THE BANK MILL PROJECT

Penicuik Community Development Trust is setting up a fund to purchase the Bank Mill, the adjacent Fish Farm and its two associated houses as the basis of a long-term heritage and rejuvenation project.  Over 100 people attended a public meeting in Penicuik Town Hall on Tuesday 23 November 2010, and more detailed public workshops sessions covering the our Trust’s Bank Mill Project and Walled Garden Food Project were held in Penicuik Town Hall on Wednesday 15 December.  Teams of volunteers are progressing aspects of the project and a big fundraising ceilidh was held in Bank Mill on Hogmanay  with lots of events since then.

BANK MILL 2011 LATEST CLICK HERE

 

The project aims to

·                                            restore the proud statement “Penicuik the Paper Making Town” by setting up a working paper making heritage centre,

·                                            create a nationally important tourist attraction celebrating Penicuik’s heritage

·                                            generate electricity from water power, a clean renewable source

·                                            provide employment and bring in new light industry for water power technology

·                                            enhance facilities for the long distance walk and cycle way along the River Esk

·                                            establish a garden park integrated with the Fish Farm and the Penicuik Food Project

 Bringing in tourists and visitors will help support shops and businesses in Penicuik Town Centre. Increased footfall is badly needed to revive the local economy.

 

The Bank Mill project was first introduced at the well-attended Penicuik Community Development Trust AGM in June 2010, and was featured at Saturday Open House exhibitions in the Town Hall.  The Trust’s initial letter to interested parties on the Bank Mill project followed in August 2010. The project was first discussed with the Big Lottery Fund at Loanhead on 7 September, and presented at Penicuik Community Council on 13 September where it was greeted with enthusiasm.  The expanded proposals formed part of a joint exhibition with Penicuik’s Town Twinning visit to L’Isle sur la Sorgue in Penicuik Town Hall on 11 and 18 September, in conjunction with the display at Penicuik Library.

 

To begin the first stage of the Mill’s regeneration, the Trust has taken up a lease of a years occupation from October 2010 with a view to purchase of Bank Mill, lades and Fish Farm as soon as possible.  As noted above, over 100 people came to a public meeting in Penicuik Town Hall on Tuesday 23 November 2010, more  public workshops to get involved in both the Trust’s Bank Mill Project and Walled Garden Food Project were held in Penicuik Town Hall on Wednesday 15 December, a big fundraising ceilidh was held in Bank Mill on Hogmanay, and a fundraiser winetasting at Penicuik Arts in February.  An all-star Bank Mill Benefit (poster here) is being held at the Mill on Monday 4th April 2011 with Ferintosh (New York cellist Abby Newton, Wisconsin harpist Kim Robertson and Edinburgh fiddler Mairi Campbell) plus special guest Penicuik’s own singer Siobhan Miller.  Information on the projects and tickets for events are always available at the Trust’s weekly Open House Sessions on Saturdays 10am-2pm and at the Trust’s Big Screen Cinema sessions on Sunday evenings –details of upcoming events here.

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This is a big investment for our community.  As well as donations and loans the Trust is looking for help of all kinds from people of all ages with practical skills and ideas to help us develop and realise this exciting project. We will be delighted to record any help you are able to give. Through our unpaid internships the Trust can offer testimonials to those who contribute their time and energy in ways which take the project forward.

 

Progress with the Bank Mill project will be recorded here at www.makers.org.uk/paper/bankmill

With fuller story details at www.makers.org.uk/paper/bmhc

It will be summarised on the Trust’s regular webpages at www.penicuikcdt.org.uk 

 

THE BANK MILL PROJECT

1  Penicuik the PaperMaking Town

Penicuik was a pioneer in the Scottish industrial revolution.  Its abundant waterpower was the starting point of almost 300 years of continuous paper production, Scotland’s first cotton mill (leading to the Finlayson mills in Finland) and probably its first mechanised flax mill. By the mid 19th century Penicuik was one of the foremost papermaking centres in the world.

When local Scots built a paper mill in Quebec in 1856, they saw added prestige and a commercial premium in calling it Valleyfield. This emerging centre for Canada’s industrial revolution became the city of Valleyfield.

When, in 1872, the Japanese Emperor sent a two-year technical and industrial fact-finding mission to North America, Britain and Europe, it was Penicuik the mission chose to visit to find out about the West’s industrialised papermaking.  Penicuik Community Development Trust has printed and published the original record of the Iwakura Mission’s visit.

 

Penicuik had six paper mills by the River Esk: Valleyfield Mill (built 1709); Bank Mill (converted to paper making in 1803 and source of paper for Bank of Scotland notes); Low Mill (built for wool processing 1708, converted to papermaking in 1746) (these three mills formed Cowan’s Valleyfield papermaking complex) ; Esk Mill (built in 1770 as Scotland’s first cotton mill and converted to papermaking ~1790); Auchendinny Mill (built 1756), and Dalmore Mill (built 1820). There were five more paper mills further downstream on the River Esk and a modern (1950s) mill built by the Cowan company overlooking the valley at Pomathorn, Penicuik.

