Font Size

100% 150% 200%

Background Colour

Default Contrast
Close Reset

Ironmacannie Mill

Watermill (Period Unassigned)

Site Name Ironmacannie Mill

Classification Watermill (Period Unassigned)

Alternative Name(s) Shirmers Burn

Canmore ID 94605

Site Number NX67NE 17

NGR NX 66721 75330

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
Canmore Disclaimer. © Copyright and database right 2018.

Digital Images

Administrative Areas

  • Council Dumfries And Galloway
  • Parish Balmaclellan
  • Former Region Dumfries And Galloway
  • Former District Stewartry
  • Former County Kirkcudbrightshire

Architecture Notes

NX67NE 17 66721 75330

Ironmacannie Mill [NAT]

OS (GIS) MasterMap, May 2010.

This mill stands on a rocky gorge on the N bank of the Shirmers Burn, about 3 miles S of Balmaclellan. It is a plain, three-storeyed structure of L-plan layout. The earliest portion of the existing building probably dates from the later 18th century, although possibly occupying the site of the older millstead. The nucleus is a rectangular block which incorporates a two-storeyed kiln at the SW end and measures 15.58m in overall length from NE to SW by 6.79m in maximum width. To this building there has been subsequently added a NW wing, measuring approximately 5.55m square on plan, and a later outshot. The walls, which are about 0.6m in thickness at base, are constructed of local whinstone rubble masonry. The existing roof over the mill is covered with corrugated cement asbestos sheet, and the kiln is slate covered, with a sheet metal cowl at the ridge. The kiln is evidently contemporary with the original block but there are tucking stones of uncertain purpose in the upper level of the SW gable-wall. The windows lighting the working areas are grouped mainly in the SE wall; they are generally plain, sharp-arrised openings, some of which incorporate six-panel fixed wooden frames.

An iron water-wheel of overshot type occupies a position against the NE gable-wall. The water was formerly fed from a dam about 80m N of the mill on the opposite side of the road. to the mill; the sluice-mechaism has partly collapsed and the lade has been re-aligned SE-wards on the approach of the mill, thus diverting the flow of water E of the wheel. The wheel itself measures 3.91m in diameter by 1.2m in width; the framework incorporates eight flat-section arms and is of all-iron construction. The floats are of timber, and the lade was probably carried to the wheel on a wooden pentrough. There is a substantial rubble-built wheel-pit and a short rock-cut tail-race which empties into the Shirmers Burn.

There is a small, all-iron water-wheel 1.2m in diamteer and 0.39m in width built into the SE side-wall immediately to the SW of the kiln-doorway. Water was evidently fed from a pipe along the SW gable-wall of the kiln, and the source appears to have come from the main lade. The wheel was designed to operate a fan to povide a forced draught for the kiln fire.

The interior of the kiln is partitioned from the rest of the mill by a stone cross-wall which incorporates a two-leaf iron fire-door and an iron discharge chute from the kiln floor. Much of the kiln-floor still survives intact, and comprises iron flat and square bars supporting perforated sheet metal laid above an inverted cone-shaped, square-section firebox. The firebox is situated on the SE side, and incorporates a segmental brick-arched surround.

The internal layout of the mill comprises a ground- or gears-floor, an intermediate stones-floor, and a loft or granary above. The floors are of timber main beams and transverse filler-joists. The mill is underdrift and the gearing for the three pairs of millstones survives almost complete. The main drive consists of a bevelledpit-wheel and walllower set on an all-iron circular upright shaft; the great spur wheel has wooden teeth and drives three sets of stone-nuts mounted on adjustable bridge trees. The millstones are located at the NE end of the building on a platform at entresol level, which is reached by ladders from above and beneath. The stones preserve their strapped wooden tuns or vats, and the W pair still retains a complete wooden hopper and shoe arrangement. Parts of the structure in this area were considered to be unsafe at the date of survey, and it was not therefore possible to inspect the nature of the millstones in more detail. A wooden gear-wheel mounted on a broad wooden shaft forms part of the sack-hoist in the loft where there is also a floor-chute feeding directly into the hopper of the S pair of millstones. Some of the machinery and gearing associated with the ancillary equipment still survives. This includes a countershaft and belt drive to the frame of what was probably a fourth pair of millstones or a sawmill drive against the SE wall. There is also a belt drive on the NW wall for the winnowing machine. A name plate bearing the inscription 'D. HUNTER. MILLWRIGHT, DUNSCORE' is mounted on the NW facing door of the mill.

Visited by RCAHMS (GPS) 1974

This mill has changed several times since the survey in 1974. In 1990, Listed Building consent was granted for conversion to a dwelling with work beginning shortly afterwards.

In the late 1970s, the water-wheel was rebuilt, along with the pentrough, and the lade was cleared and the pond emptied of silt and rubbish. The main sluice gate by the pond was rebuilt using the original square-sectioned thread screw and nut, and incorporating these with a steel-plate sluice gate with rolled steel-section frame. The water-wheel now rotates, but the gear drive to the millstones is out of mesh.

The gear cupboard and the three pairs of millstones by the NE wall will be retained as part of the future arrangement in the new dwelling. The mill originally had four pairs of mill stones. the fourth pair being located near the kiln-end of the wall. The latter have been removed (along with the winnowing machine), but details of their drive can be seen on the 1990 survey drawings (see MS/762/183).

In the planned conversion, it is intended that the rubble-built, inverted, square-section cone below the kiln floor level will be retained, with the kiln firebox remaining in situ. This structure is not an integral part of the kiln walls. Also being retained will be the small water-wheel which provided a forced draught (and possibly a drive for an automatic stoker) for the kiln firebox.

The 1st edition of the Ordnance Survey 6-inch map (kircudbrightshire, 1849, sheet ). shows a linear building on this site, indicating that the NW leg was added later, possibly at the same time as the heightening of the walls and the installation of much of the current machinery. However, some older parts in the exisiting drive probably came from an earlier arrangement (see MS/762/183, sheet 3).

Other features of the building include the kiln door at ground level on the SE elevatrion, which has a granite lintel. The S corner of the kiln has nine roughly square quoins of grainy stone, all of the same type and dressed in the same manner, with a sloping tail the depth of the quoin. These quoins are quite different to the quoins at the E corner of the mill, which are close grained, flinty stone which are more neatly squared.

The wall head of the SE elevation of the kiln is in line with the former wall head of the mill section, the existing windows of the middle floor having been cut through the earlier wall head. The line of the raising is not obvious externally on the NW elevation of the mill.

The walling of the kiln and mill buildings on the SE elevation is all roughly squared, smooth-grained flinty stone, as are the window margins. None are chamfered or dressed with any finesse. Two of the first floor windows in the SE elevation of the mill have well cut generous lintels, both having rough corbels above.

The dwelling to the W of the mill is a single-storeyed (with attic), three-bay, whitewashed cottage at the NE end of a range which has been converted to a single dwelling. The windows on the E side are probably 19th century, but the other windows have been altered or enlarged. The original three-bay cottage retains its central front door. At the gable end there are skews coped with thatch stones. The roof is covered with graded slate and sandstone ridge tiles. The SE end of the range is a later addition comprising a former stable/ store and byre, butt-jointed onto the original cottage. The roofline is uninterrupted, suggesting that the entire roof dates from the time of the extension. To the NW in the centre of the cottage, there is a modern projection housing a staircase.

Visited by RCAHMS (GJD), 1990.

NMRS, MS/762/183.


MyCanmore Image Contributions

Contribute an Image

MyCanmore Text Contributions