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 Ports and Towns in the Flax Trade

This is the Scotland Page

 

 

2 more pages ... click here for England & Ireland .. click here for Baltic States & Russia.

 

Click here for the Project Site Map and Links

  Website design, maps and photos by Ged Dodd - Director of The PeaceHavens Project.

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   Of the 197 flax, hemp, and jute factories ascertained to be in existence in Scotland in September 1867, 176 of them were situated in the counties of Forfar, Fife, and Perth. This concentration of the trade has, as already shown, taken place in comparatively recent years, and the causes of it are not difficult to discover. The human hand, aided only by the rude appliances of ancient times, can ill compete with modern machinery propelled by steam; and manufacturers in places where circumstances were adverse to the introduction of the tireless agent, naturally found it impossible to succeed in a competition with people more advantageously situated. Hence the spinners and weavers of linen in the outlying districts had to relinquish their wheels and looms, and follow the trade to the absorbing centres, or seek new kinds of employment. The change caused much hardship, and broke up many homes. Not a few of the weavers had been able, in the more prosperous days of the trade in the rural districts, to acquire little freeholds, on which they lived with their families in the midst of happiness and contentment; and it was a sad day when the failing of occupation compelled the sons and daughters to leave the parental roof and go, it might be, many miles away to find a market for their labour. In the long run, the change has been advantageous to a much greater number of persons than those who suffered by it, and now its effects are almost entirely obliterated, if not forgotten.

  The linen industry was Scotland's premier industry in the 18th century and formed the basis for the later cotton, jute, and woollen industries as well. The Scottish members of parliament managed to see off an attempt to impose an export duty on linen and from 1727 it received subsidies of £2,750 a year for six years, resulting in a considerable expansion of the trade. Paisley adopted Dutch methods and became a major centre of production. Glasgow manufactured for the export trade, which doubled between 1725 and 1738. Scottish industrial policy was made by the Board of Trustees for Fisheries and Manufactures in Scotland, which sought to build an economy complementary, not competitive, with England. Since England had woollens, this meant linen. Encouraged and subsidized by the Board of Trustees so it could compete with German products, merchant entrepreneurs became dominant in all stages of linen manufacturing and built up the market share of Scottish linens, especially in the American colonial market.

 

    ABERDEEN  Situated on the North Sea coast, between the Rivers Dee and Don, Aberdeen forms a natural port. Aberdeen's geography is reflected in the name: meaning “mouth of two rivers”. A weekly Sunday market had been established in 1222 and an annual fair in 1273. The local economy was based on fishing and the processing of wool and leather. Aberdonian merchants travelled to England and the Low Countries, trading fish, wool and hides for wines, spices and other luxuries; similarly, they sailed to the Baltic for flax, timber, iron and grain. In the 17th century (and perhaps earlier) Aberdeen was Scotland's second city. But while political power resided in the south, Aberdeen was the kingdom's economic dynamo. The catalyst for Aberdeen's development was the port. Aberdeen exported salted fish, hides and, by the 13th century, was Scotland's major exporter of wool to the continent. Making use of its status as a Royal Burgh, the city forged trading links with Germany and the Baltic, as well as becoming increasingly involved in trade around the British Isles and to the Scandinavian zones to the north, which at this time included the northern isles. By the 15th century, Aberdeen was Scotland's leading exporter of salmon. From about the 1850s, whaling became a major industry. Aberdonian whalers sailed as far as Greenland in search of these giants of the ocean until the practice was restricted by the 1946 Whaling Convention.

  Aberdeen was an early member of the Hanseatic League, along with such other northern-European seaports as Bruges, Lubeck, Danzig, Riga and Novgorod. Until the Union of the Crowns in 1603, England was more-or-less closed to Scotsmen. By the 18th century Aberdeen's industry was thriving. Paper, first made in Aberdeen in 1694, reached new heights of production. The woolens, linen and cotton industries gave employment to many Aberdonians. At the same time locally quarried granite began to be exported around the world. Flax-spinning, jute and comb making factories also rose to prominence in 18th century Aberdeen while the distillation of Whisky reached industrial proportions. Shipbuilding was another industry which employed many Aberdonians. However, the distance of the city from iron fields meant that when the industrial era started to grip Scotland, Aberdeen was not in a position to compete with cities such as Glasgow in central Scotland. After Glasgow industrialised, Aberdeen lost its position as Scotland's 2nd city. Nonetheless, many of those industries which developed in the 18th century, and before, still contribute a great deal to the local and national economy.