All have now closed and, except Bank Mill, all other riverside mills have been demolished and the sites redeveloped for housing.

The Bank Mill Project is the last opportunity to rekindle the embers of Penicuik’s papermaking heritage for the lasting benefit of people today and in years to come.

2 Bank Mill PaperMaking Heritage Centre

The Heritage Lottery Fund recently awarded a £60,000 grant to create an archive and public exhibition marking 300 years of papermaking in Penicuik. Penicuik has no museum and this material has no permanent home. The Bank Mill project will create a working papermaking heritage centre in the last building left from the Valleyfield Mill Complex of Alexander Cowan & Sons.

The Valleyfield papermill owner Alexander Cowan was a nationally important social reformer and philanthropist: he helped to create a public library in 1799, building a school and social housing for his workers, piping in a clean public water supply from the Pentland Hills, and through his bequest, building the Cowan Institute, still a vital community centre for Penicuik.

Alex. Cowan receiving the manuscript of “Heart of Midlothian” from Sir Walter Scott.

Drawn by Heber Thompson, R.E.

 

Alexander Cowan’s son Charles Cowan was MP for Edinburgh and successfully promoted the repeal of the paper duty, giving a huge boost to education and publishing and putting books and newspapers within reach of everyone.  Alexander Cowan’s daughter Mary in 1868 made her first married home in Japan (till then closed to the West) where her husband Colin McVean was newly appointed as Surveyor to the Imperial Government, and where the young Cargill G. Knott, son of the Cowan company’s chief cashier, was to develop seismography and the new study of earthquakes.

McVean (standing third from right) making arrangements for the transit of Venus on 9 December 1874.

Scientists from France, Mexico and the USA were in attendance to observe the phenomenon from Japan on

 behalf of the international community, along with the Japanese Prime Minister.

 

Documentary material about the people, places, processes and worldwide connections in Penicuik’s papermaking story will be on display in the former Cowan Institute and at Bank Mill.  Working paper making processes and equipment will be viewable by the public at Bank Mill from a gallery walkway.  Similar viewing arrangements are in place in the Vaucluse papermaking museum outside Penicuik’s twin town, L’Isle sur la Sorgue, where high quality papers are produced for sale.

The project has been offered help and advice by two paper mills specialising in very high quality hand made paper. The Bank Mill project intends to have very high quality bespoke art paper made on site and sold commercially to specialist clients.

We note that Edinburgh has two prestigious Art Colleges and is home to the Edinburgh Printmakers Workshop. The latter currently sources hand made paper from a French paper mill.

High-value low-volume production will have very little environmental impact – the damaging acid and caustic processes used for producing wood-based paper pulp are not needed when using rags rather than wood.

The last local paper mill only closed in the last decade and, in addition to national and international support for the project, there are many local people skilled in aspects of the paper making industry who are ready to help and give advice.

The Jewel and Esk College used to run a course on papermaking – the college had demonstration equipment, including a beater, that might be salvaged.

Books by Ian MacDougall record human stories of men, women and children in the Penicuik mills

 

3 The building

The main hall is the original stone-built structure and is aligned at right angles to the river. It has a covered workshop area at its northern end. It is fully serviced including three-phase power.

At its southern end, it meets curved structures pointing towards the bridge under the A701 originally carrying a Cowan railway siding. This structure used to house three wagon loading bays, the first constructed in 1862 when the railway came and  production facilities for the three component mills of the Valleyfield complex were integrated using the new tracks. Further towards the river is a more modern structure not in the same ownership.

The Mill was originally larger, with a wing parallel to the river at the north end of the present buildings. This is now marked by a raised platform, on which there are temporary Portacabins, and an open yard. At the end of this yard facing the extant buildings, the part of the end wall of the original Bank Mill building remains as a retaining wall against the A701, reaching some 10 metres up to street level.

The intention is to construct a three story building to the north of the site, the uppermost floor presenting a low profile to Bridge Street designed to attract passers-by and give pedestrian access. This block would include a lift and give access to a gallery level within the main mill machine hall.

How large it once was –Bank Mill seen from south of the river at Alderbank a hundred years ago.

The big central gabled building right of the chimney is the original Mill and is almost all that still stands.

 

4 Water power

There are government supported incentives for micro-hydropower schemes, with generating companies encouraged to buy from small electricity producers using renewable energy sources. The River Esk has a three hundred year history of extracting industrial power from water wheels and is one of the best placed sites in southern Scotland to take advantage of this opportunity.

Working water wheels with a traditional appearance will create spectacular tourist attractions and transform the smelly overgrown stretches of the Esk Mill lade into a clean gently flowing attraction.

