice Mill was down the brae in Union Glen; its mill-pond lay between the 2 buildings.   The 2 mills had been in operation well before 1320, when they were granted to the Burgh of Aberdeen by King Robert I, (Robert the Bruce), and were still in operation 600 years later in the 1920s.  The Lower Mill Pond was drained and filled, the 3 streams diverted and covered and the site was levelled by excavating it back towards Justice Mill Lane.

Part of the Lower Justice Mill surviving in the shadow of the Bon-Accord Baths Complex and the Regent or later Odeon Cinema.  Street lamps arrive but the mill building roof drainage is in severe neglect

The Regent Cinema occupied the eastern part of the site formerly occupied by the Upper Mill.

The western part of the site was occupied by the McClymont Hall of which there is little history available.




Lower Justice Mill, Union Glen. Justice Mills of one kind or another are first mentioned in the 1300s, and were the site of a famous battle. In their final form, an Upper Justice Mill occupied a site now partially covered by the now renamed  Odeon Cinema, while the Lower Mill stood in Union Glen, at the bottom of the steep slope with its mill dam above and behind it with a breast or undershot water wheel in the Middle with the Mill Race rejoining the How Burn. The Right Hand Part of the building had Triangular Vent Cowl at the extreme end for drying and a stable block appeared to be added.  The roof was Slate and Pantiles..  The left hand part of the building and the wheel were removed when the Cinema was built, the dam was drained and a thoroughfare created into Union Glen, but the central and right hand parts survived, albeit derelict, into the 1960s.

Alexander Makysour worked at Justice Mill, one of the 4 oldest known mills of Aberdeen. The other mills included the Upper and Nether Mills, in what is now the city centre. Corn grown in the burgh had to be milled at the burgh's mills, controlled by the Council. The Council found the letting of mills to be a useful money-spinner. In 1394, one of the earliest entries in the Council Registers, refers to the letting of the town's mills at £20 Scots. In 1575, the Council paid off a debt of 600 merks through feuing out its Mills. The cost of milling led to a number of disputes. In 1546-7 the Blackfriars were before the Baillie Court several times for failing to pay the Miller of Gilcomston Mill, John Brabner.  Indirectly, millers affected the environment considerably as they were an integral part of an industry which used both natural resources and provided a staple food. In turn, that industry would have been seriously affected by changes in weather and climate.  Archaeological excavations have taken place very near to the site of the medieval Upper Mill, where it is possible that a 14th century circular feature and gullies may have been associated with grain drying. At the site of the most recent Justice Mill, still standing into the 20th century, excavations have not yet found traces of its medieval predecessor.

My Neighbour the Miller
My neighbour the Miller has muscle and girth,
His foot taks the grun like the dunt o' a hammer ;
His laugh soons like music, leal soul-heezin' mirth,
His word comes fair-furth-th'-gait, nae halt or stammer.
A chip o' langsyne, he prefers grog to wine,
An oxter-pouch lined weel wi' honest won siller,
Frae Fittie to Fife, I wad lay ye my life
There's nae truer man than my neighbour the Miller.

When the mill wheel is silent, the water at rest,
My frien' fills his pipe, treasured joy, to content him ;
Sits 'neath his ain fig tree, like saint pure and blest,
At peace wi' the warl, pleased wi' what Fate hath sent him.
When at Market or Fair, ye'll fin' nane trusted mair;
In the Kirk he's a power as a ne'er failing pillar.
To anger full slow - kind to age, want or woe
There's a big human heart in my neighbour the Miller.

He's fond o' a crony to join in a rubber,
Can share a safe tumbler, and loes a bit sang ;
Tho' still at his table-heid wise-like and sober
Yet under his shadow nicht never grows lang.
Roun his blythesome fireside - tender father and guide;
His wife, happy helpmate, he's aye bringin' till her;
While seed time and rain gladden ploo-land and plain,
He hopes and looks heaven-ward, my neighbour the Miller.