Broadford's Flax Mill; Broadford Firehose And Canvas Works.   Opening in 1808, the Broadford Works became the longest running iron-frame mill in Scotland. The oldest iron-framed mill in Scotland and the fourth oldest known to survive in the world (after others of 1796, 1804 and 1805, all inter- related). The adjoining South Mill may be the third iron framed building in Scotland.  Built for Scott Brown and Co (of Angus), 1808, bankrupt 1811 and sold to Sir John Maberly MP, entrepreneur, speculator and introducer of jute to the UK. Maberley rapidly developed Broadford Works, adopting the first gas lighting of an industrial complex in Scotland, by Boulton and Watt in 1814-15, and Scotland's second power loom linen weaving factory in Scotland in 1824. Maberly was himself bankrupt and in 1834 the works passed to Richards and Co, who had a bleachworks at Rubislaw and branches at Montrose, produced canvas tarpaulins and as a particular specialism, fire hoses. (This fire hose technique was also adopted by the Bentham Mills in Yorkshire). Latterly man- made fibres for carpet yarn etc. has replaced flax.   Once Aberdeen’s single largest employer with more than 3,000 employees at the height of the 20th century, the building became an iconic city landmark. The factory was the last remaining textile mill in The Granite City before closing its doors in 2004. Of the 4 and 5 storey mills in the centre of the site, Old Mill (7 bays) 1808, South Mill (8 bays) circa 1820, New Mill (14 bays) 1850-60 there was a large group of textile manufacturing and storage buildings, granite and brick-clad, of iron-framed or reinforced concrete construction, with streets between them and Slate or flat concrete roofs. Examples of Flax seals from Aberdeen.

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ARBROATH The harbour at Arbroath originally built by the Abbot of the Abbey was one of the keys to prosperity for the town when the processing of flax came along and trade between the Baltic Ports developed. The River Brothock on which the town stands and got its name eventually provided the flowing water for the many huge mills which sprang up producing textiles, principally coarse linen (Osnaburg*) and with the advent of steam the flax industry grew until in 1817 the Arbroath was Scotland’s biggest sailcloth producer.   *Osnaburg was a coarse type of plain fabric, originally made from flax yarns, it has also been made from tow or jute yarns, and from flax or tow warp with a mixed or jute weft, the finer and better qualities form a kind of common sheeting. It began to be woven in Scotland in the later 1730s as an imitation of an imported German fabric from Osnabrück and was a coarse lint or tow-based linen cloth. It quickly became the most important variety in east-central Scotland and Arbroath exported mainly to England, the Netherlands, and Britain's colonies in America, Some rough fabrics were called osnaburg as late as the twenty first century.  In the Atlantic plantation complex, prior to the abolition of slavery, Osnaburg was the fabric most often used for slave garments and every wagon used to cross the plains by settlers had double Osnaburg covers, to protect its contents from the sun and weather.  Note that in the 1881/2 table of imports the only lead flax, tow or hemp seals being found were from Archangel Port because faith in the quality of Baltic States goods had disappeared. This seal is 3rd sort Cheska flax in 1851 from Archangel.

  Below is the entrance to Arbroath Harbour.

Click here for the Arbroath Page

Flax, Hemp & Tow Imports

for Arbroath 1881 - 1882

imported from

type

tons

seals

Riga

Riga

Riga

flax

hemp

tow

13,505

   369

   111

none

Pernau

Pernau

flax

tow

 1,815

   131

none

St Petersburg

St Petersburg

flax

tow

 1,953

    97

none

Cronstadt

flax

   436

none

Reval

Reval

flax

tow

   860

   226

none

Memel

Memel

flax

tow

   818

     1

none

Narva

Narva

flax

tow

   200

     1

none

Konigsberg

Konigsberg

flax

hemp

   157

    27

none

Libau

flax

   194

none

Archangel

Archangel

flax

tow

   604

   369

2

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   BRECHIN, ANGUS is a town and former Royal Burgh in Angus, Scotland. Traditionally Brechin was described as a city because of its cathedral but that status is not officially recognised in the modern era.

   East Mills. Flax spinning by water power started in 1799 in what was a flax scutching & corn mill.

 In 1801 the firm coined its own Brechin halfpenny with the round tower on one side and the two-storey East Mill depicted on the other. A three-storey fireproof spinning mill was added in 1837 with a bellcote over the stair tower. It is in the style of Umpherston &Kerr, Douglas Foundry, the only example left outside Dundee of the Dundee type of iron frame from this period, pre-1850. The wheelhouse has been removed. Other buildings carry various date stones, the continuation to the north is pre 1821, and one to south of the original range is of 1858.

   East Mills was early 19th century and later. A large complex, consisting of a two-storey and attic, 3- by 15-bay block, a taller two-storey and attic, 9-bay building with a three-storey tower surmounted by a clock tower and belfry (1837), a two-storey and attic, 2- by 8-bay block (1858) and a four-bay range of weaving sheds, heightened in brick. Now empty.

In the parish of Brechin flax was cultivated at an early date; and after the manufacture of Osnaburgs was established in the country, the people paid increased attention to the cultivation of the fibre, and also to working it up into cloth. The quantity of linen stamped at Brechin in the beginning of last century was upwards of 500,000 yards a-year, and in 1818 it reached 750,000 yards. The number of persons employed in the trade at present is less than it was thirty years ago; but the production is much greater, owing to the extensive introduction of improved machinery. The premises of the East Mill Company are very extensive. Though the original building was considered to be a large concern in its day, its bulk is insignificant in comparison with the additions that have from time to time been made. Up till a few years ago all the weaving in Brechin was done by hand, but now there are three power-loom factories in operation. There are two extensive bleach-fields in the town, capable of bleaching about 4000 tons of yarn a-year. The principal fabrics made are bleached shirtings, dowlas, and similar goods.