An initial investigation suggests three sites for water wheels in Penicuik: the largest below the Esk Mill site; another associated with Bank Mill and a small pilot project exploiting the Black Burn. We also anticipate collaboration with organisations in Roslin and Lasswade for an integrated River Esk micro-hydropower project.

 

5 Water wheel manufacture

Research shows that small modifications to a traditional wheel give it essentially the same efficiency as modern turbines if working with a water head of less than 5 m. We believe that the only current manufacturer is a French company. In Penicuik and western Midlothian, there are local engineering firms specialising in marine shaft bearings, in machinery control and velocity sensors. Penicuik Estate’s Forestry section produces a variety of heavy wood products. We envisage using the workshop space formerly occupied by Loanhead Engineering, the present owners of Bank Mill, to create a facility for constructing bespoke waterwheels in collaboration with local industry. These would initially be for our own local projects but ultimately would meet a future demand, rising when it is seen how well we can combine micro-hydropower generation with creating a tourist attraction.

 

6 Esk Valley Way – walkers and cyclists

A cycle and walkway runs from Musselburgh on the Firth of Forth to Penicuik. It reaches Penicuik by way of the old Penicuik Railway, stopping currently outside Bank Mill but scheduled to continue southwards through the wooded parkland of the Penicuik Estate and on to Carlops to join rambling routes on the Pentland Hills. Connections via other railway-based routes might link with Peebles and Dolphinton.  The track from Carlops leads to the North Esk Reservoir, built by the Esk paper mill owners to control the river flow and meet their environmental obligations . The path goes on to complete a circular route way by leading to the Water of Leith and thence along another attractive river valley and past former papermills in Balerno, Colinton, Dalry, Canonmills and back along the coast via Portobello to Inveresk, all places associated with papermaking.   The development of the Bank Mill project will be an attractive visitor incentive to enhance this route for walkers and cyclists. The Mill site could provide an information point, a centre for bike hire and repair, and a place to link to good public transport, road access and other local facilities for visitors .

 

Esk Valley walkway and cycleway, seen here further north at Eskbank station

7 Esk Valley Way – tourist accommodation

The Fish Farm site includes two modern houses. One or both will form the nucleus of Gite d’Etape style accommodation to provide affordable lodging for cyclists, walkers and other tourists. It is anticipated that there would be minimal on-site catering and lodgers would use commercial facilities in the region around Penicuik High Street. Winter use would involve residential courses.

 

8 The Fish Farm and Penicuik Food Project

·                                            Penicuik Community Development Trust is about to sign the lease for the Upper Walled Garden of Penicuik Estate as part of the Trust’s Penicuik Food Project .  Continuing the farming of fish on the site is entirely consistent with this aim of producing locally high quality contaminant-free food for local consumption. A smokery would be an easily added asset to create higher value products. It would make good commercial sense to have a retail point for the fish and the local fresh vegetables on the site.

The Fish Farm looking towards Bank Mill. Telford Bridge lies hidden beyond. Two houses are on the left.

 

9 The Bank Mill Park and Bridge

In the 18th century grounds of Valleyfield Mill, the Penicuik Pleasure Gardens included an elegant temple and a spectacular jet d’eau fountain, and became known internationally.  Penicuik’s Public Park is now solely a sports field so Penicuik no longer has any quiet gardens for contemplative rest. Small parts of the area behind the Bank Mill, now only partially occupied by the fish farm, are lush and green and tucked beside the river: they are ideal for such use.

Towards the upstream end, a footbridge will be constructed so that the Musselburgh to Penicuik walk way can pass through the Bank Mill site and join the right bank path already constructed by Penicuik Estate. The second bridge, now partly constructed, is being built by Penicuik Estates to link this to the riverside path through Penicuik Estates and eventually on to Carlops and the Pentland Hills.

 

Bank Mill as it is today from the Telford Bridge. The Fish Farm and mill lade lies beyond

 

 

Penicuik Community Development Trust seeks donations and grants to purchase Bank Mill and the associated lades and water rights, to restore it as a real community asset: a working papermaking heritage centre and a focus for sustainable local enterprise.  If you would like to support us, or find out more, please contact HeritageFund@PenicuikCDT.org.uk or write to roger@kosmoid.net  Details of the stage we’re at are given in our October 2011 progress report here

 

 

Valleyfield Mill gone and Bank Mill out of sight in trees beyond slate roofs in the centre of this picture

 

One of the two locomotives that served the Valleyfield and Bank mill complex restored.

 

 

This working waterwheel & papermaking museum is a busy attraction at Vaucluse, L’Isle sur la Sorgue

L’Isle sur la Sorgue, Penicuik’s twin town in Provence, is famous for its many waterwheels.