The Baxters or Bakers
In 1496 the Bakers among other crafts were said to be causing pollution in the loch and the town's water supply.  At Upperkirkgate, archaeologists have discovered a simple baker's kiln, suggestive of domestic bread manufacture. Larger scale production is attested to by the number of ordinances concerning the pricing and selling of cakes and bread and by the naming of a number of Bakers in the Council Registers. Willelmus Boyl, Baxter 1398, Fynlaus, Baxter 1399, Thomas Gladi 1457 and Alexander Stevin 1591 are some of the bakers registered.

Whatever the scale of production, Bakers' ovens would have been a fire risk, particularly when they were in the heart of domestic settlements and were built, like the excavated example, of wood and clay. In Peebles in 1658, John Turnbull was ordered to be observant of his oven and to raise the chimney when the weather was seasonable.  In order to avoid the dangers of short-weight, Bakers often gave a small extra piece of bread, the ‘in-bread’, with each loaf and some of today’s older generation can still remember receiving these tasty morsels when buying a loaf.  The custom arose likewise of bakers giving 13 loaves for every 12 bought, the extra 1 being termed the ‘vantage loaf’ and hence the ‘Bakers’ Dozen.

Mill of Maidencraig -
Old Lang Stracht
(Newmill, Deny Mylne, Denburn Mill)

A much-ruined former meal mill on the Denburn in West Aberdeen, the Mill of Maidencraig is situated in a wooded gorge by Whitemyres Holdings, a half-mile (0.8 km) southwest of Shedocksley. Known as Newmill, Deny Mylne or the Denburn Mill, it was built by the Royal Burgh  in 1616 but sold in 1786.  The beautiful den through which the burn that drives the Mill runs. (The Mill was burned down towards the end of the 19th century, though part of the building still stands.).   The massive Mill wheel some 30ft in diameter was taken away for scrap in 1927.  Only the shell of this mill remains. Further demolition has occurred, and the east wall is now only about 1.0m high. 

In 1616 the Town Council resolved to build a Mill at Maidencraig, 4 miles from the Cross of Aberdeen, for the convenience of the Tenants of the Town's Lands in that neighbourhood.  To the west agricultural land separates the site from Kingswells with the higher ground of Newpark Hill between. To the north, the ground rises to a ridge and falls away beyond to Bucksburn. To the northwest, the land rises again to Brimmond Hill (beyond Kingswells).

Kingswells can claim the most famous of the burns, the Denburn, which rises at Kingsford and runs for 4 miles between the Lang Stracht and the Skene Road into Aberdeen. It starts as a series of field drains, and emerges as a burn in the 2nd field east of the drive to Kingswells House. It flows behind the public hall, on past the Huxterstone fields to the Maidencraig Gorge, straight on under the Woodend Hospital Bridge, and into Aberdeen, via the Rubislaw Den (where it is supposed to have got its name: (Lawrence, 1908), past the Grammar School, on to the Upper Denburn, where it is underground, and, still underground, joins with the Gilcomston under the Union Bridge beneath the railway lines, beneath the Joint Station next, and finally joins the North Sea, its estuary being the present-day Harbour. It ends, therefore, as a series of town drains. It has 600 years of history and has been fully and lovingly described by Lawrence. Some streets have taken their names form it: behind Woolmanhill, the Upper Denburn; beside the Green, Denburn Road; in Union Terrace Gardens, a garage called the Denburn. It used to be Aberdeen’s main water supply for domestic purposes and supplied the wells at Fountainhall Road. One can guess the origin of the name of the road.

In a Charter to the Town granted by James VI. in 1617 the Denburn Mill is mentioned amongst Bucksburn Mill, Mid Mill,  Gallowgate Head Windmill, and 2 Shore Mills. It seems as if there had been a desire to have as many mills as possible included in the charter to be asked for from James VI. This was granted in the following year, which shows that the Mill had been erected immediately after the resolution for its erection had been passed, and the name given to it shows that the name Denburn was not confined to the part of the burn within the Royalty. The Mill is also called, sometimes, the Deny Mylne. It stands on the north side of the Skene Road, and it takes its name from a steep, solitary rock rising up in the dam of the Mill, a remnant left by the glacier that excavated the ravine in which the burn flows. - Meadhon in Gaelic means, Middle Stone.  Flour has to a great extent taken the place of Oatmeal in our daily bread, and the working of the Mill having become unprofitable it was given up.