The Bleach Works to the east experienced a fire in 1898. Now it sorts potatoes.

 

The fields around East Mills are crying out to be detected for flax bale seals

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CROMARTY.  Click here for the Cromarty page

   Cromarty Harbour was built between 1781 and 1784. In the 1780’s it was the principal harbour for the Cromarty Firth. However, trade declined for Cromarty after the construction of a harbour pier at Invergordon in 1828, the location of the Portlich Storehouse, 106 feet long, built in 1765 for the Commissioners of the Annexed Estates for the princely sum of £317 Sterling. As well as the grain rents from the tenants of the New Tarbat estate, it held the flax being imported by Sandeman of Perth and Forsyth of Cromarty for locals to spin into yarn.. An industry which flourished in the parish in the l8th century - as it did all over the Highlands - was the manufacture of linen.

 

 In addition to the spinners and the weavers, this industry absorbed a large number of the parishioners, as a quantity of the flax used was grown in the parish, and between the sowing of the seed and the weaving of the

 yarn there were many processes.

.

 A strip of reclaimed land in the centre of the parish, between the farms of Polnicol and Garty, is still reminiscent of those days, being known as the "Lint Pools". Here it was the custom for the flax to be steeped. The centre of the industry was the village of Milntown (also called Milton or New Talbat). William Sandeman, a manufacturer in Perth, was the chief organiser of the linen industry in the Highlands, especially upon the annexed estates. A rival of Sandeman in the trade appeared in 1763 in William Forsyth, of Cromarty, who claimed to have been the first to introduce the spinning of linen yarn into the counties of Cromarty and Ross, and this as early as 1748. There certainly was a factory in Milntown in that year, for we find in a summons of that date, "James Ross, master of the linning manufactory at Milntown". In 1764 it was decided that a house should be built at Portleich, Barbaraville "to serve as a granary for part of the Estate of Cromartie, and also as a storehouse for the manufacturers, Sandeman and Forsyth. The boats used at Portleich were flat-bottomed cobbles, and they worked with the tide. They ceased to ply there when Balintraid Pier was built. Linseed was being sold in 1767 at cost price to the tenants of New Tarbat for them to grow flax for spinning, thereby cutting out the amount needed to be imported.

  A Russian lead hemp seal bracked by Inspector P.Kochevskoi at 235 post.

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    CUPAR - North East Fife Museum Service- Although the museum houses one of the most extensive collections of Russian flax and hemp bale seals (over 260 seals click here from unknown sites) there is little to be seen of the flax industry here.  One survey suggested that as many as 30 mills were present along the course of the river, originally grinding cereals: from around 1800, flax spinning took over nearly one third of the mills. When the flax trade ran into difficult times, cereal grinding was reintroduced. The use of water power probably dates back to the 11th or 12th centuries, with water-powered corn mills being an integral part of the local economy. The River Eden provided water power to drive mills for grinding cereals to feed the local population and Cupar at one time had four mills in the vicinity of the town such as Tarvit Mills and Thomastoun.

The two principal mills were supplied from the same weir to the west of the town and some traces of the lade way that fed the mills can still be discerned. Until the 16th century it was among the richest royal burghs in Scotland, but declined in the 17th century, its trade handicapped by its distance from the sea.  In 1820, the upper mill – nearest the weir – was called the Spinning Mill and in 1840, it employed 33 people. In 1867, 100 people were employed, but about the time of the First World War it had died out. In 1887 Market-day was on a Tuesday; with a considerable trade in corn, malting, brewing, tanning, flax-spinning, and weaving.

 

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OBVERSE click thumbnail

REVERSE click thumbnail

Finder & Location

             

IDS

323

APX БPA

ДECЯT

TИMOФ

БЯГИ

APX. БP

KУДѣЛЯ

2"COPTЪ

Ф.P. 1862

ARKH.BR

KUDYELYA

2nd SORT (flax)

F.R 1862

Murdo MacLean

Cupar

Fife, Scotland

  IDS 323  ДECЯTCK TИMOФ БЯГИ= Inspector Timothy Byagi -- Archangel  2nd Sort Grade   owner FF  1862

IDS

324

APX БPA

ДECЯT

ГARИЪ

KЛAФTOB (HIB)

APX БP

ЧECKA

3.COPTЪ

Ф.P. 1865

ARKH.BR

CHESKA

3rd SORT (flax)

F.R 1865

Murdo MacLean

Cupar

Fife, Scotland

  IDS 324 ДECЯTCK ГARИЪ KЛAФTOB= Inspector Gari Klaftov(niv) - Archangel 2nd Sort Grade  owner FP  1865

             
             

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  DUMFRIES by order of the Queen in Council dated St. James's Jan. 05 1710, for leave to the "James of Dumfries" to unlade her flax and iron from Dantzic, she having loaded there long before the plague broke out and has performed her quarantine in the port of Dumfries and her crew in good health: all on the petition of John Crosby, owner, and James Wilkie, master thereof.

