An image of Busby Dyehouse

Busby Dyehouse

Prior to the 18th century there was some small scale industry along the banks of the White Cart, including; wauk mills, where cloth was washed and thickened; corn and meal mills.

At this time Busby was known as Newmill, a good site close to Glasgow with its manufacturing industry and export trade.

An image of Crofthead Mill in Neilston, also known as Neilston Mill

In 1780, Busby Lower Mill was built by William Ferguson, a Glasgow merchant, on the site of corn and lint mills. It was a 35-storey works housing one thousand two hundred spindles. James Doxon built a second mill in 1790. The Upper Mill spun the cotton, which was then sent to the Lower Mill for weaving and finishing.

In 1799, Busby Mills employed 360 people, over half of whom were under 15. The Upper Mill was eventually demolished to make way for housing and the Lower Mill site is now an industrial estate.

Crofthead Mill (or Neilston Mill), Neilston

At the foot of Holehouse Brae stands Crofthead Mill; James Orr & Company built the original mill in 1792.

An image of Levern Mill; a cotton mill in Barrhead

It was one of seven big cotton, spinning mills on the banks of the Levern between Neilston and Dovecothall; now it is the only one left. It stopped spinning cotton and went on to produce sewing thread using cotton and other fibres.

No.1 Mill was built in 1880 to replace the original one, which had been destroyed by fire. At one time there was an imposing mill school where half-timers, children between the ages of 9 and 12, had their lessons after working a morning shift in the mill from 6 in the morning till 2 in the afternoon.

Levern Mill, Barrhead

The first cotton mill in Renfrewshire was the Levern Mill on Main Street, Barrhead, built opposite the Dovecothall Mill of 1780. A firm called Ramsay, Livingston & Love, managed by Mr Jonathan Heugh, built the new premises, which were required to house the sophisticated machinery being introduced into the industry. The mill ran on waterpower at first but when it was taken over by the Dunlops, steam power was introduced. The Dunlops owned the mill for nearly sixty years until the Stewarts took over.

At one time the Levern Mill employed over one thousand people, many of them children, who were the main source of labour in the early days of the mill, recruited from the local poorhouses. In the early nineteenth century laws were passed to protect child workers and it was decided that children had to attend school part time. The mill owners set aside a building in the complex for the teaching of the 'half timers'.

The Levern Mill stood as a ruin until c.1970 when it was declared unsafe and demolished to become part of the Levern walkway in Barrhead. You will find further information on the Levern Mill on the Barrhead Heritage Trail website. Follow the link from the external websites area on this page.