Mill of Maidencraig, Lang Stracht, Aberdeen; 13th October 1858 - 'On the 13th current, some labourers making excavations for a new mill dam at Den of Maidencraig, 3 miles from Aberdeen, on the Skene Road, came upon a red earthenware vessel, containing a considerable number of old coins. Acting on the maxim that "the thing that's found is free", they broke the pint pig, and divided the contents.

The Den of Maidencraig is now a Local Nature Reserve.  Although grazing of the marshy grassland ceased when the LNR was adopted, the gorse has not spread as effectively onto the wetland as had been expected, and that the marsh appears to be drying out. There is ongoing work to improve the area for wildflowers. There has been difficulty in maintaining water quality in the pond as a result of silting, which has been difficult to manage, and as a result it has been partly colonized by invasive species in parts;

The Gilcomston Mills

It has been already mentioned that at a time anterior to 1398, when the Burgh Records begin, the Denburn was diverted at Whitehall Place to drive the Upper Mill in St Nicholas Street, and to water the town. The Town Council had bought from the proprietor of the land of Gilcomston the right to use the water, but had not stipulated that they were to have sole use of it : there was therefore, nothing to prevent him from erecting a mill on his own land and taking the use of the water as it went past. This was done in 1513, greatly to the annoyance of the Town Council. The new Gilcomston Mill interfered with the town's monopoly of making into meal all the corn grown within the Royalty and also on freedom lands which the Burgh had retained in its own possession. But all that the magistrates could do was to threaten to exact lines and double multure dues from the burghers' crofts and from town's lands within the freedom. The tenants of lands, over which the Burgh had no control, were to be come at by being interdicted from getting any of the city refuse for their land if they ground their corn at the new Mill of Gilcomston. The grievance was removed in 1679, when the Town Council purchased the lands of Gilcomston with the mill. Probably it had thereafter been abandoned for a while, as we hear no more of a Mill at Gilcomston for a long time.

At South Mount Street the water-course enters on Baker Street, and there till 1902 stood another meal mill, which caused a great commotion in Aberdeen 400 years ago. When the Town Council acquired at some far-back date the right to take the water of the Denburn they did not, buy the land, and they could not prevent the proprietor of Gilcomston from using the water on its way into the town, and he erected a meal mill in 1513 at the top of the brae, at the east end of Baker Street. The mill interfered with the town's monopoly of meal-making for the citizens, and as it could not be stopped heavy penalties were imposed on those who went past the town's mills with their corn to grind; and the farmer tenant of the mill was debarred from getting any of the fulzie of the city to manure his barren, stony fields. The difficulty was solved in 1679, when the town bought the land of Gilcomston. The formation of the dam at Gilcomston may be assigned to the time of the erection of the mill at Baker Street, because the town had a dam of its own called the Loch. The Lower Mill of Gilcomston was on the south side of Baker Street, and in connection with it there was afterwards erected Gilcomston Brewery, for which the mill ground the malt used in brewing. The mill wheel served also to pump from a deep well the water required for the brewery and a distillery attached to it. This had a prejudicial effect on the Well of Gilcomston, a strong spring on the North side of Baker Street, which had been pressed into the service of the town. It now sends water only to the Well of Spa and a watering trough at the end of the Infirmary.

Francis Douglas, describing a ride to the country made in 1780, says the locality abounded with quarriers and beggars. The former were near their work, and the latter had not been permitted to reside in the city, though no doubt they lived off the inhabitants. Another inducement to live there had been work at a lint mill on the point between Jack's Brae and Leadside Road, erected in 1760. It gave place in 1849 to a meal mill still in operation, but the Denburn water is no longer fit to do all the work at the point, and it has been largely supplemented by steam and gas.