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  DUNDEE  At the start of the 19th century St Petersburg was Dundee's most important trading partner with 28 vessels arriving from Russia in 1815. This trade was mainly flax and remained important throughout the century but the raising of prices and poorer quality led to a relative decline. By 1829, imports of flax and hemp from St Petersburg were around 80000 cwt but this was half that coming from Riga. The same pattern can be seen in Arbroath. If flax trade decreased, it was replaced by animal skins with more than 1400 reaching Dundee from St Petersburg in 1829 on the 35 ships docking from that port. The number of ships more than doubled by 1836. St Petersburg was one of the few European ports to which Dundee exported in the early 19th century with three of four vessels sailing each year. Most of the figures for St Petersburg - Dundee trade in the 19th century combine the figures for St Petersburg and Kronstadt. St Petersburg was an awkward port to enter, nothing deeper than 8ft 9in could pass the bar so the larger vessels, which could not sail up the Neva, were loaded and unloaded at Kronstadt. The seal is a quartered crossed shield used by all the Baltic Ports with from 0 to 9 pellets in each quarter. The Grower/Owner/Agent initials are W.M with 12 high grade Krown flax plants in the bale.

 See more Dundee lead seals here      For a large list of Ship Arrivals and Departures at Dundee click here

The 1300s and 1400s saw the steady growth of Dundee, fuelled largely by trade with Baltic ports. Town walls were built in 1545, but they did little to protect Dundee from the English fleet, who bombarded the town in 1547, destroying much of it. The second half of the 1700s saw the city start to grow again, and the population more than doubled as imported flax started to fuel a linen industry. Meanwhile the harbour was improved, and four whaling ships began to operate from Dundee.
The city is known for being built on "Jute, Jam and Journalism". 1797 saw James Keiller & Son set up a jam factory in Dundee, while in 1801 the Dundee, Perth and Cupar Advertiser was established. By 1835 Dundee had 36 steam powered flax spinning mills, employing a significant proportion of the 40,000 population. Meanwhile life expectancy in this heavily polluted city had shrunk to 32 years, just two-thirds of the average in Scotland at the time. 1835 also saw the first imports of jute from India, which then started to replace European flax for carpet backing and for sacks: important in a world in which almost everything was carried in sacks. Railways and trams arrived in the mid 1800s, and by 1860 Dundee was producing vast quantities of linen for sailcloth and jute for sacks. In that year the textile industry employed over 35,000 people out of a total population of just over 90,000.

Jute? At its peak in the 1860s and 1870s the jute processing industry in Dundee employed some 50,000 people in over 60 factories scattered across the city. The Verdant Works lies just to the west of Dundee city centre. It was once home to three steam engines running 70 power looms and 2,800 spindles. And 500 people were once employed preparing and spinning jute here and weaving it in another factory across the road. So why did jute become so important to Dundee in the mid 1800s? Well the city was already home to a textile industry that could easily be adapted to the new raw material, and to workers who could quickly be retrained to process it. And flax supplies from the Baltic were becoming increasingly problematical. Meanwhile the whale oil needed to soften jute was readily available in the city; the East India Company was looking for new markets for its jute; and Dundee could build the ships needed to transport the jute from India at speed, and the products to every corner of the globe. Jute went into a long decline from 1914, mostly because it could be processed more cheaply in India.

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 FALKIRK MUSEUM & DISTRICT.  Falkirk had no Linen industry as such but the local museum collected many seals from small mills in the surrounding district.    Records of flax mills are sparse. In the 1840s the Paper Mill was managed by Alexander Kerr, who is said to have "used it as a lint or linen mill and rented land from farmers to grow the flax he required." It is shown on the 1st ed OS as the Kirkwood Bleachfield, but by this time it was disused. Later it changed to Headswood Mill, and eventually to the Denny Paper Works.  Garth Mill is located to the south of Garth on the Castlerankine Burn and began life as a flax mill and is shown on an estate plan of 1793. In 1841 we are told "About a mile from Denny, there was once a lint-mill driven by its waters. The reference to Linn mills in the district is misleading as the name derives from a waterfall (Linn) on a stream near the buildings and not from processing lint. Threaprig Flax Mill was a water mill on the south side of Garbethill Burn.
   For the lead seals from Falkirk Museum click
  here

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  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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  INVERBERVIE in Aberdeenshire.

    Inverbervie is a Flax Town of Scotland to the north of Montrose. A Royal Burgh from early days, A small harbour in the town was important in early years but despite improvements by Thomas Telford in 1819, it disappeared by 1830 owing to the build up of the shingle bar at the mouth of the river Bervie. “The first flax spinning mill in Scotland was established here at the Haughs around 1790 and by 1910 there were nine in operation with 500-600 workers. As over 2,500 around the turn of the 20th Century but has since declined owing the downturn in that industry.” The first water powered flax mill in Scotland. Just to the south is the small town of Gourdon which boasted the last working flax mill in 1997.

