The Lade

[The Lade] [Innerbuist Mill] [Bleaching Mill]

Lade at Colenhaugh

The above picture shown the lade as it runs through Colenhaugh Village.

In 1787 the proposed route of the lade was drawn up by William Blair, Surveyor. The lade was to provide water power for the Bleaching Mill.  William McAlpine was granted the lease to build a Printfield and Cotton Spinning Mill at Colenhaugh, the same year.

The popular theory is that the lade was built by Napoleonic prisoners of war, however, the prisoners were not shipped in until 1811.  A prison, called the Depot, was built in Perth to house the prisoners, 7000 in all, who were kept here until 1814.

In later years the lade was also used to generate electricity for the mill, cottages and Hillhouse.  The small generating station was built in 1946, and after being unused for many years was restored. The 110 kW power station now has new owners and produces 650,000 kWh per annum, equivalent to the requirements of 200 homes

Stormontfield is connected directly to the Scottish and Southern grid.

The Lade Route

The lade as it passed through the Beetling Mill linen bleaching works, passes two Corn Mills and exits at Waulkmill Ferry. Distance shown here is approximately 1.5miles, the actual length of the lade is thought to be approximately 3 miles long, and it is approximately 18 feet wide.  The Corn Mill at Innerbuist also had a stream which entered into the main Lade.

Mill lade plan

Within Colenhaugh at the time of the Linen Bleaching Works, the lade split into three to power the three water wheels which were used.

Stormontfield lade bridge - Robert KempsonStormontfield bridge - Robert Kempson

Bridge over the mill lade.  (photos - Robert Kempson)

Lade route to Waulkmill

Part of a message: ... There was one other occasion when the lade itself was drained. I believe it was to allow maintenance or repair  to the huge turbines underneath the bleach works. All the side sluices all the way up the lade were opened thus allowing the water to drain off back into the Tay reducing the flow to a trickle by the time it reached the works. The engineers could then lower themselves down to the turbines and fix the problem.It took two or three days before it was up and running again and the lade filled up again.             Link to page  Peter Soutar

Hi, May I thank you in advance but I shall be grateful if you can kindly let me know first if anyone else wants to use the information. It has been much labour and I have to be careful of copyright obligations..

I am Peter, a Stewart-Sandeman descendant, my mother Anne S-S was brought up at Stanley and I am assembling a lot of material I have here on history of the Stanley and Luncarty mill activities since the earliest days. My Mother died at 89 in 1998 and I'm now retired myself..

We have seen the Stanley Mills once or twice beginning in the 1950's and I once spent parts of holidays nearby at Murthly, I have also seen the Granite house and capstan house in Luncarty, so I'm aware of the geography, so to speak.

I need some reliable information updates about this and wonder if you can kindly help and perhaps correct my confusion, fill in a few gaps with help of those locals interested. Heres what I have to hand. Can you kindly let me know if there are available anywhere old photos or prints of things mentioned about Stanley and Luncarty.

About The Luncarty Bleach Works,

Linen Bleaching was carried out at Luncarty under the supervision of William Sandeman and his partner Hector Turnbull from 1752, before he became a partner in the Stanley Mills.

The large Granite Millowner house at Luncarty village, just near to Stanley may have belonged at one time about 1855 to David Sandeman, or Glas Sandeman, a partner with a Mr Marshall of Rosemount in the Luncarty Bleach business. Rosemount lies on the E bank of the Tay. David was a father-in-law to the Dr Stewart family of Perth and later Bonskeid, who had been about to become a missionary in China, but when en route via Montpellier in France to visit a relation there got Asiatic Cholera and died.

In 1860 Col Frank Stewart Sandeman became a partner in Luncarty Bleachfield Co.  From 1889-1939 Burt Marshall Ltd then became the owners of the Bleachworks,  Who was then the operator of the bleachworks until the firm was closed.

From an initial 12 acres, the works expanded, for nearly 250 years to occupy around 130 acres. In the 19th century the Luncarty Bleachfield works was the largest linen bleachfield in Scotland, supporting fine linen manufacture from the central belt of the country. Approximately 500,000 square yards of linen was bleached and finished at the works every year

Eventually in 1971 the bleachworks suffered a severe fire but finally closed in 1996 though a factor may have been the requirement to prevent discharge of industrial bleach waste into the Tay. It was the last surviving bleach works in the Perth area. According to the Stormontfield History society, The hamlet of Colenhaugh, Stormontfield, opposite to Luncarty almost disappeared when the Bleaching Mill, upon which most of its occupants relied for their occupation, was closed down.