The duty, consisting of a proportion of the grain, exacted by the proprietor or tenant of a mill on all corn ground. Insucken multure was that exigible from farmers within the sucken of the mill and was heavier than outsucken multure, levied on those outside the sucken who came voluntarily to the mill. Dry multures are duties, in grain or money, paid by suckeners whether grain is ground or not. 
The chief dues for such grindings were called multures and the lesser duties sequels.

The millrind is affixed to the top of the main shaft or spindle and supports the entire weight of the runner stone, which can be as much as several tons. The rind is necessary because the grain is fed through the runner stone's central hole, so the spindle cannot be inserted through it like a cartwheel on an axle.  The face of a runner stone usually has a carved depression, called the "Spanish cross", to accommodate the millrind.

Before 1661 a channel had been formed to divert water at the Mill of Gilcomston to the head of the Spa Burn. This might have been done to give the listers a supply of pure water when they needed it, or to drive another mill in opposition to the Mill of Gilcomston. The water ran in a brick-built drain and came out at the head of Spa Street. In 1760 a Distillery Company was formed, who bought up a lint mill and its croft on the north side of Baker Street, near Gilcomston Well.

In 1766 the company got permission from the Town Council to divert the water course coming from the Denburn to the south side of the street, and to change the distilling business to brewing malt liquors.  A new company was formed, who erected extensive premises on the south side of Baker Street. They put in a great wheel and 4 pairs of millstones to grind malt, oats, barley, and flour. These remained till 1902, but distilling, brewing, and milling had ceased at Nether Gilcomston long before that date, the last work that the wheel did having been to drive a saw-mill.

By Taylor's Plan of Aberdeen we see that there was in 1773 a mill on the point where Jack's Brae and Leadside Road meet. In 1849 it came into the occupation of a family of Strachans, who have continued the business on an increasing scale and now employ steam and gas engines to supplement the water power obtained from the Denburn.

Gordon's Mills
are presumably earlier than 1639, when William Gordon of Gordon's Mills was reportedly wounded at the Battle at the Bridge of Dee (Milne 1911, 228). According to Milne, the mill or mills were 1st of all for meal. Later they became a woollen manufactory and subsequently a paper mill. G M Fraser asserts that Gordon's Mills was the site of the first paper mill in Aberdeen, opened by Patrick Sandilands in 1696 and that by 1703 it had become a textile mill referred to as `Northmills at Gordon's Mills' (Fraser 1986, 185-6).

The map of Scotland drawn by Robert Gordon of Straloch in 1654 depicts what appears to be a settlement called Gordon’s Mill, while the map of 1661, by his son James Gordon of Rothiemay, shows Gordon's Mill. Gordon's Mills appear on Taylor's map of 1773, where several buildings are shown, including some which seem to be in the northern part of the present site. On the first Ordnance Survey map made of the area, in 1867-69, the woollen mill is shown in the northern portion of the area, situated partly within and partly outside the present site, while an additional corn mill is depicted approximately 250 metres to the south-east, next to the riverbank. By that date, if not before, the name Gordon's Mills seems to have come to refer to the area around and between the woollen mill and the corn mill.

On the 1926 Ordnance Survey map, the woollen mill still occupies the northern portion of the area, while Donside Paper Mills is represented to the south-east by an extensive complex of buildings. 

Gordon South Mill
On the south bank of the Don, near Hayton, stands a conglomeration of houses called Gordon's Mills. Upwards of a hundred years ago there was here a Corn Mill, driven by water obtained from the Don by a weir crossing the river. It ceased to be a Meal Mill long ago, and became a woollen manufactory. It is now a Paper Mill. William Gordon of Gordon's Mills was wounded in the battle of Bridge of Dee, 1639 (Spalding's " Memorialls of the Trubles ").

Stonyton Mill
From Br Alexander Cruickshank's "Vanishing Aberdeen" we learn that there was yet another Meal Mill driven by the Denburn. Below Stonyton Bridge, which crossed the Denburn in the line of Osborne Place a little to the west of Prince Arthur Street, a water course left the South side of the Denburn, and crossing Prince Arthur Street conveyed water to drive a Mill which stood about Albert Street, in the line of the lane on the south of Osborne Place. It ceased to work in 1830 and was removed in 1842.