The harbour

IDS
1123

АРХ. БР (Archangel Bracked)
 ДЕСЯТЪ
ЕГОРЪ  ТЕВЛЕВЪ

(EGOR TEVLEV)

APX. БP
ЧЕСКА
2.COPTЪ
H.C. 1894

ARKH.BR
CHESKA
2nd SORT (flax)
N.S. 1894

Shona Pickering
Inverbervie
Aberdeenshire

-  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -   -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -   -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -   -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -   -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -   -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -   -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -   -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -   -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  - 

 

  INVERNESS.

Inverness was a town which possesses great natural facilities for carrying on manufactures, though these have been very little taken advantage of — a large hemp factory was established in 1765, and for some time was so prosperous as to employ 1000 hands. The hemp was brought from the Baltic, and was chiefly converted into sacking and tarpauling cloth, a considerable portion of which was sent to the West Indies to be used in covering bales of cotton. The factory is still in existence in the 18th century, though the business done is not so extensive as it once was. About the year 1780 an enterprising company began the manufacture of linen thread, and for a number of years remarkable success rewarded their efforts. They gave employment to 10,000 persons throughout the county, most of whom worked in their own homes, their labours being superintended by district agents, of whom there were nineteen. The earnings ranged from is. to 12s. a-week. The flax was obtained from the Baltic ports; and when the thread was finished, it was forwarded to London, and thence dispersed over the world.

     The trade was taken up in some other towns, the social and commercial circumstances of which were more favourable to its prosecution; and many years ago, Inverness retired from competition with them. In the first year following the passing of the Stamp Act, 10,696 yards of linen were stamped for sale in Inverness-shire, and the quantity made increased gradually, until in 1822 it reached 318,465 yards. From that time the trade declined steadily, until it left the county altogether.

Nairn is an ancient fishing port and market town located 16 miles east of Inverness.

 

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  KILMAHOG. Perthshire

  Kilmahog is a hamlet situated half a mile to the west of Callander in Scotland... There is a 250 year old mill from Scotland's textile and industrial heritage, complete with original waterwheel. Built in 1758, originally a flax mill producing the famous Kilmahog Rug, the site is now an established tourist shop with Harris Tweed; Countrywear; Lambswool; Clan tartan Centre; Arans & Cashmere; Highland dress and made to measure kilts, trousers and skirts.

   There is the possibility of Russian lead flax bale seals to be found in the surrounding fields.

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  KINGHORN in Fife. Click here for the Kinghorn page

In 1793 three flax-spinning mills were erected at Kinghorn, and the two large spinning mills belonging to a Kirkcaldy firm having long been operative in town. The mills were steam and water powered with the water coming from the Loch of Kinghorn and there was an extensive bleaching field at Nether Tyne, belonging to the owners of St Leonard's Mill, which enabled them to prepare the thread and yarn in a purely white state for the market.  The owners employed daily at their mill 200 females, 54 males, flax dressers, 21 mechanics, with machine makers, and 12 male superintendents with other duties. About 70 were employed in the bleaching of yarn. There were two other mills in Kinghorn, at both of which were employed about 130 females and 50 males, including 36 flax dressers. Girls above fourteen years of age, who were spinners could earn 4s to 6s per week. Mechanics had from 12s to £1 per week and Flax dressers were paid by the cwt (hundred weight) of dressed flax; they got a fair price for their work, and could make a good livelihood when fully employed. The St Leonard's Mills were built by the Aytons, and succeeded in turn by Mr John Fergus and Swan Brothers. Several generations of the inhabitants having been employed by these firms, and by Arthur Brothers, whose mills were situated in the Nethergate.

Kinghorn Mill                  -             Kinghorn Mill           -                      Nethergate                -        St Leonard's Place

 

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  KIRKCALDY MUSEUM & DISTRICT.  Kirkcaldy was once Scotland’s biggest port after Leith and it is now home to Scotland’s only surviving Linen Manufacturer.  Kirkcaldy was once home to no fewer than 11 linen mills, with the sole remaining mill located on St Clair Street.

   The town began as a burgh under the control of Dunfermline Abbey. Kirkcaldy harbour was acknowledged for having "a sheltered cove round the East Burn", thus giving easy accessibility for boats. By the early 16th century the vessels of the harbour had begun to engage in trade with the Baltic; later dealing with the import of grain in 1618 and continental beer in 1625. A shipbuilding trade also existed on the site until this was phased out temporarily in 1645. The success led to the growth of the burgh, surrounding the harbour, Main Street and Tiel (West) burn. As Kirkcaldy entered into the 19th century, the arrival of the Kirkcaldy and District Railway, later to become part of the North British Railway, saw the town develop into the industrial heart of Fife—reviving the use of Kirkcaldy port, which had a severe setback during the mid–17th century. The harbour was catering for the growing trade of imports of flax, timber and hemp and exports of coal, salt and linen cloth, when a decision was made to build a new wet dock and pier from 1843–46.

