Hayford Mill, Cambusbarron
The following are extracts from the book "Bygone Days in Cambusbarron" and have been reproduced here with the kind permission of the Author Mr P.T. Paterson, a resident in Cambusbarron.
Hayford Mill, or Cambusbarron Mill as it is sometimes called, was built on land feued from Cowane’s Hospital in 1834 by three Cambusbarron men, John Campbell, William Watson and Alexander Donaldson, the latter two of whom previously owned spinning premises in the village. The building at this time occupied a much smaller area than it was to do so later, the first feu consisting of, in the original dimensions, I rood, 24 falls Scots (over 1/3 of an acre), the second in 1837, of 3 roods, 14 falls, 2 ells Scots (just less than acre). But it was not until the 1840s, possibly 1845, when the Mill was acquired by Robert Smith and Sons that it flourished into a major business.
Robert Smith was already a prominent businessman when he became proprietor of Hayford Mill. In the 1820s he had been a wool spinner in Cowane Street; he then became the owner of the Old Bridge Mill in Stirling. He was also conspicuous in municipal affairs, becoming first a burgess guild brother of the town, then a baillie, and finally Dean of Guild in 1832. Under his influence, and that of his son, also Robert, Hayford Mill expanded to become, with the notable exception of Carron Iron Works, the largest factory in Stirlingshire, and at one stage the largest tweed manufactory under one roof in Scotland.
When Robert senior died in 1859, his estate included £2069 worth of machinery in the Mill stock worth £3,700 and Hayford House which he had built in 1850. His son continued the expansion, feuling yet more land in 1862 for additional building. By 1869 at Hayford Mill, (or Hayford and Parkvale Mill as it was by then known) spinning and weaving winceys and other cotton and tweed
materials, employed over 950 people, who collectively earned approximately £19,000 p.a., producing goods with an annual value of £170,000. There were 530 power looms in the weaving section, and 13 sets of carding engines in the spinning department and all the machinery was driven by six steam engines with a combined 300 horse power. In 1871 the factory was further enlarged and over 1200 people were then employed. In 1875 the firm was sufficiently prosperous for Robert Smith to build the impressive mansion house of Brentham Park near Annfield. There had, however, been some hiccups along this successful path of Victorian enterprise.
In 1860, for example, the firm was in dispute with Stirling Town Council over the alleged pollution of the Forth, caused, claimed the town, by the dyes from the Mill being emptied into the nearby burn (“Raploch Burn”, “Dirty Burn”, “Mill Lead” and “Burnside” are all names that have been applied to this ancient stream; its oldest is best: “Glenmoray Burn”) and thereby into the Forth at the Raploch, where, it was said, the salmon fishing was adversely affected. Of more concern was the effect on trade of the American Civil War during the early 1860’s when supplies of cotton declined alarmingly, and in 1887 a serious fire destroyed part of the building. But most disastrous was the closure of the Mill in 1896.
Exactly why this highly successful enterprise collapsed is not clear. It is true that the textile industry nationally had been in decline since the 1860’s but the failure of Hayford may have been more due to internal disharmony and mismanagement than to the vagaries of international trade. This was certainly the view of James Jackson early career was spent at Hayford before moving to the Bridge of Allan firm of Robert Pullar and Sons, of which he eventually became director. Certainly something dramatic happened in October 1895 when Robert Smith abruptly left the area and moved (with his capital perhaps?) to London where he died five years later. A year after Smith’s departure, Hayford and Parkvale Mills closed on October 19th, 1896.The effect on Cambusbarron was profound. Hundreds of people were thrown out of work at a stroke. There was little alternative employment. While a pit had been sunk at Cowie in 1894, others at Fallin were not opened until 1904.
The three phases of reservoir construction on Touch Estate for Stirling Waterworks had long since been completed; those at North Third and Earlshill were some ten years off. The increase in the village population, from 657 in 1841 to 1230 in 1881 — almost double in on generation —had largely been brought about by the attraction of the Mill as a source of employment. Within one year 1895 — 1896, the school roll in Cambusbarron dropped by a quarter, and even as late as 1904 — eight years after the closure — the number of parish electors in the village had climbed only as high as 299 in comparison with 336 in 1895. Various attempts to revive the Mill were largely unsuccessful.
During the First World War troops were billeted there by the Army. They practised maneuvers on Touch Muir and used the field between the Mill and North End for drilling. Many were killed at the Dardanelles. After the War a carpet-weaving firm occupied the premises; like other previous ventures this came to little, and the Mill eventually came into the ownership of the government who today under the auspices of the Scottish Home and Health Department use it as a storage depot.
Hayford Mill may not be the most beautiful building in our area (though attention to the unusual brickworks repays effort) but as a legacy of our industrial past, and as a major influence on the lives of our Victorian forefathers it retains an unusual impressiveness.
A song, sung by the female workers harks back to the heyday of the Mill, and is an endearing epitaph on that time:
“The servants think they’re awfu’ braw,
When they get a lilac goon or twa
A nice bit mutch cocked on their croon
But there’s nothing beats a wincey goon!
They’re aye sae neat, and aye sae sweet,
and aye sae trig and bonnie 0’
Ah they could dance fornest the Queen
Cambusbarron bonnie lasses Oh!
Note: the mill has now been converted into homes and images of the development can be seen on our Local Views Page.