Pitmuckston Mill
This mill served the lands of Pitmuckston, and it had been in existence before 1661, when Gordon's plan of Aberdeen was made. It stood near the Dee on the west side of Pitmuckston Burn, near Allenvale Cemetery. The mill dam was on the north side of the road connecting Hardgate and Whinhill Road; but the mill itself was on the south side. It was driven by the Pitmuckston Burn, supplemented by the Polmuir Burn. The course of this burn has already been described. Before the Whinhill Embankment was made it crossed the line of it from west to east ; but it had been diverted to the south by a deep cutting, now converted into a sewer, the track of which may be seen on the west side of Whinhill Road. It crossed the railway, and passing through the north section of the cemetery entered the Pitmuckston Mill Dam. This mill was still going after the middle of the last century, but all trace of it has now vanished.

James Gordon - Map of Aberdeen 1661

Bucksburn Mill (Boxburn)
This mill belongs to the Burgh of Aberdeen. Its erection was ordered in 1616 along with that of the Mid Mill, Maidencraig Mill, the Gallowgatehead Windmill, and two Shore Mills. It seems as if there had been a desire to have as many mills as possible included in the charter to be asked for from James VI., which was granted in the following year. The Mill is driven by the Bucksburn, which rises at Denhead of Cloghill, within half a mile of the source of the Denburn, and it terminates in the Don near Auchmill. In its short course of ? miles it falls 350 feet and thus earns its name, which means the leaping burn, from the Gaelic word " hoc," I leap or spring. The root accounts for the local name of the burn - Buxburn.

Aberdeen Map - John Smith Survey 1809

Ferryhill Mill
This Mill dates from 1667, the year in which "The New Bridge" was made. People often wonder where this bridge is. It was seen that there was sufficient fall for another Mill on the Holburn after leaving the Lower Justice Mill if it could be diverted from Union Glen and taken farther south, through the North of Scotland Distillery, and across the Hardgate. This necessitated the formation of another bridge in addition to the one a few yards farther north at Union Glen. This is the New Bridge, which is not readily discernible now that the mill lade is covered up above and below the bridge, since there are no parapets on the bridge. Formerly, after crossing the Hardgate, the lade passed under the foot-walk of the road on the east side, and rounding the grounds of Willowbank entered Ferryhill Mill Dam. At first it was a meal mill, but after having been accidentally burned and standing long untenanted it was converted into a thread glove manufactory. Recently, in consequence of the formation of new streets, a difficulty arose in the disposal of the water after leaving the mill, and the water supply had to be withdrawn.

Milnes Aberdeen Map 1789

Lady Mill
In 1832, after the new Bridge of Don was built, a Meal Mill was erected on the Powis or Tile Burn on the east side of King Street. It continued to work till flour became as cheap as meal. Bread almost entirely ceased to be made from oatmeal, and many once prosperous meal mills have been given up. Among these was Lady Mill - so named from Lady Bruce, wife of Sir Michael Bruce. It has now been converted into a saw mill. During the latter half of the last century many large meal mills have been erected within the City of Aberdeen. The Northern Co-operative Company's Mill at Millbank, Berryden Road, grinds oats for local consumption and supplies its own sale shops. The others dispose of their meal in bulk, and most of it is exported to England.

Shore Mills
In 1616 the Town Council ordered the construction of two mills to be driven by the influx and reflux of the tide. Probably they were to work in conjunction, alternately; and the site may have been on the Trinity Burn above the Harbour at Shore Brae. There is no doubt that mills could be driven in this way, and very many attempts have been made to utilise the illimitable power of the ocean in the rise and fall of the tide. Hardly ever have they been successful, and the Aberdeen Shore Mills seem to have been failures. There are 3 great obstacles to the economical working of sea mills. The hours of high and low water vary daily, and at unequal intervals; the range of the tide, or the difference between high water and low water, also varies from day to day ; and there are four considerable periods every day during which the tide ceases to flow.

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Last modified: 01/09/2013