 

    Bennochy Works (linen), Abbotshall Road, Kirkcaldy, Fife This was a medium-sized flax-spinning mill, built in 1865 to a design similar to that of contemporary Dundee textile mills. It supplied linen yarn to several weaving factories in Kirkcaldy and the surrounding area. This shows the main goods entrance to the works. Behind the gate is the warehouse for raw flax. Note the use of cannon as protection for the gate piers from the iron hubs of cart wheels, and the bracketed lamp, signs of an intention to impress. This was one of two flax-spinning mills in this part of Kirkcaldy, both modelled on Dundee practice. The Kirkcaldy and district linen trade produced finer goods than was common in the Dundee area.

 

 

 

 

  Kirkcaldy Museum and District

#

OBVERSE  click thumbnail

REVERSE click thumbnail

Notes

KIRK

01

no photo

ДЕСЯТ
АЛЕКС. -УМАК
(ALEKS. -UMAK)

no photo

  АРХ.БP
 ЧECKA

2-COPTЬ
В.ЛЕD 18
64

 ARKH.BR

CHESKA

2 SORT (flax)

V.LED 1864

Kirkcaldy
1 KIRMG.1999.207

KIRK

02

no photo

ДЕСЯТ

 ИBAH. ---

(IVAN. ---)

no photo

 KROHЪ
2 :COPTЪ
B.ЛED  1843

CROWN
2  Sort
(flax)
V.LED
1843

Kirkcaldy

2 KIRMG.1999.208

            2
            3
            4
            5
            6
            7
            8
            9
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            11
            12
            13
            14
            15
            16
KIRK
17
AБ ДAMAЦKOИ
1846  CПБ 
ФEДOCEИ
Ho2
_,_

O.9.П
2nd
grade
(hemp)
Kirkcaldy Museum
17 KIRMG:2006.207
IDS 684
            18

KIRK
19

no photo

??

ДЕСЯТ (inspector)

АНДРЕИ ПРУСКОВ
(ANDREI PRUSKOV)

APX БP

ОТБОРНЫ

3"COPTЬ

В.Д 1838

ARK. BR

SELECT

3rd SORT (flax)

V.D 1838

 Kirkcaldy

19 KIRMG: 2006.209
Insp.
Andrei Pruskov

KIRK
20

no photo

APX БPAK (Archangel Bracked)

ДЕСЯТHЬ (by inspector)

ПЕТРЪ ЖУКОВЪ

(PETR ZHUKOV)

APX БP

КРОНЪ

3"COPTЬ

Ф.P 1875

ARK. BR

KRON

3rd SORT (flax)

F.R 1875

 Kirkcaldy

20 KIRMG: 2006.210
Insp. Petr Zhukov

             

KIRK
68

no photo

A(PX.ПОР) (Archangel Port)
ДЕСЯT(H) (Inspector)
ВАСИЛ(IИ)  БPЮXAHOBЪ
(VASILII BRYUKHANOV)

no photo

А(РХ.БP)
КУД(ЕЛ)
(?) СОРТЪ
E.П.1870

ARKH.BR

KUDEL

1st SORT

E.P  1870

Kirkcaldy

68 KIRMG:2006.268

             
             

KIRK
105

ЛД = LD
А.КУЧКОВЪ
(A.KUCHKOV)
H2

NP

ПЧ12H

1815

2

post
(Krown flax)

Kirkcaldy
105 KIRMG:2006.305

             
             
             
             

KIRK
153

ЛѢГОДСКОИ
(LEGODSKOI)