There remains at Luncarty a large green around which modern housing is built, that may be the old bleach-field. A brass plaque, mounted on a cairn, now marks the former Bleachfield works that stood upon "Poachers Green" a new housing development at Luncarty. There is an Insurance plan of Luncarty Bleachfield, of 1914 now kept in the Perth and Kinross County Archive Ref: GB252/MS63 . .

According to AW-S, the bleaching at Luncarty was done by laying linen cloth out on grass in a Bleachfield in the sun. Chemical bleaching may have been introduced after the commercialisation of chlorine bleaches in the late 1800s.¬  Do you know when this was and what chemicals were used.

According to AW-S, the bleaching at Luncarty was done by laying linen cloth out on grass in a Bleachfield in the sun. Chemical bleaching may have been introduced after the commercialisation of chlorine bleaches in the late 1800s. There are 12 archive images of the Bleach works of a large workshop with large rolls of fabric on frames of processing apparently quite modern machines passing roller-to-roller. In 1998 the remains of a brick 20th C style Bleach-works was ruined and abandoned at the riverside at the lower part of the village. By that lies a discharge mole probably for liquid waste built out into the Tay.

There is at Luncarty, not mentioned above, a substantial 19th C (Mill-owners ?) house in grey granite, with faceted bay windows, also a large horse-powered Capstan house adjacent. The Mill-owners house is now a home for the elderly, the Capstan-house is now a restaurant. Can you help with any information who lived at the Millowners house and what was the purpose of the Capstan House, (now a restaurant) was it used for any linen work perhaps.

The Lade / Lock and the Rope-Ferry going to E Bank at Cambusmichael opposite Stanley Mills

PWS found opposite to Stanley Mills at Cambusmichael on the E bank of the Tay, a river inlet built feeding a stone lined channel, like a narrow Lock, with arrangements of gates at each end to control filling by the river and exit to a lade. It led the water away by a channel that followed level around the headland of the opposite bank and downstream by the E bank of the Tay towards Luncarty. It is clear from enquiry to Canal historians there was no record of any canalisation of the Tay at Stanley.

A private note from someone interested in canal history comments on the matter that Lade was a supply to two mills both on the E bank of the river the first at Stormontfield, with a broad outfall to the Tay, then another at 'Waulkmil'l opposite to Luncarty, The "lock" structure was probably some form of flood-barrier for use when the river was in spate.

According to local sources the Scots name 'Waulkmill' is widely found in many other areas of Scotland, and "Waulking" is a process of finishing cloth, often woollen cloth, treated with Fullers Earth to achieve the shrinking of, or binding tighter, the work of the weavers. This name detail suggests some minor woollen industry may have become established at Stanley but we have no information if it was an independent trade, to serve weavers in crofts, or those active at Perth, or linked to fabrics of the Stanley or Luncarty Mill businesses.

According to Mr Lindsey of Stanley the Lade works from Cambusmichael was built at the same period as the Stanley Mills about 1800. That suggests the use of water-power at Stanley was even more widespread than hitherto suggested. I heard of plans to again return the lade to use to generate electric power at Stormontfield. The two E bank Mills and their original power arrangements seem worth further investigation.

Just NE above the N flume of the Mill, on the Stanley House headland, there is an old Boathouse, suggesting it was the site at one time of a rope-ferry to the E Bank with already a footpath and a ruined church there at Cambusmichael. The Ferry could have served workers recruited from outlying villages to the E, more conveniently than travel by bridges some distance away..

There is a record of use of the Tay river once to move linen goods above the Port at Perth perhaps by towpath, barge and horses, also an inlet called Colenhaugh off the Tay at Luncarty lies by the old Bleach works, that might once have been used as a dock, as it is out of the main current of the river. The term¬  Colenhaugh suggests there was a dock used for coal barges, maybe also for bulk linen goods until the coming of the railway. The strong current may have made barge-work higher on the Tay to Stanley too difficult also the Campsie Falls and other rapids would have been impassable higher on the river.

I hope I have not bored you with all this stuff. At least I hope you may find someone to help who considers it interesting.

May I thank you in advance but I shall be grateful if you can kindly let me know first if anyone else wants to use the information. It has been much labour and I have to be careful of copyright obligations..

It may be useful to print out this E-Mail.

Regards  -  P. Wingfield-Stratford
 (address supplied)

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