An industry takes hold.
Just above the Brig ‘o’ Blair on the right bank of the Ericht stood the oldest spinning mill on the river. This was the Muckle (or Meikle) Mill. Erected in 1798 to spin linen, it seems to have been regarded as a very important, as well as extensive, institution in its early days when it was managed by a Mr. Peter McIntosh who most probably built it.
On his headstone in the Blairgowrie Parish Kirkyard was the inscription which says he “first introduced the useful art of spinning flax by means of machinery into this part of the country.”
In 1843 the Muckle mill employed 9 men and 32 women.
The much larger Ericht Linen Works was built nearby in 1867 to process jute that had been first softened in the Muckle Mill.
Sources: Peter Dawson, Meg Luckins
The Muckle/Meikle Mill (or first called The Blairgowrie Mill) was built on land along the river known as the Mill Riggs (Ridges) on North Mill Inch. The cost of the mill, as assessed from the various sasines (land registers) associated with the project, seems to have been in the order of £1,200 shared between four partners, one of whom, Peter McIntosh, supervised the enterprise.
After Mr. McIntosh’s time a Bailie James Dick had the Muckle Mill, but when he failed in business it stood idle for some time. It was in the hands of numerous owners including John Adamson, formerly of Erichtside Works, and then a Mr. Drummond who disposed of it to James Luke and Company of Ericht Linen Works, which had been built in 1867 and was situated on the other side of the road. Luke and Company had the new mill fitted up with machinery adapted for their own business which was entirely in jute. The jute when taken from the bales was put through softening machines in the Muckle Mill before being transferred to the adjacent Ericht Linen Works.
The Muckle mill finally ceased to work at the same time as its larger partner across the road (1902).
The Muckle mill was eventually demolished in around 1970 and a car park and picnic area now marks the spot. The rear wall of the mill is still visible set into the bank away from the river.
The Ericht Linen Works only processed jute. Here jute was spun, woven, calendered (pressed smooth) and packed ready for the Dundee market. In its first year (1867) there were 1,200 spindles and 120 power looms in use and the Works employed about 350 people.
It was the only mill in Blairgowrie and Rattray which used no water power for the driving of its machines. Power was obtained from a powerful condensing engine (capable of 170hp).
After it closed in 1902 the building was put to countless number of uses as the external walls remained intact. However it was demolished in 2005 to make way for housing. Remnants of the original building have been retained as the boundary wall of these new developments.
Muckle/Meikle denoted that this purpose built spinning mill was biggerthan the small lint mill across the river Ericht in the area called The Haughs of Rattray which produced lint from 1776 (The Haugh Lint Mill) and spun linen from 1794.