no photo

no photo

no photo

Kirkcaldy
153 KIRMG:E585.04

154            
155            
 

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MONTROSE has one of the few natural harbours on the east coast of Scotland. It is formed by the estuary of the river South Esk which is scoured twice daily by the surge of water from four square miles of tidal basin behind the town. There is little evidence for Montrose's trade until the later middle ages, but it had an aggressive merchant community, as in 1289 the magistrates of Banff complained that the Montrosians were invading the fair at Aberdeen. Montrose had its own fair from the 13th century; unlike weekly markets which served for an exchange of local produce, fairs could last several weeks and were centres of international trade. By the 14th century Aberdeen, Dundee, Andrews and Leith are known to have established regular commercial links with Copenhagen, Hamburg, Leubeck, Bremen, Rostock, Wismar, Greifswald and Stockholm, while Ny-Lodose (Gothenburg), Danzig, Elbing and Konigsberg had Scots communities before 1500. Montrose had contacts similar to those of the more prominent east coast ports.  In 1655, Montrose was sixth in the shipping league behind Leith, Glasgow, Kirkcaldy, Aberdeen and Dundee. With 12 vessels totalling 370 tons, she came close behind Aberdeen (9 vessels totalling 440 tons and Dundee (10 at 377 tons.) In 1689 from the Baltic came flax in 3 voyages from Konigsberg, flax and hemp in 2 from Riga. Several prominent merchant families had branches in the Baltic. The Rennys were wealthy flax importers and had members of the family in Riga sending undressed flax to Montrose, which was already noted for flax spinning by hand and as a yarn market for north-eastern Scotland. In 1662 Thomas and Andrew Renny joined the business and were successful; in 1709 it was Andrew who was chosen, as one oft he more prominent citizens of Riga, to hand over the keys of the city to Peter the Great when the Russians conquered Livonia from Swedes. Andrew was succeeded in business by a grandson, Patrick, who exported flax to Dundee and Montrose in the 1720s. The Ouchterlonies were also established in Riga. John Ouchterlony, a merchant there, retired to Montrose in 1736 and continued his interest in the flax trade. In the 18th century, traditional trading patterns held firm; the growth of the linen industry from the 1790s meant increasing flax imports mainly from Riga but also from St. Petersburg and Archangel.  In the later 18th century a wide variety of linen textiles.. sailcloth and finer clothing textiles (most of it of local manufacture), oak staves and spruce beer were brought from Memel and Konigsberg, while skippers of vessels bringing flax from Riga nearly always carried a mast or two and some small timber home. During the 18th century the town was a major smuggling centre. Many flax seals have been found in the Montrose district, the one here is of  BA.Ardamaski resident in StPB (St Petersburg) in 1848.

 

  Montrose Museum and District Seals see http://www.peacehavens.co.uk/BSMONTROSE.htm

 

Vessel Ship Arrivals and Departures for Montrose Cargo
Eliza and Jessie

26-02-1831

Departed

Dundee

to

Montrose

Flax

Jasper

01-01-1890

Arrived

Montrose

from

Riga

Flax

Garry

04-01-1890

Arrived

Montrose

from

Dundee / Reval

Flax

Jasper 05-01-1892 Arrived Dundee from Montrose / Riga Flax
Sapphire 09-01-1893 Arrived Montrose from Riga Flax
Sapphire 11-01-1893 Departed Montrose to Burntisland Flax

Envoy

31-12-1893

Arrived

Montrose

from

Reval

Flax

 

The Lithouse, Montrose was erected towards the close of the 17th century on the Croft of Saint John, ground belonging to the Brethren of the Knight Templars of Jerusalem. It was occupied in its early days by the Burgh Lister and Inspector of the Linen Threads, in the making of which the town was at one time famous. The "too-fa" on the right was for many years used as the Collection House for the Petty Customs.

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  PAISLEY  in Renfrewshire, sits on the White Cart Water about 3 miles upstream from its confluence with the tidal River Clyde, and 7 miles south-west of Glasgow. The early flax trade was replaced by cotton goods. From the 17th century Paisley was engaged in trading coal and lime for trade and slate from the Highlands, and the burgh had a weekly market where farm produce and homespun cloth were bought and sold. The burgeoning textile industry in Paisley took off after the 1707 Act of Union introduced free trade with England. The earliest large-scale production was of coarse chequered linen and striped muslin. In 1726 the first mechanised flax mill was built in Paisley, and in 1759 the production of silk gauze started. The manufacture of shawls was begun in Paisley at the height of the muslin trade, in the 1770s, and shawls became the product for which the town was most famous, especially after a swirling pattern based on Kashmiri designs, later named 'Paisley pattern', was introduced to the town in 1805. By the 1790s cotton production was beginning to replace flax production, and in 1812 the first steam-powered thread mill was opened in Paisley, by William and James Carlisle. Steam-powered cotton mills were built across Paisley in the 1820s, and factories and premises associated with the textile industry, such as bleach fields and chemical plants, also proliferated. Perhaps the most famous works in Paisley were the Ferguslie thread mills of James Coats, built in 1826 to the west of the town. Coats was a name that became internationally synonymous with thread manufacture. Russian Lead flax bale seals have yet to be found here.

 Johnstone, nearby, had a Flax Mill on the Millbrae. There is a footbridge shown linking it to Barbush Flax Mill  on the north bank of the White Cart. Over the years both sites were owned by Finlayson, Bousfield and Co Ltd, the Linen Thread Co. Ltd and  Playtex. The site has been cleared and is no more.

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  PERTH MUSEUM 8 DISTRICT

  Kilmahog fields.

 

 

 

 Perth Museum and Art Galleries

 

#

OBVERSE  click thumbnail

REVERSE click thumbnail

Notes

               
               
               
               

PER
09

IDS
683

AB ДAMAЦKOИ
1847  CПБ 
ФEДOCEИ

HILLS &
II
WISHAW

Perth Museum
9 PERMG:1992.142.1

               
               
 

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   PORTSOY is a seaport in the shire of Banff, and parish of Fordyce. It is 178 miles north of Edinburgh, 8 miles W. by N. of Banff and 80 miles east of Inverness. It is situated on a tongue of land, which, projecting into the Moray Firth, forms a small by safe harbour. Of all the many ports along the Aberdeenshire and Moray coasts, Portsoy was one of the earliest to be established and capable of admitting vessels of 150 tons although after an extremely violent storm in January 1839 it was later rebuilt in 1884 to hold 12 vessels of 100 tons.