 

The Bank Mill project was introduced at the well-attended Penicuik Community Development Trust AGM in June 2010, and was featured at Saturday Open House exhibitions in the Town Hall.  The Trust’s initial letter to interested parties on the Bank Mill project followed in August 2010. The project was first discussed with the Big Lottery Fund at Loanhead on 7 September, and presented at Penicuik Community Council on 13 September where it was greeted with enthusiasm.  The expanded proposals formed part of a joint exhibition with Penicuik’s Town Twinning visit to L’Isle sur la Sorgue in Penicuik Town Hall on 11 and 18 September, in conjunction with the display at Penicuik Library.

 

To begin the first stage of the Mill’s regeneration, the Trust has taken up a lease of a years occupation from October 2010 with a view to purchase of Bank Mill, lades and Fish Farm as soon as possible.  As noted above, over 100 people came to a public meeting in Penicuik Town Hall on Tuesday 23 November 2010, more  public workshops to get involved in both the Trust’s Bank Mill Project and Walled Garden Food Project were held in Penicuik Town Hall on Wednesday 15 December, a big fundraising ceilidh was held in Bank Mill on Hogmanay, and a fundraiser winetasting at Penicuik Arts in February.  An all-star Bank Mill Benefit (poster here) is being held at the Mill on Monday 4th April 2011 with Ferintosh (New York cellist Abby Newton, Wisconsin harpist Kim Robertson and Edinburgh fiddler Mairi Campbell) plus special guest Penicuik’s own singer Siobhan Miller.  Information on the projects and tickets for events are always available at the Trust’s weekly Open House Sessions on Saturdays 10am-2pm and at the Trust’s Big Screen Cinema sessions on Sunday evenings –details of upcoming events here.

 

This is a big investment for our community.  As well as donations and loans the Trust is looking for help of all kinds from people of all ages with practical skills and ideas to help us develop and realise this exciting project. We will be delighted to record any help you are able to give. Through our unpaid internships the Trust can offer testimonials to those who contribute their time and energy in ways which take the project forward.

See the latest news here or the earlier report on the year to October 2011 here

-Roger Kelly, chair Penicuik Community Development Trust

 

Penicuik Community Development Trust Ltd (responsible for the Bankmill Project, Penicuik Food Project, Penicuik Open House and Penicuik Cinema) is a company limited by guarantee number 380626 with charitable status registered with OSCR number SC O37990 –Directors Roger Kelly (chair), Roger Hipkin (secretary 20A John St. Penicuik EH26 8A ), Jane MacKintosh (treasurer) forming part of a Managing committee with Barry O’Rourke, Caroline Maciver, Chantal Geoghegan, Chris Langdale, Dave Stokes, Doreen Gillon, Eric Marchant, Jane Kelly, Marianne Cortes, Mose Hutchinson, Penny Wooding, Ulla Hipkin, elected annually at the Trust's AGM. Website www.penicuikcdt.org.uk The Trust is a Member of Development Trusts Association Scotland (DTAS) and works with Penicuik Community Council, Midlothian Council, Midlothian Voluntary Action, the Midlothian Growing Ideas Partnership (including Midlothian Garden Services, Mayfield & Easthouses Development Trust, and other garden and food projects in Midlothian associated with the Federation of City Farms and Community Gardens), and the Mapa Scotland restoration of the Great Polish Map of Scotland at Eddleston, , and supported the papemaking tercentenary led by Penicuik Historical Society.  . There are personal and mutually supportive links with Penicuik Community, Sport & Leisure Foundation, Penicuik Community Arts Association, the Penicuik House Project and the Saltire Society, with community groups and trusts in Aberfeldy, Broughty Ferry, Gorebridge and Moffat, with Penicuik’s twin town at L’Isle-sur-la Sorgue , Vaucluse, Provence, with Salaberry-de-Valleyfield, Quebec and with the Papeterie St-Armand in Montreal.

 

Report on a year of progress with the Bank Mill project to October 2011 here

 

 

 www.makers.org.uk/paper/bankmill

Halloween ceilidh at www.makers.org.uk/paper/bmhc

 

See alsothe Trust’s regular webpages at www.penicuikcdt.org.uk  and our Bank Mill website at www.bankmill.co.uk

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Penicuik Displays

Roger Kelly’s Papermaking homepage

Bank Mill Project update October 2011

Simon Fraser & PCDT’s  www.bankmill.co.uk

 

 

 

 

PENICUIK COMMUNITY CINEMA PROGRAMME

PENICUIK OPEN HOUSE DISPLAYS

PENICUIK COMMUNITY ASSETS

PAPER MAKERS

PENICUIK PAPERMAKING TERCENTENARY

 

PENICUIK FOOD PROJECT: RESTORING THE WALLED GARDEN

Restoring General Maczek’s GREAT POLISH MAP OF SCOTLAND Eddleston

 

Most visited KOSMOID& MAKERSwebpages