 The town is small and irregularly built, but as a port it is in a thriving condition ; the point of land on which it stands forms the safe harbour, which has now been greatly improved and is now sufficiently deep to moor vessels of upwards of two hundred tons burthen. Besides the proceeds of the herring fishery, which has been actively prosecuted for some years, it enjoys a trade in the export of grain and serpentine marble stone, and the importation of coal. Fish-curing, flax-dressing, a woollen manufactory, and a distillery, are prominent branches among the general domestic business, which, combined with the current revenue resulting from the traffic of its port, has elevated Portsoy into rather a consequential position as a commercial town.

The harbour they built at Portsoy comprised a massive breakwater on the seaward side and a number of quays. The construction uses large stones set vertically, apparently because it was believed that this made them less likely to be washed away by the sea. The theory seem to have worked, because the Old Harbour you see today is largely the harbour that was built in 1692. Around the Old Harbour are a number of impressive buildings that date back to the end of the 1600s or early 1700s. The trade in Portsoy's early days was very varied, and included the import of coal for domestic fires and the export of locally produced thread and linen to England. A particular speciality was locally quarried green Portsoy marble or serpentine. This was extracted from a quarry to the west of the town, and some of it found its way into the fixtures and fittings of Louis XIV's Palace of Versailles. Portsoy marble is still worked locally and a range of products are on view in one of the warehouses overlooking the harbour.

   A lot of coal was landed at Portsoy and a trade was carried out with the Baltic with vessels bringing bone and returning with herring. Grain is also shipped but no mention can be found of imports of flax or hemp from the Baltic. A survey on June 3rd. 1776 found Portsoy manufacturing stocking threads, for the London and Nottingham markets, and carried on to a great extent.

 In some seasons three hundred tons of flax are there imported from Holland; (no mention of Russian flax) with Cullen, Huntly, Keith, and other manufacturing villages, also supplied thence: this therefore an expense of twenty or thirty thousand pounds a year, which might be evaded by raising flax at home. There are generally from fifteen to twenty vessels belonging to the place, from forty to a hundred and fifty tons burden: for some of these profitable employment is found, at the fisheries among the Western Isles; each is equipped with three boats, and require eighteen hands: they sail early in the spring, about the beginning of February, for Loch Gairloch; and apply to the cod-fishing there until the first of May, when it is usual to go to the banks of Barra-Head, where they catch Ling. All the fish which they take are salted and dried on the spot; and the vessels return in August, on purpose to send their cargoes to the proper markets along with salmon. The vessels which carry these to the coasts of Spain and Portugal, or up to the Mediterranean; together with those which have been sent out with grain; return with wines, salt, flax, wood, iron, and whatever other articles are required, either for home consumption, or those branches of trade in which the inhabitants of the place are engaged. Many Scottish boats were attacked by pirates in the 14th/15th centuries while trading to the Baltic and even as late as 7th Aug 1780 a report said that a French Privateer held 14 on board for ransom, some of them for large sums; had sunk one vessel, and sent four hemp and flax vessels to Norway for sale..  Actions like these could account for the occasional lead flax seal being found in Norway. By 1797 the people are in general disposed to industry. Since the failure of thread-bleaching at Portsoy, there is no manufacture of consequence carried on within the parish. But most of the inhabitants raise as much flax, and weave as much linen cloth, as serve their families. Perhaps 1000 yards of the cloth manufactured in it are sold out of the parish.

   Portsoy Old Harbour was built at Portsoy in 1692 was a vast breakwater on the seaward side and a number of quays. Large stones were set vertically as it was said this made them less likely to be washed away by the sea. The Old Harbour can still be seen today and is mostly the harbour that was built in 1692. Portsoy’s first harbour was considered to be the safest in the North East, which meant that it had a thriving trade with both England and the Continent. The new harbour was built between 1825-28 to meet the demands of the herring boom and the volume of trade going through Portsoy. Throughout the nineteenth century a herring boom brought further prosperity to Portsoy, with a herring fleet totalling 57 boats at its peak, though usually averaging 40-50 boats in harbour employing 108 resident fishermen and boys. The harbour was washed away in an extremely violent storm in January 1839 and was only rebuilt in 1884 to hold 12 vessels of 100 tons, though most ships visiting the harbour were much smaller. The main imports were coal and bones from the Baltic, and the chief exports grain, herring, and potatoes. Aside from industries around the harbour, other industries in the town at the end of the nineteenth century were a small rope works and a bone mill, and in the neighbourhood there was a wool mill, and the Glenglassaugh distillery which was built around 1875. The trade in Portsoy's early days was very varied, and included the import of coal for domestic fires and the export of locally produced thread and linen to England.

From all accounts the imports from the Baltic were bones not flax and no flax seals have been found here, yet.

 

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